Locals speak their minds on election fiasco
Even “Primary Colors” author Joe Klein couldn’t have written a story of an election so suspenseful. This presidential election makes the O.J. Simpson criminal trial look like small claims court.
Some political pundits and steadfast observers believe this historic 2000 presidential election will be all but over today with the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing. In a 5-4 vote the court granted the campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s appeal to halt the manual recounts in Florida.
But locals, who are either slightly or not invested in the outcome, are beginning to doubt whether the political quandary will resolve itself anytime soon.
“I don’t think they’re going to figure it out,” South Shore resident Shirley Wynn said, adding it would be OK with her if President Clinton stayed in another four years. “I like him.”
Also a local, Sylvia Van Valkenburg voted for Clinton’s second man in charge but feels enough is enough in terms of taking steps to seal the presidency.
“There should be a limit,” she said. “I do think we need to revamp our system.”
Valkenburg gives Gore a 50-50 chance of taking the seat, if only because the endless rounds of the ongoing power struggles have shown that “anything goes” in this world.
The latest turn of events this weekend capped stunning developments in the political and legal maneuvering for the nation’s top prize that seemed to turn the reality of this hotly contested race into the surreal Saturday.
The day before, Vice President Al Gore scored a huge victory in the Florida Supreme Court. It ordered recounts by a 4-3 margin that once again exemplifies the familiar liberal-to-conservative faultline that has characterized the two high federal and state courts.
“What legal authority will one have over the other remains unanswered,” University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky said, also acknowledging the legislative arm in the process.
Adding to the drama, the Republican-led Florida legislature has held emergency sessions choose its slate of electors to tip the scales of power Bush’s way and lock in the presidency already certified in the state.
Constitutional law experts have been scratching their heads trying to determine the outcome of this election because there is no precedent to follow.
“It’s wide open. What happens next, no one knows,” Chemerinsky said, holding the 70-page ruling from the state high court Friday that he declared turned the race into “absolutely a whole new ballgame.”
“It was the bottom of the ninth (inning), and Gore hit a grand slam,” he said. “Had the (Florida) Supreme Court come down otherwise, it would have been all over.”
Soon after the court decision, the counting machinery set in motion Friday had whittled Bush’s long-standing 537-vote differential down to 154, as Gore picked up 215 and 168 more votes from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, respectively.
With more than 9,000 to count, Chemerinsky insisted Gore would win the tally and surpass Bush, thus winning the state and therefore the presidency in vote counts .
“If (Friday’s) decision stands, Gore will win Florida,” he said.
Gore’s victory came shortly after a defeat in the “off-Broadway” lawsuits seeking to throw out thousands of absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin counties. There, the judges ruled that “despite irregularities…, neither the sanctity of the ballots nor the integrity of the elections has been compromised,” court records indicated.
“He was going to lose those anyway,” Chemerinsky said.
However, Democrats said they would appeal the decision.
Still, the outcome of the election appears to hinge on the nation’s high court today, which Gore’s lawyers have all but declared would be the deciding point for the vice president to concede, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
“The question is, will the (Florida Supreme Court) ruling stand?” Chemerinsky asked in summary.
South Lake Tahoe resident Dan Rives believes the Bush certification will stand. “I think the outcome will stay the same,” he said.
Janice Davidson, expressing a disgust with politics in general, doesn’t care about the end result.
“From day one, I could care less,” the South Shore woman said.
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