The Commerce News
November 15, 2000
Let Every Candidate
Have A Re-Vote
I'm with the Rev. Jesse Jackson's friends in Palm Beach County.
They should get to vote again.
From my viewpoint, the 2000 campaign was the most exciting ever,
but the demand for a re-vote in Florida's most screwed-up county
could usher in something to add even more interest.
A columnist for the Palm Beach Post admits that Palm Beach County
botched the election. Noting that golfers get mulligans, he proposes
that Palm Beach be given another chance and promises to do it
I agree. But that doesn't go far enough. The new Congress, instead
of worrying about doing away with the Electoral College, should
pass a constitutional amendment to be forwarded to the states
for ratification that allows certain vote recounts at the discretion
of the political parties.
I propose that the losing party in any presidential election
be allowed to order a re-vote in any two counties in the nation.
This option should be extended down to local elections. Candidates
for congressional seats should be able to order a revote in one
county of their choice; candidates for state Senate should have
the same option, while candidates running for the state house
or a county jurisdiction ought to be able to demand a re-vote
in the precinct of their choice.
One benefit of this proposition would be to extend the excitement
of elections another three or four weeks, but the main purpose
is to boost the economy. Just imagine how many dollars would
be poured into Palm Beach County in the event of a second election.
It would be phenomenal.
Look at the Bell-Tolbert election. Tolbert could demand a re-vote
in Minish District and if he could turn 28 votes, would take
To be fair, the candidate seeking the second round of voting
would have to pay all the associated costs, including the printing
of ballots and payment of labor to oversee the voting and to
count the votes. Additionally, a second round of voting would
be restricted to just those who cast ballots the first time around.
Also, while the national Democratic Party would likely opt for
a recount in Palm Beach County, the GOP could decide to use its
recount option in a completely different state and election.
The GOP might choose to re-run the Senate race in Dekalb County,
Georgia, or a House race in a county in another state where it
suffered a narrow defeat.
This amendment would return some sporting value to elections,
providing the opportunity, so to speak, for second-half comebacks
or fourth-quarter rallies. It would provide lengthened employment
for political consultants, boost revenue of media companies,
bring more profit to printers of direct mail pieces and yard
signs and give the electronic media a second chance to project
It would be an appropriately American thing to do. As a nation,
we believe in second chances. We love to watch the losing team
make a last-minute comeback. We enjoy the drama and excitement.
The Palm Beach Amendment would add some of that kind of excitement
to America's favorite pastime - politics.
The Jackson Herald
November 15, 2000
Time for recreation
With all the other major issues floating around in Jackson County,
the local recreation program has long been flying under radar.
Too long, as it turns out. Last week, three county recreation
department employees were sacked in a shakeup over allegations
of computer gambling at the department. Subsequently, county
leaders were astonished to discover the level of disarray in
They shouldn't have been surprised. This situation has been building
for a long time and was evident to many parents with kids in
Several years ago, the county had a recreation board that oversaw
the recreation programs. But that board pitched a tantrum when
this newspaper began covering their monthly meetings and put
itself out of business. That left the recreation program with
no real oversight from anyone at the county.
But those who have kids in the program have seen just how loose
the operation had become. Schedules were made to suit everyone
but the kids involved; equipment was often lacking; referees
and umpires often didn't show up for games; the physical facilities
weren't kept up-to-date as they should have been; games were
often played late on school nights to the dismay of parents and
All of that led to a lot of grumbling by parents, but no one
stepped forward to make county leaders aware of the depth of
So now that these problems are being discussed, it's time for
county leaders to get a handle on the recreation program. That
will be difficult considering the impending transition to a new
board of commissioners, but it is imperative that county leaders
take a strong hand in reshaping that department.
Another factor in this issue is the county schools. Since many
of the facilities used by the recreation program are school facilities,
a greater level of coordination is needed. Not only that, but
recreation programs should end at a reasonable time on school
nights. School officials should certainly take a stronger voice
in that issue than they have in the past.
Now is the opportune time to overhaul the county's recreation
department and to shape it into a strong program. But that will
also require an increase in oversight and accountability on the
part of county leaders.
It's about time.
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
November 15, 2000
a repeat of 1876
OK, history buffs, what past presidential election is similar
to this year's confusing race? If you said 1876, you would be
right, but I know you read the headline over this article for
All of which says this: Don't sweat the eventual outcome of this
year's race. The Republic will stand with Al or Dubya. In another
100 years, no one will remember all the recounts. Like that 1876
presidential contest, this year's outcome will just be a footnote
to history. How many of you can name who was elected in 1876?
Didn't think so.
But if history repeats itself, then it might be instructive to
brush up a little on that distant past for a clue as to what
will happen next.
In 1876, Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden, a wealthy New York
lawyer for president. Tilden had become famous for fighting the
infamous "Boss Tweed" in New York.
Republicans were split about whom to nominate as their standard-bearer,
but finally settled on Rutherford B. Hayes.
When the votes were counted, Tilden had a plurality by 250,000
votes over Hayes. Tilden also had 184 electoral votes to Hayes'
But there was a major problem: In three Southern states, Louisiana,
South Carolina and Florida, the outcome was in dispute. Reconstruction
in the South was still going on in those states under a Republican
administration. There were charges and counter charges of corruption
and irregularities in the voting process. Both parties claimed
When those states' electors met, both parties sent returns to
Washington. But when Congress opened the votes, which party should
it recognize as having won those states?
Making that election even more difficult was this: The Constitution
says that the President of the Senate should open the votes in
the presence of the House and Senate, but it does not say who
should count the ballots. The President of the Senate was a Republican,
the House was majority Democrat. Whomever counted the ballots
would obviously favor their own party.
To get around that issue, Congress created a special commission
of 15 members - five from each branch of Congress and the five
Supreme Court justices. Eight of the 15 were Republicans and
even without looking at those three states, the commission gave
the election to Hayes.
But there was a deal in that outcome that many didn't know about.
Hayes had agreed to remove the last federal troops from those
three states and to pump a lot of federal aid money into the
South for flood control, railroads, harbors, etc.
In effect, Hayes ended Reconstruction in the South. In the ensuing
years, the civil rights won by blacks following the Civil War
were slowly reduced. Republicans lost interest in that issue
and recognized that the South was solid Democrat. So it would
remain for nearly 100 years.
If history is any indication, here's one possibility of what
might happen this year: Whatever the certified outcome of Florida's
vote, it will likely be challenged in the courts. On December
18, when state electors transmit their votes to Washington, Florida
may be absent, meaning that neither candidate has a majority
of electoral votes.
Thus, Congress may once again have to decide the outcome, either
as a vote of the House, or from another special commission similar
to the one in 1876.
If you want to see what would happen if no one is selected for
president by January 20, read Section 3 of the 20th Amendment
to the Constitution.
With this election up in the air, there's a lot of talk about
doing away with the Electoral system for choosing a president.
Actually, the electoral system was a compromise between large
and small states when the Constitution was drafted. Many at the
time expected that the larger states would act as a nomination
group and that no one individual would get a majority of electoral
votes. Hence, the decision would fall to the House of Representatives,
with each state having one vote, to decide who would be president.
The history lesson is this: We were founded as a Republic, not
a Democracy. The Electoral system has good and bad points, but
it has served us well for over 200 years. Changing it because
of this one election would be a mistake.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
November 15, 2000
If The Numbers
Fail, Gore Should Concede
As fascinating as the 2000 presidential election is, voters are
wearying of the political jockeying, particularly in Florida,
that seems destined to delay the official election results for
There are two major issues. The closeness of the race dictates
a recount, and, fortunately, Florida law required just that.
It appears that George W. Bush's victory in Florida stands, though
by the slimmest of margins.
The other issue, or at least the main one, is the ballot in Palm
Beach County, FL, where the Gore campaign insists that confusion
among the elderly may have cost him the state and thus
Gore may be right there. If 19,000 ballots from a heavily Democratic
county were spoiled, it is reasonable to conclude that it might
have cost Gore the state. But does that entitle the Democratic
nominee to any extraordinary relief? No, it does not.
It is up to voters to mark their ballots correctly or, when they
don't, to seek another ballot and to ask poll workers for assistance.
Any voter who marked a ballot twice for president has no reason
to expect that ballot to be counted.
The election process is far from perfect. At every major election,
there are charges of abuse, and those charges are generally checked
out by election officials. In any election, ballots are spoiled
for one reason or another. That is part of the process.
While it is unfortunate that the close vote in Florida may have
been determined by those whose ballots were cast out, the hue
and cry from the losing side is reminiscent of that from a baseball
team that, when losing 22-21, blames the loss on an umpire's
call in the ninth inning. The Gore campaign had a fair chance.
It just fell short.
Florida wasn't the only state where spoiled ballots might have
made a difference. The races were extremely close in New Mexico,
Oregon, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and California.
It is hard to imagine a scenario where Gore could credibly claim
an election victory. It is much easier to see how a protracted
court battle could leave America in chaos. Under the method provided
by the U.S. Constitution for electing presidents, the Gore-Lieberman
campaign came in second. Once the recounts are completed and
the results certified by the state, Gore should concede Florida
and the election to Bush and let the country move on. It was
an exciting, close and interesting election, but (at least at
this point) the numbers say the new president will be George