State of the Election

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One helluva mess appears to be on the way. This election is going to be unprecedented in many ways. Dirty tricks, hostile and distorted rhetoric have been commonplace in American elections since we began having them. Even splits between the Electoral College and the popular vote have occurred in our history. But this election will be unique as it builds upon the 2000 election in its inclusion of the courts, and the general public awareness of voting irregularities which went largely unnoticed by the national electorate in the past.

Currently, one of the best Electoral College predictors on the internet, at Electoral has Kerry holding 271 Electoral College votes and Bush at 257. There are a number of such sites, and the numbers vary due to methodology for incorporating polls in their prediction. National polls range from a dead even tie to 1 to a few points lead by President Bush. It is very possible we will see an Electoral College win for one candidate and a popular vote majority for the other. What is unique, even from the 2000 election however is the vast numbers of poll watchers and observers, many thousands of which will be lawyers, who will be noting irregularities and/or illegal voting behavior.

Of course, the actual election of the President occurs on December 12, 2004 which is when the Electoral College votes to determine who the President elect is. One Electoral College elector has already announced that if his state goes for President Bush in the popular vote, he would not be able to cast his vote in the Electoral College for President Bush. He will likely cast his vote for Dick Cheney instead citing his severe reservations about the President's handling of Iraq as a major reason for his not being able to cast his vote for Bush. This could of course turn into an election nightmare if President Bush ends up with only 269 Electoral College votes. 270 are required to become the President elect.

Another nightmare may be brewing in Colorado where the ballot includes an initiative that would allow the state's Electors to be divided proportionately according to the state's popular vote. If that initiative passes, it would become effective for this election and potentially deprive one or other candidate the 3 or 4 Elector votes needed to win. The great wild card in all of this is the potentially large voter turnout. With a 3 to 10% larger turnout than in 2000, the difficulty comes in polling those new voters. Because new voters are so difficult to poll, and because of provisional voting which allows voters who would in previous elections be denied their vote if their name does not appear on the registry, this election will likely be one of the most scrutinized and challenged elections in our history.

With as many as 10 states currently being defined as battleground states where polls show very, very close races, any one or more could turn into a litigious battleground on November 3, if the vote tallies show a one percent or less win by one or the other candidate. The released a story released yesterday indicates the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry campaign have 10,000 or more lawyers ready to disperse into the battleground states to document evidence of election fraud and irregularities which could change the result on a recount or legal challenge in the courts. David Osborne, the author of the story reports

The flurry of lawsuits already filed is giving courts and election officials migraines in more than a dozen states, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, where the two candidates are in a close battle. Most have been fired off by the Democrat side, although the Republicans have hardly stayed on the sidelines.

Election 2004 will also be the most expensive election ever held in the United States according to OpenSecrets. OpenSecrets reports:

The 2004 presidential and congressional elections will cost a record $3.9 billion, according to projections based on a study of campaign finance figures by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The estimate represents a 30 percent increase over the $3 billion spent on federal elections four years ago.
This amount may easily rise to 4.5 billion dollars if the litigation costs currently and to follow the election are added into the cost. These lofty levels of expense to elect our representatives underscores the need for future debates on further campaign finance reform and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandating free campaign airtime to pre-qualified candidates.

After the Presidential winner is decided and all of the legal wrangling is resolved, it may too be time to explore some serious national election reform through a constitutional amendment or other legal vehicle which would permit a national standard to be applied to federal elections.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 22, 2004 9:40 AM.

On Fear and Flip-Flops was the previous entry in this blog.

Clinton as Secretary General of the U.N. is the next entry in this blog.

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