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Re: E-M:/ Supreme Court Ruling Explained

Enviro-Mich message from "Bonnie Shupe" <BONNIES@cannontwp.org>

So glad you asked.  In Cannon Township we use the Optical Scan System where the voter connects an arrow by the candidate of his/her choice.  If they do something wrong, the ballot is rejected by the tabulator and they are given a chance to try again.  I have had some voters try 4 times before they got it right.

As far as I know, all of our voters ballots were tabulated and counted.  The number of voters at the precincts matched the number of ballots tabulated.  This included the absentee ballots.  

The only problem with absentee ballots is that the voter is not right there to correct a problem.  There are two possibilities - 1) the voter overvoted the ballot, or 2) the voter used the wrong kind of utensil so the tabulator sees the ballot as "blank."  In the former case, the ballot can be "overridden" and all the votes will count except the category where the voter overvoted.  A ballot that appears to be correctly marked, but is not picked up by the tabulator can be remade at the end of the night by two election workers of opposite parties.  This is called a "duplicate" ballot.  This is then fed into the tabulator and the original placed in a special envelope.

We have 4 precincts in Cannon - about 8,000 registered voters.  I had 3 ballots arrive after the deadline (Election Day at 8:00 p.m.) that were not counted.  Most of the time that absentee ballots arrive late is due to the procrastination of the voter.  

I feel confident with Michigan Election Law.  We have to test our equipment ahead of time to make sure it is reading the ballot correctly.  We have to allow for all types of situations, premarking ballots to make sure the proper result is achieved.

Most of the townships in Kent County use the Op-tech system, one uses the touch screen one, and the City of Grand Rapids and Wyoming use punch cards.  However, they have a system using a tabulator that reads the ballot immediately after the voter has completed voting, so they know right away if their ballot is acceptable.

I know Candace Miller is on a big push to get the same equipment throughout the state and I'm very much opposed to that.  An eventual phasing out, fine, but she wants us all to be using the same equipment by 2002.  There is no way the entire state of Michigan could afford getting the touch screen system that Candace likes.  For one thing, it is so expensive, I can't imagine those small communities in the UP could afford it.  Some of the clerks, myself included, don't like that system.  

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.  Touched a little nerve, I think.....
Bonnie Shupe, Cannon Township Clerk/Watershed Admin.


   This forwarded message has a perspective which counters the previous post:
<< "They stole the election?"  I realize that you supported Gore, but give me 
break.  The only person trying to steal the election is Gore! >>

   Also, since voting determines the direction of all of our governmental 
policies--including environmental ones--the Florida fiasco should be a 
fundamental concern of everyone.  If we have no confidence in our voting 
process, we can have no confidence in the voting results.  
   It also raises questions about voting in Michigan:  How many different 
voting techniques are used in Michigan?  How reliable are they at registering 
voter intent?  Has anyone even done any analysis of the number of ballots 
disqualified due to mechanical errors?  It would be interesting to find out, 
precinct by precinct, the number of Michigan votes which are never counted.
Jack Smiley
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Subject: the Supreme Court Ruling explained
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 07:53:09 -0600

By Mark H. Levine, Attorney at Law.

= = = = = = =
Q:  I'm not a lawyer and I don't understand the recent Supreme Court
decision in Bush v. Gore.  Can you explain it to me?

A:  Sure.  I'm a lawyer.  I read it.  It says Bush wins, even if Gore
got the most votes.

Q:  But wait a second.  The US Supreme Court has to give a reason,

A:  Right.

Q:  So Bush wins because hand-counts are illegal?

A:  Oh no.  Six of the justices (two-thirds majority) believed the
hand-counts were legal and should be done.

Q:  Oh.  So the justices did not believe that the hand-counts would find
any legal ballots?

A.  Nope.  The five conservative justices clearly held (and all nine
justices agreed) "that punch card balloting machines can produce an
unfortunate number of ballots which are not punched in a clean, complete
way by the voter."  So there are legal votes that should be counted but
can't be.

Q:  Oh.  Does this have something to do with states' rights?  Don't
conservatives love that?

A:  Generally yes.  These five justices have held that the federal
government has no business telling a sovereign state university it can't
steal trade secrets just because such stealing is prohibited by law. Nor
does the federal government have any business telling a state that it
should bar guns in schools.  Nor can the federal government use the
equal protection clause to force states to take measures to stop
violence against women.

Q:  Is there an exception in this case?

A:  Yes, the Gore exception.  States have no rights to have their own
state elections when it can result in Gore being elected President.
This decision is limited to only this situation.

Q:  C'mon.  The Supremes didn't really say that.  You're exaggerating.

A:  Nope.  They held "Our consideration is limited to the present
circumstances, or the problem of equal protection in election processes
generally presents many complexities."

Q:  What complexities?

A:  They don't say.

Q:   I'll bet I know the reason.  I heard Jim Baker say this.  The votes
can't be counted because the Florida Supreme Court "changed the rules of
the election after it was held."  Right?

A.  Dead wrong. The US Supreme Court made clear that the Florida Supreme
Court did not change the rules of the election.  But the US Supreme
Court found the failure of the Florida Court to change the rules was

Q:  Huh?

A:  The Legislature declared that the only legal standard for counting
vote is "clear intent of the voter."  The Florida Court was condemned
for not adopting a clearer standard.

Q:  I thought the Florida Court was not allowed to change the
Legislature's law after the election.

A:  Right.

Q:  So what's the problem?

A:  They should have.  The US Supreme Court said the Florida Supreme
Court should have "adopt[ed] adequate statewide standards for
determining what is a legal vote"

Q:  I thought only the Legislature could "adopt" new law.

A:  Right.

Q:  So if the Court had adopted new standards, I thought it would have
been overturned.

A:  Right.  You're catching on.

Q:  If the Court had adopted new standards, it would have been
Overturned for changing the rules.  And if it didn't, it's overturned
for not changing the rules.  That means that no matter what the Florida
Supreme Court did, legal votes could never be counted.

A:  Right.  Next question.

Q:  Wait, wait.  I thought the problem was "equal protection," that some
counties counted votes differently from others.  Isn't that a problem?

A:  It sure is.  Across the nation, we vote in a hodgepodge of systems.
Some, like the optical-scanners in largely Republican-leaning counties
record 99.7% of the votes.  Some, like the punchcard systems in largely
Democratic-leaning counties record only 97% of the votes.  So
approximately 3% of Democratic votes are thrown in the trash can.

Q:  Aha!  That's a severe equal-protection problem!!!

A:  No it's not.  The Supreme Court wasn't worried about the 3% of
Democratic ballots thrown in the trashcan in Florida.  That "complexity"
was not a problem.

Q:  Was it the butterfly ballots that violated Florida law and tricked
more than 20,000 Democrats to vote for Buchanan or Gore and Buchanan.

A:  Nope.  The Supreme Court has no problem believing that Buchanan got
his highest, best support in a precinct consisting of a Jewish old age
home with Holocaust survivors, who apparently have changed their mind
about Hitler.

Q:  Yikes.  So what was the serious equal protection problem?

A:  The problem was neither the butterfly ballot nor the 3% of Democrats
(largely African-American) disenfranchised.  The problem is that
somewhat less than .005% of the ballots may have been determined under
slightly different standards because judges sworn to uphold the law and
doing their best to accomplish the legislative mandate of "clear intent
of the voter" may have a slightly different opinion about the voter's

Q:  Hmmm.  OK, so if those votes are thrown out, you can still count the
votes where everyone agrees the voter's intent is clear?

A:  Nope.

Q:  Why not?

A:  No time.

Q:  No time to count legal votes where everyone, even Republicans, agree
the intent is clear?  Why not?

A:  Because December 12 was yesterday.

Q:  Is December 12 a deadline for counting votes?

A:  No.  January 6 is the deadline.  In 1960, Hawaii's votes weren't
counted until January 4.

Q:  So why is December 12 important?

A:  December 12 is a deadline by which Congress can't challenge the

Q:  What does the Congressional role have to do with the Supreme Court?

A:  Nothing.

Q:  But I thought ---

A:  The Florida Supreme Court had earlier held it would like to complete
its work by December 12 to make things easier for Congress.  The United
States Supreme Court is trying to help the Florida Supreme Court out by
forcing the Florida court to abide by a deadline that everyone agrees is
not binding.

Q:  But I thought the Florida Court was going to just barely have the
votes counted by December 12.

A:  They would have made it, but the five conservative justices stopped
the recount last Saturday.

Q:  Why?

A:  Justice Scalia said some of the counts may not be legal.

Q:  So why not separate the votes into piles, indentations for Gore,
hanging chads for Bush, votes that everyone agrees went to one candidate
or the other so that we know exactly how Florida voted before
determining who won? Then, if some ballots (say, indentations) have to
be thrown out, the American people will know right away who won Florida.

A.  Great idea!  The US Supreme Court rejected it.  They held that such
counts would likely to produce election results showing Gore won and
Gore's winning would cause "public acceptance" and that would "cast[] a
cloud" over  Bush's "legitimacy" that would harm "democratic stability."

Q:  In other words, if America knows the truth that Gore won, they won't
accept the US Supreme Court overturning Gore's victory?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Is that a legal reason to stop recounts? or a political one?

A:  Let's just say in all of American history and all of American law,
this reason has no basis in law.  But that doesn't stop the five
conservatives from creating new law out of thin air.

Q:  Aren't these conservative justices against judicial activism?

A:  Yes, when liberal judges are perceived to have done it.

Q:  Well, if the December 12 deadline is not binding, why not count the

A:  The US Supreme Court, after admitting the December 12 deadline is
not binding, set December 12 as a binding deadline at 10 p.m. on
December 12.

Q:  Didn't the US Supreme Court condemn the Florida Supreme Court for
arbitrarily setting a deadline?

A:  Yes.

Q:  But, but --

A:  Not to worry.  The US Supreme Court does not have to follow laws it
sets for other courts.

Q:  So who caused Florida to miss the December 12 deadline?

A:  The Bush lawyers who first went to court to stop the recount, the
rent-a-mob in Miami that got paid Florida vacations for intimidating
officials, and the US Supreme Court for stopping the recount

Q:  So who is punished for this behavior?

A:  Gore, of course.

Q:  Tell me this then, are Florida's laws are unconstitutional?

A:  Yes

Q:  And the laws of 50 states that allow votes to be cast or counted
differently are unconstitutional?

A:  Yes.  And 33 states have the "clear intent of the voter" standard
that the US Supreme Court found was illegal in Florida

Q:  Then why aren't the results of 33 states thrown out?

A:  Um.  Because...um.....the Supreme Court doesn't say...

Q:   But if Florida's certification includes counts expressly declared
by the US Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, we don't know who really
won the election there, right?

A:  Right.  Though a careful analysis by the Miami Herald shows Gore won
Florida by about 20,000 votes (excluding the butterfly ballot errors)

Q:  So, what do we do, have a re-vote?  throw out the entire state?
Count under a single uniform standard?

A:  No.  We just don't count the votes that favor Gore.

Q:  That's completely bizarre!  That sounds like rank political
favoritism! Did the justices have any financial interest in the case?

A:  Scalia's two sons are both lawyers working for Bush. Thomas's wife
is collecting applications for people who want to work in the Bush

Q:  Why didn't they recuse themselves?

A:  If either had recused himself, the vote would be 4-4, and the
Florida Supreme Court decision allowing recounts would have been

Q:  I can't believe the justices acted in such a blatantly political

A:  Read the opinions for yourself:

(December 9 stay stopping the recount)

(December 12 opinion)

Q:  So what are the consequences of this?

A:  The guy who got the most votes in the US and in Florida and under
our Constitution (Al Gore) will lose to America's second choice who won
the all important 5-4 Supreme Court vote.

Q:  I thought in a democracy, the guy with the most votes wins.

A:  True, in a democracy.  But America is not a democracy.  In America
in 2000, the guy with the most US Supreme Court votes wins.

Q:  So what will happen to the Supreme Court when Bush becomes

A:  He will appoint more justices in the mode of Thomas and Scalia to
ensure that the will of the people is less and less respected. Soon
lawless justices may constitute 6-3 or even 7-2 on the court.

Q:  Is there any way to stop this?

A:  YES.  No federal judge can be confirmed without a vote in the
Senate. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.  If only 41 of the 50
Democratic Senators stand up to Bush and his Supremes and say that they
will not approve a single judge appointed by him until a President can
be democratically elected in 2004, the judicial reign of terror can
end....and one day we can hope to return to the rule of law.

Q:  What do I do now?

A:  Email this to everyone you know, and write or call your senator,
reminding him that Gore beat Bush by several hundred thousand votes
(three times Kennedy's margin over Nixon) and that you believe that
VOTERS rather than JUDGES should determine who wins an election by
counting every vote. And to protect our judiciary from overturning the
will of the people, you want them to confirm NO NEW JUDGES until 2004
when a president is finally chosen by most of the American people.

Mark H. Levine
Attorney at Law
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
PS from a forwarder, Charlie Custer-- Don*t forget that the Fox network 
political consultant* who called Florida for Bush after talking for
hours on the phone with Jeb and Jr. as soon as exit polls had given
Florida to Gore was*surprise!*the Bush boys* cousin. The other networks
followed the Fox lead within 4 minutes. So the Bush *legitimacy* upon
which *public acceptance* rests was concocted for delivery to the
Supreme Court not by voters or even by the war-painted lady of
Tallahassee, but by a well-placed Bush family clansman. Now that*s
something*but it ain*t democracy.

And we haven*t even taken up the systematic disenfranchisement of black
Floridians with wildly inaccurate *out-of-state-felon* lists used by the
Florida Secretary of State without notice or recourse against tens of
thousands of voters who just happened to be swept up in an electoral
crusade against Jeb. Only black Democrats even talk about this
international scandal*presumbably because the techniques of
vote-suppression used by Jeb and his henchpersons were innovated by
white Democrats. So the Banana Republicans get a free pass on this
aspect of our electoral disgrace, according to the bedrock principle
explained by the great Victorian jurist Blackwood: *Justice, like the
Ritz Hotel, is open to all.*

Please support the African-American protests for democracy coming
together for Martin Luther King*s birthday on January 15th, and share
this message widely. No justices without Justice!

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
       --Thomas Jefferson

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
       --Alexandria's St. Philo

Charley Custer
PO Box 1003
Redway CA 95560
703/935-5689 fax

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