Stop Me Before I FAQ Again

Stop Me Before I FAQ Again

Stop Me Before I FAQ Again

Answers to your questions about the news.
Nov. 20 2000 6:39 PM

Stop Me Before I FAQ Again

Who is paying for the Florida recount?

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Floridians. Because of the closeness of the race, the recount was automatically triggered by state law, so the counties are picking up the tab. Palm Beach County, for example, estimates the cost of its recount so far to be in the low six-figures. This includes paying county employees to examine chad instead of perform their regular duties. And the county also has to absorb the cost of keeping government buildings open into the night as well as overtime for the sheriff's office, which is providing security. However, the observers from the political parties are not being paid by the state.

Is it true that when these county employees find a hanging chad on a ballot, they then create a brand-new, chad-free duplicate?

There is a procedure under Florida law to create a new ballot, but it is limited to cases where a ballot has been damaged and therefore unreadable by machine. (Even after a hand count, a further machine count could be requested by a candidate.) In Palm Beach County the duplicate is made on a pink card, and the mangled original is removed, presumably to be stored forever in a lockbox.

What's the procedure for Congress to challenge the legitimacy of the votes of Florida's Electoral College electors--assuming Florida ends up choosing electors?

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Let me count the ways. There is a procedure that allows any slate of electors, or any single elector, to be challenged when Congress counts the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. (The date is set by law, but it can be changed--as it has been when the 6th falls on a weekend as it does this year.) On Jan. 6 (or whenever) both houses meet in joint session with the vice president (that would be Al Gore) presiding. Objections are called for as part of the routine process. If there are any, they have to be made by both a senator and representative and put in writing. Each house then meets in a two-hour caucus to debate the merits of the objection. To refuse certification of an elector, a majority of the members of both houses have to vote to reject, or else the slate is accepted. Since the new House of Representatives will have a Republican majority, if everyone votes along party lines, Democrats would be unable to refuse to certify a Florida Bush slate. But Republicans could mount such a challenge to a Florida Gore slate. In that case, their success would depend on the makeup of the next Senate. If Washington's Slade Gorton wins the still-undecided senatorial race, the Senate will have 51 Republicans--enough to throw out the slate and toss the election to the House of Representatives. But if challenger Maria Cantwell wins, the Senate will split 50-50, and Gore could cast the deciding vote in favor of his electors.

Why do Republicans refuse to use the adjective "democratic" to describe the Democratic Party?

It's a little bit of gamesmanship, with the Republicans refusing to sully the word "democratic" by allowing it to be applied to the opposition. This has been going on for decades. The apex of this lexicological battle was the 1976 vice presidential debates when Republican candidate Bob Dole described such things as World War II and Vietnam as "Democrat wars."

Explainer thanks Marc Caputo of the Palm Beach Post; Ernest Hawkins of the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials, and Clerks; Michael White of the Office of the Federal Register; and Darrell West of Brown University.