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November 2000

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Katherine Harris Tells Florida Voters to "Drop Dead"

Robert Sterling

Katherine Harris, Florida's GOP Secretary of State, has declared 5PM on November 14th the "drop dead" date for votes to be received in the Florida election. This is before all questions of dubious vote totals can be answered.

Her supposed reasoning is Florida law, which she claims "forces" her to do so.

In fact, the Elections Canvassing Commission section of law says "If the county returns are not received by the Department of State by 5 p.m. of the seventh day following an election, all missing counties shall be ignored, and the results shown by the returns on file shall be certified."

However, the law on "Deadline for submission of county returns to the Department of State" states something different: "If the returns are not received by the department by the time specified, such returns MAY be ignored and the results on file at that time may be certified by the department." (Capitalization added.)

The difference between "may" and "shall" are rather large, and that the submission deadlines uses the more ambiguous "may" indicates quite some flexibility on this issue.

Perhaps more important, there is a precedent on this: in the case of hurricanes and other disasters, the seven-day law has been waived. When asked about this, a member of the Elections Canvassing Commission stated to enforce the law in such case would viotate "the spirit of the law."

Apparently, enforcing the law when it suppresses evidence of widespread voter fraud and may hand an illegitimate winner in the nation's Presidential race is right in step with the spirit of the law.

In any case, people must ask: why is Katherine Harris and the G.W. Bush-tied Elections Canvassing Commission so eager to deprive the people of Florida their right to an honest count over a technicality?

 

The 2000 Florida Statutes

Title IX

ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS Chapter 102

Conducting Elections And Ascertaining The Results

102.111 Elections Canvassing Commission.

(1) Immediately after certification of any election by the county canvassing board, the results shall be forwarded to the Department of State concerning the election of any federal or state officer. The Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Director of the Division of Elections shall be the Elections Canvassing Commission. The Elections Canvassing Commission shall, as soon as the official results are compiled from all counties, certify the returns of the election and determine and declare who has been elected for each office. In the event that any member of the Elections Canvassing Commission is unavailable to certify the returns of any election, such member shall be replaced by a substitute member of the Cabinet as determined by the Director of the Division of Elections. If the county returns are not received by the Department of State by 5 p.m. of the seventh day following an election, all missing counties shall be ignored, and the results shown by the returns on file shall be certified.

(2) The Division of Elections shall provide the staff services required by the Elections Canvassing Commission.

History.--s. 35, ch. 3879, 1889; RS 189; s. 66, ch. 4328, 1895; GS 248; RGS 292; CGL 348; s. 6, ch. 26870, 1951; ss. 10, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 30, ch. 71-377; s. 2, ch. 77-122; s. 25, ch. 77-175; s. 6, ch. 82-143.

Note.--Former s. 99.49.

 

Title IX

ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS Chapter 102

Conducting Elections And Ascertaining The Results

102.112 Deadline for submission of county returns to the Department of State; penalties.

(1) The county canvassing board or a majority thereof shall file the county returns for the election of a federal or state officer with the Department of State immediately after certification of the election results. Returns must be filed by 5 p.m. on the 7th day following the first primary and general election and by 3 p.m. on the 3rd day following the second primary. If the returns are not received by the department by the time specified, such returns may be ignored and the results on file at that time may be certified by the department.

(2) The department shall fine each board member $200 for each day such returns are late, the fine to be paid only from the board member's personal funds. Such fines shall be deposited into the 1Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund, created by s. 106.32.

(3) Members of the county canvassing board may appeal such fines to the Florida Elections Commission, which shall adopt rules for such appeals.

History.--s. 30, ch. 89-338; s. 7, ch. 99-140.

1Note.--The trust fund expired, effective November 4, 1996, by operation of s. 19(f), Art. III of the State Constitution.

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