The Spectacle Blog

Florida Redux?

By on 11.2.06 | 11:05AM

Yesterday I attended an AEI panel on John Fortier's new book Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises, and Perils. John Fund spoke, and expanding on his OpinionJournal article from earlier this week, he argued that it's possible we may have a "November Surprise" in which the outcome of the election isn't known for days or weeks after Election Day. He pointed out that Congressional Quarterly, which has a solid track record of accurately predicting the outcome of midterm elections, has projected control of the House coming down to 18 tossups and Senate control depending on 3 tight races. Because of the prevalence of absentee voting, it could be a long time before we know the outcome. For instance, in Maryland/>/>, by law, they can't even start counting absentee ballots until the Thursday after the election, and they have 14 days to do so. With each party having thousands of lawyers deployed across the country, we could be in for a replay of Florida 2000, especially because absentee votes are more prone to fraud.

Though Fund paints a frightening picture, it would still take a dozen or so seats to be really, really, close in districts with a significant amount of absentee voting for a worst case scenario to occur. It is, however, worth preparing for the possibility. Obviously, we'll know more a week from now, but if Fund's nightmare scenario becomes reality in the current environment, it will be an even uglier scene than in 2000. While it didn't seem so at the time, we were living in a relatively benign political climate back then. After the memory of Florida/>/>, six years of the Bush presidency, 9/11, the Iraq War, the growth of blogs, the level of anger on both sides would be palpable this time around. If Florida in 2000 was a circus, a dispute over control of Congress this year would be a civil war.   

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