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The Panhandler

David Boies’s new, old job: to protect the vote in Florida.

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Florida 2000 left many Democrats wondering what had happened to the party that once threw Illinois to Kennedy. Up against David Boies, the Republicans proved more tenacious than Microsoft. Carl Swanson talked to Boies, whose firm is working for Kerry in Florida.

Which states might have problems?
My prediction is it’s going to come down to Florida again, but I think there is a sense that election officials in Ohio are a little more partisan [than in 2000].

What did you learn from 2000?
Last year in Florida, they struck from the rolls a large number of voters—particularly African-American voters—that were alleged to have been felons. It turned out they had taken off not only people who had the same name as the convicted felon but who had a name that was sort of like a convicted felon’s. We knew that they had done that in 2000, so we were looking for it.

But no chads this year.
Half of Florida will vote on electronic machines that don’t leave a paper trail. They chose them because they were cheaper than the optical-character-recognition machines, which keep a paper record. There’s no excuse for not employing [optical] machines statewide. If you really believe that Bush v. Gore was a real case and a real opinion that had to be followed, that violates equal protection.

Speaking of which, have you heard whether any of the justices wish they’d acted differently in 2000?
I think there are some in the five-justice majority that regret it.

What if Bush wins the popular vote but Kerry gets the Electoral College?
Well, I think that would be true justice.


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