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Florida Election Deadline

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Did Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris carry out her statutory duty when certifying the Florida Presidential Election returns?
 
 
   
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris
Great Seal of the State of Florida
Katherine Harris signature
Florida State Seal

Florida's statutory deadline for the canvassing board of each county to certify the county election and send the election results to the Florida Department of State for inclusion in the certified state election results is specified in two statutes. These are Title IX, Chapter 102, Section 111 (102.111) and Title IX, Chapter 102, Section 112 (102.112).

Section 102.111 uses the word "shall" and states, "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."

Section 102.112 uses the word "may" and states, "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."

Section 102.111 states that the Secretary of State has no discretion and that late county election returns shall be ignored. Section 102.112 states that the Secretary of State has discretion as authorized by the state legislature when the statute was enacted, and may ignore late county election returns.

Thus, any plausible and rational interpretation of Sections 102.111 and 102.112 would be that the Secretary of State has no discretion and late county returns are ignored, that the Secretary of State has discretion and may ignore late returns, or somewhere in the continuum between these two endpoints. For example, they may be interpreted such that the Secretary has limited discretionary authority to accept late returns under specific circumstances, such as a hurricane or other natural disaster, but has no such discretion under other conditions. In interpreting two such differing statutes, one may use the statute enacted more recently, or the statute that is more specific. But one cannot legitimately ignore both statutes and come up with an interpretation that is entirely different and outside the continuum of the differing statutes.

Note that one practical purpose of this statutory deadline is that it limits the time window during which ballot tampering and election fraud can be committed.

The Florida Supreme Court intervened in the Democrat Party lawsuit involving the Florida Presidential Election, which is unusual because the courts usually avoid becoming involved in election matters which are normally left up to the legislative and executive branches of government unless fraud is involved. This is especially true after an election is over. The Courts are normally extremely reluctant to change the outcome of an election. In this case, no fraud was alleged or involved. In addition, the Florida Supreme Court took an even more extraordinary action by bringing this case to itself. Normally, a case would be brought to a higher level court, including the State or U.S. Supreme Court, by the plaintiff or defendant appealing the case to the higher court. It is extremely rare for any court to bring a case to itself. In fact, it is so rare that it typically does not occur in any given year. It is even more rare, and probably the first occurrence in U.S. history, for a State or U.S. Supreme Court to bring to itself a court case involving an election. A search of all court case records for the entire history of each state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court will probably verify this as fact. Thus, the Florida Supreme Court committed two extremely rare acts simultaneously.

In this case, the Florida Supreme Court ignored the Florida Statutes and Constitution, and violated the separation of powers by usurping the power and authority of the legislative and executive branches of state government, including the discretionary power of the Secretary of State. The Florida State Supreme Court came up with an implausible, irrational interpretation of Sections 102.111 and 102.112 that the Secretary of State shall not ignore late county election returns and that the deadline shall be extended to an arbitrary date picked by the court. There is no language in the Florida Statutes that states that Florida courts, including the Florida Supreme Court, have the discretion or authority to extend the statutory deadline or to accept late county election returns for inclusion in the certified state election results.

Thus, it is absolutely certain that the Democrat appointees on the Florida Supreme Court acted in a highly partisan manner in an attempt to steal the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election from Republican George Bush and give it to Democrat Al Gore.

This is a glaring example of why it is so important to elect Governors and Presidents that will appoint strict constructionists rather than liberal judicial activists as supreme court justices. Strict constructionists interpret the law as enacted by the legislature, and they use the written federal and state Constitutions, previous court precedents, the writings and philosophy of the founders including the Federalist Papers and the record of the Constitutional Debates, and intellectually honest logic and reasoning to arrive at sound decisions.

In contrast, liberal judicial activists ignore all of these and use twisted irrational reasoning to legislate from the bench, changing existing laws and enacting new ones, in complete violation of the Constitution and the traditional separation of powers. Under rule by liberal judicial activists, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms for defense of self and country), is nothing more than a worthless scrap of paper. Under judicial activism, we have no rights because the laws and the Constitution is whatever the current crop of justices say it is, without regard to the original social contract and the history and traditions of our country.

The primary solution to the danger of judicial activism is to elect conservative presidents and governors who will do their best to appoint only strict constructionists as Supreme Court justices. Because Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, it may become necessary at some point in the future to curtail or eliminate the authority of the courts to engage in judicial review. This power was never given to the courts by the Constitution, but was assumed by the courts in the famous case of Marbury v. Madison. (WILLIAM MARBURY v. JAMES MADISON, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE UNITED STATES. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES,  5 U.S. 137,  FEBRUARY, 1803 Term. Chief Justice Marshall delivered the opinion of the court.)

Although there are advantages to judicial review, the extreme abuses by liberal judicial activists may have spoiled this system for everyone. Other alternative solutions should also be researched to find the best and most workable solution. One solution would be for the Congress and state legislatures to write into specific laws that the law is not subject to judicial review, and to re-enact laws improperly misinterpreted, modified, or repealed by judicial activists with such a clause forbidding future judicial review of the law. Another solution that may be used in conjunction with other solutions would be to require that Supreme Court justices that are appointed for life serve shorter finite terms and/or that they require periodic confirmation by the voters.

In 1986, California voters removed three California Supreme Court justices - Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, and Justices Renosa and Grodin - due to their liberal judicial activism. Bird was appointed Chief Justice by liberal Democrat Governor Jerry Brown in 1977. There was a successful campaign to educate the voters and remove these judicial activists. This cleared the way for the Governor to appoint new justices to replace them, with a clear message from the voters that judicial activists were unacceptable.

Unfortunately, several Florida Supreme Court justices came up for voter confirmation in the same election that they later ruled on, and it will be some time before they are again up for reconfirmation. Voters who were unaware of their extreme liberal judicial activism provided a 72 percent majority vote in favor of confirmation. Interestingly, only 78 percent of the 5,963,110 Florida voters that voted for President (final vote count) voted for or against confirmation of the three Florida Supreme Court justices on the ballot. Thus, at most 56 percent of the voters who participated in the election voted for  confirmation. The more than 22 percent non-participation rate indicates voters were uninformed about these justices.
 

(Bold Red color, and underlining added to text for emphasis)

 

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.

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.
 



RELATED LINKS
 

Official Information Sources:

Florida State Courts
http://www.FLCourts.org/index.html

Supreme Court of Florida: The Justices
http://www.FLCourts.org/pubinfo/sct.html#justices

Supreme Court of Florida: The Presidential Election Case
http://www.FLCourts.org/pubinfo/election/index.html

State Law Search - The 2000 Florida Statutes
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm

State Law Search - Florida - TITLE IX - ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS - Ch.97-107
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Index&Title_Request=IX#TitleIX

102.111  Elections Canvassing Commission.
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&
URL=Ch0102/SEC111.HTM&Title=->2000->Ch0102->Section%20111

102.112  Deadline for submission of county returns to the Department of State; penalties.
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&
URL=Ch0102/SEC112.HTM&Title=->2000->Ch0102->Section%20112

Florida Department of State - Elections
http://election.dos.state.fl.us/

Florida Department of State - Election Results
http://enight.dos.state.fl.us/report.asp?Date=001107

Florida Department of State - Election Results - Florida Supreme Court Justices
http://enight.dos.state.fl.us/SummaryRpt.asp?ElectionDate=11/7/00&RACE=SC

Supervisor - Division of Elections - Department of State
http://election.dos.state.fl.us/county/index.shtml


Marbury v. Madison Links:

Google Search on Marbury v. Madison
http://www.Google.com/search?q=Marbury+v.+Madison&btnG=Google+Search

Marbury v. Madison (1803) Background and Explanation
http://www.jmu.edu/madison/marbury/background.htm

Marbury v. Madison (1803)
http://www.jmu.edu/madison/marbury/

WILLIAM MARBURY v. JAMES MADISON, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE UNITED STATES. 
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, 5 U.S. 137, FEBRUARY, 1803 Term
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/marbury.html


Photo, Signature, and Seal Graphic Source: Florida Secretary of State Web Site
First Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2000 - 11:35 a.m. Pacific Time
Last Updated: Friday, January 5, 2001 - 10:00 p.m. Pacific Time
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