Editorials: What’s the matter with Florida? | Ronald A. Klain/The Washington Post

As the general counsel of Al Gore’s 2000 recount effort in Florida, I’m often asked this question about the Senate and gubernatorial recounts now going on there: Why does “this” keep happening in Florida? Part of what we are seeing now in Florida, as we did in 2000, is the product of factors specific to the state: persistently weak election administration in key counties, perennially close and hard-fought elections, and a colorful group of political players that seems ripped from the pages of a Carl Hiaasen novel. But the most important thing to know about what’s happening in Florida is that it has little to do specifically with Florida at all. Take a step back and look at the big issues playing out in Florida, and what you’ll see, instead of Florida’s foibles, are three critical challenges to American democracy as a whole. First, we allow interested parties — not neutral officials — to oversee the electoral process. It may seem absurd that Florida’s chief law enforcement officer, Gov. Rick Scott, who is also the Republican nominee in the Senate recount, is in a position to allege crimes by election officials, attempt to seize voting machines and dispatch state troopers to try to intervene in the post-election dispute. But a similar spectacle has been unfolding for months next door in Georgia.

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