Wrong + Wrong = The Right to Vote
Lewis and Clark explore new legal territory
In the Seminole and Martin cases, Republican voters who did not comply with the absentee ballot application requirements and who illegally received absentee ballots through the commission of a third degree felony (per 104.047(2)) in the office of the supervisor of elections, were permitted to have their votes count fully in this election, despite the fact that the number of illegally issued ballots was more than sufficient to elect the wrong candidate. Democratic voters who had the same level of non-compliance with the law, were denied ballots. This is analogous to a Republican poll worker who allows only Republicans to vote after the polls close.
Courts are supposed to interpret the law when it is not clear, not make new law. The legislature in 1998 was explicitly trying to reduce absentee ballot fraud. Where the legislature clearly and explicitly wrote "MUST," Justices Lewis and Clark interpreted it as they really meant "SHOULD" (unless the legislature has noted that such an item is "essential") citing a court decision made 25 years ago (Boardman v. Esteva).
There are six reasons why this interpretation of "MUST" as "SHOULD" is not correct:
Let's hope that the Florida Supreme Court agrees that when the legislature wrote "MUST" that they weren't joking. Otherwise, if the decisions by Lewis and Clark are not overturned, the implications could be staggering:
Lastly, and more importantly, if the ruling of Justices Lewis and Clark was correct, then that means that thousands of VALID absentee ballot requests of Democratic voters statewide were improperly rejected because everyone was following the wrong interpretation of the law! Those Democratic voters were improperly disenfranchised through no fault of their own. Why didn't the judges order a remedy for this mass disenfranchisement?
The net effect of the Lewis and Clark rulings is equivalent to adding 8 new statutes to the books:
104.234 Absentee ballot cheating is now allowed. As we clearly
stated in chapter 101.62(1)(b),
if you do NOT supply ALL the REQUIRED 9 items at the time you SUBMIT your
application for an absentee ballot, an absentee ballot will NOT be issued.
However, there is an exception: if the election officials (or operatives with
your political party) commit a third-degree FELONY and ILLEGALLY issue you a
ballot against your incomplete (and thus VOID) application, then your
vote WILL count, and the election officials will be admonished. Therefore, your
vote will count if everyone complies with the law OR if nobody complies with the
law. The intent of this new law is to encourage people either to be completely
law-abiding or completely lawless. Either is acceptable for your vote to fully
count in Florida.
104.235 Re-definition of “MUST.” In Title IX,
Chapter 101 (Voting Methods and Procedure), all occurrences of the word MUST are
to be replaced by SHOULD. Therefore, strict compliance with voting
laws is no longer required unless the courts, not the legislature, determine
such compliance is essential or the word "essential" is added before the word
MUST. You can now get
an absentee ballot by making an honest attempt at filling out just your name and
address. The other 7 things the legislature tried to require are now ruled completely
optional. The information doesn’t even have to be accurate as long as your political
party has people illegally working out of the election supervisor’s office who make an honest (but
still illegal) attempt to try to correct it. Even though the completed
application may still have erroneous data, you will can be issued a ballot
which, if voted in substantial compliance with the law, will fully count and
withstand court challenges.
Even when the number of ballots with erroneous data on file is sufficient to show
the wrong candidate was elected, your vote will fully count.
Even when the number of ballots with erroneous data on file is sufficient to show the wrong candidate was elected, your vote will fully count.
104.236 Cheaters always prosper. If one political
party commits a third degree felony and biases the result of the election, any illegally issued ballots will fully count as if they are legal ballots. No
illegal votes shall be reversed, even if it affects the outcome of the election.
That means that, from now on, there is no reason for political parties not to
cheat. Intentional wrongdoing and cheating will always help you win, even if you
are caught red-handed and and even if you admit it in court. The ruling of the
court is that the intent of the legislature in enacting the tougher absentee
ballot voting laws in 1998 after the Miami absentee ballot scandal in 1997 was
to make cheating easier and to ensure that illegally-issued ballots fully count.
That means that, from now on, there is no reason for political parties not to cheat. Intentional wrongdoing and cheating will always help you win, even if you are caught red-handed and and even if you admit it in court. The ruling of the court is that the intent of the legislature in enacting the tougher absentee ballot voting laws in 1998 after the Miami absentee ballot scandal in 1997 was to make cheating easier and to ensure that illegally-issued ballots fully count.
104.237 Preferential treatment for Republican voters. Republican voters are henceforth allowed to substantially comply with the law if they specifically ask for an exception, but strict compliance is required for Democrats. So, for example, incomplete absentee ballot applications from Republicans must be accepted, while incomplete applications from Democrats must be discarded. If a Republican voter arrives 30 minutes late at the polls, they must still be allowed to vote and have their vote counted if they have a good excuse where it clearly wasn't their fault or or an excuse that shows that they thought they were in substantial compliance. Specifically authorized excuses include one or more of the following: "a Democrat set my watch back 30 minutes," "heavy traffic," "my boss kept me late," "I thought the poll closing time printed on the sample ballot was Pacific time zone," and "my watch stopped so I thought the polls were still open." However, strict compliance with the statutes is required for Democratic voters. Democratic voters who arrive late at the polls must be turned away.
104.238 Two wrongs make a right. If you aren't qualified to get a ballot (such as not complying with the statute, being underage, etc) and you get a ballot by a clerical mistake and use it to vote, your vote obviously won't be counted. However, if there was intentional fraud in issuing your ballot, then your ballot will fully count and cannot be challenged in court. This is because the two wrongs cancel each other out and make a right.
104.239 "MUST" must add "essential" if you really mean MUST. Because MUST is permanently re-defined to be "should," if you want to say MUST, it is essential that you also add the word "essential." Even using MUST and specifying that violation is a third-degree felony is not sufficient to indicate to the courts that a directive is mandatory. Because of the Boardman decision 25 years ago, all compliance to voting law henceforth shall be substantial compliance using essential information, not strict compliance, no matter what the legislature has explicitly specified in the statutes unless they used the words "essential."
104.240 Illegal votes will count if we don't have to do math. Ballots issued illegally will count, but ballots issued legally may not, even where voter intent can be clearly determined. For example, in Palm Beach, where we can accurately (well within the margin of victory) recover voter intent (in aggregate) from the double punched ballots that were spoiled due to a confusing ballot design that was not the fault of the voter, those ballots will never be counted because it requires statistical techniques. But in Seminole, where illegally issued ballots were voted, those will count because it doesn't require math to recover the voter intent.
10.241 We can change the definition of words in the statute after the election without violating federal election law. Changing the meaning of the word "MUST" to "SHOULD" is OK to do after the election is held. This doesn't violate federal law because it was never determined in the past by the courts that MUST really meant MUST in this particular section. So this really isn't a change in the law since MUST in this section had always meant SHOULD, it's just that nobody on the entire planet Earth realized it until now (including the people who perpetrated the fraud in the Martin and Seminole cases who also thought it was illegal).