Note: If you believe that Ohio can flip to Kerry, this diary is meant for you. If you think the election is over and the recount of Ohio is only good for focussing our attention on the process, I'd love it if you read it anyway, but be forewarned, this diary assumes Ohio can be flipped.
When Al Gore's team requested a recount of select counties in Florida after the 2000 election they made a mistake that, in hindsight, many believe cost Gore the Presidency. If they had asked for a recount of the entire state, it undoubtedly would have played out differently in both the media and the courts. The Republican team would have had more ground to cover and the SCOTUS would have been disenfranchising a much larger population. If we make the same mistake again, the next four years will cause many bleeding ulcers.
More below the fold . . .
Let's assume Kerry wins Ohio. Undoubtedly, the Republicans will challenge in court if possible. But would they not also have the option to immediately counter with recounts in other states that are as close as Ohio. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin come immediately to mind as being close Kerry States. In fact, the spread in Pennsylvania is almost identical to the spread in Ohio. Wisconsin is the one though. If they had an automatic recount provision, which they don't, it would likely kick in as the margin is under one half of one percent. Minnesota is probably safe, but close as well. I haven't analyzed all of the electoral college scenarios yet, but if they flip any one of those states after a flip for Kerry in Ohio, we still lose.
This is why New Mexico, Nevada and Iowa are crucial and we should be hammering on any irregularities in these states and asking for recounts now. Unless Rove knows that the courts are going to stop it, he can't rest on his laurels. He may even need to call for recounts in other states preemptively as Ohio is likely to drag out longer than Wisconsin and PA and the window to ask for a recount will close.
Here is a table with the recount rules for every state, including time requirements.
Will Rove really leave it to an Ohio recount that may not be finished until well into December? We don't know what Blackwell's strategy will be yet, but their strategy of running out the clock in Florida would leave them with no options if they ultimately lost Ohio. We may have an advantage here.
To put it more simply, my concern is that Ohio flips, the Republicans counter with a recount in Wisconsin and flip that and we are back where we started. If they call for a Wisconsin count early, it could even flip before we hear about Ohio and make the recount moot.
We need to analyze the timetable (and I am working on it, but I wanted to get this posted) and if necessary, call for preemptive recounts in the states that could bring the election back to Kerry. New Mexico, Nevada and Iowa.
I'm going to continue researching scenarios and as we get closer to knowing when certification will happen in each state I will post an update with a likely chronology of recount deadlines. Right now it looks like PA will be certified Tuesday and New Mexico on the 23rd or so. In New mexico you must file for a recount within 6 days of certification (see above link). So we are looking at the 29th. In PA the rules require filing within 2 days. That will only give Rove until Thursday, which is probably too soon for him to show his hand. They will need to focus on Wisconsin. I am having trouble finding a projected certification date for Wisconsin and plan on calling the State Elections Board Monday morning. While I have them on the phone, I'm going to ask if they have heard from Bush's legal team about a recount yet.
If we don't carefully plan this and the Ohio/Wisconsin scenario plays out, we won't have learned from Gore's mistakes, we will have repeated them on a much larger and more tragic scale.
We can't predict the future, particularly the next two months. They will be full of twists and turns and we will be very sorry if we gave up somewhere that "didn't matter" and it ends up mattering.
Update [2004-11-15 20:7:42 by apotropaic]: I spoke with two people at the Wisconsin Board of Elections today and both went "on the record" that no presidential candidate has contacted them about doing a recount. They also were unwilling to provide an estimated date for certification, but said it would be done by the December 1st deadline.