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Hartselle Enquirer

Still no election outcome

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–I bemoaned the fact last week in this space that I was writing my column before the election and you would be reading it after the election. You knew who won, I didn't.
I have much the same problem this week. By the time you read this there is no telling what has happened in the most unprecedented gubernatorial election in history.
Will there be a statewide recount? Will Gov. Siegelman contest the election and ask that the Legislature determine who won the race…or, and this seems most unlikely, will he concede defeat?
What seems probable at this writing is that Siegelman's request for a statewide recount will be denied because it does not meet the requirements of the law. A recount cannot be sought simply because an election is close…there must be compelling evidence of misconduct and at this point he has produced no such evidence.
However, the Constitution and state law is quite clear…if the outcome of a race for a constitutional office is contested, it automatically goes to the Alabama Legislature which then determines the winner.
At first glance this might seem somewhat like a "Kangaroo Court" because Democrats are in solid control of both chambers–25-10 in the Senate, 64-41 in the House. It would seem that Bob Riley would have about as much hope of surviving as that proverbial snowball in hell.
However, many legislators…especially those with higher ambitions…will be exceedingly reluctant to overturn the vote of the people unless there is compelling evidence that Siegelman did indeed win the race. In fact, you can be sure that most of them will be praying they will not be brought into the fight.
One of the almost amusing developments in this election was the abrupt about face done by Gov. Siegelman. For a man who has had minimum military experience, he performed that maneuver with considerable skill.
On election night, with votes still to be counted and he holding on to a paper-thin lead, Siegelman went to the podium and claimed victory.
But not content to stop there, he then urged Riley not to contest the outcome.
A couple of days later…after Riley had taken a 3,000 vote lead…here came the same Siegelman asking for a recount, insisting passionately that he made this request "for the people of the state of Alabama."
There is an old expression that comes to mind about who's ox is being gored.
A few unrelated comments on the truly remarkable election…
There had much pre-election talk that their would be a less than enthusiastic turnout of black voters on Nov. 5. As a matter of fact, there was a massive black vote coupled with a less than massive turnout of the white conservate voters. That made all the difference. It also explained why all the pollsters who had picked Riley to win comfortably were wiping egg off their collective faces on Wednesday morning.
One of the more puzzling developments in the governor's race was why it took so long for someone to pick up on the 6,000 vote error in the
Baldwin County vote. Anyone with walking around sense, politically speaking, should have realized that there was no way Siegelman could have polled 19,000 votes in that Republican-dominated county.
If the governor's race does end up in the bosom of the Legislature, it will begin its hearing of the dispute on Jan. 13 in the organizational session. What happens, you might wonder, if the lawmakers have come to no conclusion by Jan. 20, which is inauguration day? In that event,
Bob Riley, the certified governor-elect will be inaugurated. He is governor-elect until his election is voided, either by the Legislature or a court.
And on the same subject, will both men start making plans for their own inauguration parades and balls?
I say it again…we are in totally uncharted territory. Nobody knows where this is going nor do they know where it will end. About the only safe prediction to be made is that this time it will be Alabama rather than Florida which will be the target of one-liners and ridicule.