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Obama, Romney teams 'lawyer up' for Election Day vote disputes

Thousands of partisan lawyers and poll-watchers have fanned out across the country, ready to fight over contested votes on Election Day. Nobody wants a repeat of Florida's contentious 2000 recount.

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Bush v. Gore, of course, was the controversial US Supreme Court decision that abruptly ended a recount in Florida in 2000, sending to the White House the man who’d lost the popular vote nationwide by more than half a million votes.

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In addition to the campaigns, other political entities are ready to jump in.

On the GOP side, that includes the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The National Republican Lawyers Association has 4,500 members at the ready, reports the Washington Post, some of them keeping an eye on 30,000 absentee ballots being hand-counted in Florida because a printing error meant they couldn’t be electronically scanned.

Heading up the Republican effort is Romney chief counsel Benjamin Ginsberg, who was heavily involved on the Bush side of the Florida recount 12 years ago.

Democrats are getting legal help from several hundred labor union lawyers and an “election protection” coalition led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is providing some 2,000 volunteers manning call centers should anybody want to report Election Day funny business. Leading the overall legal effort for the D’s is former Obama White House general counsel Robert Bauer.

Mr. Bauer and Mr. Ginsberg know each other well; they negotiated the terms of the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

Weeks before the election, partisan lawyers already were fighting over new election laws in about 20 states, which critics said could suppress the vote. For the most part, courts sided with Democrats in turning back those efforts, many of which focused on a requirement for voters to present identification.

“Contrary to some reports, there have not been far-reaching and significant changes to voter ID laws in the battleground states since 2008,” Bauer and Obama campaign senior strategist Stephanie Cutter wrote in a widely circulated memo. “In states like North Carolina, Iowa, and Michigan, proposed changes were rejected and did not become law; in other states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, legal challenges have proven highly successful in turning back unconstitutional attacks on voting rights.”


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