Published on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 in the Denver Post
Nader's Solution: Flip A Coin
by Susan Greene
Third-party presidential wannabe Ralph Nader has a simple solution to the stalemate in Florida: Toss a coin.
He's not being flip.
"It sounds kind of arbitrary. But I'm not joking," the Green Party candidate told The Denver Post on Tuesday. "There's really no other way to end this. At this point, no one's ever going to know who really won Florida."
Speaking from his office in Washington, D.C., Nader said that, ideally, a team of nonpartisan volunteers should recount by hand all votes cast in all Florida counties. But, given the Dec. 12 deadline to pick a winner, he acknowledges that's not a remedy the Florida Supreme Court likely will hand down.
Speaking before Tuesday night's decision, Nader said a ruling to accept hand recounts in only a few Democratic counties would be perceived as biased because most of the justices are Democrats. Likewise, he said, a move by Florida's Republican-majority legislature to name Republican partisans as that state's electors would be unfair.
Meantime, Nader added, the longer the standoff continues, the more ballots will be mishandled and tainted.
"It's razor close, and the margin of error is bigger than the margin between them," he said. "Whoever wins is going to have half the nation against them. It's going to leave a bad taste in the American people's mouths."
So, with all the earnestness that only the nation's original consumer advocate can muster, Nader proposes that Al Gore and George W. Bush settle the standoff with a coin toss. The event would be televised live across the globe with "the biggest audience in world history."
Both parties would sell time for commercials that would air every two or three minutes: "Networks do that already anyway." That way, he said, they could raise enough money to finance their presidential campaigns in 2004, pledging not to accept any other contributions.
"It'll give both parties a four-year breather to show America what it's like to have presidential candidates not indentured to corporate contributors," he said.
Although an improbable fix for the dead heat in Florida, Nader's proposal isn't so far-fetched. In the case of a tie in New Mexico, that state's law mandates the outcome be determined "by lot." The two candidates must agree on an acceptable interpretation of that term which, in the past, has meant drawing straws, choosing a high card, playing a round of poker and even a coin toss.
Nader, 66, won 3 percent of the presidential vote on Election Day, failing to reach the 5 percent needed to qualify the Green Party for federal funds in future presidential elections. Still, his candidacy helped the Greens surpass Ross Perot's Reform Party in number of votes cast.
He claimed to be following the Florida standoff "only casually," saying he doesn't much care who wins.
"They're just two lookalike candidates from two lookalike parties that are looking more and more alike. Whoever the winner, he'll just keep hijacking the American governmental system," he said.
Copyright 2000 The Denver Post