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August 1, 2002

Words fail me From the AP:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Katherine Harris resigned Thursday as Florida secretary of state and made the move retroactive to July 15, saying she had misunderstood the rules about when she had to quit to run for Congress.

Harris, a Republican who as the state’s chief election official was thrust into the international spotlight during the 2000 White House recount, said she had intended to quit later this month to focus on the congressional race.

But the state’s resign-to-run law required her to file a letter on the day she qualified to run for Congress stating her intent to resign. Otherwise, the law says, the candidate must resign immediately.

“I made a mistake in not filing the letter,” Harris said.

Harris said she thought the law did not apply to her office.

“They belong to a club. You’re not a member of it and you never will be.” —Teresa Nielsen Hayden [10:12 PM]
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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Words fail me:

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2002, 12:32 AM:

"Harris said she thought the law did not apply to her office."

Wow. There's just a world of commentary in that one sentence.

James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2002, 08:38 AM:

"Harris said she thought the law did not apply to her office."

We knew that. I wonder if she's returning her paychecks for the period 15 July - 1 August and voiding all the decisions she made during that period.

Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2002, 11:28 AM:


Under what circumstances is it reasonable for a chief election official to not understand the law regarding standing for elections?

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2002, 11:38 AM:

She won't be returning the paycheck. From the original article:

"A spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush said he accepted the resignation, but that Harris would be retained as acting secretary until a sucessor is named."

That "acting" appointment is retroactive, of course. And there will be no rush to name a successor.


Neel Krishnaswami ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2002, 07:44 AM:

I don't dispute that this makes Harris look simultaneously arrogant and incompetent, but I just don't see the cause for outrage here.

Normally I get all dewy-eyed about the rule of law, but if there's one place I am willing to tolerate slackness, it's in the rules that control who gets on the ballot. The voters provide an instant sanity check with the election, so there's no harm and a great deal of good in being relaxed about this particular set of rules.

I'm a little sensitive on this point because here in MA the Democrats just tried to keep Mitt Romney from running for governer with a challenge to his residency status. This just felt really sleazy to me. (This is not a disease peculiar to the Democrats, mind: note the Republicans' attempt to keep Hilary off the ballot in NY a couple of years back. Everyone gets legalistic when the other guy takes it on the chin.)

Tim Kyger ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2002, 12:17 PM:

And in other election year tomfoolery, check out what's happening with the Mayoral election in Washington, D.C. == the Mayor that can't shoot straight, or whatever other cliche' suggests itself...

Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2002, 01:58 PM:

Neel: According to this editorial, Harris's slackness actually resulted in over 100 people being prevented from being on the ballots this year. I'd call that harm, wouldn't you?

http://www.stpetersburgtimes.com/2002/08/04/Perspective/State_of_chaos.shtml