Both President Barack Obama‘s and Mitt Romney‘s campaigns have enlisted thousands of attorneys in case any factors cause the upcoming election to be contested, the Washington Post reported. One particularly notable factor being Hurricane Sandy.
Both campaigns have legal staffs that have already begun war-gaming the legal possibilities. Obama’s effort is headed by former White House counsel Robert Bauer, while Romney’s legal team is run by Ben Ginsberg, chief legal counsel for Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns.
“Election litigation has become an institutionalized part of campaigns since the 2000 presidential race,” the report noted, and the “volume of court fights triggered by contests up and down the ballot has doubled in the past 12 years.”
This time around, the storm that devastated a large portion of the Northeast “has hampered early voting and created concern that those in ravaged areas may have difficulty getting to the polls next Tuesday.” It’s a cause for concern for both sides.
“If there are lingering problems, lack of power, impassable streets, closed polling places – all of those things could lead to litigation just before or on Election Day,” said Richard Hasen, a professor at the University of California at Irvine.
With many polls – both nationally and in battleground states – showing a statistical dead heat between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, the two sides are putting unprecedented energy into lawyering up.
To that recipe, add one part “the heightened level of distrust and skepticism about the election process” thanks to the controversial 2000 Florida recount and one part social media power.
It makes for a potentially messy situation with many variables.
While both campaigns declined to officially elaborate on specific legal strategies, they said they’re ready should we find ourselves in “overtime.”
Vice-President Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but Texas Governor George W. Bush captured Florida’s 29 electoral votes — and the White House — after 36 days of lawsuits, recounts and court actions.