Volume 18, Number 1
January/February 2001

The Chair's Corner

Correcting Flawed Election Procedures

By Wynn A. Gunderson

As I write this message, the presidential election remains in doubt. The election process in Florida has been accompanied by a loud clamor from those who have little or no understanding of our judicial system, claiming that lawyers are flocking to Florida, causing a litigation explosion over election issues, and delaying the election's outcome. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that the problems associated with ballot counting, election contests, and the like will surely create a new "industry" for lawyers in the future, implying that this will become another form of ambulance-chasing stimulated by the greed of lawyers.

Like so many other voters, my 89-year-old mother has been glued to her television set, watching the legal maneuvering by the various trial lawyers involved. She has commented on how impressed she is with their grasp of details and ability to work under incredible pressure-pressure caused by the world's watching them protect their clients' rights and make history.

Never have I been so proud to be a lawyer as I am at this time. I have witnessed lawyers and judges from both parties treating each other with respect while working around the clock to uphold the rule of law. I am convinced that all are committed to ensuring the constitutional protection of the rights of both voters and candidates. These able lawyers of our great country are engaged in seeking a resolution to the electoral impasse through advocacy in the courts, not through the violence in the streets that we periodically see in other countries.

Despite the obvious need to protect the legal rights of those involved, many new jokes ridiculing lawyers have surfaced. When I am confronted with jokes critical of lawyers, I ask which is preferable-settling a dispute in the streets or in the courtroom? This response seems to temper the desire to put lawyers down, because the answer is obvious. I also remind the jokesters that Hitler hated lawyers because of his unwillingness to be held accountable to the rule of law as he took away the rights of his country's citizens.

This is not to say that correcting flawed election procedures is unnecessary. Likely, lawyers will be involved in adding clarity to existing legislation and providing input to make our election laws more uniform and understandable for future national elections. The American Bar Association also can play a major role in improving the procedures for administering elections, and I intend to add my voice to others to ensure our association becomes appropriately involved in the post-election dialogue. I encourage you to give me your thoughts on how the ABA might assist in this endeavor. Please e-mail me at wynn@gpgnlaw.com.

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