What do you think the chances are that we’ll know who won the election on November 6? November 7? By Christmas?
Enter, the lawyers:
Leading Romney’s team is Benjamin Ginsberg, chief legal counsel for George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004.
Obama has turned to Robert Bauer, a past White House counsel who has spoken out against Republican-led efforts to alter voting laws in states including Ohio, a politically divided state that could determine who wins the November 6 election.
Already, Ginsberg and Bauer have been quiet players in the 2012 campaign.
For decades, Ginsberg and Bauer have given partisan legal advice for campaigns, recounts and election court battles.
“The truth is, there are very few lawyers who work in this area,” Ginsberg told The New York Times in 2004.
Bauer has shown he is willing to enter the political fray.
This summer, he crossed swords with Republican strategist Karl Rove, claiming that American Crossroads, a conservative advocacy group co-founded by the former Bush adviser, was illegally colluding with Romney’s campaign.
Under the U.S. tax code the non-profit arm of American Crossroads, known as Crossroads GPS, can raise and spend unlimited funds as a “social welfare” organization without disclosing its donors, as long as it advocates for positions on issues and does not directly support a candidate.
In June, Rove told Fox News the Crossroads group was not doing anything illegal and Bauer’s criticism was “not going to change us in one way, shape or form from doing exactly what we’re entitled to do under the law.”
With Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat in the polls, the state-by-state race for president has a range of chaotic possibilities.
The mostly likely scenario is that there will be a clear winner on election night, or the next morning. But the closeness of the race raises the possibility of a range of less conclusive, more confusing scenarios.
Among them: a disputed result in a state because of voting delays, problems with ballots or vote counting.
A contested election would send Bauer and Ginsberg – and law firms across the nation – rushing to courtrooms to question the validity of votes or any other irregularities that might have tipped the scales in a state’s voting results.
It will also help to have a sympathetic federal judge to muck things up royally. It is likely that supposedly neutral judges will allow their partisanship to get the better of them — especially when the stakes are so high.
But the real nightmare scenario involves mandated recounts in more than one state due to the closeness of the vote. Currently, there are 5 states where the candidates are within 2 points of each other. It’s not difficult to imagine one or two of those contests triggering an automatic recount. And then you might want to pop some popcorn, sit back, and watch the legal fur fly.