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Recount: The Mighty vs. the Many

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REVIEW: Recount.  Directed by Jay Roach. Currently airing on HBO.

No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a vote in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.

 Williams v. Rhodes, 393 US 23, 30-31 (1968)

I thoroughly enjoyed Recount. It was pretty unforgiving of Repubs, hitting the multiple ways their strategy disenfranchised Dem voters, from pre-election tactics to post election legal strategy.  Most of the ideas we've read about or covered in the past several years were raised in the film – it's packed full of these ideas.   

And it also lampooned the spineless strategy of top Dem leadership, another topic we've blogged much about. "Country above party" becomes an excuse to avoid the real battle – the powerful deciding what the people rightfully decide – who shall make the laws. 

Recount had me busting a gut laughing at some of the acting comedically pulled off by Laura Dern, as Katherine Harris.  Based on what Harris did, the movie was kind to only mock her.   

Kevin Spacey turns any film he touches into gold.  This time, he plays Ron Klain, Gore's former chief of staff.  A comedic moment with him happens when his sidekick (Dennis Leary) punches the air in victory, but connects with Spacey's nose.  However, Klain is mainly portrayed as an earnest man who still believes in democracy; there's even a scene where someone comments, "You sound like you really believe that." 

The film abounds with numerous one-liners that had me cheering, even tho I knew the outcome. 

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The James Baker character held himself with dignity and met all my ideas of what the guy would be like in person.  Well, mostly, since there was no creepy, Machiavellian edge to him in the film. 

Actual news footage is used, as well as the actual quote by that West Palm Beach election official (Carol Roberts) who refused to follow Harris' order to stop the recount.  This is the full quote from a news conference with the Palm Beach Canvassing Board captured on film in Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002): 
CAROL ROBERTS: This Board has now been mandated by Chief Election Officer of the State of Florida not to count the votes of the people of Palm Beach County.

Legal advisor from Harris' office: You have an, a binding opinion from the Division of Elections. 

CAROL ROBERTS:  What happens?  Do we go to jail?  Because I'm willing to go jail.

Legal advisor: No, I, no, I just felt that... 

Crowd cheers.

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Link to Palm Beach Canvassing Board v. Katherine Harris

Because of the dozen or so election documentaries I've seen, much of this info was familiar to me. Several times during the film, I annoyed my family with, "this really happened, she really said that," or "they really did that." 

The film showed the ease with which punch cards can be voided, thru negligent maintenance and poor ballot design, disenfranchising voters. It captured voter purges, and unequal distribution of quality machines. It showed Repub operatives rioting at the Miami-Dade Board of Elections office, also previously documented in election films.   

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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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Sunday's South Florida Sun Sentinel enjoyed the fi... by Rady Ananda on Monday, May 26, 2008 at 4:39:16 PM
Karen Renick of VoteRescue Radio provided this tod... by Rady Ananda on Monday, May 26, 2008 at 5:18:05 PM
but I agree a postscript concerning the final anal... by F. Vyan Walton on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 3:29:20 AM
OK, you sold me, I gotta see this movie - I am gla... by Meryl Ann Butler on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 4:20:06 PM
omg I burst out laughing at your hanging chads sug... by Rady Ananda on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 9:28:11 PM
Hi Rady,  Though it wasn't perfect I thought Reco... by David Lasagna on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 8:14:52 PM
You're absolutely right, David, and more resea... by Rady Ananda on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 9:33:28 PM
If the film failed to tell the truth about who cal... by Barbara Bellows-TerraNova on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 4:56:21 AM
is a huge issue - and worthy of its own film. ... by Rady Ananda on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 5:06:40 PM