BRING ON THE LAWYERS. Roll Call reported last week that in addition to the parties, candidates, and voters who've been gearing up for today, the lawyers are also ready to go to work -- if they have to.
With an usually high number of competitive House and Senate contests on tap this Election Day, lawyers, consultants and strategists are already beginning to mobilize for what could be a divisive and expensive aspect of the post-election process: recounts.
The fact that many states will be using increasingly controversial electronic voting machines -- in some cases, for the first time -- increases the likelihood that some results will be in dispute.
"Most cycles there are three or four races that are unresolved in the days immediately following the election," said Chris Sautter, a Democratic recount consultant and lawyer. "Because of the large numbers of races in play this cycle -- combined with the changes brought on by the Help America Vote Act -- there will be a greater number of recounts than usual."
For that matter, the New York Times added that "the legal machinery of a messy fight is shifting into high gear."
A team of lawyers for the Democratic Party has been arguing with postal officials in Columbus, Ohio, trying to persuade them to process thousands of absentee ballots that have arrived with insufficient postage.
In Pennsylvania, the Republican Party has opened a "recount account" and set aside $500,000 to pay lawyers who will answer telephones on Election Day and monitor polls to see whether officials demand proper voters' identification. In Maryland, lawyers representing candidates for senator and governor from both parties met recently and swapped cellphone numbers and e-mail addresses to smooth out the logistics of potential litigation.
"We're not going to make the mistake we did last time, which was to wait until after the election for litigation," said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.