Article courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer
For months, President Obama and Mitt Romney have been waging full-blown political combat. But all the while, they’ve fought a little-noticed shadow contest that could have as much bearing on the race as media buys and debates
Come Election Day, both sides plan to deploy thousands of lawyers to guard election procedures in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia, where polls have been tightening and both campaigns have unleashed an avalanche of late advertising.
In a reprise of the legal battle over the contested presidential election of 2000, the campaigns have drawn up plans for litigating the result in cases where a razor-thin state vote might be contested.
“They are all lawyered up, absolutely,” says election law expert Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “They have teams everywhere.”
To project an aura of confidence as well as prevent disclosure of confidential litigation strategies, both parties have sought to play down such efforts.
But each campaign has been working for months to assemble teams of volunteer lawyers to help monitor Election Day activities and to descend on voting districts after the race in cases where the results are in dispute – either to challenge the final tally or to defend it.
There are a handful of lawyers nationally who have made their careers representing parties and political candidates in election disputes. Robert Bauer, former White House counsel for Obama, is now the top lawyer for his reelection campaign; Ben Ginsberg, a University of Pennsylvania law school graduate who helped lead efforts on behalf of President George W. Bush in the Florida recount of 2000 heads Romney’s legal team this year.