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What if neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama wins on Nov. 6?

What if we wake up on Wednesday, and find out that in several states the outcome is in doubt, and neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney is the clear winner? America could be heading for court battles that will make Florida in 2000 look like a tussle at the local PTA.

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President Obama, accompanied by American Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern, speaks at the Red Cross National Headquarters to discuss superstorm Sandy Oct. 30 in Washington. Op-ed contributor Jeremy D. Mayer asks: 'Bigger than any single issue, bigger than the entire agendas of both candidates, looms the question: Can America still peacefully exchange power without bitter controversy and weeks of uncertainty?'

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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What if neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama is the clear winner on Nov. 6? What if we wake up on Wednesday morning, and find out that in one, three, five, or even more states, the outcome is in doubt, and America is heading for court battles that will make Florida in 2000 look like a tussle at the local PTA?

The possibility of that happening has never been greater. More than 10 states are putting new election laws into effect in this election dealing with voter identification, early voting, or absentee ballots. Other states are altering their election laws in less obvious ways that affect administration. Each of these changes increases the possibility that there will be unintentional errors, confusion, or systemic failure.

Remember the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach? If that one innocent snafu had not been made by a local Democratic election official, Al Gore would have been easily elected.

But there’s more. The parties and outside groups are lawyering up to respond to these changes, and to the fears that the ballots will be tainted.

On the Democratic side, many believe that millions of voters could be disenfranchised by voter identification laws. Or, voter watch groups will challenge legitimate voters in heavily Democratic precincts, tying up the voting process. If challenges push lines to an hour or more to vote, some voters will be unable or unwilling to wait for their chance to cast a ballot for President Obama.

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