File format conversion crisis delayed attempt to challenge US presidential election result

Legal geniuses behind case ask for extra time to convert between Google Docs and MS Word


The legal minds behind a so-far-failed attempt to sue United States vice-president Mike Pence so he can challenge the result of the nation’s presidential election have not only failed to put forward a convincing legal argument, but they also struggled to convert documents from one format to another.

The Register makes the latter suggestion after reading a pair of filings in the case of JDK Gohmert et al v. Pence that saw congressman Gohmert ask the US District Court to change the role the vice-president plays in the tallying of electoral college votes. Today, that role is largely ceremonial. The suit sought to give the veep power to decide which electoral college votes should be counted, in the hope Pence would decide not to count some baselessly disputed votes and by doing so change the outcome of the presidential election.

But as Gohmert’s lawyers tried to make their case they hit a problem: the time needed to move documents from Google Docs to Microsoft Word file formats meant they could miss filing deadlines.

“During the course of preparation, Plaintiffs’ counsel have encountered numerous technical incompatibilities in the software versions between Google Docs and Microsoft Word resulting in editing difficulties and text problems,” says one filing [PDF]. Plaintiffs therefore requested an extra hour to file their case. A second filing [PDF] makes the same request. Both documents ask for an extra hour to finish the cut and paste job.

The requests were not opposed by the defendants and the court allowed the short delay.

File format turned out not to matter because the case was rejected on the basis that Gohmert and his fellow plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue the case, and that they’d sued the wrong target. The District Court said that as Congress made the rules that govern the Veep’s actions, any such action would need to target Congress.

At least the plaintiffs didn’t make things worse by using Excel as a database. ®


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