Tags: Florida | Recount: | Gore | Creeps

Florida Recount: Gore Creeps Up

Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM

In Wednesday's final report, the Division of Elections said Democrat Al Gore had gathered 133 extra votes to 125 for Republican George W. Bush, a gain of only eight, UPI reported. One of the counties completing the recount was Broward County, the most heavily Democrat county in the state. Bush edged Gore there, picking up 44 additional votes to Gore's 43.

However, CNN reported Wednesday night that Bush gained 205 votes in Wednesday's recount and Gore 238, a slightly better improvement of 33 votes. The new total is 2,909,465 votes for Bush and 2,907,722 for Gore, with 19 of 67 counties reporting, CNN says.

And Fox News reported that Gore gained 605 votes, compared to 254 for Bush.

There was no explanation for the discrepancy among the three reports.

The first vote count showed Texas Gov. Bush with a narrow lead over Vice President Gore in Florida. Because of the close vote count, Florida's election officials, by law, began a mandatory recount, which has to be completed by the close of the business day Thursday.

The recount was suspended at just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, will resume this morning and is expected to end by 6 p.m. EST.

Three separate issues have arisen in Volusia County.

The supervisor of elections office in DeLand was temporarily closed Wednesday by Judge Michael McDermott, a member of the county canvassing board, because of allegations that an elections worker had removed ballots from the building early that morning. Her car was searched by police, and nothing was found.

At one point Tuesday night, machine totals indicated Al Gore had received minus-16,000 votes, while Socialist candidate James Harris had almost 10,000 votes. The problem was believed to be caused by a faulty computer disk and was corrected.

Wednesday evening, a poll worker dropped off a bag of ballots from precinct 602. They had been placed with others in a central collection area Tuesday and were accidentally left behind. These and all ballots from every precinct except 216 are being recounted electronically, while precinct 216's votes will be recounted manually.

Gore urged "respect for the rule of law" in a brief statement Wednesday afternoon.

"We now need to resolve this election in a way that is fair and forthright, and in a way that is fully consistent with the Constitution and our laws," Gore said.

"Because of what is at stake, this matter must be resolved expeditiously, but deliberately and without any rush to judgment."

Bush said Wednesday afternoon in Austin, Texas: "This morning brings news from Florida that the final vote count there shows that Secretary [Dick] Cheney and I have carried the state of Florida.

"And if that result is confirmed by an automatic recount, as we expect it to be, then we have won the election."

It appears that whoever wins Florida's 25 electoral votes will have enough electoral votes to be elected president. That could lead to a situation where the man chosen president by the Electoral College received fewer popular votes than the losing candidate. The last time a candidate won the presidency that way was in 1888, when Republican Benjamin Harrison defeated incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland.

In the popular vote, as of 5:45 p.m. EST Wednesday, Al Gore had 48,976,148 votes to Bush's 48,783,510, CNN reported. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had 2,670,235, or about 3 percent. Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan earlier had 443,291, or less than 1 percent.

Florida's returns on Wednesday showed Bush with 2,909,136 votes and Gore with 2,907,331 – both at 49 percent. Green Party nominee Ralph Nader had 96,698, or about 2 percent, and Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan had 17,327, or less than 1 percent.

Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth – Gore's campaign manager in the state – said officials would work swiftly.

"I believe we owe it to the country to do it as absolutely quickly as possible," Butterworth said.

Early Wednesday, CNN, Fox News, CBS, ABC and NBC proclaimed Bush as the presidential victor, projecting that he had won Florida, and Gore's campaign said the vice president called Bush around 1:45 a.m. to concede and offer congratulations. Gore started moving toward a plaza where he was to speak to supporters, but along the way campaign aides learned the Florida margin was small and shrinking. Gore called Bush about 2:30 a.m. to say he wasn't going to concede until results in Florida were clear, spokesman Doug Hattaway said.

About that time, the secretary of state's office in Florida announced that the margin between Bush and Gore in the Sunshine State was in the range of about 1,200 votes, with absentee ballots yet to be counted.

Butterworth said state law requires a recount if the margin of victory is smaller than one-half of 1 percent.

In Nashville, Tenn., Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley said: "I've been in politics for a long time. But there's never been a night like this one."

He went on to say: "As everyone in America knows, this race has come down to the state of Florida. And without being certain of the results in Florida, we simply cannot be certain of the results of this national election. I want to add that Vice President Gore and Sen. Lieberman are fully prepared to concede and support Gov. George W. Bush if and when he is officially elected president. But this race is still too close to call – and until the recount is concluded and the results in Florida become official, our campaign continues."

The Gore campaign said a team led by campaign adviser Ron Klain would observe the recount and that former Secretary of State Warren Christopher had been asked to play a role in observing.

Butterworth said most of the ballots are counted electronically so the process would move quickly.

"There will be watchers from both sides," Butterworth said.

It was unclear how many absentee ballots would be counted – and how many ballots sent to military personnel would still come in. Military absentee ballots are required only to be postmarked by Election Day, which means some could arrive as late as 10 days after the election.

The presidential race was the closest since 1968, when Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey 43.4 percent to 42.7 percent (with George Wallace receiving 13.5 percent) and potentially the closest since 1960, when Democrat John F. Kennedy defeated Richard M. Nixon by 49.7 percent to 49.5 percent of the vote, amid charges of Democrat vote fraud in Chicago and Texas.

The close race confounded polling in Florida, where Voter News Service and networks and news services using VNS data in figuring their projections initially projected Gore as the victor but then pulled back, citing problems with some county totals and saying the race was too close to call.

In Oregon, which has seven electoral votes, most residents voted by mail, but computer problems and late delivery of ballots delayed counting.

It appeared that whoever wins will do so with the fewest electoral votes since 1916, when Democrat Woodrow Wilson received 277 electoral votes to defeat Republican Charles Evans Hughes.

In the tabulated vote, Bush led in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Gore led in California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Polls leading up to Tuesday's elections showed the closest presidential races in decades – virtually a dead heat between Bush, 54, son of President George Bush; and Gore, 52, a former U.S. senator and the son of the late U.S. Sen. Al Gore Sr.

Tuesday's election also was the climax of a campaign that was the most expensive in U.S. history, with an estimated $3 billion spent on the presidential and congressional campaigns.

Gore and Bush battled for a majority – at least 270 – of the 538 votes of the Electoral College, which actually elects the president and vice president. Each state's electoral vote is based on the number of representatives and senators the state has in Washington.

The popular vote in each state and the District of Columbia determines which slates of electors vote in the Electoral College. In Maine and Nebraska the electoral vote is divided according to the results in each congressional district, but elsewhere it's winner take all.

Electors meet Dec. 18 in their state capitals to cast their ballots, which are to be read before Congress Jan. 6. If no presidential candidate gains a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives selects the president. If there is no Electoral College majority for a vice presidential candidate, the Senate makes the selection.

The newly elected president and vice president will be inaugurated Jan. 20.

(C) 2000 UPI. All Rights Reserved.

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In Wednesday's final report, the Division of Elections said Democrat Al Gore had gathered 133 extra votes to 125 for Republican George W. Bush, a gain of only eight, UPI reported. One of the counties completing the recount was Broward County, the most heavily Democrat...
Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM
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