Tags: Pivotal | Day | Battle | for | Presidency

Pivotal Day in Battle for Presidency

Monday, 13 November 2000 12:00 AM

Palm Beach County was to start a countywide manual recount. Broward County was set to start a hand count at 2 p.m. EST, Volusia County was halfway through its recount, and Miami-Dade was to decide whether to have one Tuesday.

In the lawsuit, Republicans argued that the constitutional rights of voters elsewhere in the state would be violated if a recount were conducted in the four counties. Treating ballots differently in different counties, the suit argued, violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

It also said manual recounts in every Florida count would take so long, the state might miss the Dec. 18 deadline for casting its electoral vote. And it argued that media coverage of a changed result, even if it were overturned, would compromise the legitimacy of the potential Bush administration.

The Gore campaign contended hand counting was constitutional and did not increase the chances of error or dilute the existing vote count.

U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks was to preside over the 9:30 a.m. hearing in Miami.

Palm Beach County election officials announced Sunday they intended to begin a manual recount Monday of all 425,000 ballots cast after a sample count of 4,000 ballots in four precincts added 19 votes to Vice President Al Gore's total.

Unless blocked by a court order being sought by the Bush campaign, elections officials were to meet Monday to decide how to proceed on the full manual count, which could take several days.

At stake are Florida's 25 electoral votes, which will likely decide the election.

With the outcome in Florida, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa and Oregon uncertain, Gore's tally of likely electoral votes stood at 255 to Bush's 246.

Before the hand recount of four precincts in Palm Beach was completed early Sunday, Voter News Service gave Bush an edge of 331 votes in Florida. Gore gained 19 votes in the recount, and a count of write-in votes in Volusia County gave Gore five more, dropping the margin to 307.

A state court hearing was set for Tuesday on a suit challenging Palm Beach County's butterfly ballots, which some voters said they found confusing. Some voters said it was so unclear, they voted for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Gore.

Florida was to report its final vote Friday, after overseas absentee ballots were counted.

In an appearance on "Face the Nation" on CBS Sunday, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, speaking for the Bush campaign, proposed that both sides accept the recount of Florida votes already conducted by machine, plus the tabulation of still-incoming absentee ballots.

"We would agree to abide by the results of the count of those overseas absentee ballots provided they are counted in an appropriate and legal way, if the other side would agree to do that," he said.

He contended there were inconsistent rules for hand recounts among the various counties and that hand recounts introduced greater chances for errors.

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, speaking for the Gore campaign, rejected Baker's proposal on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We are not prepared to do that, frankly," Christopher said. "This is the procedure called for by Florida law." The manual recounts in four Florida counties would likely increase Gore's total.

The Bush campaign expected the overseas military vote to favor its candidate. A Miami Herald survey of 17 Florida counties showed 2,975 overseas ballots had yet to be returned.

As their advisers scrambled for every advantage, the candidates remained publicly above the fray. Gore went to church Sunday but did not comment on the recount to reporters. Gore advisers were on television talk shows on Sunday arguing the manual ballot recount should continue.

Bush remained with vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney and other potential members of a new administration at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The Bush campaign Saturday filed the 80-page lawsuit and motions seeking an injunction to stop manual recounts of ballots in four Florida counties that voted for Gore Tuesday.

Baker charged that a hand count would result in more errors than a machine count and would be subject to partisan mischief.

In the only unresolved race for U.S. Senate, figures from Washington state showed incumbent Republican Slade Gorton retaking a 5,353-vote lead over Democrat Maria Cantwell. A Cantwell victory would split the Senate 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats.

Vote totals were extremely close in New Mexico, where counting in Bernalillo County was chaotic due to lost ballots and computer glitches. Bush took a slim lead over Gore Saturday in the fight for the state's five electoral votes after Bernalillo County – where Albuquerque is located – nearly completed its count of 67,000 ballots that were not tabulated on election night.

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Palm Beach County was to start a countywide manual recount. Broward County was set to start a hand count at 2 p.m. EST, Volusia County was halfway through its recount, and Miami-Dade was to decide whether to have one Tuesday. In the lawsuit, Republicans argued that the...
Monday, 13 November 2000 12:00 AM
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