Bush lead in peril after manual recount

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Bush lead in peril after manual recount

By David Usborne in West Palm Beach

13 November 2000

George W Bush's hopes of capturing the White House were in jeopardy last night after a partial recount by hand of votes cast last Tuesday in Palm Beach County, Florida, seemed to suggest that the state could yet tip the way of Vice-President Al Gore.

Election supervisors in Palm Beach ordered a manual recount of all 425,000 votes registered in the county, starting tomorrow, after a visual inspection of 1 per cent of the votes yielded a net gain of 19 for the Vice-President. That could translate to a 1,900-vote bonus for Mr Gore once all the county is recounted. That would win him Florida and the presidency.

Republicans are now pinning their hopes on a Miami court, where a judge will rule this morning on a request from the Bush campaign that all manual recounts in Florida, requested by the Democrats, be halted. The suit was given little chance of success, however. Meanwhile, four heavily Democratic counties, including Palm Beach, are now committed to manual recounts.

In its lawsuit filed on Saturday, the Bush campaign insisted the manual recounts be halted on the ground that they are prey to human error as well as political bias. This was an abrupt reversal by the Bush campaign, which had previously promised to keep away from the courts.

Warren Christopher, the former secretary of state drafted in by Mr Gore to oversee the election post-mortem in Florida, insisted yesterday that the final outcome B and the identity of the next President B would be known "in a matter of days".

Calling the deadlock a "black mark" for America, James Baker, who is representing George W Bush in Florida, repeated his call yesterday that both parties respect the results of the state-wide mechanical recount in Florida conducted last week, pending the figures expected on Friday from thousands of absentee ballots sent back to the state by Floridians living abroad.

"Whoever wins then, wins," Mr Baker told NBC. "We will accept that result." He conceded that since the unofficial tally of mechanically recounted Florida votes showed Bush with only a narrow lead, "there is some risk, I suppose, George Bush could lose when those overseas ballots are counted. But he is willing to say, 'fine, there should be a cutoff here'."

But with the manual recounts seeming likely to tilt the state in the Vice-President's favour, there was little chance that the Democrats would acquiesce. Mr Christopher suggested it would be a "tragedy" if America installed a new President only to find out he was the wrong man.

But he strenuously denied Republican claims that the Democrats, by moving first to file legal challenges to the initial Florida result, were trying to delay an outcome with an eye to circumventing the decision of the electoral college, which is to convene on 18 December.

"Absolutely not," Mr Christopher said. "We're not talking about a long delay here. Frankly, I think it's a matter of days B not weeks, not months B but days before we reach a result. We want to reach a full and fair result, but we want to do it in an expeditious way."

Volusia County, to the north of West Palm Beach, began its own recount of 184,000 votes yesterday with 100 workers expected to inspect the ballots in 14-hour shifts for three days. Two other counties, also heavily Democratic B Broward and Miami-Dade B were scheduled to begin manual recounts today.

The Republicans meanwhile were casting an eye to three other US states. Final counting in New Mexico had pushed the state from Gore into the Bush column yesterday, while Gore victories in Iowa and Wisconsin also looked vulnerable. If Mr Gore were to lose those states but win Florida, the candidates would end up with 269 electoral college votes each. That would leave the job of selecting the President to the Congress.

-- Voter (not@over.yet), November 12, 2000


Why not re-count the entire state of Florida? That would be much more fair than only counting certain counties which would be more likely to vote for Gore.

BTW, if Al Gore wants to claim the popular vote shouldn't we recount every vote in the country since his lead is much less than 1/2 of one percent?

-- butt nugget (catsbutt@umailme.com), November 12, 2000.

Why not re-count the entire state of Florida?

Yea...lets start here Lets Count ALL the votes shall we?! Hmmm?

-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), November 12, 2000.

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