Bush margin shrinks

Gore camp is considering taking legal action

Posted: Thursday, November 09, 2000

Elementary solutions to the presidential dilemma

The JUNEAU EMPIRE

How should the close vote dilemma in the presidential election be solved? First- and second-grade students at Auke Bay Elementary School offered these solutions:

"Everyone should vote again or do ABC order by first name or share it or have one be president and one be vice president." - Evan Gross

"I think George W. Bush should be president and Al Gore be vice president." - David Mendivil

"I think we should split the four years into two years for each of you. Or, we could go by ABC order in last names." - Samantha Washburn

"I think you should figure out who should be president by doing rock-paper-scissors and whoever wins should be president." - Shannen Shibley

"I think George W. Bush should be president because George W. Bush is nicer, but if they get in a fight over it maybe they could play poker to see who wins." - Kaela Burke

"I think that Al Gore and George W. Bush could share the White House." - Evelyn Walker

"I think they should do rock-paper-scissors or see who is the strongest by lifting weights." - Devin Bertholl

"You could do poker or Go Fish or rock-paper-scissors or ABC order in first name or who can do the hardest math problem to see who gets it right to be president." - Cassie Bloom

"I think all of the United States should vote again because it is so close." - Colin Gozelski

WASHINGTON - George W. Bush's margin over Al Gore in make-or-break Florida dwindled to fewer than 1,000 votes today in a continuing canvass that held the presidential rivals and the nation in agonizing suspense.

Democrats said they would demand a follow-up recount by hand in a few parts of the state and possibly even a new election in the Palm Beach area.

Gore campaign chairman William Daley said his party also will support legal actions by voters who say a confusing ballot may have led them to vote inadvertently for Pat Buchanan when they meant to support the vice president.

"Technicalities should not determine the president of the United States. The will of the people should," Daley said as the closest presidential election in American history headed deep into overtime.

Earlier former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, tapped by Bush to represent him in Florida, said he had seen neither allegations of fraud nor evidence of it. He said the controversial Palm Beach County ballots had been reviewed before the election by both campaigns, "and guess what, there were no complaints until after the election."

An unofficial tally by The Associated Press showed that Gore had cut Bush's lead to 341 votes in Florida, with the recount complete in 62 of 67 counties.

State election officials expected to complete the recount Thursday, but said the results wouldn't be certified until at least Nov. 17. That's the deadline for ballots cast by military personnel and other Floridians overseas to arrive in the state.

The winner of Florida stood to gain the state's 25 electoral votes -- and the keys to the Oval Office with them.

Bush was in Texas on Thursday, Gore in Nashville, as the Florida drama unfolded. Aides to both said they were working on their transition plans -- ideas that only one would be in a position to implement.

"We're having a great run here, thank you," Gore said with a laugh when questions were called out to him as he was jogging in a park.

Nationally, nearly 48 hours after the polls closed, Bush had won 29 states for 246 electoral votes. Gore had won 18 states plus the District of Columbia for 255. New Mexico and Oregon were too close to call, but they mattered mostly for the record. Neither man could gain the 270 needed for victory without Florida.

The popular vote reflected the nation's political divisions, as well.

With almost all precincts reporting unofficial results, Gore had 48,942,306 votes and Bush had 48,751,786 -- with just 190,520 votes separating them. Only three times before had a presidential candidate lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College, the last time in 1888 when Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland.

Apart from Democratic concerns with Florida, Republicans were talking of possible requests for recounts in Iowa and Wisconsin, two states where Gore won narrowly.

At a news conference, Daley said the Democrats would seek a hand recount of the ballots cast Tuesday in Palm Beach, Dade, Broward and Volusia counties -- some 1.78 million votes. Dade County includes Miami; Broward is home to Fort Lauderdale; Daytona Beach is in Volusia.

Kendall Coffey, a Democratic attorney also stressed there were other remedies available to the Democrats. "And one of those possibilities is a new election in Palm Beach County," he said.

While internationally known for the wealth concentrated on Palm Beach island, the county is heavily Democratic. Officials said 19,120 ballots were thrown out before they were counted election night because voters accidentally marked them for more than one presidential candidate.

Three lawsuits, two in state court and one in federal court, were filed in Palm Beach County seeking a new presidential vote in the county.

The federal lawsuit, filed by a Boca Raton man who said he voted by mistake for Buchanan instead of his real choice, Gore, was dropped Thursday.

The drama unfolded in Florida while Attorney General Janet Reno told reporters in Washington said she saw no reason for federal authorities to "jump in" to the controversy. The former Miami prosecutor said she would review any complaints brought to her.

"We are not here to generate controversy," she said.

There was plenty of that already as Bush and Gore dispatched their emissaries to Florida to protect their interests in a recount of all 67 counties.

Buchanan said on NBC's "Today" show, "When I took one look at that ballot on election night ... it's very easy for me to see how someone could have voted for me in the belief they voted for Al Gore."

"But both parties signed off on this particular ballot, and so I don't see how you can organize another referendum or another vote just for Palm Beach County," he said.



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