Gore Asks for Support in Contesting Florida Count

By Alan Elsner
Reuters


WASHINGTON (Nov. 28) - Casting himself as a defender of democracy and the Constitution, Democrat Al Gore asked voters for patience on Monday while he contested the presidential vote in Florida, but Republican George W. Bush ignored his rival and plowed ahead with plans to take over the White House.

With polls showing his public support was falling, Vice President Gore appeared on TV for a five-minute address to explain why he was contesting Florida's official certification of Texas Gov. Bush as winner of its 25 electoral votes -- and therefore of the presidency.

''This is America. When votes are cast we count them. We don't arbitrarily set them aside because it's too difficult to count them,'' Gore declared, stating his position that there still had not been a fair and complete count in Florida, where Bush was declared the winner on Sunday by 537 votes.

''I believe our Constitution matters more than convenience. So, as provided under Florida law, I have decided to contest this inaccurate and incomplete count, in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome,'' he added.

Accusing Republicans of intimidation to prevent a full count, Gore declared: ''A vote is not just a piece of paper. A vote is a human voice, a statement of human principle, and we must not let those voices be silenced.''

Republicans took to the airwaves to rip the vice president's appearance.

''It was nothing new. I don't think the vice president advanced his cause,'' said senior adviser Ari Fleischer.

''The vice president was spinning tonight; it wasn't statesmanship,'' Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson told CNN's ''Larry King Live.'' ''What's going on ... is that their base of support is eroding.''

Polls have shown around 60 percent of Americans, including around a third of Democrats, think it is now time for Gore to concede the election to Bush.

His appearance was clearly designed to shore up his base for the legal challenges he has launched in Florida.

Bush's strategy is to move ahead with his transition, headed by his vice presidential running mate Dick Cheney, while orchestrating maximum pressure on Gore to drop the struggle.

Republican sources said among Bush's first personnel announcements would be retired Gen. Colin Powell, almost certainly as secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice in the post of White House National Security Adviser. But those announcements are not expected immediately while the legal battle still rages.

Gore said his fight was not personal but was a battle to defend a basic principle of democracy. ''Ignoring votes means ignoring democracy itself. And if we ignore the votes of thousands in Florida in this election, how can you or any American have confidence that your vote will not be ignored in a future election?'' he said.

Gore's lawyers challenged the Florida count in papers filed on Monday in Tallahassee, the Florida state capital, saying the tally improperly included illegal votes and excluded legal ones in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Nassau counties.

CONFUSING BUTTERFLY BALLOTS

In another development, the Florida Supreme Court said it would examine briefs relating to the so-called ''butterfly ballot'' used in Palm Beach County, which some voters said was confusing and may have led some Gore supporters to vote for conservative Pat Buchanan by mistake.

The court set a deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday for submissions, after which it would decide whether to hear full arguments on whether the election should be rerun in the county.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about the validity of hand recounts on Friday, which gives Gore a short window of opportunity to pursue his challenges. But he has to combat a growing sense of inevitability that Bush will become the next president on January 20, 2001.

News that the long-running U.S. presidential drama might be near its end sent blue-chip stocks to close higher on Monday.

Behaving very much like a president-elect, Bush claimed victory in the White House race late Sunday and asked Cheney to start working with the Clinton administration on the transition.

''It will be a while before we can make any announcements,'' Cheney said on Monday, although he noted that Bush had already had ''extensive conversations and discussions'' about potential Cabinet members.

Bush hit a stumbling block at the General Services Administration (GSA), which acts as landlord and building manager for the federal government. On Monday, it refused to turn over Washington office space set aside for a new presidency because of the legal challenges still going on.

Cheney said on Monday afternoon the Bush team would use private funds to set up a transition office in Washington, and would accept individual private donations of up to $5,000.

CHENEY REGRETS

Looking fit less than a week after suffering a slight heart attack, Cheney told a televised news conference that he found the GSA decision ''regrettable'' but added the Bush team felt obliged to start putting together the next administration.

He said Clay Johnson, a longtime Bush friend and aide, would be the executive director of the transition team, and campaign adviser and spokesman Ari Fleischer would be transition spokesman.

Bush got help on Capitol Hill, where Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican of Mississippi, called on Monday for Senate committee chairmen to start hearings on Jan. 4 for Bush's Cabinet appointments.

''Given the protracted contest to determine the presidential victor, it is critical that we move expeditiously and be prepared to confirm the new cabinet on Jan. 20 after the president has been sworn into office,'' Lott said in a statement. The hearing date would be one day after the new Congress is sworn in.

With Bush the certified winner in Florida, 60 percent of 607 U.S. adults polled said Gore should concede and let Bush become president, an ABC News/Washington Post telephone survey found. Just 35 percent said Gore should ask the courts to review Florida's vote count. The poll's margin of error was 4 percentage points.

00:35 11-28-00

GSA Won't Open Transition Office

.c The Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) - The General Services Administration will not release $5.3 million to help the next president prepare for office until the challenges to the election are resolved, a spokeswoman said Sunday.

Although Florida's statewide canvassing board certified Texas Gov. George W. Bush the winner of its 25 electoral votes and, therefore, the presidency, Vice President Al Gore's plans to contest the election place the outcome in enough doubt to keep the transition office closed, spokeswoman Beth Newburger said.

``As long as both sides are still going to court, and both sides say they are, we believe that the outcome remains unclear,'' Newburger said.

As required by law, the GSA set up a transition office complete with computers and telephones and stood ready to turn over the keys - and the bank account - to either Bush or Gore the morning after Election Day. But the recounting and legal battles, which are now likely to intensify, kept the door locked.

Newburger said GSA Administrator David J. Barram is ``authorized by law to ascertain - that is what the law says - the apparent winner, and authorize the transfer of funds to begin the Inauguration.''

``As long as there is not an apparent winner, and the outcome is unclear, there's not much we can do,'' she said.

The law does not say what criteria Barram should use.

Under the Constitution, the next president will be sworn in Jan. 20, possibly leaving scant time to begin making some 6,000 appointments.

Bush, speaking in Texas after the Florida certification that declared him president-elect, named a chief of staff and asked his vice presidential nominee, Dick Cheney ``to work with President Clinton's administration to open a transition office in Washington. And we look forward to a constructive working relationship throughout this transition.''

AP-NY-11-26-00 2215EST

Recount Observers Tell NewsMax.com of Democrat Fraud
NewsMax.com
Monday, Nov. 27, 2000
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Ballot observers have found one outrageous case after another of tampered ballots, miscounts and bias in the recount in Democrat-dominated Broward County, NewsMax.com learned in exclusive interviews over the holiday weekend.

"If there’s anyone who really believes that the ballot recounts are objective and fair, I’m ready to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge," one Republican recount observer told NewsMax.com.


Among the questionable and outright fraudulent practices that witnesses noted in the recount of presidential votes:

Tampered Ballots

• Numerous absentee ballots had the chad for George W. Bush Scotch-taped back in and the chad for Al Gore punched out.

"We were told there were about 80 such absentee ballots," an observer told NewsMax.com. "The Broward County Canvassing Board's justification for allowing these votes – that voters obviously just changed their minds – might be understandable for the isolated case, but not for 80.

"These Scotch-taped ballots are a shining example of a corrupt process. These ballots can be tampered with after they left the hands of the voters, and the Broward County Canvassing Board is all too happy to count them as Gore votes."


• Chads were dislodged from ballots shaken by county workers during the counting.

On one such occasion, for example, a county ballot counter predicted that a hanging chad on a ballot would fall off if he were to shake the ballot. He then shook it, knocking off the chad. That ballot was subsequently identified as a Gore vote.

• One Republican observer collected more than 75 chads from the table and floor in the area where ballots were being inspected and counted.

While that observer was trying to collect the chads from the table before a lunch break, the counting supervisor ordered him to leave the chads – and leave the room.

• Writing and ink blots, indications of tampering, were found on ballots.

Miscounts

• There were attempts to count 75 Gore ballots as 100.

During the final counting, four stacks of 25 ballots each were supposed to be stacked crossways into stacks of 100 votes. But on at least one instance, four stacks containing only 75 Gore votes each were originally counted as if they were four stacks of 100 ballots, a miscount of 100 votes in favor of Gore.

The Republican ballot observer who saw and objected to this error – leading to its correction – was then kicked out of the room at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center.


• County ballot counters also were observed placing Bush ballots in the Gore pile.

At one counting table, a counter repeatedly put ballots that had been identified as votes for Bush onto the Gore pile. On no occasion was he observed placing a ballot identified as a Gore vote onto the Bush pile.

Also, he continuously watched the wall-mounted televisions. Several times the other counter at the table told him to pay attention to the ballot inspection and counting. He replied, "I’m giving it as much attention as it deserves."

A recount observer said, "It’s important to understand that most of the county workers were professional and fair in carrying out their duties, but it’s a shame that a few bad eggs can make the whole room stink."



Bias and Collusion

• Democrat observers were under instruction to challenge ballots even where it was clear there was no vote cast for president.

Ballots with no presidential votes punched provide a significant opportunity for tampering. A Gore chad could later be dislodged or punched and then counted as a Gore vote.



• A Broward recount supervisor was even overheard accepting pro-Gore instructions from a Broward County Canvassing Board attorney.

The board attorney told the recount supervisor to "err on the side of giving it to us," a witness told NewsMax.com.

The Broward supervisor then reversed his earlier instructions and told the ballot observers to feel free to challenge no-vote ballots.

• On one occasion two Broward counters were observed showing each other their voter registration cards and identifying themselves as Democrats, as if they were members of the correct club.

• On other occasions county workers were observed demonstrating for Gore.



These are the sort of Democrat practices that helped Gore "gain" hundreds of votes from the Broward County recount.


"It’s hard to believe that the leader of the free world would be determined by these kinds of cheap tricks," one ballot observer told NewsMax.com.



DOCTOR SEUSS GOES TO FLORIDA

Can we count them with our nose?
Can we count them with our toes?
Should we count them with a band?
Should we count them all by hand?
If I do not like the count,
I will simply throw them out!

I will not let this vote count stand
I do not like them, AL GORE I am!

Can we change these numbers here?
Can we change them, calm my fears?
What do you mean, Dubya has won?
This is not fair, this is not fun
Let's count them upside down this time
Let's count until the state is mine!

I will not let this VOTE count stand!
I do not like it, AL GORE I am!

I'm really ticked, I'm in a snit!
You have not heard the last of it!
I'll count the ballots one by one
And hold each one up to the sun!
I'll count, recount, and count some more!
You'll grow to hate this little chore

But I will not, cannot let this vote count stand!
I do not like it, AL GORE I am!

I won't leave office, I'm stayin' here!
I've glued my desk chair to my rear!
Tipper, Hillary, and Bubba too,
All telling me that I should sue!
We find the Electoral College vile!
RECOUNT the votes until I smile!

We do not want this vote to stand!
We do not like it, AL GORE I am!

How shall we count this ballot box?
Let's count it standing in our socks!
Shall we count this one in a tree?
And who shall count it, you or me?
We cannot, cannot count enough!
We must not stop, we must be tough!

I do not want this vote to stand!
I do not like it, AL GORE I am!

What's that? What? What are you trying to say?
You think the current count should stay?
You do not like my counting scheme?
It makes you tense, gives you bad dreams?
Foolish people, you're wrong you'll see!
Your only care should be for me!

I Will not let this vote count stand!
I do not like it, and AL GORE I am!

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