Bush Considers Seeking Court Order Against Gore
By RON FOURNIER
.c The Associated Press
(Nov. 10) - George W. Bush gave a top adviser authority Friday night to seek a court order stopping Al Gore's campaign from securing manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida, as both sides of an improbably deadlocked presidential election looked to the judicial branch for help in the make-or-break state.
In a war of nerves, Bush's camp pressed Al Gore to concede Florida without multiple recounts yet Democrats pressed ahead with their protests - determined to find enough votes to erase Bush's advantage in initial counting. ''The quicker we get this resolved the better off it is for the nation,'' said Bush, even as his camp considered whether to seek the injunction.
Replied Gore campaign chairman William Daley: ''This campaign is not over.''
That is what worried some Democrats across the country, who sought to carefully balance support for Gore with suggestions that his options were dwindling.
''I think that people's patience is going to be fairly limited,'' said Gov. Jim Hodges of South Carolina.
''He needs to rise above it and say, 'So be it.' You deal with the hand you're dealt,'' said Paul Feleciano, longest serving Democrat in the Kansas Legislature.
Bush clung to a razor-thin lead in Florida - the crucial White House state with its 25 electoral votes - after county officials completed a machine-counted review of the 6 million ballots cast. Still to come were an unknown number of votes from Floridians living overseas and the state's official certification, due next Tuesday.
In Florida, Gore advisers cited confusing and irregular ballots to press for follow-up recounts by hand in four predominantly Democratic counties. They won approval in three - one recount began Friday, two more Saturday - and the fourth request will be heard Tuesday.
In a late-night conference call Friday, Bush gave James A. Baker III - the former secretary of state who's protecting the Texas governor's interests in Florida - authority to seek a court injunction barring the manual recounts, according to several GOP officials involved in the discussions. The officials said it was very likely the injunction would be sought, but stressed that it was up to Baker to make the final decision. A source close to Baker said the former secretary had not decided. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
The action, however tentative, underscores the Bush campaign's concern that a widespread manual recount could erode his fragile lead over Gore and perhaps force Bush to seek recounts of his own in Florida and other close-voting states. Baker had said earlier that he's prepared to ''vigorously fight'' the manual recount because they open the process to mistakes and fraud that are avoided by machine counts.
To buy some time, Gore's lawyers asked the state's Republican secretary of state late Friday to defer certification of the results until the manual recounts are complete. The recounts could drag on, though canvassing board members face fines of $200 a day after Tuesday.
Republicans were getting into the act: At Bush's request, Palm Beach County officials will perform a mechanical recount Saturday of all ballots while conducting a separate recount by hand for Gore.
''The entire effort that's going on now in Florida is aimed at making sure that whoever takes office in January as president of the United States will do so with full legitimacy,'' Gore running mate Joseph Lieberman told CBS.
''As frustrating as this wait may be,'' Daley said earlier, ''what we are seeing here is democracy in action.''
Frustrated described Bush to a T.
''We will be prepared'' to take office Jan. 20, the governor told reporters, taking a break from planning what he hopes will be a transition to power. He and his aides acknowledged that he can't claim victory before the overseas votes are counted and certified.
''There are still votes to be counted,'' Bush said.
And so Republicans moved on several fronts to blunt Gore's ballot challenges. Bush strategists considered seeking recounts in GOP areas of Florida if Democrats started having success in their recounts, a senior strategist said.
Other responses to Gore's tactics:
- Bush's camp portrayed him as a man deep in planning for the presidency, victory nearly assured. ''The vote on Tuesday night showed Governor Bush won Florida's election, and a recount now confirmed his victory,'' spokeswoman Karen Hughes said in a statement released at 5:30 a.m. EST, catching the first wave of the media cycle.
- Strategists eyed other close-voting states in case Florida falls to Gore. Republicans in Wisconsin said they found ballot irregularities. And Baker, speaking of recount drives, said ominously: ''That game can be played'' by both sides.
- Bush aides said Gore should concede the state and the White House if the initial recount and next week's certification show Bush ahead. ''We certainly hope that in the best interest of the country the vice president will think carefully about his talk of lawsuits and endless recounts,'' Hughes said.
An unofficial tally by The Associated Press in Florida's 67 counties showed the Texas governor with a 327-vote lead. State officials said their recount showed Bush leading by 960 votes with one county left. That was Palm Beach County, where the AP showed a big Gore gain.
Not counting the Sunshine State, Bush had won 29 states for 246 electoral votes. Gore, who added Oregon to his victory column Friday, had won 19 states plus the District of Columbia for 262, with 270 needed for victory. New Mexico, with five electoral votes, remained too close to call.
Gore's lead in New Mexico was down to about 100 Friday night.
The incomplete national popular vote totals showed Gore leading Bush by 218,441 votes: 49,244,746 to 49,026,305 - about 48 percent each.
Despite the show of confidence, Bush said it's ''a little early'' for him to contact the outgoing Clinton administration about the mechanics of transition. He also tabled plans to resign as Texas governor and hand the reins to his Republican lieutenant governor during the transition; that decision will wait until after the election is resolved, aides said.
The aides said Bush adviser Larry Lindsey was likely to be offered the job of treasury secretary or chief White House economist if Bush is elected.
As he met with Lindsey and other advisers about the transition, two noisy groups of protesters shouted rival messages outside the Governor's Mansion in Austin. ''No Fuzzy Election'' read some anti-Bush signs. The governor's supporters chanted, ''The people have spoken.''
For his part, Gore was at the vice president's residence in Washington, where he played touch football with his family. He talked of winning, then added with a smile: ''I'm talking about the touch football game.''
His Democratic allies were not so optimistic about the presidential race, and many were opposed to legal action.
''I think everybody is waiting to see what happens but the general feeling is that Bush will probably win,'' said Gene Bushmann, former chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party. He praised Gore's effort, but said, ''I think going to the lawsuit stage would be too much.''
Former Arkansas Sen. Dale Bumpers said Gore should consider calling it quits after Florida's absentee ballots are counted.
''There might come a time when the vice president would be well served to say the country's interest is more important than the interests of one person or political party, and go ahead and concede,'' Bumpers said.
Hodges said Gore has a right to seek recounts, but doubted that a legal challenge of confusing Palm Beach ballots would work. ''Generally, most successful challenges have been on fraud,'' he said.
''I'd advise we exhaust all other remedies before we attempt any consideration of a court challenge,'' said Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
Though still talking legal action, Gore's team was using softer tones than a day earlier.
The campaign's legal experts ''feel strongly'' that the ballot used Election Day in Palm Beach County was unlawful, Daley said. ''We'll see what actions follow out of that.''
Latest Florida Recount Numbers
.c The Associated Press
With votes in all 67 counties recounted, the tally collected by The Associated Press shows Republican George W. Bush leading Democrat Al Gore by 327 votes. Gore has a net gain of 2,520 votes from the election night count. Bush has a net gain of 1,063 votes. The last count of all 67 counties before the recount showed Bush leading Gore by 1,784 votes.
County Gore Bush Change Change
Alachua 47,365 34,124 65 62
Baker 2,392 5,610
Bay 18,850 38,637
Bradford 3,075 5,414 3 1
Brevard 97,318 115,185
Broward 386,561 177,323 43 44
Calhoun 2,155 2,873
Charlott 29,645 35,426 4 7
Citrus 25,525 29,766 24 22
Clay 14,632 41,736 2 -9
Collier 29,918 60,433 13 7
Columbia 7,047 10,964
Dade 328,764 289,492 62 36
De Soto 3,320 4,256 -2
Dixie 1,826 2,697 1 -1
Duval 107,864 152,098 184 16
Escambia 40,943 73,017 -15 -12
Flagler 13,897 12,613 6 5
Franklin 2,046 2,454 4 6
Gadsden 9,735 4,767 170 17
Gilchris 1,910 3,300
Glades 1,442 1,841 2 1
Gulf 2,397 3,550 8 4
Hamilton 1,722 2,146 4 -7
Hardee 2,339 3,765 -2 1
Hendry 3,240 4,747 1 4
Hernando 32,644 30,646
Highland 14,167 20,206 15 10
Hilsboro 169,557 180,760 28 47
Holmes 2,177 5,011 23 26
Indianrv 19,768 28,635 -1 8
Jackson 6,868 9,138
Jeffrson 3,041 2,478 3 -3
Lafayete 789 1,670 1 1
Lake 36,571 50,010 16 47
Lee 73,560 106,141 30 18
Leon 61,425 39,053
Levy 5,398 6,858 -5 -2
Liberty 1,017 1,317 6 1
Madison 3,014 3,038 3
Manatee 49,177 57,952 8 4
Marion 44,665 55,141 17 6
Martin 26,620 33,970 1 106
Monroe 16,483 16,059
Nassau 6,879 16,280 -73 -124
Okaloosa 16,948 52,093 24 50
Okeechob 4,588 5,057 -1
Orange 140,220 134,517 105 41
Osceola 28,181 26,212 4 -4
Palmbech 269,696 152,954 751 108
Pasco 69,564 68,582 14 1
Pinellas 200,629 184,823 417 -61
Polk 75,196 90,191 219 90
Putnam 12,102 13,447 11 8
Sarasota 72,853 83,100 -1
Seminole 59,174 75,677 286 384
Sntarosa 12,802 36,274 7 26
St Johns 19,502 39,546 20 49
St Lucie 41,559 34,705
Sumter 9,637 12,127 3 1
Suwannee 4,075 8,006 -9 -8
Taylor 2,649 4,056 2 6
Union 1,407 2,332 8 6
Volusia 97,063 82,214
Wakulla 3,838 4,512 3 1
Walton 5,642 12,182 5 6
Washngtn 2,798 4,994 2 11
TOTALS 2,909,871 2,910,198 2,520 1,063
The AP county-by-county tally is an unofficial survey. The vote totals are subject to verification by the Florida Secretary of State's Office and subject to legal challenges by candidates and others.
The Associated Press surveyed elections officials in each of Florida's 67 counties on Wednesday and Thursday to tabulate vote totals in the recount of the presidential election.
The results were provided directly to the AP by election officials in those counties either in person or by phone. In every possible instance, the AP also obtained faxed copies of the recounted tally from the county officials.
The same results were to be relayed from each county to the Florida secretary of state's office in Tallahassee, and she will then release a final unofficial tally.
The vote totals include some but not all absentee ballots sent to Floridians living overseas. Those ballots had to be postmarked by Election Day, but can be returned as late as Nov. 17.
Gore Edges Bush in Oregon
Vice President Narrowly Defeats Texas Gov. for State's Seven Electoral Votes
By BRAD CAIN
.c The Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (Nov. 10) - Vice President Al Gore narrowly defeated George W. Bush for Oregon's seven electoral votes in a bittersweet victory three days after the election.
The margin is so close that a recount cannot be precluded.
With 99 percent of the votes counted as of Friday afternoon, unofficial results gave 698,252 votes to Gore and 692,279 to Bush - a difference of 5,973. The unofficial results showed Green Party candidate Ralph Nader with 74,156 votes.
A recount would be required by state law if the margin between Bush and Gore is less than one-fifth of 1 percent, or about 2,800 votes.
As of Friday afternoon, about 28,500 Oregon votes remained to be counted.
Gore's electoral vote total stands at 262, just shy of the 270 needed to win the presidency. Gore and Bush, who has 246 electoral votes, are dueling for Florida's 25 electoral votes - and the White House.
It was the closest presidential race in Oregon since 1976, when Gerald Ford lost the election but edged Jimmy Carter by 1,713 votes in a recount.
With all eyes fixed on Florida to determine the outcome of the race, a victory in Oregon was considered largely symbolic because the state only has seven electoral votes.
Bush needs 24 electoral votes to reach the required 270, and Gore now needs just eight, but whoever wins Florida's 25 votes will move into the White House next January.
An official tally of Tuesday's vote isn't due from the counties until Nov. 27.
Gore Holds Razor-Thin Lead in New Mexico Recount
By Zelie Pollon
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Nov. 10) - Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore's lead in New Mexico had shrunk to just 119 votes from over 10,000 in a recount of about 67,000 ballots that was nearing its end, New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said on Friday.
With only 600 of the 67,000 ballots left to count, the vice president's lead over Republican George W. Bush was dwindling as officials tallied early and absentee votes missed in the original count because of a computer glitch that did not detect straight-party votes.
Johnson said on CNN's ''Larry King Live'' that the remaining votes would likely continue to shave Gore's margin of victory, but he did not predict a winner.
''If trends continue, it's going to be one vote, Gore or Bush,'' said Johnson, a Republican.
New Mexico's five electoral votes were not enough to decide the race between Gore and Bush. But they could become important if recounts spread to other states besides Florida, whose 25 electoral votes will decide the presidency.
County Attorney Tito Chavez told reporters the only votes left to count were 355 damaged ballots and 257 that went missing earlier.
The ballots were found late on Friday in a locked ballot box in a side room of the guarded warehouse where the recount has been under way since Thursday.
Officials said the newly rediscovered ballots came from a precinct that traditionally leaned Republican.
Adding to the confusion was a cyber attack on the Bernalillo County Web page, where hackers on Friday posted the words ''Prime Suspectz'' but said they had deleted no information.
The county had been posting election results on the page, but shut it down after the hackers entered the site, county spokeswoman Liz Hamm said.
GOVERNOR SAYS RECOUNT LIKELY
Unlike Florida, New Mexico law does not mandate a statewide recount if an election yields a razor-thin margin. Instead, candidates would have to request recounts from each county, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico secretary of state said.
But Johnson said a recount was likely.
''As a citizen of the state, I would want to make sure that the vote count is correct,'' he said.
John Dendhal, chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, said two Republican candidates in Valencia and Dona Ana counties were seeking to have ballots there impounded by a judge because of questions about their respective races.
He said the legal actions had nothing to do with the close presidential race, although the ballots the Republicans wanted seized also included the votes for president.
After the results in the counties are certified by local officials, they will be passed to state election officials who will audit them before declaring them official on Nov. 28. A candidate would have to wait for that statewide certification before requesting a recount.
The New Mexico secretary of state's still-unofficial tally showed Gore leading Bush by just slightly more than 10,000 votes out of a total of about 527,500 cast, or 49 percent to 47 percent.
But those numbers did not include the 67,000 recounted ballots.
County workers overseen by officials from the Democratic, Republican and Green parties, and state officials and judges, began recounting the ballots on Thursday morning.
Reuters 22:29 11-10-00
Dems Call Fla. Voters About Ballots
By JOHN SOLOMON
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - Faced with a cliffhanger election, the Democratic Party directed a telemarketing firm on Election Night to begin calling thousands of voters in Palm Beach, Fla., to raise questions about a disputed ballot and urge them to contact local election officials.
The Democratic National Committee paid Texas-based TeleQuest to make the calls Tuesday night - while polls were still open - alerting voters in the heavily Democratic enclave in Florida of possible confusion with the ballots they cast.
``Some voters have encountered a problem today with punch card ballots in Palm Beach County,'' the script for the call said. ``These voters have said that they believe that they accidentally punched the wrong hole for the incorrect candidate.''
``If you have already voted and think you may have punched the wrong hole for the incorrect candidate, you should return to the polls and request that the election officials write down your name so that this problem can be fixed,'' the script said.
The firm took the names and numbers of voters who said they may have cast an errant ballot, providing the Democratic Party a list of about 2,400 voters in the county who thought they may have misvoted.
If voters were about to go to the polls, the script called for the caller to instruct them to ``be sure to punch Number 5 for Gore-Lieberman'' and ``do NOT punch any other number as you might end up voting for someone else by mistake.''
Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Jenny Backus said the party had been making traditional get-out-the-vote calls all over the country Tuesday, but shifted gears in Palm Beach after hearing local news reports about possible voter confusion.
``Once we were informed by local news accounts of the magnitude of the problem with confusion about the ballot, we shifted our scripts to make sure that people who were voting were aware of the questions and confusion around the ballot,'' she said.
The maneuver indicates that long before Americans awoke to the reality of the Florida ballot dispute, Democrats were already mobilizing voters there. The concern has focused on Palm Beach, where 19,000 ballots were disqualified and hundreds of voters have said they mistakenly voted for Patrick Buchanan while trying to vote for Gore.
Within hours of the phone campaign, hundreds of Democratic voters had called election officials in Palm Beach to complain they may have been confused by the ballot and voted for the wrong candidate.
Some Palm Beach County voters have filed lawsuits seeking a new vote.
The outcome of the dispute is key because George W. Bush is leading Gore by a mere 327 votes after a statewide recount. The winner of Florida will lay claim to the electoral votes needed to become the nation's 43rd president.
The calls indicate that Democrats were concerned about Palm Beach problems even before they knew Florida's vote would end in a razor-thin margin, said American University political science professor Candice Nelson.
``To the extent there have been accusations that Democrats didn't cry foul until they realized Wednesday that Bush may have won, this cuts the other way,'' she said.
Nelson and other political and legal experts said the calls were perfectly legal but could have contributed to what appeared to most Americans to be a spontaneous explosion of concern in Florida the morning after the election.
``I think those kinds of calls make perfect sense,'' Nelson said. ``In terms of people getting riled up, it would be a tactic that might energize voters who might otherwise not have realized they may have mistakenly voted for the wrong candidate.''
One Florida Democrat said Republicans would take similar action had the tables been turned.
``They'd be fighting this thing tooth and nail for months and months,'' said Wayne Brewer, 45, of Juneau, Fla.
``They knew they ... lost, and now they want to win on an assumption,'' he said, speaking outside the government center in West Palm Beach.
Wade Scott, an account manager with TeleQuest, said Democratic Party officials contacted his company shortly before 6 p.m. EST Tuesday to make the calls.
With only an hour to go before Florida polls closed, his company mobilized all of its telemarketers to make some 5,000 calls in less than 45 minutes, Scott said.
``It was a very short burst of calling for our industry,'' Scott said. He said only about 100 of the voters in Palm Beach it contacted hadn't voted, and about 2,400 felt they may have made a mistake on the ballot.
Republicans Seek Wisc. Probe
.c The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Wisconsin district attorney was looking into allegations made by the state GOP officials about what Republicans called questionable polling procedures on Election Day.
Complaints included voters receiving two ballots or being told they had already voted, said state Republican Party Chairman Richard Graber.
The GOP has received about 800 complaints from around the state, including 600 from Milwaukee County, he said.
``We believe very seriously that the integrity of our election process is at stake,'' Graber said.
Republican George W. Bush lost Wisconsin to Democrat Al Gore by 6,099 votes. More than 2.5 million votes were cast in Wisconsin.
Graber said the party also received complaints from people who were not asked to show identification, saw ballots being taken out of the polling place and observed piles of unattended ballots.
Milwaukee Alderman Marvin Pratt, speaking on behalf of the state Democratic Party, said Democrats ``welcome any type of investigation'' into the charges.
State Rep. Scott Walker, R-Wauwatosa, has already filed a criminal complaint over allegations that Democrats offered homeless people cigarettes if they voted for Gore.
The state Democratic Party has denied any involvement.
District Attorney E. Michael McCann said it was too soon to tell whether any wrongdoing occurred at polling places.
House Panel To Review Early Election Calls
By CURT ANDERSON
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (Nov. 10) - Election-night projections that led news organizations to prematurely declare that Florida would be won by Democrat Al Gore are the subject of a congressional investigation focusing on whether the predictions discouraged voters from going to the polls elsewhere in the country.
Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, chairman of the House Commerce telecommunications subcommittee, sent letters to network chiefs and The Associated Press asking a series of questions about the Florida call. He said hearings also were planned, most likely next year.
Tauzin said calling Florida for Gore ``may have sent a signal out to Americans that this election was being decided in a way that was not accurate. When they're being told by the networks that it's already over, that's akin to disenfranchising them.''
Between 7:49 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST Tuesday, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, ABC and The Associated Press all called Florida, with its decisive 25 electoral votes, for Gore. Polls were still open in the western part of Florida, which is in the central time zone, as well as most states in the West.
At about 9:55 p.m. EST, the networks and AP began taking back those projections based on the actual Florida vote count that showed a tight race between Gore and Republican George W. Bush.
Early Wednesday, the TV networks called Florida for Bush and declared him winner of the presidential election, then were forced to back down on that projection as well. The AP did not declare an election winner. A recount is under way to determine the actual winner.
Central to the probe, Tauzin said, is the role of the Voter News Service, a consortium of the networks and AP that uses voter exit polls and actual results to help make election projections. Other news organizations subscribe to VNS data.
``I don't intend to violate the law or the spirit of the First Amendment,'' Tauzin told reporters. ``The intent is to find out what went wrong in this system.''
Tauzin said a depressed voter turnout in the West may have had an impact on the House races in California that Republicans lost and on the national popular presidential vote that went for Gore.
Under a 1985 agreement, the networks usually have withheld using voter exit polls to call elections until most polls are closed in a given state. Tauzin said the investigation may determine that ``a new agreement'' on use of this data is necessary, but he said there would be no effort to restrict its use with federal legislation.
``We should not try to pass laws about how people report elections,'' he said.
While officials at the TV networks said they had not received the letter, several said they were already looking into how the Florida projections went awry.
``We are conducting a top-to-bottom review of our election night projections to establish exactly what happened,'' said ABC News spokesman Jeff Schneider. ``We will take whatever steps necessary to ensure this doesn't happen again.''
NBC News spokesman Barbara Levin said the network is ``very concerned about the VNS data and believe the Florida call warrants a careful examination. We will work to get to the bottom of it.''
After the AP report indicted that Bush held onto the lead after all 67 precincts had reported, Bush spokesperson Karen Hughes released a statement maintaining, "The vote count on Thursday night showed Governor Bush won Florida's election, and a recount has now confirmed his victory" (release).
Florida case-law "bars state courts from ordering a new election on grounds a ballot was confusing," and federal law "could sidetrack any attempt to change that." According to a 1974 District Court of Appeals ruling, the Constitution assumes a voter's "ability to read and his intelligence to indicate his choice with the degree of care commensurate with the solemnity of the occasion" (Washington Times).
And then there is Iowa! Meanwhile, New York's new Senator-elect, Hillary Clinton, has said she
will introduce a bill to eliminate the electoral college. How about a bill to eliminate the US Senate