Voters threaten lawsuits, Bush holds slim lead as election recount continues

by George Fairbanks

In what is quickly becoming one of the most amazing moments in American history, the 2000 presidential election shows no signs of concluding anytime soon.
According to The Associated Press, Texas Gov. George W. Bush leads Vice President Al Gore by a slim 225 vote margin with 65 of 67 Florida counties reporting .
Bush’s campaign, however, expects that when the roughly 2,000 overseas ballots arrive and are counted, they will heavily favor the Republican.
The Florida Secretary of State’s Office noted that the recount situation could stretch into next week, while other news sources have been reporting that it could end up taking weeks rather than days.
The Gore campaign has expressed it will go along with various lawsuits and threats of lawsuits by Florida voters who are disputing balloting in some areas.
Some residents in Palm Beach County claim their civil rights were violated. More than 19,000 votes were ruled invalid because of how two presidential candidates were marked on the ballot.
Allegedly, the ballot confused some voters because two candidates’ names — Gore and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan — were on both sides of the ballot with a marking spot in the center. Some 3,000 voters say they inadvertently marked their ballot for Buchanan.
“I don’t want to take any votes that don’t belong to me,” Buchanan said. “I have to think given the 3,000, plus the 19,000, that Al Gore very probably won Florida and therefore won the nation and won the presidency of the United States.”
For his part, Bush is behaving like the president-elect, already appointing his running mate Dick Cheney to assemble a transition team to get them ready for office. Bush is also taking steps to get ready for his inauguration party.
To counter the Gore campaign, the Bush campaign is threatening to demand a recount in Iowa and Wisconsin, two states where Gore narrowly defeated Bush.
“Democrats are politicizing and distorting events,” said Donald Evans, Bush’s campaign chairman.
A recount is also underway in New Mexico where Gore won by a small margin. Results from that recount are expected sometime Friday.
Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley said the campaign will request a hand recount in Vollusia, Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, where voter complaints were the loudest and most serious.
Daley further explained that the campaign would “be working with voters in Florida to support a legal action to demand some redress for the disenfranchisement of more than 20,000 voters in Florida.”
No matter which candidate eventually wins, the president will have to face the notion that nearly half of the American voters didn’t want him in office. Bush could additionally be forced to govern under the burden of losing the popular vote.
“The Senate is going to be extremely divided. In 1992, Clinton came into office not having won a majority, but having won a plurality. Republicans didn’t think they owed him anything,” said University political science professor Steve Smith.
He added that he thinks legal charges in Florida may stick. “With 19,000 ballots thrown out, there’s a reasonably good chance a federal judge will say the state must provide a corrective.”