Bush Or Gore? Only Florida knows

by Nathan Baca
Staff Writer

With the results of Tuesday’s election still in doubt, many Leopards are wondering who the next President of the United States will be. Both the states of Florida and Oregon have vote counts that are too close to call.

Yesterday’s recount of Florida’s votes has revealed that Bush still leads Gore by 362 votes in 64 counties out of 67. However, the Florida recount has yet to reveal the winner of Florida’s pivotal 25 electoral votes. There are several elections deciding scenarios that remain possible until the 43rd president is inaugurated on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.

Absentee ballots mailed in from overseas are due to arrive in Florida within the next eight days. Most of these ballots are from military personnel station on overseas bases and ships. The remaining portion of the incoming ballots are from American citizens living overseas. The majority of these expatriates currently live in Israel. No reliable figures are available to indicate how many ballots were sent on time or toward which candidate they might favor.

Both the Democratic Party and private citizens might file lawsuits within days to contest various voter irregularities. Approximately 19,000 votes in South Palm Beach County, Florida were disqualified when they were found to have two holes punched out for the presidential ballot choice. Thousands of Florida residents are complaining that the “unique and illegal” layout of the ballot led them to accidentally vote for Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan instead of Democratic candidate Al Gore. An emergency hearing will soon be held in the Florida State Court to decide whether to call for a reelection in that single county. If the margin of popular votes in Florida remains close, a reelection in South Palm Beach could decide the national election.

Other alleged voter irregularities have surfaced in Florida. A locked election box was discovered in a church day care center in Palm Beach but had no ballots inside. Statistical irregularities have been reported in another Florida county where Socialist Worker’s Party candidate James Harris received half of his national vote (9,100 votes).

If George W. Bush is certified as the winner of Florida’s electoral votes, that does not mean he will necessarily receive them when the Electoral College convenes on Dec. 18. The majority of states, including Florida, do not require the electors to vote how their state directs them.

With Gore winning the national popular vote (at press time) with 48,993,390 votes to 48,806,041, some electors might decide to cross party lines and vote for the Democratic candidate.

The new House of Representatives may have no choice but to declare one of the candidates as “acting president” until any foreseeable court cases are decided. If the Florida judges declare the election results invalid, then the acting president may have to cede the White House to the other candidate. This is regarded as the nightmare scenario and could likely result in a “Constitutional crisis.”

While it is not certain whether the next administration will be decided in days, or in the next five weeks, it is more certain that there will be a renewed call for an end to the current Electoral College system.


Campus Comment:

Election 2000: What do you think?

'I can't believe that it came down to one state. I can't believe that Florida has that much power right now. Finding out this morning that there's a recount gives me some hope that some kind of change will result. The whole thing has been nuts, like with them not letting Nader, or anyone else for that matter, participate in the presidential debate. It's just been totally nuts and I can't wait until it's over. I voted Nader because I voted on principle and I don't have any regrets in the way I voted.' -- Jennifer Contreras, sophomore journalism major
'I can't believe that it came down to one state. I can't believe that Florida has that much power right now. Finding out this morning that there's a recount gives me some hope that some kind of change will result. The whole thing has been nuts, like with them not letting Nader, or anyone else for that matter, participate in the presidential debate. It's just been totally nuts and I can't wait until it's over. I voted Nader because I voted on principle and I don't have any regrets in the way I voted.'
-- Jennifer Contreras, sophomore journalism major
'I feel the closeness of the election is great because it will stimulate people to go out and vote. When people say, "My vote doesn't count, my vote doesn't matter," if this doesn't tell you that it does then something's wrong with you. One vote does count. Right now 2,000 votes is all that's separating them. 2,000 votes for the next four years -- that's a big deal.' -- James Breitling, junior political science major
'I feel the closeness of the election is great because it will stimulate people to go out and vote. When people say, "My vote doesn't count, my vote doesn't matter," if this doesn't tell you that it does then something's wrong with you. One vote does count. Right now 2,000 votes is all that's separating them. 2,000 votes for the next four years -- that's a big deal.'
-- James Breitling, junior political science major
'This is my first year voting and I think it's really exciting how it's so close. I voted for Gore and I'm hoping that some of Hillary's ideas rubbed off on him because I really liked her viewpoints on education. I was really against the school vouchers because my mom works for a school and I know how much money it will take away from the schools. Private schools don't have to accept anybody, they accept who they want.' -- Isaura Alarcon, senior sociology major
'This is my first year voting and I think it's really exciting how it's so close. I voted for Gore and I'm hoping that some of Hillary's ideas rubbed off on him because I really liked her viewpoints on education. I was really against the school vouchers because my mom works for a school and I know how much money it will take away from the schools. Private schools don't have to accept anybody, they accept who they want.'
-- Isaura Alarcon, senior sociology major
'I was watching the race from 7 until midnight trying to figure out who was going to win and the discrepancy in Florida was a really big mistake for them saying Gore won first, then taking it back to do a recount. I think the biggest mistake on the part of the networks was calling the polls early just to get a story. I think Gore's going to win.' -- Frank Tolentino, junior television broadcast major
'I was watching the race from 7 until midnight trying to figure out who was going to win and the discrepancy in Florida was a really big mistake for them saying Gore won first, then taking it back to do a recount. I think the biggest mistake on the part of the networks was calling the polls early just to get a story. I think Gore's going to win.'
-- Frank Tolentino, junior television broadcast major
'It's interesting to see how my children are being affected by this. They're very into it, they were all watching the election. I think the proposition that passed about treating inmates with rehabilitation for drugs instead of putting them in jail is great.' -- Alicia Atkinson, senior psychology major
'It's interesting to see how my children are being affected by this. They're very into it, they were all watching the election. I think the proposition that passed about treating inmates with rehabilitation for drugs instead of putting them in jail is great.'
-- Alicia Atkinson, senior psychology major

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