Gore dealt setback as Fla. county halts recount


Associated Press

In a dizzying turn of events, Florida’s largest county abruptly stopped recounting votes Wednesday, sending Al Gore’s lawyers scrambling back to court to keep a ballot-by-ballot fight for the White House grinding away. George W. Bush asked the Supreme Court to shut down all the recounts or risk a constitutional crisis.

"I won the vote in Florida," Bush said — a point that could hardly be more in dispute. He accused the Democrats of monkeying with laws to reverse the election’s "legitimate result."

Bush was temporarily reeling from a Florida Supreme Court ruling late Tuesday night that said manual recounts could continue until Sunday in the state that will determine America’s 43rd president. Bush is clinging to a 930-vote lead out of 6 million cast.

Standing in front of a presidential-blue backdrop, the Texas governor accused the state Supreme Court of overreaching, and he had choice words for Democrats, too. "I believe Secretary Cheney and I won the vote in Florida. And I believe some are determined to keep counting in an effort to change the legitimate result," he said.

Republican allies were even more outspoken as they fanned out across Florida.

"If we were not witnessing, in effect, the stealing of a presidential election it would be laughable," said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, whose district includes part of Miami-Dade County.

Bush’s fortunes shifted with stunning speed. Within two hours of his news conference, a three-member elections board in predominantly Democratic Miami-Dade County voted to scrap its recount. If the decision stands, Gore’s presidential dreams would rest with two other southeast coast counties — Palm Beach and Broward — where his advisers feared there were not enough votes to catch Bush.

"We hope the counts continue," said Gore’s campaign chairman, William Daley.

Gore appealed the Miami-Dade decision, but a state appeals court refused Wednesday night to force a return to recount work. Democrats said they would appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

Senior advisers said the vice president’s slimming prospects depended upon the two remaining counties broadening their standards for validating votes, no sure thing, or a court forces Miami-Dade to recount — also a long shot.

Also in the day’s swirl of events:

  • Bush’s lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, accusing the state’s high court of allowing "selective, arbitrary and standardless" recounts. Without a decision by the high court, "the consequences may well include the ascension of a president of questionable legitimacy, or a constitutional crisis," the appeal said.

  • Bush filed suit in a Florida court asking 13 counties with heavy military populations to count overseas ballots. Hundreds of ballots, many from military outposts, were rejected last week when Democratic lawyers urged county boards to scrutinize them. Both sides believe Bush lost more votes than Gore in the rejected ballots.

  • A Palm Beach County judge said officials must consider "dimpled chad" punch-card ballots — those that show an indentation but no perforation. However, Judge Jorge Labarga said elections officials can reject the questionable ballots after trying to determine the voters’ intent. Elections board chief Charles Burton said both sides will be able to make their case Friday, but on first glance he didn’t think the ruling would change the way his board has judged ballots, a bad sign for Gore who wants the county to loosen its standards.

  • Florida’s GOP-majority Legislature considered trying to select the state’s 25 electors and awarding the White House to the candidate of its choice, regardless of who wins the state’s popular-vote contest. "The Legislature may have to step in and select those electors," the House GOP leader said. Bush’s team has held open this possibility as a last-ditch way of claiming the White House.

  • House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said Republican leaders would be prepared to contest the outcome of Florida’s recount if it does not appear to be legitimate. Under the Constitution, members of the House and Senate can object to acceptance of electoral votes, subject to a vote of the entire Congress.

    Gore had picked up 129 votes on the recounts, forcing Bush’s lead to 801. Gore would have cut much deeper into Bush’s total if Miami-Dade’s hand counts were added — 157 for Gore before counting was suspended.

    The board, one Democrat and two members who don’t list a party affiliation, cited the court’s Sunday deadline for its reversal. "It would be a minor feat and miracle for us to do it" by Sunday, said canvassing board chairman Lawrence King.

    The turnabout followed a raucous morning at the vote-counting center. Well-organized Republicans protested the board’s decision Tuesday to turn its attention exclusively to an estimated 10,000 ballots that were not punched through cleanly on Election Day.

    In a scene carried on national TV, security officers jostled with protesters outside the counting room. "Cheaters! Let us in!" the demonstrators yelled.

    Both sides believed those 10,000 ballots would boost Gore’s totals, and possibly allow him to overtake Bush. Republicans cried foul, saying GOP precincts — and potential Bush gains — would be ignored.

    After the vote to stop counting, Florida GOP chairman Al Cardenas said, "Finally, we’re getting some semblance of the rule of law here."

    Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    Talk to us

    > Give us your news tips.

    > Send us a letter to the editor.

    > More Herald contact information.

  • More in Local News

    1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

    Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian along I-5. Investigators believed a man had parked on the shoulder to refuel.

    FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
    Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

    The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

    A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
    Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

    Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

    Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
    Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

    Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

    A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

    Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

    Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
    To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

    “It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

    In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
    FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

    The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

    Firefighters respond to a report of a smoke alarm going off in the 100 block of West Main Street in Monroe on Monday morning. Fire officials confirmed the fire was coming from living quarters above Good Brewing Co. (Provided by Snohomish County Regional Fire and Rescue).
    Fire damages apartment above Monroe brewery

    Good Brewing Co. on West Main Street was listed as permanently closed Monday.

    Tom Ceurvorst picks up his food order at Big Chicken on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Free ice cream Wednesday for Shaq’s birthday at Big Chicken in Mukilteo

    Sign a card for the NBA Hall of Famer and restaurant founder. Shaquille O’Neal turns 52 on March 6.

    Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    Police: Lynnwood man consumed cannabis, beer before crash into trooper

    Trooper Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect Raul Benitez Santana was impaired.

    Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

    Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

    SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

    The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

    Support local journalism

    If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.