Monday, November 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Florida to declare winner today
From Vasantha Arora

Washington, Nov 26 (IANS) —Florida is scheduled to declare the winner in the US presidential election after 5 p.m. local time on Sunday (3.30 am IST Monday) as mandated by the state Supreme Court, but that will not end the nation's electoral impasse due to entrenched legal-political issues.

The New York Times says the final result is likely to show a thin victory for Republican candidate George W. Bush over his Democratic rival and US Vice -President Al Gore.

The daily, however, says the certification of the result will settle nothing. It may be of some use to Bush in buttressing his claims to victory and increasing pressure on Gore to concede defeat, but the Vice-President's campaign has made it clear that he not only expects to fight on, whatever the result, but also expects prominent Democrats to stand behind him.

Moreover, there is no firm indication as to when the US Supreme Court will pronounce its judgment on Bush's petition, the hearing of which has been fixed for December 1. The Bush campaign has challenged the Florida Supreme Court's ruling allowing Gore's demand for a hand recount in three counties of the state.

Meanwhile, the recount is continuing in Florida's two counties of Broward and Palm Beach with a determination to conclude the process before the deadline for reporting the final results to state election officials expires. The manual re-counts show Gore chipping away at Bush's 930-vote lead in the statewide tally. Unofficial results show Gore picking up about 532 votes in Democratic-leaning Broward County, while Governor Bush is registering a net gain of a few votes in neighbouring Palm Beach County. Revised vote totals in several other counties show Bush picking up almost 100 votes.

In another legal dispute concerning the presidential poll, the Bush campaign has withdrawn a lawsuit aimed at forcing the counting of hundreds of military absentee ballots, which had earlier been rejected because they lacked the proper postmark. The withdrawal came shortly before the court was to announce a ruling.

Under its new strategy, the Bush campaign will file lawsuits against individual Florida counties in the matter. Military ballots cast overseas generally favour Bush. Hundreds of these ballots were disqualified during Florida's vote counting.

It is widely believed that the declaration of a winner would not help the nation know which of the two candidates would become President on January 20.Legal proceedings are in progress on three separate tracks that could push a resolution to the disputed Florida election into December. The Bush campaign filed four lawsuits on Saturday. Gore's lawyers said they would probably contest the results in at least three counties.

AP adds: Democrats and Republicans scratched for votes across Florida as Gore and Bush plotted strategies.

Broward county finished its counting just before midnight on Saturday, adding enough votes to help cut Bush’s tissue-thin statewide lead in half, to 464 votes, from the lead of 930 he had before the recounts. Gore plans to protest some county results in state courts tomorrow and the us supreme court is hearing arguments four days later on Bush’s case against recounts—meaning the nation may not know its 43rd President until legal wrangling wraps up deep in December.

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