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The BBC's Tom Carver in Austin, Texas
"[Gore] could effectively... make it very hard... to ever become president the future."
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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"A few dozen Floridian troops in Kosovo could decide the election"
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Jim Hoagland, Washington Post
"Gore could appeal to the electoral college"
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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 00:42 GMT
Florida remains on the edge
"Butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach county confused many
Confusion over the outcome of the US presidential election escalated on Thursday as Florida failed to complete its recount as scheduled.

Florida's 67 counties were expected to file their recounted results by 1700 (2200 GMT) but only 53 of them managed to do so.

What was going on in my mind was somehow my right to vote had been taken away from me

Palm Beach plaintiff Lillian Gaines
Among the missing results were those from Palm Beach where a legal challenge has been mounted by Democrat-backed voters who say a misleading ballot paper led to thousands of spoiled or incorrectly chosen votes.

Victory in Florida for either Republican candidate George W Bush, or Democrat Al Gore would deliver 25 electoral college votes and the White House.

Florida recount (53 out of 67 counties)
Bush: 2,909,661
Gore: 2,907,877
Bush lead: 1,784
What next?
11 Nov: Palm Beach starts recount
13 Nov: Palm Beach files results
14 Nov: counties' recount deadline
17 Nov: postal vote deadline
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris said the remaining counties had until 14 November to complete their recounts. She said the state was legally bound to continue counting postal votes until the following Friday.

She said the partial result from the 53 counties which had filed their results showed Mr Bush leading by 1,784 votes - exactly the same margin by which he won earlier this week before the recount was ordered.

Mrs Harris stressed the figures were unofficial until the full recount was completed.

Palm Beach county officials announced on Thursday they would not begin a recount until the weekend, which would include a hand count of a sample of votes from three precincts. Friday is a public holiday.

They said they expected to release the results on Monday.

Earlier, Gore campaign manager William Daley said the count in Palm Beach, where about 19,000 ballots were spoiled, should receive the "full attention" of the courts.

He also demanded a hand count of votes in four Florida counties, including Palm Beach, involving a total of almost 1.8 million votes.

But Bush campaign chairman Don Evans accused the Democrats of "politicising and distorting" events.

Both Mr Gore and Mr Bush have sent teams of top-flight lawyers - as well as two former secretaries of state - and legal challenges could stretch the wait into weeks or months.


The Palm Beach result is being challenged by a group of voters who say the design of the so-called "butterfly-ballot" paper was "deceptive, misleading and confusing" and led them to either unintentionally vote for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan or spoil their paper as they tried to correct their mistake.

Rev Jesse Jackson in Palm Beach
Jesse Jackson: It's not black or white - it's wrong or right
Mr Buchanan, who received more than 3,000 votes in Palm Beach, more than three times higher than in any other Florida county, said "ineptitude" in ballot design may have caused many south Florida voters to vote for him by mistake.

Thousands of angry protesters outside the Palm Beach county government heard civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson describe the method of voting in the county as "a wreck".

"People pushed the lever for Gore, and they got Buchanan," he said.

The demonstrators waved placards saying: "We got Bush-whacked," and, "I demand a revote now."

'Routine' vote

The Bush campaign said on Thursday the vote in Palm Beach was "routine and predictable". Mr Evans said 14,872 ballots were spoiled in Palm Beach in the 1996 presidential elections, "a figure comparable to the number ... dismissed this year".

Pro-Bush demonstration
Bush supporters also demonstrated in Palm Beach
Bush campaign chief strategist Karl Rove said a high vote for Pat Buchanan was not surprising because the Reform Party had 16,695 registered in members in Palm Beach.

James Baker, the former US Secretary of State observing the recount for the Republicans, defended the form of the ballot, which he said had been published well in advance and approved by the Democrats.

Win but lose

If the current margin stands in Florida, Mr Gore could become the first man in 112 years to win the popular vote but lose an electoral college majority and the presidency.

Election nail-biters
1876: Republican Rutherford Hayes won by one electoral college vote
1880: Republican James Garfield won by less than 10,000 votes out of some 9 million cast
1916: Democrat Woodrow Wilson won by 23 electoral college votes
1960: Democrat John F Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by less than 1% of popular vote
1968: Nixon won the White House by 0.7% of the vote against Hubert Humphrey
CNN showed him with a 48.98 to 48.78% edge, a difference of less than 200,000 votes over the Texas governor, out of slightly more than 100 million ballots cast.

Jim Hoagland, associate editor of the Washington Post, told the BBC that Mr Gore could still appeal to the electoral college members to switch votes to him because he won a majority - albeit a slim one - of the popular vote.

The last US president to be elected without winning the popular vote was Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

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