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Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 08:36 GMT
Election turning point
count
Democrats were devastated when recounting stopped
By Malcolm Brabant in Tallahassee

The new presidrent will be able to point to the day before Thanksgiving as the moment when the election began to swing in his favour.

That was the day the three-member canvassing board of Miami Dade County in Florida decided to stop examining 11,000 disputed ballots.

bush
Bush supporters besieged the canvassing board offices
It was a Wednesday, and they claimed they could not complete the count by the following Sunday deadline which had been imposed by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Democrats were devastated. The canvassing board had already checked 2,000 ballots; Al Gore had gained 157 extra votes and was possibly on course to overtake Mr Bush.

An angry crowd of chanting Republican Party observers had earlier besieged the office of the canvassing board, who shortly afterwards decided to give up.

The Democrats claim the board was intimidated by a mob.

Republican filibuster

Whatever the truth, the Democrats never regained the momentum thereafter and were always fighting an uphill battle to get the count restarted.

They were thwarted at every turn by the Republicans, whose strategy was to filibuster, block and parry until the clock ran out.

By apparently asserting that 12 December was the cut-off point, the Supreme Court has signalled that time has indeed run out for Mr Gore.

But while the Republicans are sensing that final victory is only hours away, at least half of America may be rueing that constitutional deadlines have precedence over counting every vote.

Several organisations have applied for permission to manually count Florida's six million ballots.

But that will purely be an historical exercise, and so the United States may not discover the true result in Florida until after the new president is sworn in.


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12 Dec 00 | Americas
America holds faith in Supreme Court
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