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The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Tallahassee
"Republicans are weary of complaints that black Americans were cheated"
 real 56k

Saturday, 20 January, 2001, 12:40 GMT
Doubts remain about Florida vote
Protest after election
Many black voters believe they were excluded
As George W Bush prepares to take up the reins of power and his defeated Democrat rival Al Gore retires to consider his options, investigations into how the state of Florida handled the election rumble on.

BBC's 5 Live Report has been speaking to a private investigator who has been hired by the Democratic National Committee in Washington.


Accusations of harassment
More than two months after the polls closed, the Miami-based investigator, Gerry Deutsch, has been compiling a dossier of dirty tricks.

He told 5 Live Report he was investigating poll irregularities and allegations of fraud in several counties.

Based on what he has uncovered so far, he said there could be criminal proceedings.

"I believe there was a definite organised effort on behalf of the Republican party to somehow control the election,'' he said. '' We will find the perpetrators and I can promise you these people will be indicted."

Decrepit counting machines

His findings come as no surprise to Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).


Thousand of ballots discarded
"The election in Florida was conducted in a manner which was illegal, immoral and undemocratic," she said.

African Americans are convinced that, had all their votes been counted in Florida, Al Gore would have won the state and with it the presidency.

They point to decrepit counting machines that tossed out thousands of votes uncounted. The machines are in predominantly black voting precincts.

Civil Rights Commission hearing

They speak of voter harassment, registration irregularities and a state official, Katherine Harris who presided over the election while helping run Mr Bush's Florida campaign

The federal Civil Rights Commission is now investigating these complaints. During hearings this month, the commission heard allegations of a road block set up by Florida state troopers near a polling station.

Roberta Tucker, a state employee, told the commission she was intimidated by the white troopers.

"I felt angry. Why were they there? My thinking was they were there to intimidate black people going to vote," she said.

The commission also heard from a black pastor, Willie Whiting who, was told he could not vote.

He testified that it felt like he'd "been slingshot back into slavery."

Obi Nweze said that what happened in Florida was "a perfect example of institutionalised racism."

Opinion polls

The NAACP, the US Department of Justice, and the state of Florida are all conducting inquiries.

More than 80% of African-Americans voted for Mr Gore, and many in the black community still question George W Bush's legitimacy after the controversy surrounding the Florida recount.

Although Mr Bush has attempted to reach out to African-Americans, a public opinion poll this month showed less than a quarter of blacks believe he will work to address their interests.

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See also:

19 Jan 01 | Americas
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Harris in Florida poll probe
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Harris defends Florida poll
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