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Monday, 26 February, 2001, 08:37 GMT
Bush was 'true winner'
George W. Bush
Mr Bush won Florida by 537 votes out of about 6 million cast
George W Bush would probably have won the disputed US presidential election, even if the federal Supreme Court had allowed a recount of votes in the state of Florida, a US newspaper has concluded.


President Bush was lawfully elected on election day. He won after the first statewide machine recount

Mark Wallace
The Miami Herald, which has carried out its own review of uncounted ballots in Miami Dade county, says Mr Gore would have picked up only 49 extra votes there.

Even when combined with gains for Mr Gore in three other counties that used used punchcard ballots - Broward, Palm Beach, and Volusia - these would not have been enough to overtake Mr Bush.

"George W. Bush likely would have won the presidency outright, without weeks of indecision and political warfare," the newspaper says.

The review studied undervotes, or ballots where machines were unable to read votes for a president.

Ballots

Of 10,644 ballots that the Miami Dade elections office identified as undervotes, the review found that 1,555 bore some kind of marking that might be interpreted as a vote for Mr Gore.


This underscores how unpredictable the whole recount strategy was, on both sides

Doug Hattaway
An additional 1,506 bore a marking that might be interpreted as a vote for Mr Bush.

There were 106 markings for other candidates.

No markings for president were found on 4,892 ballots, and 2,058 ballots bore markings in spaces that had been assigned to no candidate.

An additional 527 ballots were deemed to have markings for more than one presidential candidate.

Reactions

Republicans called the results of the Miami Herald's review further proof that Mr Bush was the legitimate winner all along.

"President Bush was lawfully elected on election day. He won after the first statewide machine recount", said Mark Wallace, a Miami lawyer for the Republican Party.

"He won after the manual recount, and he won at the conclusion of all the litigation" he added.

Election office in Florida
Thousands of ballot papers were scrutinised
Democrats said the review shows neither side could have known how the recounts would turn out.

"This underscores how unpredictable the whole recount strategy was, on both sides", said Doug Hattaway, former Democratic campaign spokesman.

"It shows that Mr Bush's tactics of delaying and blocking vote counts didn't really benefit him".

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris halted a manual recount after last November's election, and certified results showing Mr Bush in the lead.

Florida's Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of undervotes in December, but that ruling was overturned by the US Supreme Court.

A research firm hired by several American news organisations - including The Associated Press, The Washington Post and the New York Times - is still carrying out a larger-scale review of uncounted Florida ballots.


Florida recount
See also:

29 Jan 01 | Americas
Gore gains in newspaper analyses
12 Jan 01 | Americas
Harris defends Florida poll
14 Dec 00 | Americas
Recount anger set to continue
01 Dec 00 | Americas
Supreme Court weighs Florida ruling
15 Nov 00 | Americas
Florida court adds to count chaos
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