St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Election briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 21, 2000

Judge to consider absentee ballots lawsuit

A local judge agreed Monday to hear a lawsuit seeking to throw out the 15,000 absentee ballots cast in heavily Republican Seminole County.

At issue is a decision by the county supervisor of elections to allow Republican Party workers to correct Republican voters' incomplete absentee-ballot applications that had been rejected in the weeks before the election.

The supervisor, Sandra Goard, a Republican, has acknowledged that at the same time, she let other flawed applications pile up in her office because she became too busy to notify the people who had sent them that they had been rejected.

Gov. George W. Bush garnered 10,006 absentee votes in Seminole, compared with 5,209 cast for Vice President Al Gore.

A local attorney, Harry Jacobs, filed suit last Friday alleging that Goard broke a Florida law that requires that only the voter provide all information for the ballot application. Judge Debra Nelson of Circuit Court, who disclosed in a hearing on Saturday that her campaign manager was a local Republican Party official, denied a motion Monday to have Jacobs' suit dismissed, and gave him permission to begin gathering evidence.

Since it can no longer be determined which ballots went with which application, Jacobs is asking that all the absentee ballots in the county be invalidated.

Gore popular vote hits 50-million

As all eyes concentrated on the battle over Florida's votes Monday, Al Gore's quest for the presidency passed a significant national milestone.

That came as an updated tally of the popular vote showed Democrat Gore has passed the 50-million mark, reaching a total so far of 50,099,002 votes.

Gore's margin over Republican George W. Bush also rose above 300,000 for the first time, reaching 300,849. In all, Bush's popular vote stands at 49,798,153. All other candidates now have a total of 3,828,454, according to the Associated Press.

The increase came as a result of the laborious count of absentee ballots in California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico. The new tally also includes Florida's votes as certified by its secretary of state last week.

Bush partisans had hoped the absentee tally in Western states would break in their candidate's favor, given the experience of past elections when out-of-town citizens voted more Republican than Democratic.

Bush raises $4.6-million for fees

George W. Bush has raised $4.6-million to pay his campaign's Florida legal fees as the recount in the Sunshine State continues.

Bush spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said Monday that the campaign has received more than 15,900 contributions, with an average donation of $290.

"A lot of people out there understand what an important effort this is," Tucker said. "They are also becoming increasingly frustrated by what they're seeing in Florida with these hand counts. They want to give us the resources to make sure that this is a fair, accurate and final count."

Campaign officials initially set a fundraising goal of $3-million, but Tucker said they have continued to raise money as the vote-counting deadlock goes on.

Both campaigns are raising money to pay costs of their legal teams in the Florida battle.

Under federal law, there are no limits to the size of the donations and the parties do not have to identify their contributors. Corporate and union contributions are prohibited.

The Bush campaign is voluntarily limiting contributions to no more than $5,000 and posting the names of its donors on its Web site.

The Gore campaign is not limiting the size of its donations but also plans to report the names of its contributors.

Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said the campaign met its initial $3-million target.

Suit challenges Cheney residency

WEST PALM BEACH -- A federal court battle over whether vice presidential candidate Richard Cheney is still legally an inhabitant of Texas -- and thus ineligible to claim that state's 32 electoral votes -- moved Monday from the Southern District of Florida to the Northern District of Texas.

Hours after a federal judge dismissed the original suit filed by Boca Raton lawyer Lawrence Caplan in Miami, a Fort Worth attorney filed a similar action in Dallas on behalf of three Texas voters.

A Cheney spokeswoman called the suit "sheer nonsense."

Both Article II and the 12th Amendment to the Constitution forbid a state's electors from voting for both a presidential and vice presidential candidate from their own state.

Cheney flew to Wyoming in July and switched his voter registration and driver's license before Bush announced his choice as the vice presidential candidate. The lawsuits say that was merely a ruse to get around the Constitution.

He has worked for a Dallas-based oil-drilling company and lived in Highland Park, a Dallas suburb, since 1995 in a home on which he and his wife claim homestead exemption.

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