Bush, Gore Campaigns Spar on Florida Recount
(CNSNews.com) - The head of George W. Bush's campaign is accusing Democrats and the campaign of Vice President Al Gore of further politicizing the controversial ballot recount in Florida.
"The Democrats who are politicizing and distorting these events risk doing so at the expense of our democracy. One of the options they seem to be looking at is new elections," said Bush Campaign Manager Don Evans.
The charge came following a request by the Gore campaign for a hand recount of election ballots in four Florida counties. The statewide recount of Tuesday's ballots began at mid-day Wednesday.
Gore Campaign Manager William Daley claimed Thursday that a "hand recount" of ballots in those counties will show that Floridians want Al Gore as president, prompting Evans to denounce Daley's request and the Gore campaign's approach toward the Florida recount.
"Vice President Gore's campaign did not like the outcome of Election Day. It seems they're worried that they won't like the official recount results either," said Evans.
Evans also accused Democrats of not giving complete information about Tuesday's voting in Palm Beach County, where some voters have claimed that the ballots were confusing. "My counterpart at the Gore campaign has made some statements about ballots in Palm Beach County that don't tell the whole story," Evans said.
Some 19,000 ballots in that county were tossed-out by state election officials because of various problems with them, which Evans described as ballots that were invalidated for "over-counting (and) casting votes for two candidates for the same office."
According to Evans, Daley and the Gore campaign have not mentioned that "in 1996, a year with much lower turnout, a similar number of 14,872 ballots were invalidated for double counting in Palm Beach County."
Evans said the calls for more recounts were an attempt to prolong the process of finalizing a winner in the election. "Our democratic process calls for a vote on Election Day, it does not call for us to continue voting until someone likes the outcome," said Evans. "It's important that no party in this election act in a precipitous manner or distort an existing voting pattern in an effort to misinform the public."
But Daley denied that the Gore campaign is trying to drag out the process in determining the outcome of Tuesday's election. "All we are seeking is this: that the candidate that the voters preferred become our president," said Daley.
"That is what the American people truly deserve. Moreover, we will move this matter ahead as quickly as possible. We do not want delay."
Karl Rove, Bush's chief campaign strategist, said Daley's labeling of the Palm Beach County ballot as "confusing" was wrong. He illustrated his point by means of a Cook County, Illinois, election ballot, which Rove said is similar to those used by Palm Beach County election officials.
"I really thought it was ironic that Chairman Daley went to great lengths to decry the butterfly ballot as confusing and undemocratic," said Rove. "I have here a copy of the Cook County, Illinois, judicial ballot, which is a butterfly ballot," and much like the disputed ballots used in Palm Beach County.
In general terms, a 'butterfly ballot' is one in which nominees are listed on the left and right sides of a page, as in a book. People vote for a candidate by punching a corresponding hole next to the candidate's name, with the punch holes aligned vertically between the left and right column of candidate names.
"It's been used in a number of states and a number of counties and has historically been used in Cook County, Illinois," said Rove. Rove also noted that vote counts still need to be finalized in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Washington State, and said he believes those vote tallies will increase the popular vote for Bush.