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Miami Vote Review Favors Bush Gore Nets 49 Votes In Analysis; Bush Would Have Still Led

By Bob Drogin
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Ever since the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board abruptly stopped its manual recount of disputed presidential ballots last Nov. 22, supporters of Al Gore have complained that the Democratic nominee was unfairly deprived of legitimate votes.

Independent reviews of those ballots by two Florida newspapers, however, now indicate that the former vice president would not have gained enough extra votes to overtake George W. Bush in the tumultuous post-election race for the White House.

The Miami Herald reported Monday that, based on its own examination of 10,644 ballots that did not register votes in tabulating machines, Gore would have netted only an additional 49 votes from the state’s largest county.

Even when joined with Democratic gains from three other counties that conducted manual recounts -- Broward, Palm Beach and Volusia -- Gore would have trailed Bush by 140 votes and thus lost the state, the Herald concluded.

The Palm Beach Post last month reported different vote tallies, but essentially the same result. After reviewing the dimples, hanging chads and other marks on Miami-Dade’s disputed punch-card ballots, the paper said that Bush would have picked up six votes overall in the county, leaving Gore even further behind.

Although Republicans largely have denounced the post-election ballot reviews as unnecessary and disruptive, the White House welcomed the latest reports from Florida.

“Hopefully all the focus on the past is over with,” President Bush told reporters Monday at the start of a Cabinet meeting. “It’s time to move forward.”

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was more enthusiastic. “We’ve never thought it’s been in doubt,” he said. “And I think the overwhelming, overwhelming majority of the American people have moved on and never thought it was in doubt. And it doesn’t change anything in this White House about what we’re doing. This election has been settled a long time ago.”

But Douglas Hattaway, who served as Gore’s spokesman during the Florida recount, refused to give ground. “We won’t know who really won until all the undervotes and overvotes are counted in all 67 counties in Florida,” Hattaway said.