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News Briefs

With Two Weeks To Election, Poll Shows A Tie

By Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder

The New York Times

Two weeks before Election Day, voters hold a sharply critical view of President Bush’s record in office, but they have strong reservations about Sen. John Kerry, leaving the race in a tie, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Bush’s job approval rating is at 44 percent, a dangerously low number for an incumbent president, and one of the lowest of his tenure. A majority of voters said that they disapproved of the way Bush had managed the economy and the war in Iraq and -- echoing a refrain of Kerry’s -- that his tax cuts had favored the wealthy. Voters said that Kerry would do a better job of preserving Social Security, creating jobs and ending the war in Iraq.

Still, the poll found the two candidates each drawing 46 percent of all registered voters in a head-to-head race. Among likely voters in a two-way race, Bush has 47 percent to 46 percent for Kerry.

The Times/CBS Poll was conducted over the four days since Bush and Kerry concluded the last of their three debates. Some other polls taken during that time have shown Bush in a slightly stronger position among what they described as likely voters.

Early Voters Flock To Florida Polls

By Abby Goodnough

The New York Times JACKSONVILLE, Fla.,

Presidential voting in Florida began two weeks early on Monday, in an effort to avoid many of the problems that plagued Election Day 2000. But like persistent ghosts, some of those problems immediately resurfaced: long lines, trouble verifying voter registration data and a sense among black voters that they were being unfairly treated.

In Duval County, where suspicion still simmers after 27,000 votes were thrown out in 2000, mostly in black neighborhoods, the embattled elections supervisor abruptly resigned, citing health problems. The elections office here has been under fire for opening only one early-voting site in the state’s largest county.

Gov. Jeb Bush and Glenda Hood, his secretary of state, joined in the criticism last weekend -- almost two weeks after black lawmakers and ministers here began complaining -- and on Monday, the office announced it would open at least two more sites by next week.

Florida is among 28 states that allow any registered voter to cast a ballot in person before Election Day.

Subpoena Issued To Insurer Over Sales To Military Recruits

By Diana B. Henriques

The New York Times

The American Amicable Life Insurance Co. of Waco, Texas, confirmed on Monday that the Justice Department had subpoenaed documents relating to the company’s sale of insurance products to military personnel and other federal employees.

The civil subpoena -- which people who participated in discussions about it said was issued by the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia -- was served in late July, after a series in The New York Times disclosed that the company’s agents had used misleading sales practices to sell expensive life insurance policies to Iraq-bound recruits at Fort Benning, Ga.

“The company is working with the Department of Justice regarding a civil inquiry,” said Mark Palmer, a company spokesman. “Our desire is to responsibly respond to the U.S. attorney’s questions while continuing to provide solid, stable life insurance to our customers.”

A company memorandum obtained by The New York Times showed that the subpoena specifically asked for information about the decision to begin selling “any company product as a savings plan rather than as an insurance plan or policy.”