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web posted November 27, 2000

Yellow ribbon campaign

Victoria Dickinson of MN is launching a yellow ribbon campaign in an effort to show solidarity through this trying time for America. A yellow ribbon tied to trees, porches, car antennas, or on lapels would signify to other patriotic Americans that they do not approve and will not tolerate the theft of this election from the American people.

Blow to Gore: Miami-Dade recounts won't count

In what was described as a huge blow to Democrat Al Gore's bid to win more Florida votes, and with them the White House, election officials in Florida's Miami-Dade County abruptly called off a hand recount of presidential ballots on November 22. It means no recounts at all will be added when the county submits its final tally.

The county's three-member canvassing board said it didn't have time to complete the task in time for a November 26 deadline set by the state Supreme Court.

Instead, the board voted unanimously to use the original election returns compiled immediately after the November 7 balloting. The stunning action reverses a decision made just a few hours earlier when the panel said it would limit the county recount to 10,750 "undervotes" -- ballots on which no vote was registered by counting machines.

Democrats blamed the setback on what they called intimidation by Florida Republicans who had furiously protested the board's original decision to count only undervotes. Republicans had said that would unfairly benefit Gore.

The Miami development came shortly after Gore's rival, George W. Bush accused Florida's highest court of overreaching its authority by allowing the hand recounting of votes in three counties to continue.

The state Supreme Court decision said Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris must accept amended vote totals until November 26 at 5 p.m. -- if her office is open that day-- or else the next day at 9 a.m.

Bush holds a 930-vote margin in official, but uncertified returns.

FBI gets Carnivore approval

A review by a private contractor of the FBI's Carnivore e-mail surveillance tool concludes that the FBI should continue to use the system, but raised the possibility that it could be abused to grab more data than a court allows.

The review, which was was posted on the Justice Department's website, is the result of a month long, $170,000 contract to provide an independent analysis of the controversial surveillance system. But some civil rights advocates and a key lawmaker accused the authors of bias.

The report, prepared by the Illinois Institute of Technology's Research Institute and Chicago-Chicago-Kent College of Law, recommends that the FBI make some changes in the Carnivore program so that it's easier for agents to use and less open to possible abuse.

"In the current Carnivore software," the report says, "it is possible to select filter settings that may not be appropriate or even technically feasible," including a selection that would "collect all information that is available on the local area network."

Carnivore also lacks "individual accountability," the report's authors say, because each action is not traceable to a specific FBI technician. "Given that chain-of-custody for the collected evidence is important, it should be important to know who set up the collection and when it was set up," the report said.

But even with its limitations, the report said, Carnivore is more precise in allowing agents to focus on narrowly defined, specific data than off-the-shelf network monitoring software. This can prevent agents from getting more information than they're allowed under court direction, the report suggested.

Critics immediately blasted the findings and noted that several senior members of the review team have worked for the Clinton administration and federal agencies in several administrations.

"We continue to believe that this was not an independent study," said Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Most of the truly independent institutions declined to bid for the contract.

Calling the review a "fuzzy snapshot of Carnivore," Steinhardt noted that Carnivore's technology is constantly evolving, so that new versions may have more sweeping capabilities than reviewed in the study.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, a longtime Carnivore critic, called the findings "questionable" and said the choice of the reviewers dictated the tone of the report.

Henry H. Perritt, who led the review team, shrugged off the criticism and insisted his team was independent.

"This is an old criticism," Perritt said on November 21. "We had access to whatever we wanted. ... We had some actual court orders, and we talked to people in the field who used the system and grilled them on how they go about setting it up and deploying it.

"We had ample opportunity to find out how the thing is used."

Dr. Donald M. Kerr, head of the FBI's cybertechnology unit, said in a statement that he is "pleased with the findings and the constructive recommendations" in the report, and that the review should help the public have a "clearer understanding of the facts" of Carnivore.

The report also recommended that the FBI "work toward public release of Carnivore source code," the internal blueprints of the system.

And the reviewers shed light on the Carnivore's sister programs, Packeteer and CoolMiner, which are used to analyze the data collected by Carnivore. Collectively, the three programs are referred to as the "DragonWare Suite."

Cheney suffered mild heart attack

Despite suffering "a very slight heart attack," Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney said, "No doubt about my serving, all we have to do now is get elected."

Dick CheneyThe former defense secretary called the night of November 22 from his bed at George Washington University Hospital to chat on CNN's "Larry King Live." Cheney had checked into the Washington, D.C., facility that same day complaining of chest and shoulder pains and later underwent an angioplasty procedure.

"I can report that when they got in there today, they didn't find any pregnant chads at all," Cheney joked with King about the controversy over counting partially punched ballots in Florida, which is playing a role in holding up the outcome of the presidential election.

Cheney was admitted to the hospital at approximately 4:30 a.m. EST earlier that day. Testing uncovered an artery that had narrowed since his last full heart checkup in 1996, leading doctors to insert a coronary stent to prop it open.

A coronary stent is a small, slotted, stainless steel tube mounted on a balloon catheter, inserted into an obstructed artery. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands and remains in place to keep the artery open.

After the surgery, Dr. Alan Wasserman, interim chair of the department of medicine at George Washington University, told reporters that Cheney's prognosis is "excellent" -- and he should be able to resume normal activities in a "few weeks" at most. Cheney will remain hospitalized for the next 2-3 days.

However, doctors failed to disclose that Cheney suffered a heart attack for some hours. They waited until a second news conference more than two hours later to disclose Cheney's true condition.

"There was a very slight heart attack," Wasserman told reporters later that afternoon.

Wasserman said that an initial blood test and an electrocardiogram did not show signs of a heart attack, but a second blood test showed elevated cardiac enzymes that indicated a small heart attack had occurred. Despite the revelation, he insisted that Cheney's prognosis remained excellent.

Wasserman said he didn't believe any stress from the presidential campaign or the current election dispute in Florida played a role in the day's developments. He praised Cheney's decision to head to the hospital after experiencing self-described "discomfort."

"His quick reaction by coming in with the chest discomfort and the treatment he received in the emergency department certainly prevented any significant heart damage," said Wasserman, a professor of cardiology at the hospital.

Cheney agreed with that assessment, saying, "I have not found this last couple of weeks as stressful, for example, as the Gulf War. Comparing the relative stress of different situations, my time in the Pentagon during the Gulf War was far more stressful."

"This morning I talked to Secretary Cheney," George W. Bush said during a news conference in Austin, Texas. "We had a very good conversation. He sounded really strong and informed me that as a precautionary measure, he went into the hospital."

"He was feeling chest pains and it turns out that subsequent tests -- the blood tests and the initial EKG -- showed that he had no heart attack. I am pleased to report that," he continued.

William Daley, campaign chairman for Vice President Al Gore, said that everyone at the Gore campaign was relieved to hear Cheney's health was not endangered.

"We were glad to hear Governor Bush report that he was doing very well, and we join everyone in wishing him and his family the best," Daley said during an afternoon press conference at the vice president's residence.

Cheney was not playing a major role in the public relations battle over the disputed results in Florida, but has been an integral player in Bush's efforts to put together a "transition team" to assume power if the Texas governor wins the White House.

After wrong US election call, ABC to make changes

ABC News, which with other television networks called the U.S. presidential election incorrectly, on November 22 pledged to project winners only after all polling booths in a state have closed.

ABC News announced the new commitment after an internal review of the Nov. 7 election, which is still being contested, ''in light of the seriousness of the errors, and in spite of the long record of accurate electoral projections.''

In the future, it said in a statement, ABC News would ''project the winner in a race in a given state only after the last scheduled poll closing time in that state.''

ABC said it would also support a uniform national poll closing time.

A day earlier, Cable News Network (CNN) named an independent advisory panel to evaluate its election coverage.

All U.S. networks were criticized for projecting the result in Florida, which has turned out to be the most crucial state, before some precincts had finished voting, perhaps influencing the returns.

The networks initially called the Florida race for Democratic candidate Al Gore, then said it was too close to call, then declared Republican George W. Bush had won the state and its 25 electoral votes, thus securing the presidency.

They all reversed again, calling the race too close to call.

Gore won't concede on November 27

The battle for Florida's electoral votes took no Thanksgiving break on November 23, as a spokesman for the Democratic Party told reporters that Vice President Al Gore would not concede on November 27, even if Gov. George W. Bush were to be declared the winner of the certified vote.

Ron Klain, a Gore campaign spokesman, told reporters that there would be no point in conceding the election, because both the Bush and Gore campaigns would probably contest results from several Florida counties.

"Nobody should be surprised by this. We've been saying all along that we wanted a full and fair count, and that's what we intend to see happen," said Klain.

Asked if that meant that Gore would not concede even if he lags in votes, Gore campaign spokeswoman Jenny Backus said that was correct.

"We want a full, fair and accurate count, and the only way left to do that is to file a contest for Miami-Dade," she said.

Klain and Backus's statements came in reaction to a decision by the Florida Supreme Court earlier that day, in which the state's highest judicial authority ruled that Miami-Dade County would not have to resume its manual ballot recount.

Democrats had asked the high court to overturn a lower court ruling that upheld Miami-Dade officials' decision to stop their recount of almost 700,000 ballots.

Gore's appeal "was denied without prejudice to any party raising any issue ... in any future proceeding," the court's brief ruling stated. "No motion for rehearing will be allowed."

Waters said that the order was signed unanimously by the seven justices.

A spokesperson for the Bush campaign told Fox News that they were pleased with the ruling.

Gore's lawyers said they will file a contest of the election in Miami-Dade no later than November 27.

Gore spokeman David Boies said the court had basically sided with the GOP argument that, under Florida law, election results should be contested after certification — not before, as Democrats were attempting to do through the manual recount. Boies said the Gore campaign would now seek the remedy of contesting the Miami-Dade results after the certification.

Students get out the vote...fraud

Florida is not alone in its bizarre ballot shenanigans. In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County district attorney's office is investigating voting irregularities among college students.

In a survey by the Marquette University student newspaper, 174 students, out of 1,000 polled, admitted to voting more than once, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

It would not be difficult to do so, said one election official.

"No matter what rules you have in place, college students are in a unique position to vote twice if they wanted to because they have two valid IDs," said Kevin Kennedy, the executive director of the State Elections Board, referring to a student's home address and college address. "And who knows how many illegal sets of IDs they have so they can drink beer?"

Voting twice in Wisconsin is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of four-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Wisconsin is one of six states that allow voters to register on Election Day. Citizens must have at least one form of proof of residence, including a driver's license or a lease.

So far, the chief deputy district attorney in Milwaukee County, who is investigating the charges at Marquette, has found no evidence to support the students' claims.

"We've found no evidence of anyone voting twice," said Bob Donohoo. "We don't have access to all the information we need at this time. A definitive answer is yet to come."

One student who claimed to have voted four times in the election -- whose lawyer then retracted his claim -- is also under investigation for making fake identification cards.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, several students told The Daily Cardinal that they were allowed to register to vote with a personal letter.

"A letter is not a form of identification," Kennedy said.

Will such claims force the state to tighten their voting system with more sophisticated technology?

Politicians will talk about it, Kennedy said, but realistically, adopting a more technologically advanced system will cost a lot of money, including time and money to train poll workers.

"You're talking about investing a lot of money into something that rarely gets used," he said.

Bush to begin transition, urges Gore not to contest Florida

Texas Gov. George W. Bush said he will go ahead with forming an administration after Florida officials certified his 537-vote lead in that state's presidential recount on November 26, but Vice President Al Gore prepared to challenge those results in a formal contest.

George W. BushBush named his running mate, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, to lead his transition team, and former Transportation Secretary Andrew Card to serve as chief of staff.

"This has been a hard-fought election, a healthy contest for American democracy," Bush said. "But now that the votes are counted, it is time for the votes to count. The vice president's lawyers have said they will contest the election results: I respectfully ask him to reconsider."

Gore's top lawyer and his running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, said they would contest the results in Florida courts. Bush argued against that course in a brief address Sunday night.

"If the vice president chooses to go forward, he is filing a contest to the outcome of the election -- and that is not the best route for America," Bush said.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced the certified totals Sunday night, after a deadline for counties to submit amended returns from hand recounts passed at 5 p.m. The final tally, according to Harris, was 2,912,790 votes for Bush; 2,912,253 for Gore.

"Accordingly, on behalf of the state Election Canvassing Commission and in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes for the president of the United States," Harris said.

Florida's electoral votes would give Bush, the Republican candidate, one more than the 270 needed to win the presidency in the Electoral College. Gore, the Democratic candidate, holds a total of 255 electoral votes.

Earlier, Harris rejected a request for an extension by Palm Beach County, where the canvassing board said it had less than 1,000 ballots left in a manual recount. The outcome in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Nassau counties are expected to form the core of Gore's contest.

Lieberman said Harris' decision ignored hundreds of votes and thousands of hours of labor by election workers.

"This evening, the secretary of state of Florida has decided to certify what by any reasonable standard is an incomplete and inaccurate count of the votes cast by the state of Florida," Lieberman said.

"Vice President Gore and I have no choice but to contest these actions as provided under Florida law and in accord with the decision of the Florida Supreme Court," he added. "It is in our nation's interest that the winner in Florida is truly the person who got the most votes."

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