Bush could still win recount of some Gore states

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The Independent US

Should George W Bush fail to have the results of last week's first statewide recount in Florida declared the final outcome, his campaign officials may call for recounts in states that were declared narrow Gore victories on election night.

Should George W Bush fail to have the results of last week's first statewide recount in Florida declared the final outcome, his campaign officials may call for recounts in states that were declared narrow Gore victories on election night.

If a sufficient number of results were reversed, Mr Bush could win the White House without winning Florida.

There are four other such states: Oregon in the north-west, New Mexico in the south-west and Iowa and Wisconsin in the midwest. They account for 30 votes in the electoral college. Florida has 25 votes. Al Gore was declared the victor in these states last Tuesday with margins of less than 8,000.

Oregon has a postal ballot and the votes are still being counted. The size of Mr Gore's lead there led the Associated Press to place it reasonably securely in the Gore column, but the margin could be reduced when the count is complete.

A statutory recount in New Mexico, triggered by the closeness of the first result, has now given Mr Bush victory by just four votes, overturning a Gore majority of 6,825. If this stands, Mr Bush has five more electoral college votes.

There is little chance Mr Gore can win without Florida, so his efforts will be concentrated there, and the New Mexico result could be allowed to stand without further challenge. The bigger prizes are Iowa and Wisconsin, with respectively seven and 11 electoral college votes. Election officials of both parties in both states say their election procedures are well regulated and the possibilities for the sort of lawsuits brought by voters in Florida would be minimal. But the margins of Mr Gore's victory in both states were narrower than in New Mexico, so Mr Bush could deem it worth calling for recounts.

The recounts need not be statewide. The Republicans could follow the strategy of the Democrats in Florida, calling for manual counts in specific counties where, they might calculate, the Republican tally would be most likely to rise.

Mr Bush has 246 electoral college votes (not counting Florida or New Mexico). Were he to overturn Mr Gore's victories in Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon, he could win without needing New Mexico.

The Gore campaign could be tempted to bring in the north-eastern state of New Hampshire. Mr Bush won there with 7,282 votes. If that was overturned, Mr Bush would need New Mexico. But Mr Gore has 262 electoral college votes (without New Mexico or Florida): so if he kept Oregon, Iowa and Wisconsin, took New Mexico back and added New Hampshire - a long shot, but possible - he too could win without Florida.

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