Clinton says electoral changes are likely

Legal battles over Florida recount continue
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The Independent US

The Florida voting controversy is likely to leads to changes in the way Americans vote, Bill Clinton said today.

The Florida voting controversy is likely to leads to changes in the way Americans vote, Bill Clinton said today.

Speaking in Brunei for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the President said: "I think there will be a lot of pressure to improve the form of ballots and the methods of voting and have more clear standards around the country."

His comments came as Al Gore and George W. Bush renewed their legal battles over whether there should be manual recounts of voting in four Florida counties.

Mr Gore told an ABC network radio show today that he is waging a legal fight in Florida's presidential race to make sure the election is not "short-circuited without all the votes being examined."

He spoke shortly after running mate Joseph Lieberman appeared on NBC's "Today" show and warned that an unjust election will cause American to "go into the new century divided with a president who does not have legitimacy."

The vice president yesterday proposed a statewide recount of Florida's 6 million votes as a way to achieve a "fair and final" result without further legal delays.

Rejecting the suggestion a few hours later, Mr Bush said: "The outcome of this election will not be the result of deals or efforts to mold public opinion." Hand recounting "introduces human error and politics into the vote-counting process," he said.

Mr Bush holds a 300-vote lead over his Gore in Florida, the state that will hand one man or the other a majority of the Electoral College and the keys to the White House.

The Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris has announced that she would not accept the results of any hand recounts when it comes time to certify final totals on Saturday.

Only absentee ballots from overseas, due in by midnight Friday, will be rolled into the totals, she said. Mr Gore's lawyers said they would challenge her decision today.

Officials in heavily-Democratic Broward County said in advance that they intended to continue recounting 588,000 ballots by hand today. Palm Beach County officials said they, too, intended to review ballots cast in the Nov. 7 election.

The legal fight stretched to the federal appeals court in Atlanta, where judges called for written arguments on Mr Bush's bid - he lost in Miami federal district court on Monday - to shut down the recounts altogether.

Both men made separate television appearances last night, striving for a statesmanlike presentation.

Mr Gore suggested expanded recounts, saying: "Machines can sometimes misread or fail to detect the way ballots are cast. And when there are serious doubts, checking the machine count with a careful hand count is accepted far and wide as the best way to know the true intentions of the voters."

He also proposed that he and Mr Bush meet immediately, "not to negotiate, but to improve the tone of our dialogue in America. "And he proposed a second meeting, after the election, "to reaffirm our national unity."

In his own remarks a few hours later, Mr Bush said: "Not for ... Vice President Gore, or for me, but for America, this process must have a point of conclusion, a moment when America and the world know who is the next president," he said. He referred to the deadlines contained in Florida law, the last of which, he said, occurs Friday, when overseas absentee ballots are due.

"The way to conclude this election in a fair and accurate and final way is for the state of Florida to count the remaining overseas ballots, add them to the certified vote, and announce the results as required by Florida law," he said, rejecting Mr Gore's offer of a meeting.

Mr Bush trails by 230,000 in the popular vote, but the U.S presidency is not decided by the popular vote but by the Electoral College. Under this system, each of the 50 states gets at least three electoral votes and is allotted additional votes based on population, with all electoral votes going to the whichever candidate gets most votes statewide.

With 262 electoral votes, Gore has a narrow lead to Bush's 246. Florida, with its 25 electoral votes, is the prize that would put either man over the 270 votes required to win the presidency.