- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. The lone Republican on the Broward County canvassing board quit yesterday, saying she no longer could handle the long days of overseeing the recount of hundreds of thousands of ballots.

Jane Carroll, who also serves as county elections supervisor, was quickly replaced on the three-member board by Circuit Judge Robert Rosenberg.

Judge Rosenberg joins Circuit Judge Robert W. Lee and Suzanne Gunzburger, both Democrats, on the Canvassing Board. The judge, whose political affiliation was not known, was named by Dale Ross, the county's chief circuit judge.

The resignation did not delay the recount significantly, and it had picked up again by last night.

In other developments in the Florida recount yesterday:

• Republicans began gathering information on whether voters in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County may have voted in another state.

• The state's largest county, Miami-Dade, began a manual recount of 654,000 ballots amid Republican charges of "manufacturing" votes.

• A Seminole County judge scheduled for after Thanksgiving a hearing that could cost Republican George W. Bush a 5,000-vote margin enough to tip the race to Al Gore almost regardless of what happens in the hand recounts.

As of early last night, ongoing hand recounts in three heavily Democratic counties had produced only a slight advantage for Mr. Gore.

In Miami-Dade, Mr. Gore had gained 34 votes after 62 of 614 precincts were hand-counted. In Broward, ballots from 544 of the county's 609 precincts had been hand-counted, and the vice president had gained 117 votes. In Palm Beach, Mr. Gore had gained only four votes with 103 of 531 precincts hand-counted.

Meanwhile yesterday, the resignation of Mrs. Carroll from the Broward County board was announced to colleagues at lunch.

"I've given this a lot of thought," she said. "Physically, I cannot continue 15-hour days. I have to think of my health. I don't feel well. I can handle a few 24-hour days, some 15-hour days, but not in a row."

Mrs. Carroll, who had a long-planned California vacation set to begin today, plans to remain elections supervisor until the end of the year.

The canvassing board is charged with reviewing all ballots under objection by either party or dubbed as questionable by counters.

An attorney from the Bush camp, meanwhile, said the party has begun gathering property records in Democrat-dominated Palm Beach County for voters who also might own property in other states, and therefore also may have voted in those states.

"Voting in two states would be a slam dunk" case of illegal voting, said Bob Schumacher, a Beverly Hills, Calif., resident who also owns a home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

While he cast his ballot in California, he said yesterday that "it would be easy to register in both states and vote in both states. They don't check."

The long-delayed hand count of Miami-Dade ballots began yesterday morning, nearly two weeks after the election, despite a Republican request to shut down the tally.

The vote count in the state's largest county brings to 1.7 million the total number of Florida ballots being manually recounted by groups of workers that are required by state statute to be equally divided along party lines.

Miami-Dade officials say their recount will take around 10 days, although Republicans will continue their court fight today.

A hearing was scheduled in circuit court today in which Republicans will argue the canvassing board erred in reversing its initial decision against a hand recount. On Sunday, a trial court judge rejected a request.

Republicans continued charging yesterday that manual counts are inherently unfair and an unjustified assault on the original count and a statewide recount, both of which Mr. Bush won.

"Unfortunately, Miami-Dade has become ground zero for producing a manufactured vote," said Rep. John E. Sweeney, New York Republican, who called the elections officials roaming the counting room "pit bosses."

The recounts have wrought acrimony between the parties, as observers to the counts in Palm Beach and Broward counties have filed affidavits attesting to inaccuracies and outright Democratic deceit in these counts.

Some individuals say they have seen Democratic counters eating chads, the tiny pieces of paper that voters punch out to cast a vote. The loose chads, Republicans say, indicate the ease with which a vote could be annulled or counted, since a ballot with two votes for president is discounted.

The jumble of acrimony and questionable counting has confused almost everybody. Said one Republican attorney: "If you were a bank, would you count money under these conditions?"

"All of these are very valid issues," added Brigham McCown, a West Palm Beach attorney for the Bush camp. "The Democrats keep counting until they get the numbers they want. We've recounted and recounted, and the numbers still aren't there. So here we are."

Stories of Democratic indoctrination for the counters flourish.

One observer in Palm Beach County was told to "never, never, never challenge a Gore vote."

The ballot counters and observers were trained at local union halls, which opened their doors to volunteers, mostly union members, who came to the region from all over the country.

It is a Democratic effort, acknowledged Marilyn Lenard, president of the Florida AFL-CIO. But their essential goal is a fair election, she maintained.

As for any dogma involved in the training of the ballot counters and observers: "It wasn't on the part of the AFL-CIO."

In a potentially decisive development, a Florida judge agreed yesterday to hear a lawsuit seeking to throw out all 15,000 absentee ballots cast from Seminole County.

Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson set a hearing on the case for Monday, saying she wanted to allow a week for evidence-gathering.

A Seminole County man, Democrat Harry Jacobs, sued to disqualify all absentee ballots, claiming that the county's election supervisor, a Republican, broke the law by allowing Republican Party volunteers to fill in missing data on about 4,700 absentee ballot requests that otherwise might have been rejected as incomplete.

Absentee ballots cast in the east-central Florida county favored Mr. Bush over Mr. Gore by 10,006 to 5,209. Throwing out Seminole's absentee ballots would easily overturn Mr. Bush's statewide lead of fewer than 1,000 votes.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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