Tuesday, November 13, 2001

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) A media-sponsored review of disputed ballots from the 2000 presidential election in Florida was “fascinating” but it doesn’t change anything, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said yesterday as he reaffirmed his support for President Bush.
Mr. Bush is “not only our president, but our commander in chief,” Mr. Lieberman said while speaking to the National Jewish Democratic Council in Hollywood, Fla.
“The election of last year seems a world away.”
The Connecticut Democrat’s move-on attitude matched many Americans’ reaction to the ballot review, released Sunday night.
“What’s done is done,” said Lorrie Branch, a Gore supporter from New Haven, Conn. “You can’t fix it, but maybe it would have made a difference back then.”
Al Gore and Mr. Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, lost Florida and the presidency to Mr. Bush and Richard B. Cheney by 537 votes last year.
The new examination of 175,000 Florida ballots that didn’t make it into state-certified totals indicated the partial recounts Mr. Gore pursued in Florida still would have left Mr. Bush clinging to the narrow lead he had after Election Day.
However, if Mr. Gore had pursued a full statewide recount, he might have picked up enough votes to surpass Mr. Bush by an even slimmer margin.
The 2000 election was a time of deep division between the major parties, but Americans have rallied behind Mr. Bush since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
And on a day when a jet crash in New York gave the nation a fresh round of jitters, Mr. Lieberman stressed the legitimacy of the election.
Bush supporter Sandy Myles of Kirtland, Ohio, echoed the sentiment. “I don’t care about last year anymore. Of course, I might feel differently if I had voted differently, but we need to go forward.”
An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday said nearly six in 10 Americans believed Mr. Bush legitimately won the presidency, about the same as earlier this year.
While people were split down the middle during the summer on who would get their vote if the election were held again, recent polls say they now would choose Mr. Bush by a 2-1 margin.
The Florida election review was developed by the Associated Press, CNN, the New York Times, the Palm Beach Post, the St. Petersburg Times, Tribune Publishing, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Tribune newspapers include the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.
The media consortium hired the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago to view each untallied ballot and gather information about how it was marked. The consortium used computers to sort and tabulate votes, based on varying scenarios that had been raised during the postelection scramble in Florida.

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