- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Democratic Gov. Donald Siegelman and Republican challenger Rep. Bob Riley both claimed victory in the Alabama governor's race yesterday, with Mr. Siegelman charging that a Republican-dominated county altered its vote totals in the middle of the night.

Governor's races in Arizona and Oregon also remained up in the air the morning after the election, with thousands of ballots yet to be counted. And congressional contests in Colorado, Louisiana, New York and Texas were still not settled.

In Alabama, both sides sent lawyers and campaign supporters to courthouses statewide to recheck numbers and photograph the vote tallies.

Mr. Siegelman would not comment on whether he would take legal action.

Late Tuesday, election officials in Baldwin County distributed figures that showed Mr. Siegelman with 19,070 votes, enough to give him the victory in the unofficial statewide count.

But yesterday the county certified results that gave Mr. Siegelman 12,736 votes while leaving Mr. Riley's numbers unchanged. That erased the governor's thin margin in the statewide count and put Mr. Riley ahead by 3,195 votes out of 1.3 million cast.

Probate Judge Adrian Johns blamed a software glitch for the earlier figures.

But Mr. Siegelman charged that the Baldwin County figures were changed after midnight, when poll watchers had left, and he stood by the higher number that would give him a second term.

"Votes were changed after midnight with nobody present," he said.

Mr. Riley insisted that was not true.

Alabama does not have a law providing for an automatic recount in tight races. A voter could seek a recount from each county canvassing board, but that requires putting up a security bond.

The unofficial count showed Mr. Riley with 670,913 votes statewide, or 49 percent, Mr. Siegelman with 667,718 votes, or 49 percent, and Libertarian John Sophocleus with 23,242 votes, or 2 percent.

Both major-party politicians declared victory and acted as if they were governor-elect, with Mr. Siegelman talking to legislators about a special session and Mr. Riley appointing a chairman for his transition team.

In the Arizona governor's race, Democrat Janet Napolitano held a narrow lead over Republican Matt Salmon. With all precincts reporting results of ballots that were cast Tuesday, Mrs. Napolitano, the state attorney general, had 472,197 votes, or 47 percent, and Mr. Salmon, a former congressman, had 446,913 votes, or 44 percent.

However, early ballots that were cast days or weeks in advance and other ballots needing to be hand-checked remained to be tallied. Based on interviews with election officials around the state, the Associated Press estimated those ballots at 220,000, most in Maricopa County, typically a Republican stronghold.

Thousands of ballots also remained to be counted in Oregon, where Democrat Ted Kulongoski held a lead of about 2,600 votes over Republican Kevin Mannix in the state's tightest race for governor in years.

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