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Bush wins no matter how you count it

By By BILL ARMISTEAD
State Senator
The Florida State Elections Commission on Sunday evening certified Governor George W. Bush as the winner of the state's 25 electoral votes which gives him a total of 271 electoral votes. This is one more than the 270 necessary to win the presidency.
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced the final results of the Florida vote Sunday evening, which showed that Bush received 2,912,790 votes to Vice President Al Gore to Gore's 2,912,253 votes. This provided Bush with a margin of victory of 537 out of nearly 6 million votes. It was a cliffhanger, but the 2000 presidential election is over, or at least it should be over.
Governor Bush has now won the Florida vote four times. He first won it on the night of the election – November 7. Since the vote was so close there was an automatic recount of all votes in Florida and Bush won again. Then, Gore asked for a hand recount of the votes in three heavily Democrat counties and when these votes came in on November 14, Bush won yet again!
Gore was not willing to concede after the third count and his campaign asked the all-Democrat Florida Supreme Court to extend the deadline for another hand recount. The court ruled that the deadline had to be extended for an additional 12 days. This enabled the local Democrat canvassing boards to make up their own rules for counting votes. If a ballot did not have a vote for president clearly punched out, then these boards put themselves in the position of trying to determine for whom the voter really intended to vote. Even after allowing these Democrat operatives to make up their own rules in recounting the votes, Bush won again!!
So, Governor Bush has won the Florida presidential vote, not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. Yet, Al Gore fails to concede the election. In fact, he has instructed his lawyers to go to Florida court to try and overturn the election. You have to wonder at what point Gore will spare the nation of further electioneering schemes in his desire to be named the victor.
Elected Democrat officials across the nation should rise up and tell Vice President Gore that he has lost this election and it is time to give up the fight. If he stops now, he might have a chance to get the party's nomination again in four years. However, if he continues to divide the nation over his personal, and life-long ambition to be President of the United States, he will not only lose a possible opportunity to make a come back in four years, but Democrats all over the country could take a beating in 2002 and 2004.
We, in Alabama, know the kind of backlash a party can suffer when the results of an election is delayed and eventually overturned by political operatives. The Democrats in Alabama suffered irreparable damage in 1986 when Attorney General Charlie Graddick won the Democrat nomination for Governor only to have that election overturned by some Democrat party bosses by giving the nomination to Lt. Governor Bill Baxley.
The result of the 1986 November general election was a landslide victory for Republican Guy Hunt, the first Republican elected Governor in Alabama in over 100 years. Many credit that election as the turning point for Republicans in Alabama who won every statewide race on the ballot this year but one. Democrats across the nation could face a similar outcome if they don't convince Gore to give up his fight to claim the presidency.
Since Gov. Don Siegelman was the first governor to endorse Al Gore for president, he should do the honorable thing and be the first Democratic governor to tell Gore it is time to go. In addition to being the right thing to do, it would be politically smart for Siegelman to do this. Alabamians would overwhelmingly support Siegelman's call for Gore to give up his extended fight to become president. After all, they did vote overwhelmingly against Al Gore and for George W. Bush.
Siegelman could also get lots of national attention for being the first Democratic governor to tell Gore that it's all over. Who knows, this kind of perceived statesmanship just might propel him into contention for the presidential nomination himself in 2004. Political observers say that one thing both Gore and Siegelman have in common is their lifelong desire to become president.
Siegelman should not be the only Democrat in Alabama to call on Gore to step aside and let the country get on with ushering in a new administration in Washington. Elected Democrats from the state house to the court house should send Gore a message that they want to preserve democracy in our nation and do not want the presidency to become something to be bargained for as Gore is doing.
Democrat legislators, probate judges, county commissioners, sheriffs and other elected officials should speak out now on this critical issue. They would do well to follow the lead of Florida's Democrat Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford, a member of Florida's election Canvassing Commission, which certified Bush as winner of the Florida election. Crawford issued the following statement after the Commission certified Bush as the winner: "This has been a tough election. It has not always been pretty. But we got the job done, and we got it done right. But I think it's over. It should be over. And maybe that's the important word there, 'should'. You know, Yogi Berra once said, 'It's not over till it's over.' Well, it's over, and we have a winner, and it's time to move on".
It is past time to move on and unite our country. We must bring out the best instincts in the people across our great country and not the worst instincts. Honesty and integrity in our election process is critical in order for Americans to have confidence in this process of electing our leaders.
Through all of this it is my prayer that God will bless America, again!