US election

To The Times

11 November 2000

Sir

Your extensive leader on the US constitutional crisis (11 November) is thoughtful, but it depends heavily on accepting Vice-President Gore's claim to have won more votes across the USA than did Governor Bush. It is almost certain that he did not.

Tens of thousands of votes remain to be counted and millions of votes will never be counted. In each of the 51 jurisdictions - the States and the District of Columbia - the sole purpose of the count is to determine which candidate won the plurality of the vote in that jurisdiction. The "national" vote has no official status. It is the practice in many jurisdictions to count absentee ballots only if they are sufficient in number to sway the vote in the particular jurisdiction. Just two States - California and New York - have between them two millions of such uncounted ballots. Even in liberal states these absentee ballots traditionally favour the Republican candidate. If Governor Bush has, as seems likely, a small plurality of these votes how much bigger is his lead likely to be in those states which have not counted their absentee ballots because the Governor had an insurmountable lead over the Vice-President?

Vice-President Gore's claim to have "won" the popular vote cannot be as readily tested as his assertions regarding the Internet, his service in Vietnam and his mother's choice of lullaby. But it seems likely to fall as far short of the truth.

Yours truly


Quentin Langley

Copyright Quentin Langley 11 November 2000

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