Presidential election still too close to call

The outcome of the tightest Presidential election in U.S. history was still undecided as this issue of the Locomotive Engineer Newsletter went to press.

With 47 states reporting, Al Gore leads George W. Bush in the Electoral College vote 255 to 246. Of the three states that have not been called, however, Florida is the only one that matters. With its 25 electoral votes, the candidate who claims Florida will have the necessary 270 electoral votes required to become President. (Oregon and New Mexico combine for only 13 electoral votes, and neither would effect the outcome of this election.)

When all of the ballots had been counted in all of the precincts in Florida, Bush had 1,784 more votes than Gore - a tiny margin considering the large numbers of people who voted in the entire state.

Because the difference between the two candidates was less than one-half of one percent, the ballots had to be recounted, in accordance with Florida law. So on November 8, recounting began in all of Florida's 67 counties. When it was over, Bush led Gore by only 300 votes out of nearly 6 million cast, according to Florida's Secretary of State. Although this seemed as if Bush "won" the state, the numbers didn't take into account absentee ballots.

It could be quite some time before victory is declared for either candidate, however. A manual vote recount is taking place in several Florida counties and state officials must wait until November 17 for overseas absentee ballots to arrive in the mail. In addition, a number of lawsuits have been filed by both election campaigns and several private citizens.

This has been the closest race in Presidential history. On November 7, Bush consistently won the larger, less populous states. Gore was successful in fewer states, but he carried very populous states such as New York (33 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (23) and California (54). Gore also carried the popular vote, 49,222,339 to 48,999,459.

Controversy marked the days following the election. The layout of the ballot was a cause of concern for many senior citizen voters in Florida. Several angry voters filed lawsuits claiming the ballot was confusing, which led to them accidentally voting for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore.

Statistical analysis gave credence to their claims. A close study of Florida precinct voting history indicates that Buchanan received unusually high numbers of votes in several predominantly Democratic areas.

In other races, the House and Senate remained in Republican hands even though Democrats gained ground. The Senate is now at an almost 50-50 split, pending the outcome of several key races that were too close to call.

Considering the multiple factors which threatened to delay the final outcome of the election for weeks, the BLE Publications Committee decided to publish this issue of the Newsletter without final election results in order to maintain our deadlines.

Further election coverage can be found on the BLE website and in the next issue of the Newsletter.


2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers