IN THE NEWS #459 - Election Final

By Nancy Steinbach

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

On Monday, representatives of American voters will gather in each American state capital. These "electors" are to officially elect George W. Bush as the next President. They are members of a group known as the Electoral College, a system established in the United States Constitution.

A United States Supreme Court ruling earlier this week decided the expected result of the Electoral College vote. The court ruled that disputed ballots in Florida should not be re-counted. The issue had delayed declaring either Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush or Democratic Vice President Al Gore the next president.

The election took place November seventh. Almost three weeks later, Florida declared Mr. Bush the winner of the state's twenty-five electoral votes. That was enough to make him president. But the popular vote in the state was extremely close. Mr. Bush was declared the winner by five-hundred-thirty-seven votes, out of six-million ballots.

Mr. Gore and supporters in Florida protested the results after people reported problems with the voting. Some said the ballots were confusing, causing them to mark their votes incorrectly. Election officials said some machines also failed to record all votes.

The Florida Supreme Court ordered disputed ballots counted again. This could have given Florida's electoral votes to Mr. Gore. That would have been enough to make him president.

Bush campaign officials appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The high court declared the Florida ruling unconstitutional. It said Florida law did not explain how officials should judge the ballots. A majority of the Supreme Court justices said not enough time was left to solve the problem before the Electoral College meets.

George W. Bush will be the next president because he won the majority of electoral votes. But he did not win the popular vote. Al Gore received more than three-hundred-thousand more votes than Mr. Bush did.

On Wednesday night, each man spoke to the nation. Mr. Gore said he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision, but accepts it. He asked the American people to support the new president. Mr. Bush promised to act in the interests of all Americans, those who did not vote for him as well as those who did.

Some Americans are not satisfied. They want an unofficial count to be made, as media and civil rights groups are seeking in Florida. The president-elect's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has promised to improve the state's election system.

Experts say one message of this election is that voting methods do need to be improved, and not just in Florida. They say the first act of Mr. Bush's presidency should be to make sure all citizens can vote using new, electronic machines. That could prevent another disputed American presidential election.

This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS, was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English