A report released yesterday by The Miami Herald claimed that even after a recount in Miami-Dade County, George W. Bush still won the State of Florida. But reporting a purported victor before recounting is complete in all disputed counties appears premature. Some local Philadelphians disagree that results from a single county could have carried all of Florida for Bush, and remain angry at the uncounted votes of thousands of Floridians in minority communities. Other news agency recounts bear out local skepticism. Al Gore led the recount results in the 17 counties reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel. The Sentinel finalized a Gore win by a margin of 582 votes. Other news organizations recounted in other counties, with larger margins for Gore. The Palm Beach Post placed Gore ahead in one county by 682 votes. The Tampa Tribune placed Gore ahead by 120 votes in a county. Palm Beach County's election board placed Gore ahead by a margin of 174 votes there. Those Palm Beach County Election Board results were not included in the statewide certification by Katherine Harris. Harris declared Bush the winner by 537 votes, the officially recognized Florida total. Yet adding the media-sponsored recounted totals over several counties suggests that Gore took that state by over 1,000 votes, according to Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. So while no definitive evaluation of the undercount exists, McAuliffe correctly observes that, "The recent election showed... the magnitude of the problems our electoral system faces." McAuliffe also calls for stronger efforts in Congress "to ensure that no voter is ever again disenfranchised." McAuliffe commended the work done by the Congressional Black Caucus, which recently began hearings on election reform. He expressed his "grave disappointment in the Republican leadership for failing to do more than appear in photos with people of color," after appointments to the cabinet are now complete. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Congress is in no mood to review the methods of their conquest. But, the public demands it. Philadelphia voters, who turned out en masse for Gore, appear unconvinced by early conclusions that undercounted votes would not have mattered. The Miami-Dade County recount did not change any feelings about the election outcome or a Bush presidency in recent local interviews. The St. Alban's neighborhood, which lies south of South St. beneath Center City, recently held its garden club meeting, and residents were asked to express their views. Just across the Schuylkill River from the University, the neighborhood boasts a past rivaling New York City's Harlem. W.E.B. DuBois resided there for a time. Opera singer Marion Anderson grew up a few blocks away. Billy Holiday kept an apartment nearby on Broad and Fitzwater. Local residents complain that the undercount "is the Watergate of our time," "flies in the face of democracy," "proves it was biased and rigged," and "clearly shows that Republicans don't care if black votes count," according to residents of the historic district. Seniors in the area expressed resignation and disappointment at the election outcome, but not surprise. "I knew the only way he could have won that election was to cheat," stated Shirley Powell, a long-time resident who recently turned 93. Georgette Fields, also a lifelong resident of the area, points out that African Americans will doggedly pursue voting reform as with all issues facing the black community, past and present. "Blacks had to start their own hospitals," she noted, gesturing to the historic neighborhood. "The first hospitals for blacks were started right here." Fields referred to the Frederick Douglas Hospital and Training School, formerly at 15th and Lombard streets, and to the original Mercy Hospital at 17th and Fitzwater. The former was founded in 1895; the latter in 1905, when other hospitals excluded African Americans. The only occasional exception to that rule was Philadelphia Hospital, which designated attics and other unsuitable areas for a few segregated beds. Looking to its history of overcoming barriers, the community seeks to apply the lessons to current electoral reform. But the anger remains palpable. Brenda Goldstine, a homeowner since the early 1970s, admitted that the 2000 election left her "disgusted." "Blacks have had to fight for all of it," she said. "And I guess we'll just keep fighting."Comments powered by Disqus
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