News In Brief

With the outcome of the presidential election hanging in the balance, the state of Florida undertook a recount of its vote that officials said would be finished late today. The latest unofficial tally before the Monitor went to press had George W. Bush leading Al Gore by about 1,700 votes there. Both campaigns were sending teams of lawyers to the state to watch the recount, which will determine who wins the presidency. Overall across the nation, Gore led the popular vote, 49 to 48 percent, with 99 percent of ballots counted. (Story, page 1; editorial, page 12.)

Voter turnout was heavier than four years ago, but lighter than in 1992. An estimated 52 percent to 53 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, the nonprofit Committee for the Study of the American Electorate said.

Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first first lady elected to public office, defeating Rick Lazio (R) for the open New York US Senate seat. In other Senate races, five incumbents fell - four of them Republican, which significantly reduced the GOP's margin of control. The exact tally of seats remained uncertain, with the race in Washington State still too close to call as the Monitor went to press. Among other notables, Missouri voters chose the late Mel Carnahan (D), who died three weeks ago in a plane crash. His widow, Jean, has agreed to accept a gubernatorial appointment to the seat. (Stories, pages 10, 12; editorial, page 8.)

Republicans also appeared to be headed for a narrow majority in the House, which would make it the first time since the 1920s that their party has held power in both chambers for four consecutive congressional sessions. The GOP won five Democratic open seats. But Democrats defeated one of their top targets, incumbent James Rogan of California, who was a House prosecutor at President Clinton's impeachment trial. (Story, page 12.)

Following the victories of three women candidates, the number of female governors will be five - the most to serve simultaneously in history. Judy Martz (R) was elected as Montana's first woman governor, while Ruth Ann Minner (D) won in Delaware, and in New Hampshire voters gave incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen (l.) a third term. Arizona and New Jersey have women governors who were not candidates for reelection. (Story, page 11.)

Voters also weighed in on some 200 ballot measures. (Story, page 11.) Among the outcomes:

* California and Michigan roundly defeated major school-voucher proposals.

* Colorado and Oregon approved measures requiring background checks on all sales at gun shows.

* Maine rejected a bid to become the second state, after Oregon, to allow physician-assisted suicide.

* Colorado and Nevada permitted marijuana for medicinal purposes. But Alaska refused to legalize the substance.

* Still considered too close to call was an Oregon initiative aimed at prohibiting schools from instruction that condones or encourages homosexual behavior.

Puerto Rico appeared to put the brakes on a drive to become the 51st state. Voters there chose an anti-statehood governor, Sila Calderon, and ousted a veteran pro-statehood politician, Carlos Romero Barcelo, a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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