Readers Write

Technicalities first, then a president-elect

As George W. Bush is claiming that he has won the election by a twig, it is important to note that putting too much weight on such a weak, premature count could snap voter confidence.It is essential that we count all the legal votes.

We do not yet know what the legality is of the 19,000 votes that were thrown out in Palm Beach, where a confusing ballot caused people to include Pat Buchanan in their Democratic vote for Al Gore.

There is no doubt at this point that Vice President Gore is the popularly elected president. But we live in a nation of laws, and it is possible that Governor Bush is the technically electedpresident.If that is the case, the entire nation will respect that.

It is extremely destructive, however, for him to jump ahead of the will of the people before the technicalities have been worked out in his favor.For the good of the entire country, he should not go out on that limb!

Mikel W. Schwab Agana Heights, Guam

In this election George W. Bush got my vote because of his statements about personal responsibility, honesty, and trust. Now I am beginning to wonder about that.

His attitude in proclaiming himself the president-elect is premature and arrogant. I think there are legitimate questions about the vote in Florida, particularly in Palm Beach, where a possibly illegal ballot design seems to have confused tens of thousands of voters. This issue should be addressed, preferably with a revote for that county.

Make no mistake - I would prefer Governor Bush in the White House. But I want him to win fair and square. That's the American way.

Charles Godwin Davenport, Iowa

As the vote-counting battle rages on in Florida, much is being said about the "will of the people" and how it may have been subverted by problems affecting a few thousand votes. Much as I prefer Al Gore, I simply do not buy the argument that the will of the people rests with such fragility on a handful of votes.

The people's will was made abundantly clear: The 2000 presidential election was essentially a tie. Both candidates hold equal claim to the office - and like it or not, our next president will be chosen by a statistical blip.

To this voter, accepting the blip created by the Constitution is far preferable to inventing new blips through litigation. We need to complete the recount, accept the results, and move forward with the business of being a democracy.

Nathan Meyers Portland, Ore.

The questions emerging from Florida's vote counts are too large to ignore. And they put too much at stake - not just whether the next president will be George W. Bush or Al Gore, but whether our democracy is strong enough to withstand confusion and challenge. I believe it is.

This is America. Count every vote.

David Leonardi Sandwich, Mass.

Headline sows fear

I was shocked by your front-page headline on Friday "Will Americans accept the winner?"

It doesn't take your usual approach of being constructive, positive, and looking for the hopeful signs in a difficult situation. Instead, it sows seeds of unrest, uncertainty, and even fear.

Your headline implies that Americans won't accept a winner, instead of noting the relative calm with which most people are handling this, and the basic respect for the process in a unique situation.

Carol R. Miller New York

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