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Bush to begin transition, urges Gore not to contest Florida

Bush said he was "honored and humbled" to win Florida  
tuchman Gary Tuchman on the mood in Tallahassee

AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush said he will go ahead with forming an administration after Florida officials certified his 537-vote lead in that state's presidential recount Sunday, but Vice President Al Gore prepared to challenge those results in a formal contest.

Bush named his running mate, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, to lead his transition team, and former Transportation Secretary Andrew Card to serve as chief of staff.

"This has been a hard-fought election, a healthy contest for American democracy," Bush said. "But now that the votes are counted, it is time for the votes to count. The vice president's lawyers have said they will contest the election results: I respectfully ask him to reconsider."

Gore's top lawyer and his running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, said they would contest the results in Florida courts. Bush argued against that course in a brief address Sunday night.

"If the vice president chooses to go forward, he is filing a contest to the outcome of the election -- and that is not the best route for America," Bush said.

George W. Bush, saying he has won the presidency, addresses the nation from Austin, Texas (November 26)

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Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman responds to Florida's vote certification (November 26)

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Watch former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker give his response to Florida's vote certification (November 26)

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Watch Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certify the election results and announce Bush the winner (November 26)

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CNN's Charles Bierbauer looks at how the U.S. Supreme Court may react to the Florida presidential election case (November 26)

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Republican attorney Mark Wallace spars with canvassing board chairman Judge Charles Burton (November 26)

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Watch all up-to-the-minute video of Election 2000
Court filings to the U.S. Supreme Court
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Court filings to the Florida Supreme Court
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Florida Code Title IX - Laws concerning Florida Electors and Elections (Florida Legislature Web site)

Read more election-related cases in CNN'S Law Library

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced the certified totals Sunday night, after a deadline for counties to submit amended returns from hand recounts passed at 5 p.m. The final tally, according to Harris, was 2,912,790 votes for Bush; 2,912,253 for Gore.

"Accordingly, on behalf of the state Election Canvassing Commission and in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes for the president of the United States," Harris said.

Florida's electoral votes would give Bush, the Republican candidate, one more than the 270 needed to win the presidency in the Electoral College. Gore, the Democratic candidate, holds a total of 255 electoral votes.

Earlier, Harris rejected a request for an extension by Palm Beach County, where the canvassing board said it had less than 1,000 ballots left in a manual recount. The outcomes in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Nassau counties are expected to form the core of Gore's contest.

Lieberman said Harris' decision ignored hundreds of votes and thousands of hours of labor by election workers.

"This evening, the secretary of state of Florida has decided to certify what by any reasonable standard is an incomplete and inaccurate count of the votes cast by the state of Florida," Lieberman said.

"Vice President Gore and I have no choice but to contest these actions as provided under Florida law and in accord with the decision of the Florida Supreme Court," he added. "It is in our nation's interest that the winner in Florida is truly the person who got the most votes."

Latest developments:

•  Gore's legal chief, David Boies, announced plans Sunday to challenge results in at least three counties -- Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Nassau, where the canvassing board abruptly threw out the results of its mechanical recount and reverted to its original results. He described the plans as "a work in progress."

"It probably will not be until tonight that we have a complete view of what has happened and a complete understanding of what the nature of our contest will be," Boies said.

Gore was said Sunday to be considering a televised address to discuss why he will pursue further legal action in the Florida recount. (More on the Gore contest strategy)

•  Bush announced plans to begin a transition Sunday night, but the General Services Administration -- the government agency that supplies material resources to federal employees -- said it would not yet provide money or office space to him or Gore to plan a new administration.

"Until the results are clear, and as long as both sides are going to court, the results are not clear yet," GSA spokeswoman Beth Newberger told CNN.

Under the 1963 Transition Act, Newberger said, it is the GSA administrator, not the sitting president, who decides which candidate may receive the transition resources.

•  The state's certified margin of 537 votes contrasted with unofficial results incorporating Palm Beach County's rejected partial recount that showed Bush's lead shrinking by 180 votes to 357, according to The Associated Press. Despite an overnight vote-counting marathon, Palm Beach County officials completed their hand recount more than two hours after the deadline for submitting results to Harris' office.

Harris' decision not to include the results was "a slap in the face to all these people who spent all this time," said Judge Charles Burton, head of Palm Beach County's canvassing board.

"We needed another two hours, and we could have finished it off," Burton said. (More on the Palm Beach recount)

The Palm Beach board submitted figures to Harris' office Sunday evening, but continued counting after the deadline in hopes that Harris would accept complete results later. Harris rejected the partial count submitted by the deadline.

Harris, who became a lightning rod for Democratic critics because she served as Bush's campaign co-chairwoman in Florida, defended the process. "The true winner in this election is the rule of law," she declared.

•  Florida Sen. Bob Graham and Sen.-elect Bill Nelson -- both Democrats -- warned against "a rush to judgment" in the recount. Graham said extending the deadline for Palm Beach County "would have been an act that would have bled off some of the poison that has affected this process."

•  Five counties -- Hillsborough, Okaloosa, Orange, Pasco and Polk -- face Republican lawsuits to force review of absentee military ballots rejected for lack of a postmark or other problems. The county-level action came after Bush's lawyers Saturday dropped a state court lawsuit over rejected overseas absentee ballots. (More on the GOP absentee ballot suits)

•  The totals certified by the state canvassing board included a net gain of 567 votes for Gore from Broward County, which completed an 11-day manual recount just before midnight Saturday. Republicans complained that election officials were including questionable absentee ballots as valid votes. Broward's canvassing board chairman denied that. "Anything that we had to remotely guess on, we decided not to count," Judge Robert Lee told CNN.

•  The U.S. Supreme Court will hear next Friday an appeal from Bush that seeks to bar hand-counted ballots. At issue will be Bush's request to overturn a Florida Supreme Court decision allowing the hand recount totals to be added to the state's presidential tally. CNN has applied for permission to televise the Supreme Court proceedings.

Correspondents Kate Snow, Jeff Flock, Bob Franken and John King and Writer Matt Smith contributed to this report.

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Sunday, November 26, 2000



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