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Possibility of Electoral College defections raised

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Even if Florida's 25 electoral votes go to Republican George W. Bush, that doesn't mean the election has been decided, said Mario Cuomo, the former Democratic governor of New York.

When the nation's 538 Electoral College representatives meet in their respective states to vote for president on December 18, independent moves by several of them could change the outcome, Cuomo told CNN's "Late Edition."

"If the Supreme Court were to beat Gore, there is no guarantee that three or four electors who were supposed to vote for Bush wouldn't turn around out of anger and confusion perhaps and say, 'We're going to go with Al Gore.' "

On the same program, Gore adviser and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the vice president would not attempt to persuade any electors to change their votes.

"The vice president has never said he would engage in that kind of activity, and I am sure he won't," Christopher said. "I think he'll discourage them."

"I take Secretary Christopher at his word," said John Sununu, President Bush's former chief of staff. "It's not going to happen, Mario. The Republicans are so angry at what they perceive is a gaming of the election by a Gore group that has decided to try and create unwarranted confusion in the process that the electors on the Republican side are not even leaning one iota towards this fairy-tale solution."

Gore's complicity is not needed for such an upset to occur, Cuomo said. The U.S. Supreme Court's stay Saturday of a Florida Supreme Court order to begin the hand count of disputed ballots could push a few electors to vote counter to their states' popular votes, he said.

In the 24 states that do not require electors to follow the popular vote, "it's also legitimate for them to vote their conscience," he said.

While rare, such actions are not unprecedented.

Simply allowing the hand count to finish would resolve the matter, he said. "Let the people of the world see what was in the ballots and apply the test of reasonableness to it," Cuomo pleaded.

"The votes have been counted, they have all been recounted, and in some cases counted a third time," Sununu responded. "The Supreme Court is going to tell the activist Florida Supreme Court they're not going to pick the winner of the president of the United States."


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Sunday, December 10, 2000


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