Those Other States

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and actress Patricia Clarkson enjoy a moment of laughter before the start of the Orpheus parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 19, 2007.
With a final tally in Florida now unlikely until next week — and George W. Bush's tentative victory there still on hold — other states where Al Gore won by small margins remained in play this weekend.

As the battle over the Sunshine State's ballots heated up last week, Republicans threatened to call for tit-for-tat recounts in states where Gore's margin of victory was very narrow.

Under this scenario, if Gore, currently with 262 electoral votes, takes Florida's 25 electoral votes, the only way for Bush to prevail would be to challenge Gore's apparent wins in Oregon (7 votes) and Wisconsin (11 votes) — and either win in New Mexico or challenge a Gore victory there.

If Bush wins Florida, these states don't really matter, electorally speaking. But if Gore wins Florida, Bush needs to reverse Oregon and Wisconsin and win New Mexico to take the White House.

Iowa, which Gore won by a mere 4,000 votes, was once thought of as another state where the Republicans might demand a recount.

But Bush campaign chairman Don Evans said Thursday that the Texas governor will not seek a recount in the Hawkeye, because he had decided to "do his part to ensure the fairness, accuracy and finality of this election."

The flip side of the "retaliatory recount" strategy is that if Bush were to mount ballot challenges in Oregon, Wisconsin and New Mexico, Democrats might demand another count in New Hampshire, which Bush won by a small margin.

Here's a look at how things stand in these states:

  • Wisconsin: With all 72 counties reporting, Gore defeated Bush by 5,697 votes out of nearly 2.6 million votes cast, making this year's election one of the state's tightest presidential races ever, an AP tally showed. The state Elections Board received the last county canvass Friday. Candidates have until 5 p.m. local time Wednesday to request a recount.

    There have been several allegations of fraud, including college students who say they voted twice and Democrats giving homeless people cigarettes to vote.

    But there have also been errors that at first benefited Bush: In Outagamie County, officials discovered on Wednesday that they'd given Bush 510 extra votes.

  • New Mexico: In the closest presidential race outside of Florida, New Mexico's saga reflects the roller coaster character of Campaign 2000. Gore was up by about 5,000 votes on Election Night, until officials in Bernalillo County, the state's largest, which includes Albuquerque, figured out that a computer glitch had prevented counting of thousands of ballots. After the problem was fixed, Bush was winning by 17 votes. Then Dona Ana County discovered that someone had read 620 absentee votes for Gore as 120 votes. Republicans haven't asked for a recount, but they got the state police to impound ballots in case they are needed for a challenge.
  • Oregon: Gore has led since the counting began, though the margin has fluctuated, and has won Oregn's seven electoral votes, but by a slim margin. As of Friday, the vice president had 718,525 votes to 711,730 for Bush, a lead of 6,795 votes. An unofficial tally by The Associated Press indicated that fewer than 1,500 ballots remained to be counted on Friday. An automatic recount would be triggered if the margin dropped below 2,800 votes. That's not likely to happen, barring unusual evidence of fraud.
  • New Hampshire: This state has finished counting, but officials found three different kinds of mistakes on one day: There was a proofreading error in Nashua. In several communities, straight ticket votes were never counted. And a programming error in other places meant that votes were recorded as dates. When officials straightened it out, Bush still won the state, albeit by 958 fewer votes than originally thought.