The country's future often rides on small accidents of history, unpredictable turns that influence much larger events. (The Nov. 7) election was a prime case. Consider this menu of occurrences that influenced voters in Florida, where the difference of a few hundred votes will decide the next president, with all that portends:
Confusing ballots. It's possible Al Gore will lose the White House because the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County decided to deviate from the usual ballot design, listing Pat Buchanan's name beneath George Bush's. That meant Al Gore was second on the ballot but the third hole to punch. Resulting voter confusion triggered a large Buchanan vote in a heavily Democratic county, possibly costing Gore the presidency.
Racial backfire. Gov. Jeb Bush thought he was doing black Floridians a favor when he proposed ''One Florida'' to steer affirmative action in a direction that he thought would survive legal challenges. But blacks in Florida didn't see it that way, and that had something to do with the result: an astounding 88 percent turnout among black voters in Miami-Dade County, who voted 9-to-1 against brother George. Without them, there would be no recount today.
Elian. If President Clinton hadn't taken such a hard line about shipping child refugee Elian Gonzales back to Cuba, more of Florida's many Cuban-Americans might have voted for Gore. ...
The Jewish vote. Florida seemed safe for the Bush family until Gore named Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Suddenly, the huge South Florida Jewish vote mobilized for the first Jew atop a national ticket. ...
This election certainly will affect years of foreign policy, not to mention domestic issues from campaign finance to childcare. Worrisome? Not really. Aside from the odd ballot meddling in Palm Beach County, it's a welcome reminder to voters that every vote counts and a reminder to politicians that no vote is a lock.
After 30 years and many tries by supporters, Congress has finally passed a bill to begin the restoration of the Everglades...
Congress adjourned last week so members could go home to campaign, but it will return next week in lame-duck session to complete its business.
But, after years of stalling, Congress did manage to do something of substance before its members left Washington for the election: The Senate and House both approved legislation to rescue and restore the Florida Everglades. ... The bill was approved by a 312-2 House vote. ... Restoring the Everglades means allowing the natural flow of water to move, in sheet fashion, across South Florida. ... For the Everglades, it is a long-awaited beginning of a journey back in time.
--The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun
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