Thursday, November 09, 2000

Tristate rides election 'roller coaster'

Florida recount has many waiting for the result

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mary Marxen knows her vote counts. The Northern Kentucky retiree who has a home in Florida will have a direct hand in determining whether Texas Gov. George Bush or Vice President Al Gore becomes our next president.

        She is one of the Tristates' absentee voters whose ballots are being carefully recounted in Florida, as the nation awaits news on which presidential candidate wins that state's electoral votes and so the presidency.

[photo] Holy Cross High School government teacher Terry Bray speaks to his class about the election.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        For 10 years, Ms. Marxen has voted absentee in Florida.

        “This has certainly been a roller coaster,” said Ms. Marxen, who voted for Gov. Bush.

        “This vote is very important to me and the whole country. I stayed up watching the results until 4 a.m..”

        She wasn't alone. Across the Tristate and the nation, people in offices, coffee shops, schools and homes are watching the news stations or logging on to the Internet to gauge one of the nation's closest presidential elections.

        Like Ms. Marxen, they await a conclusion. Government officials predict they will have the recount complete before the end of the day today .

        “I hope there is a clear winner. I would hate to see this go to court or a re-vote,” Ms. Marxen said.

        The suspense is a family affair for Molly Hartmann.

        The Edgewood woman and her husband stayed up late and slept with the television on, in case they woke up and wanted to glance at the screen for the latest results.

        She said she and other family members had stomachaches from anxiety because they so want Gov. Bush to win.

        Her children have been fascinated, she said.

        “I said to them, "It's history in the making. No one won. You're experiencing something that's never happened.'”
       Phil Nichols, a 53-year-old Price Hill man, senses that this will be an election he looks back on.

        “Years from now we can tell our grandchildren we were there when this all unfolded,” he said.

        History teacher Terry Bray is telling children now.

        On Wednesday, he was tired but wired as he and his junior students at Holy Cross High School in Covington analyzed the election.

        Enthralled by the coverage, Mr. Bray had slept only three hours the night before. Adrenaline kept him going as he gestured at the continuing coverage on a TV set behind him.

        “Gore has the popular vote right now,” he told his American government class.

        “He also has the electoral vote. It all hinges on Florida.

        “You guys are living in fairly historic times. This may never happen again.”

        The students asked how Mr. Gore could concede the election to Mr. Bush and then take it back. They wondered why Florida was so important.

        They argued about the merits of the candidates.

        “(Gore) doesn't deserve to win,” said Andy Birkenhauer.

        “Shut up, Andy,” shot back Latisha Comer. who likes the vice president.

        “I just don't think he should win if he loses his home state,” Andy said.

        What also makes this election close call so extraordinary is a pervasive lack of rancor about the limbo, even among voters committed to a party, observed Daniel Lally, a Liberty Township resident.

        “I was at a party watching the election with Republicans and Democrats and we got along fine,” he said,

        “And that says a lot about our country. In a lot of other countries around the world, if the election was this close, we'd be shooting at each other.”

        Karen Samples of the Enquirer contributed to this report.


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