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Americans turn to Web for latest in election tally

As Americans anxiously await the outcome of a ballot recount in Florida that will determine the next president of the United States, impatient voters shift to the Web to get the latest update in the tally.

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As Americans anxiously await the outcome of a ballot recount in the state of Florida that will determine the next president of the United States, impatient voters have shifted to the Web to get the latest update in the tally.

During election night, smaller government or candidate sites were providing information to offset coverage missteps by the broadcast networks.

Just before 8 p.m. EST Tuesday, most of the major networks declared Gore the winner in Florida. But nearly two hours later, they retracted their projections, blaming problems in information supplied by the Voter News Service, a polling organization run by a consortium of news outlets and the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, sites for candidates and local elections boards became sources for information that even the networks began citing early this morning.

Local Web government Want election news? Get it hereand candidate sites were more informative for local races than the networks, said Adam Clayton Powell, vice president for technology and programs at the Freedom Forum, a media education foundation.

"If you wanted the raw votes without the (network projections), some of these government sites were the only places you could find them," Powell said. He said local sites were also "the place to get local results far faster than anywhere."

The most updated source for the recount is the Web site for Florida's Division of Elections, the government office in Tallahassee overseeing the state's election-tallying process. In fact, voter impatience has caused a flood of traffic to freeze certain areas covering the election results.

As of 8:30 EST Wednesday morning, the site's link to the "November 7, 2000, General Election Results" led to a "Server too busy" message. Nearly an hour later, the state's elections division posted a notice on the site's home page informing visitors that the office will conduct a recount.

Under Florida law, supervisors of elections for each of the state's 67 counties will have to recount their ballots by the end of business Thursday, the notice read.

A representative from the Florida elections division could not be reached for comment.

The United States is waiting in limbo as the decisive vote recount in Florida determines whether Republican candidate George W. Bush or Democratic candidate Al Gore will emerge as the nation's next president.

Gore currently has 260 electoral votes to Bush's 246. Whoever wins Florida's remaining 25 electoral votes will surpass the 270 votes needed to win.

By all accounts, the next president will win by the skin of his teeth. According to the Division of Elections site, Bush leads Gore by a mere 1,784 votes in the state's elections. Since that number is less than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast, Florida law requires a recount, according to the notice.

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