ABC News
November 11, 2000


Grass Roots Effort of Nationwide Protests Planned


By Robin Eisner

Americans will take to the streets all over the country Saturday in a show of outrage over possible ballot irregularities in Florida that could, they feel, keep Al Gore from becoming president.

A grass-roots effort promoted online lists the locations of the protests, ranging from the Civic Plaza in Albuquerque, N.M., to the Federal Building in Baltimore, Md., to New York’s Times Square and downtown Madison, Wis.

While local organizers of the rallies said they wouldn’t speculate on expected turnout, they said the protests were just the beginning.

Gov. George W. Bush is leading Vice President Al Gore by fewer than than 1,000 votes in Florida, according to a recount of votes in 66 of 67 counties. But Democrats are collecting affidavits about alleged problems with up to 20,000 votes that had been disqualified in the state, and are supporting legal challenges.

If either Bush or Gore wins in Florida, the state’s 25 electoral votes would make them president — as long as each man’s current electoral count holds despite any challenges or recounts in other states.

Gore won the nationwide popular vote, according to results tallied so far — some of them unofficial — while Bush is poised to win the Electoral College tally.

Web Used To Organize
While the administrators of the protest Web site, named “Countercoup,” would not return repeated e-mails for information about what kind of organization it was, Bob Fertik, 43, of New York City, a spokesman for www.democrats.com, said he was familiar with the group, and called it a grass-roots effort. His organization also is using the Web to collect affidavits about possible ballot irregularities.

The Democratic committee is not organizing these protests, Democrats’ spokesmen said.

Repeated calls to Portia Palmer, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida, for comment about the protests or whether the party was planning protests itself, were not returned.

Pro-Republican protesters have been positioning themselves behind TV reporters, holding up signs that said things like “No Re-Vote, Gore Concede” and “Rule of Law: Bush-Cheney”

Bill Stevenson, 44, of Tallahassee, Fla., a supporter of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader who has been following the e-mail string for organization of the demonstrations said he disagreed with the idea of the protests. “Rather than spending time protests, they should just give the system a chance to work,” he said.

Regardless of potential fallout, protesters are still planning to show up.

Charlie Harger, 25, a computer consultant who lives in Jersey City, N.J. says he is going to Times Square on Saturday at 1 p.m. and hopes other people will be joining him. “I am getting friends involved to come to the protest,” Harger said. “I believe there was an injustice in Florida and we have got to take a stand.”

Major Cities Targeted
Andy Olsen, county supervisor for Dane County, Wis., and a Gore supporter, said he is helping to organize the rally on the capitol steps in Madison on Saturday. Scheduled to speak, he said, is Ed Garvey, former progressive Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state, a representative from a local union, and others.

“We are protesting the heist of the presidential election by the Bush brothers,” Olsen said, referring to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Olsen compared the underground protest effort in the United States to the elections in Yugoslavia, where the people took to the streets to make sure the democratically elected candidate took office.

Chris Monelli, 22, a customer service manger at an Internet company, who is a Gore supporter, said he is going to Seattle Central Community College Saturday for a rally there and is calling for a revote in Palm Beach County.

Monelli said it was important that whoever gets into the White House got there legitimately. “The way it is now is not right,” Monelli said, “Whether Gore wins or not is not important. I am in favor of a recount in other states, if that is necessary. What is important is that it is done right reflecting the will of the people.”

Not a DNC Effort
Democratic National Committee spokesman Jamal Simmons says the DNC was not planning any rallies. “We are here to gather information,” Simmons said speaking from Florida, adding that the DNC has collected approximately 5,000 to 7,000 affidavits of ballot problems in Florida.

A local Democratic club run by Herb Epstein had organized a rally in Delray Beach Local today to demand a recount of the vote in Palm Beach County because his group had received so many phone calls about the possible ballot problems there. “We did this on our own,” Epstein said. “The DNC was not involved.” People did, however, fill out affidavits that the club provided at the rally, Epstein said.

Thursday, Rev. Jesse Jackson, of the Rainbow/Push Organization led a rally across from the Palm Beach County Governmental Center where the votes are being recounted, demanding a new vote in the county.

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