Pressure on Bush electors


The United States Electoral College yesterday chose the next President and, although no surprises were expected, the pressure was mounting on Governor Bush voters to switch to Vice-President Al Gore.

In state capitals the 538 electors gathered to cast votes for the winner in their state. The party faithful promised no surprises, but there remained a slim chance the college would toss yet another spanner into this most contested of US elections.

In electoral votes, Mr Bush holds a scant lead over Mr Gore, 271-267. If two Bush electors switched their votes, it would throw the election to the House of Representatives. If three switched , it would give the election to Mr Gore.

During the past several weeks an e-mail, letter and phone campaign has sought to persuade Bush electors to switch because he lost the popular vote.

No federal law compels electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote in their states, but they usually do, and some states require it. Those rare members who vote in opposition to the popular vote are known as "faithless electors".

Electors vote by signing six Certificates of Vote, with a Certificate of Ascertainment attached to each one. These certificates are signed, sealed and certified, and then sent immediately to the president of the Senate - this year, that is Mr Gore - as well as the archivist of the US and other designated federal and state officials.

Congress counts the electoral votes on January 6th, unless it passes a law to change that date.