WASHINGTON -- Members of the House and Senate are gathering to make the election of George W. Bush as president official by certifying voting results forwarded by the states.
But at least two House Democrats -- both from Florida, where the vote was in dispute long after Election Day -- said they planned to offer objections at Saturday's ceremony. The gesture was largely symbolic.
Reps. Peter Deutsch and Alcee Hastings said they would contest the procedure, mandated by the Constitution, under which the House and Senate meet together to read and confirm the results of the presidential Electoral College vote.
However, objections to the process are discounted unless they are raised by members of both the House and Senate, and the offices of Deutsch and Hastings both said they did not have senators to join their protest.
Vice President Al Gore, who was defeated by Bush in the election, was presiding over the joint meeting that makes Bush's victory official. Bush will be inaugurated Jan. 20.
Deutsch said he would object on the ground that a quorum -- at least half the members -- is not present. Most lawmakers returned to their districts Friday and would miss the ceremony.
"Our country just witnessed the closest and most controversial presidential election in our nation's history," said Deutsch, one of Gore's leading supporters during the dispute over the Florida vote count. "We as members of Congress have an obligation to be present to count the Electoral College's votes and declare the next president of the United States."
Hastings, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he would object to what he said was "the unfairness of the counting of hundreds of thousands of Florida votes." Black lawmakers contend that undercounting and obstacles to voting in many minority areas of Florida prevented Gore from capturing Florida and thus winning the national election.
Under a section of the U.S. Code enacted in 1887, if at least one senator and one representative object, the two chambers must convene separately to deal with the objection.
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