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Dem. Donor Mulled Fla. Radio Ads

November 30, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Internet entrepreneur who has donated more than $500,000 to the Democratic Party was set to buy radio ads in Florida bolstering Al Gore, only to back out at the last minute.

Steven Kirsch, founder of InfoSeek.com, reserved and paid for about $15,000 in radio ads in Tallahassee and West Palm Beach that were to begin airing Thursday. He backed out after associates discussed the matter with Gore campaign officials, amid concern that the ads might backfire if people thought the Gore campaign was behind them, said Susan Frank, a spokeswoman.

``I don’t want to do anything that would be perceived as hurting Gore’s chances,″ Kirsch said. ``I think we’ll do something, but I don’t know what it is right now.″

Kirsch hopes to publicize his view that it is possible to count some 19,000 ballots in Palm Beach County tossed out because more than one candidate was punched. Using a statistical model, he said, officials could determine what percentage of the ballots were meant for each candidate.

The calculation, he argues, would be based on how other Palm Beach voters voted, with the margin of error no higher than the error produced using machine counts.

An unusually large number of presidential ballots in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County were tossed out, and Democrats argue that’s because the county’s ``butterfly ballot″ confused many voters, who mistakenly chose more than one candidate.

Kirsch offers several statistical models that could be used, all of which produce enough votes to push Gore ahead of George W. Bush statewide.

Kirsch, who has donated more than $500,000 to the Democratic National Committee, fears that lawyers will not present his argument. ``I have no way at this moment to have a Supreme Court justice hear that argument, and that’s very frustrating,″ he said.

It was too late to cancel radio ads that were ordered Wednesday night, so the stations were told to keep the money and run public service announcements of their choice.

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