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  Iraq Constitution Referendum Bogged Down in Recount

Baghdad: Shortly after vote counting began in Iraq's constitution referendum this evening, the process became bogged down in a recount ala Florida 2000.

"As voting stations started to report their initial results," said Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, "there were ominous signs that most Iraqis have voted against the constitution. It is an unacceptable situation."

Voting stations have been instructed to look for chads, accidental ink blotches, fingerprint smudges, small tears, rips, or dogears in the ballot paper, untidy folding of the ballot paper, and various other faults on the ballot that can be used to discount the no votes.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush assembled an emergency team of vote recount experts. The team will arrive in Baghdad later tonight to advise the Iraq government in additional techniques to disqualify undesirable votes.

Prime Minister al-Jaafari is optimistic that the recount will ratify the constitution. "I am confident it will work, but if it doesn't we will send the matter to our version of the Supreme Court for a final decision."

As news of the recount filtered through to the population, large groups of angry Iraqis assembled in the streets waving purple fingers in the air.

Western reporters, restricted to reporting from their hotel lobbies by ongoing violence, are relying on Iraqi runners to bring them the latest developments from the voting stations.

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