Judge agrees with Harris

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Court rules Florida secretary of state's rejection of hand recounts can stand

November 17, 2000 Web posted at: 10:12 a.m. EST (1512 GMT)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Leon County, Florida, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled Friday that Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris had exercised her judgment in deciding that recounted votes would not be counted. He rejected the plea by Democrats to require her to consider those votes.

Republican George W. Bush now has an official lead of 300 votes over Democrat Al Gore. Harris has said the only additional votes she'll accept in the final tally are from overseas mail-in ballots, a position supported by the Bush camp.

Democrats had asked Lewis to overrule Harris, who has sought to stop hand recounts.

Under Florida law, the state's 67 counties may count any overseas absentee vote received by midnight tonight. Harris says counties have until noon Saturday to report their new totals to her before she issues her final certification.

At issue are Florida's 25 electoral votes. Without them, neither candidate can have the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Latest developments: Broward and Palm Beach counties -- heavily Democratic areas around Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach -- on Friday resumed working their way by hand through hundreds of thousands of ballots. It is unclear how today's court ruling in Leon County will affect the ballot recount.

A state judge is holding a hearing at this hour in Palm Beach County as he tries to decide whether, under the U.S. Constitution, he has authority to order a revote in a presidential election. Circuit Court Judge Jorge Labarga said he would not rule on the issue today but would issue a written order next week. (More on the constitutionality of the Palm Beach revote)

Gore representative Warren Christopher told CNN Friday morning that Gore would "absolutely not" concede the election if Florida on Saturday declares Bush the winner. With hand recounts still proceeding "that would be a mistake," he told CNN.

Bush camp spokeswoman Mindy Tucker predicted that any hand recounts would be inaccurate, no matter which candidate they favor. The reason, she told CNN, is because each county has different recounting standards.

In Atlanta, Georgia, a U.S. appeals court considering constitutional issues in the recount battle has collected a new round of written arguments from the Bush and Gore camps. Each side responded to briefs filed by the opposition. As of Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not said when, or if, a hearing for oral arguments will be held before the 12-judge panel.

VIDEO Gore campaign observer Warren Christopher is interviewed about what is being done about the certification deadline (November 17)

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker says hand counting is inaccurate (November 17)

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Punch-card ballots are notorious for inaccuracies. CNN's Brooks Jackson takes a look (November 16)

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Watch all up-to-the-minute video of Election 2000 ALSO Palm Beach County begins recount; protests greet announcement Florida counties expect about 2,000 absentee ballots Simple majority vote in congress could overturn Florida decision 'Hanging chads' often viewed by courts as sign of voter intent Gore asks court to order manual recounts to continue Is he president yet? Gore, Bush assume leadership roles on TV Florida election lawsuits move forward on multiple fronts INTERACTIVE Key players in the dispute Election timeline Previous close elections What they're saying Election officials in all 67 Florida counties say they'll begin tallying their overseas ballots as soon as they receive Friday's mail delivery. The total could number roughly 2,300, according to data supplied to CNN by county officials.

A state court hearing will be held Friday as Florida Republicans seek to stop the Broward recount.

Election officials in Miami-Dade, Florida's largest county, are considering Friday whether to launch their own hand tally.

Election officials in Collier County are not conducting a county-wide recount but they do plan to amend their official vote tally Friday after figuring in 25 previously uncounted ballots.

A Florida Supreme Court ruling Thursday allowed hand recounts to continue. In a unanimous, one-paragraph order, the seven-judge panel did not address whether Harris should be required to accept the results, leaving that issue for another day.

CNN Miami Bureau Chief John Zarrella, CNN Legal Analyst Greta Van Susteren, Correspondents Mike Boettcher, Susan Candiotti, Eileen O'Connor, Bill Hemmer, Jeanne Meserve, Bob Franken, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report, written by CNN.com Senior Writer Jim Morris.

-- (not@here.now), November 17, 2000


We're ****ed! This mess is going to drag on for weeks.

-- (agorevictory@means.end), November 17, 2000.

This mess is going to drag on for weeks.

31 days from now, max.

-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), November 17, 2000.

Certification on Saturday may be a problem. WSJ reported that, under Florida law, counties have 7 days after midnight today, EST, to report absentee results. I am no expert on Florida election laws and don't consider the WSJ to be unbiased in the political area, but this could just make the mess, messier.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), November 17, 2000.

This was predictable. Now it goes to the FSC, 7 democratic justices. Guess what?

-- Gore2000 (@ .), November 17, 2000.

Z, I guess that's if they can't finish the counts. If they can go through manual counts of 16,000 ballots (I think the number last night in Palm county), then they can count up absentee ballots in time for tomorrow. I thought there were only a few thousand. We'll see tomorrow.

A democratic judge made the right decision.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), November 17, 2000.


True, but the question brought up by the WSJ was would they. They can legally hold the absentee ballots until they complete their manual recount and submit them together. Since the vast majority of the absentee ballots [according to the story] are from counties doing the recount; well you get the picture.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), November 17, 2000.

Z, I do get the picture. *sigh* The drama unfolds better than "Guiding Light". (Is that still on?)

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), November 17, 2000.

I predict this will be concluded Wednesday or Thursday of next week (Friday at the latest) and that Gore will be triumphant.

-- IKnow (These@Things.com), November 17, 2000.

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