By LINDA DEUTSCH
Vice President Al Gore’s lawyers said Thursday he will contest election results from Florida’s Miami-Dade County and won’t concede defeat in the presidential election, even if George W. Bush remains ahead in votes that are certified Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Gore’s lawyers argued in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that the high court should stay out of the Florida election controversy, saying such interference would “diminish the legitimacy” of the presidential election.
The brief was in response to a request by the Bush campaign that the U.S. Supreme Court bar the consideration of hand-counted ballots from two predominantly Democratic Florida counties. In court papers, Gore’s lawyers called the Bush request a “bald attempt to federalize” Florida’s legal and election processes.
Earlier on Thanksgiving Day, the Florida Supreme Court refused to order Miami-Dade County officials to resume a hand count of its Election Day ballots.
Gore’s lawyers said they will officially contest the Miami-Dade election results after the state certification of the presidential election expected late Sunday. The filing will be made no later than Monday in state court in Tallahassee.
The Florida Supreme Court, in setting its Sunday deadline for vote certification, anticipated such contests and wanted to ensure there was enough time to consider them before the state’s presidential electors are to be selected on Dec. 12.
“Nobody should be surprised by this. We’ve been saying all along that we wanted a full and fair count and that’s what we intend to see happen,” said Ron Klain, a Gore campaign legal adviser. He said some results in other counties also may be contested, but gave no details.
The Bush campaign had nothing to say about the legal developments Thursday. “It’s Thanksgiving and we’re not going to comment,” Bush spokesman Ari Fleisher said.
With Florida holding the balance in the closest presidential election in modern times, Bush’s lead was a slim 713 votes – if the hand recounts are accepted. The state’s secretary of state, Katherine Harris, has officially given Bush a lead of 930 votes.
Gore picked up 88 additional votes Thursday in the review in Broward County.
Bush also filed suit in a Florida court asking 13 counties with heavy military populations to count overseas ballots. Hundreds of ballots, many from military outposts, were rejected last week when Democratic lawyers urged county boards to scrutinize them. Both sides believe Bush lost more votes than Gore when the ballots were rejected.
Bush and Gore spent a quiet Thanksgiving with their families, Bush in Austin, Texas, and Gore at the vice presidential residence in Washington.
Bush jogged in the drizzle and fog and told reporters, “I want to wish everyone, all my family and friends, a happy Thanksgiving.” Gore made no public appearances.
Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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