Showdown in Florida


Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Republican Florida official overseeing the state’s chaotic presidential vote tally laid down a Wednesday afternoon deadline for Democratic strongholds to justify why they should be allowed to keep counting.

A state judge ruled earlier in the day that the state should collect returns from all 67 counties by 5 p.m., as required under Florida law. The state said that count gives the election — and perhaps the White House — to Texas Gov. George W. Bush by 300 votes.

At the same time, the judge said counties still recounting ballots by hand at Democratic request may be able to make a case for filing those totals late.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis’ ruling contained a harsh warning for Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and drew new bounds for both sides in the ongoing legal shoving match.

Both sides found something to like in the Solomonic ruling, but that did not stop one heavily Democratic county from appealing.

"The veil has been lifted," said new Gore lawyer David Boies, the litigator who helped win the government’s Microsoft antitrust case.

Gore partisans said the recounts they requested will go forward, though only Palm Beach County was scheduled to keep reviewing ballots on Wednesday. Volusia County had completed a full manual recount; Broward County was holding off on a decision about whether to order a full hand count.

Democrats hope those recounts by human eye and hand will turn up additional votes for their candidate.

Harris set down a 2 p.m. EST deadline Wednesday for election officials in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties to justify why she ought to accept late totals that would come in after Tuesday’s 5 p.m. EST deadline.

"It’s another attempt in many ways to put a burden on people who are terribly taxed right now," Gore campaign chairman William Daley said.

If Harris rejects appeals for more time, Democrats could sue.

Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said the Texas governor is a three-time winner in Florida, counting the Nov. 7 election, an automatic recount done last week and the totals certified to the state capital in Tallahassee Tuesday.

An unknown additional number of overseas absentee ballots remain to be counted by Friday night.

The state is critical to determining the winner of the 2000 presidential election. Victory by either Bush or Gore would give the 270 votes needed to fashion a majority in the Electoral College.

In Volusia County, before completing their count, county officials appealed Lewis’ ruling to a midlevel Florida appeals court with the expectation that the state’s highest court, the Florida Supreme Court, would hear it.

Separately, Palm Beach sent appeal documents to the state Supreme Court seeking clarification of conflicting legal guidance on their recount. The county planned to begin a broad recount Wednesday morning.

Miami-Dade County hand counted three precincts Tuesday night and awarded Gore a net gain of six votes. But the board voted 2-1 against ordering a full manual recount, rejecting a request by Democrats.

On yet another legal front, the GOP filed notice that it plans to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that allowed the recounts to go forward. The GOP claims they are unconstitutional since they mean some voters are treated differently depending on where they live. The case could be heard in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as soon as Wednesday.

Numerous voters have sued separately over alleged voting irregularities in Palm Beach. Celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz represents some of them.

State officials say Lewis’ ruling means they can proceed on schedule to a final vote certification by Saturday. That is the day after a deadline for absentee ballots mailed in from overseas.

Democrats say Harris is a partisan Republican — she campaigned for Bush — who decided to stick to the letter of Florida law in order to pull out a squeaker of a victory for him.

Lewis ruled that there was nothing in state law to prevent Harris from considering late totals, and warned her in strong language that she would need good reason to ignore them.

"To determine ahead of time that such returns will be ignored … is not the exercise of discretion. It is the abdication of that discretion," Lewis wrote.


? The Democratic Party filed a motion in state court arguing that Broward County should be ordered to conduct a full hand count of its 588,000 ballots. The motion said the decision by the county canvassing board not to conduct such a recount was based on an erroneous opinion by Harris, who said a manual recount could only be conducted if the board found a problem with the computer.

? In West Palm Beach, a judge considered the lawsuits of voters seeking a new vote in their county. The voters argue the punch-card ballots they were given on Election Day may have confused them enough to mistakenly vote for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan when they intended to vote for Gore.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

Suspected DUI crash injures trooper on I-5 north in Lynnwood

WSP spokesperson said two suspected impaired drivers have crashed into a state trooper in the past 24 hours.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

People hang up hearts with messages about saving the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Future of historic Clark Park gazebo now in hands of City Council

On June 5, the Everett council is set to decide whether to fund removal of the gazebo. It could be stored elsewhere.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commercial vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.