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Judge Lewis's Decision May Decide Bush-Gore Contest

November 17, 2000

A decision by Judge Terry P. Lewis of the State Circuit Court in Tallahassee in the next few hours could be the crucial determining factor in the outcome of the US Presidential election.

Lewis is due to rule on whether the Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, should accept amended vote counts from those counties conducting manual recounts.

Earlier today, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the recounts could go ahead. Earlier in the week, Judge Lewis allowed Harris to enforce an earlier deadline for amended vote counts, but ordered that she not behave "arbitrarily".

Harris is a Republican who has been actively involved in the Bush campaign.

An order tonight by Lewis could clear the way for vote recounts to be used in determining the final result in Florida where Bush is currently ahead by 300 votes.

Absentee ballots will be counted at midnight Friday, US time. Historically, these favour the Republicans, although the closeness of this year's election means that nothing is certain.

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