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Florida Supreme Court Halts Certification Of Results; Latest Count Puts Bush 353 Votes Ahead

November 18, 2000

Judge Terry P. Lewis The Florida Supreme Court has ordered the Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, not to certify the results of the presidential election in Florida, pending a full hearing of the Court on Monday.

Earlier today, a lower court judge, Terry Lewis, pictured at left, ruled in favour of Harris's right to exercise her discretion to exclude the results of hand recounts. This boost to the Bush campaign was short-lived, followed several hours later by the unanimous decision of the 7-member Supreme Court. The Gore campaign had immediately appealed to the Florida Appeals Court, which forwarded it to the Supreme Court.

In a separate court decision, a manual recount of votes has been allowed in Broward county.

Harris, the Republican Party Secretary of State and prominent Bush campaign supporter, had ruled that she would not accept amended vote tallies from Florida counties. With the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots now only hours away, it was her intention to declare Florida for Bush on Saturday, local time.

The effect of the Supreme Court intervention will be to allow counties to continue with the manual recounts over the weekend. Given the propensity of courts to distance themselves from political issues, it is now difficult to see how the results of manual recounts could be excluded from the final tally.

Early counting of absentee ballots indicate that Bush's lead has increased to 353 votes.

There are 67 counties in Florida. Four of them, Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Collier, filed petitions with Harris's office seeking to have the results of recounts included in their totals after last Tuesday's deadline.

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