Tags: Florida | Supreme | Court: | Include | Hand | Recounts

Florida Supreme Court: Include Hand Recounts

Tuesday, 21 November 2000 12:00 AM

The court gave county canvassing boards until 5 p.m. Sunday to submit the amended totals to the Florida secretary of state's office. If that office is not opened to receive the amended certifications, the court ordered the election canvassing commission to accept amended tallies until 9 a.m. Monday, CNN reported.

The court did not address whether "dimpled" ballots - punch-card ballots with indentations but not perforations - could be counted. But it cited an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that the seven justices said was "particularly apt in this case."

"These voters should not be disfranchised where their intent may be ascertained with reasonable certainty," the Florida court wrote, quoting the Illinois ruling.

It was not clear what effect the ruling would have on overseas absentee ballots rejected late last week for lack of postmarks. Republicans and members of the military have accused Democrats of cutting off servicemen.

"I wonder how they are going to handle all the dimpled chad and hanging chad and pregnant chads and so forth," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

"It's one of the most suggestive ways of counting that you could have. Plus, you have every election board controlled by Democrats, so all the questionable ones the Republicans are afraid they will just go for Gore, and this is a way of giving the election to Gore."

In their 42-page opinion, the seven justices admitted "conflicting provisions" in the election code, but court spokesman Craig Waters explained their reasoning.

"In dealing with similar conflicts in the past, the court has consistently held that the right of the people to cast their vote is the paramount concern overriding all others," he said.

The Bush campaign could appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court by arguing that hand counting the ballots in three counties violates the "equal protection" provision of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.

Earlier Tuesday, Bush had filed a new legal brief arguing that the justices had no authority to set rules on which presidential ballots can or cannot be counted.

Bush attorney Michael Carvin said if the court got involved in setting ballot standards, "that would engender further delay and chaos."

Democrat Al Gore's campaign accused the Republicans of trotting out a "parade of horribles" to keep the court from addressing "this very important issue in the manual recounts."

Gore's campaign filed a brief urging the high court to decide on how votes should be counted.

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The court gave county canvassing boards until 5 p.m. Sunday to submit the amended totals to the Florida secretary of state's office. If that office is not opened to receive the amended certifications, the court ordered the election canvassing commission to accept amended...
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Tuesday, 21 November 2000 12:00 AM
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