Tags: Palm | Beach | Judge | Rejects | New | Election

Palm Beach Judge Rejects New Election

Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM

Judge Jorge Labarga Monday decided that the U.S. Constitution requires that the presidential election be held on a single day and that state law designed to correct election problems do not provide for a new election.

"Clearly, a great number of patriotic and deeply concerned citizens of Palm Beach County fear that they may have unwittingly cast their vote for someone other than their candidate," Labarga wrote in his decision.

"However, for over two centuries we have agreed to a constitution and to live by the law."

Attorneys representing angry voters vowed to appeal. Washington attorney Charles Frederick Chester represents one group of voters who wanted a revote. Chester plans to appeal because, in part, he claims the judge did not interpret state law correctly.

"The court can rely on any relief appropriate under the circumstances," Chester argued.

Democrat attorney Dennis Newman is overseeing the hand count of ballots in Palm Beach County. He said that the confusion of the voters was obvious and that a revote would help rectify that problem.

"A revote would be a good thing for a fair and accurate decision," he claimed. "I think it would be a fair remedy."

Republicans have dismissed the suit from the beginning as a desperate effort by partisan Democrats to win more votes in Florida.

Democrats have claimed that as many as 14,000 voters might have accidentally cast their vote for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Vice President Al Gore because of the supposedly confusing layout of the ballot, which a Democrat elections supervisor approved. Republicans reject those claims and note that Buchanan did not receive more votes than could be expected in the county, based on the number of Reform Party voters.

Labarga, who is of Cuban origin, said he understood the importance of the right to vote.

"This court is well aware that the right to vote is as precious as life itself to those who have been victimized by the horror of war, to those whose not-too-distant relatives were prohibited from exercising the right to vote simply because of their race or gender, and to those who have risked it all by venturing across an unforgiving sea in makeshift rafts or boats in order to one day exercise the right to vote."

Labarga quoted the U.S. Constitution in his decision, which says, "The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their vote; which day shall be the same throughout the United States."

Labarga said that after an "extensive analysis" of the state law to fix election problems, he decided that such provisions were "not intended to apply to presidential elections."

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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Judge Jorge Labarga Monday decided that the U.S. Constitution requiresthat the presidential election be held on a single day and that state law designed to correct election problems do not provide for a new election. Clearly, a great number of patriotic and deeply...
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2000-00-20
Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM
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