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Judge rejects Bush suit to end recount

Just when you thought Florida's election debacle might be winding down, think again.

A federal judge in Miami refused a request by members of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign to stop manual vote recounts in four disputed Florida counties early yesterday afternoon.

Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign requested that the four disputed counties have a manual recount, while Florida's remaining 63 counties underwent mechanical recounts.

Democrats may not have won a total victory though.

Related Links
  • Official George W. Bush website
  • Official Al Gore website
  • CD election coverage
  • Al Gore's statements on Monday

    Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris said that according to federal law, she must stick to today's deadline for all counties to finish counting presidential ballots, excluding absentee ballots from overseas.

    The counties must have their recounts of all Tuesday's ballots submitted to Tallahassee, Florida's state capital, by 5 p.m. today.

    If state election law is followed, Saturday will be the deadline for counting overseas absentee ballots, and Florida then would issue a final vote count.

    Gore's aides joined a lawsuit filed by Florida's Volusia County seeking an extension of today's 5 p.m. recount deadline.

    Palm Beach County also joined the suit yesterday afternoon.

    A verdict in that suit is expected around 10:30 this morning.

    Today's deadline needs to be extended until all votes are counted, said Craig Beiber, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

    "The appropriate thing to do under the circumstance is to wait and count all the ballots," Beiber said. "It would be unfair to Florida voters and unfair to American voters not to count all these votes."

    There also needs to be a "full, complete and accurate recount," he said. "The integrity of the democratic process requires no less."

    Ed Matricardi, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, said he thinks the recounting systems should be uniform throughout each of Florida's precincts.

    "It seems to me if you're going to have a hand recount, it ought to be an all or nothing proposition," Matricardi said. "It seems like a pretty obvious equal protection issue."

    A machine recount is more accurate than a manual recount because counting by hand would involve partisan, elected officials handling the ballot sheets.

    There also is the possibility of human error, he said.

    Beiber said all votes need to be counted accurately, regardless of who counts the votes and how long it takes.

    "The bottom line is the next president of the United States needs to be the candidate who gets the most votes in Florida and the most votes in the Electoral College," he said. "Voters need to be assured of that."

    This view is similar to that of Vice President Gore, who held a press conference at the White House yesterday.

    "I would not want to win the presidency by a few votes cast in error or misinterpreted or not counted, and I don't think Gov. Bush wants that either," he said.


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