• 48°

Court takes center stage in Florida

The Associated Press

The differences in Florida vote totals remained paper-thin today as attorneys for Al Gore and George W.

Monday, November 20, 2000

The differences in Florida vote totals remained paper-thin today as attorneys for Al Gore and George W. Bush waged combat before the state’s Supreme Court over a manual recount of punch ballots that could determine America’s next president.

In court, Republicans want to stop the ongoing hand recounts in three heavily Democratic counties. Democrats, looking for new votes to whittle down Bush’s 930-vote lead, are fighting to get them included in the final official tally.

About 6 million votes were cast overall in make-or-break Florida.

A weekend tally of overseas absentee ballots stretched Bush’s official lead. But uncompleted hand recounts over the weekend in Broward and Palm Beach counties cut Bush’s lead to 834 votes as of midnight Sunday. A hand recount was to begin today in Miami-Dade County and resume in Broward and Palm Beach.

Both candidates maintained low profiles Sunday, with each going for a run and then to church.

Lawyers for both sides filed legal briefs Sunday with the Florida Supreme Court, which on Saturday told Secretary of State Katherine Harris not to certify the state results until it decided whether to allow the hand recounts to be included.

Bush’s lawyers said it would be unfair ”to keep the state and the nation on hold” during interminable recounts, while Gore’s attorneys argued that some counties should get more time to complete hand tallies.

Harris tried to distance herself from the presidential rivals.