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Gore lawyer outlines strategy for challenges

David Boies is an attorney for Al Gore  

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- An attorney for Democrat Al Gore said Sunday the campaign would press three legal fronts in an effort to boost the candidate's chances to win the presidency over Republican George W. Bush.

Gore campaign attorney David Boies described the campaign's plan as a "work in progress" in a rapidly changing political landscape.

In Miami-Dade, the most populous of Florida's 67 counties, the Gore campaign will ask that the results of a hand count of 388 ballots be included, Boies said. They included a net increase of 156 votes for Gore.

The county canvassing board had counted them before it decided last Wednesday to stop its hand count, citing insufficient time to complete the count before the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline imposed by the Florida Supreme Court.

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The Gore campaign will contest the canvassing board's decision not to finish the recount, which included some 10,000 "undervote" ballots Boies said he would ask a judge to review.

"Once that recount has started, the board does not have discretion to prematurely stop it," Boies said.

On a second front, the lawyer said the campaign would also seek to challenge "inexplicable" actions in Nassau County, which replaced a member of its canvassing board "with another individual who appears to be ineligible, under Florida law, to serve."

The newly constituted board then held a meeting without the required notice, Boies said, during which they voted to discard results that had been previously certified on the machine recount, returning to unofficial results from Election Day, he said.

Boies called the move "contrary to Florida law" and without precedent "as far as we can tell."

The Gore campaign will contest Palm Beach County results, too, Boies said. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris turned down a request by the county to extend the deadline for certifying the county's votes until 9 a.m. Monday and, despite working overnight Saturday, the board did not meet the Sunday deadline.

"Those ballots, we will argue to the courts, must be counted," Boies said.

But he said he would challenge the stricter standard the county used for counting a mark on a ballot as a vote, urging it be replaced by one that would have mandated any indentation be counted as a vote for the candidate in whose column it was made.

"There is no other reasonable explanation for that indentation," he said.

Boies said optical character readers found three ballots per 1,000 had no vote for president. But the ballots used in Palm Beach County showed an "undervote" rate of five to seven times that, he said.

"The obvious explanation," Boies said, is the difference in the machines used to hold the ballots.

But the legal war appeared to be easing elsewhere. The campaign was unlikely to contest the results in Seminole County, where thousands of incomplete absentee ballot requests were allegedly filled in by a Republican Party worker during a 10-day period, Boies said.

Boies predicted "everything is going to be over by December 12," and added, "It is critically important that ... if Vice President Gore won the vote here in Florida, that that not be nullified because some of the votes weren't counted."


Sunday, November 26, 2000



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