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Counting, litigation quickens as vote deadline nears

  WEB EXCLUSIVE

image Jeff Flock on bad weather and vote recounting in Palm Beach County


image Frank Buckley on Republican protesters and Gore's legal challenge in Miami-Dade County


image Tony Clark says Bush camp confident of Supreme Court victory


image Chris Black says Gore not likely to concede soon

Bush lawyers to file suits in fifth county


In this story:

More litigation expected

Gore gains in unofficial count

Latest developments



TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- With a Sunday afternoon deadline looming, officials in two Florida counties worked feverishly to complete recounts of presidential ballots.

Lawyers for Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush planned to file a petition in Orange County on Sunday ahead of the 5 p.m. EST deadline, to ask that all signed military overseas ballots be included in the state's final vote count.

Officials in Broward County told CNN they would finish recounting ballots Saturday night, hours ahead of the deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court. Palm Beach County's canvassing board prepared to work through the night to meet the deadline.

"We're going to go as late as we need to go," said Judge Charles Burton, chairman of Palm Beach County's canvassing board. "Never say never. We keep plugging away."

Denise Cote, spokeswoman for Palm Beach's canvassing board, told CNN that board members had nearly doubled their counting pace by Saturday evening.

"They're moving much more rapidly, and the objections are much briefer," she said.

More litigation expected

The Bush campaign filed petitions in Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco and Okaloosa counties late Saturday, hours after having dropped a lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Court that would have involved 12 counties.

While the Bush team dropped its petition Saturday, lawyers for Democratic candidate Al Gore said they would be filing on Monday contest actions against the vote results from Miami-Dade and Nassau counties, and possibly Palm Beach County.

  GALLERY
Protesters from both political parties turn up the heat in Florida
 
 VIDEO
CNN's Kelly Wallace looks at potential obstacles the next president will have to face (November 25)

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CNN's David Lewis looks at the action both in and out of the courtroom where votes are being counted (November 25)

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CNN's Garrick Utley looks back to 1876 and the political struggle of that presidential election (November 25)

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CNN's Bruce Morton examines different voting techniques from around the world

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CNN's Leon Harris interviews Associate Professor David Ryden of Hope College (November 25)

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CNN's Bill Hemmer interviews Tim Padgett of Time magazine on what the future may hold (November 25)

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CNN's Miles O'Brien interviews Kendall Coffey (November 25)

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CNN's Bill Hemmer interviews Serge Kovaleski on partisan tensions (November 25)

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Watch all up-to-the-minute video of Election 2000
  U.S. SUPREME COURT FILINGS
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  FLORIDA SUPREME COURT FILINGS
Court filings to the Florida Supreme Court
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Florida Code Title IX - Laws concerning Florida Electors and Elections (Florida Legislature Web site)


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"We are anticipating that there is going to be a contest of the election in Tallahassee in the circuit court. There may be another effort to go back to the Florida Supreme Court, so there is a lot of litigating still to go on," Barry Richard, lead attorney for the Bush campaign, told CNN.

Gore attorneys said they plan to contest the certified Miami-Dade County vote count because the county refused to hold a hand recount. The county conducted a limited recount by machine of a small segment of all votes.

The Florida Supreme Court rejected Gore's effort to force the predominantly Democratic county to recount its votes by hand.

"There will be a certification tomorrow and then we will file our contest on Monday morning," David Boies, lead attorney for the Gore campaign, told CNN.

"We want to have the votes that were cast counted and then whoever wins, wins and whoever loses, loses. Let's have it done based on the votes that were cast," Boies said.

Gore gains in unofficial count

The Palm Beach Country canvassing board estimated earlier Saturday that it had about 8,500 ballots to count by the deadline. The board had estimated it had counted 1,868 ballots by Friday night.

Unofficial recount results have shown Gore had picked up many more votes in Broward County than in Palm Beach. Palm Beach officials are not counting "dimpled chads."

The recounts continued a day after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Bush campaign's appeal against a Florida Supreme Court decision that allowed manual ballot recounts to be added to the state's presidential vote.

Attorneys for Bush argue that the recounts violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law. The attorneys say the recounts violate the amendment because they have been conducted in three Florida counties and not in all counties.

Latest developments:

•  Broward County's canvassing board said it expected to finish hand recounts of about 250 remaining disputed votes by Saturday night -- well ahead of the Sunday deadline. About 500 absentee ballots remained to be counted in the county.

•  The Bush campaign held a news conference Saturday featuring three Medal of Honor recipients who called on canvassing board officials in Florida counties to allow disqualified overseas ballots. "If they're going to count a dimple," said medal recipient Gary Littrell, "then they need to count a vet's vote."

•  Virginia Senator-elect George Allen, Jr. used the weekly Republican radio address Saturday to repeat the GOP call to count all military overseas ballots.

•  Congressional Democrats have sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department asking that it look into Republican demonstrations at canvassing boards. The demonstrations, they say, are intended to intimidate and disrupt recount efforts. David Leahy, of the Miami-Dade County canvassing board, said the Republican protesters did not intimidate board members. (More on the protests and reaction to them)

•  Republican sources tell CNN the Florida Legislature was not expected to meet this weekend in an emergency session. The possibility exists under federal law that the Republican-controlled body could appoint members of the Electoral College who would support Bush, even if Gore surpasses Bush in the total state tally. (More on the electors)

•  This Monday, a hearing is scheduled in a Seminole County, Florida, court to determine whether some 4,700 absentee ballots in the predominantly Republican county should be declared invalid. The suit, brought by a Democratic activist, accuses the county elections supervisor of illegally allowing Republican activists to write required registration numbers on about 4,700 absentee ballots. Voters themselves had failed to write the numbers on the ballots.

Florida's 25 electoral votes have become decisive in the presidential election because Gore's national electoral votes total 255, while Bush has 246. Florida's electoral votes would put either candidate over the required 270-vote total that is needed to win the presidency. (More on the recount)

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