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Fla. Secretary of State Seeks Delay

November 15, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida’s secretary of state asked the state’s top court Wednesday to delay any hand counting of ballots and consolidate lawsuits in the chaotic vote count that has left the presidential election hanging in the balance for more than a week.

Katherine Harris, a Republican, filed the petition with the state Supreme Court as officials in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County gathered to begin a recount that she has opposed. She earlier gave all counties until 2 p.m. EST Wednesday to justify to her why they should be allowed to conduct further counting past a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline.

After the deadline, the state said the returns gave the election _ and perhaps the White House _ to Republican Gov. George W. Bush by 300 votes, an outcome hotly contested by Democratic lawyers who have been stepping up their legal fight.

In her petition, Harris said local canvassing boards should stop any effort to hand count ballots ``pending resolution as to whether any basis exists to modify the certified results after the statutory deadline for submission of returns.″

She also asked that the flurry of legal actions around the state be transferred to a court in Tallahassee, the state capital.

``Without question, this court must make it clear that the election of the president and vice president is not a matter of local pleasure,″ the petition said. ``It is, at the least, a statewide matter of concern. This court must assume control over this litigation to preserve its ability to establish standards and to protect the voters of the state.″

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