DALLAS (AP) _ A recount of votes in the city's mayoral race finally started Wednesday after participants spent the morning in court quibbling over how to conduct it.

The recount - requested by challenger Max Goldblatt after he fell 484 votes short Saturday of forcing a runoff with incumbent Mayor A. Starke Taylor - was ordered Monday by State District Judge James Zimmerman.

Goldblatt's key complaint was that the names on the ballot did not line up with the punchholes, so some voters may have inadvertently voted for the wrong candidate.

But the recounting scheduled for Tuesday never got started. Instead, the participants spent all day before Zimmerman arguing over who could be in the room and how the paper ballots should be counted.

Wednesday morning brought more of the same, but the recount finally went into action during the afternoon.

''They, hopefully, have come up with the best solution for the recount,'' said Bruce Sherbet, Dallas County elections coordinator. ''If they can even get started today, though, it will take at least all of today and (Thursday).

''It's been kind of a drawn-out situation for all of us,'' he said.

The issue was thrown back into court Wednesday when participants realized a recount using computerized ballot counters would erroneously count all votes - even those where a voter punched the names of all candidates in a single race.

Under the election night tabulating system, those votes are automatically discarded. A recount should also discard those votes, Sherbet argued.

Officials finally determined that three of the counters could be programmed to show the invalid votes and others of a questionable nature.