Fla. Court Says Butterfly Ballots OK

ByABC News
December 1, 2000, 5:31 PM

T A L L A H A S S E E, Fla., Dec. 1 -- The Florida Supreme Court has unanimously refused to order a new election in Palm BeachCounty, rejecting a plea from voters who contested the design ofthe countys butterfly ballot.

In addition, the states highest court and a statecourt judge today dealt Al Gores lawyers a double defeat in theirbid to force an immediate hand recount of thousands of disputedballots.

No New Election

Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters summarized the courts ruling on the Palm Beach County ballots from the courthouse steps.

Courts have generally declined to void an election unlessdefects in the ballot clearly operate to prevent a free, fair andopen choice, he said.

Gore, who has filed an unprecedented legal challenge to GeorgeW. Bushs certified 537-vote victory in Florida, was not formallyinvolved in the butterfly ballot case, although an order for a newvote would have thrown the contested election into turmoil.

The vice presidents lawyers came up empty on two other rulingshanded down today that spurned his bid to force an immediatemanual recount of 14,000 contested ballots in Miami-Dade and PalmBeach counties.

In an emergency hearing, Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls refusedfor the third time in less than a week to order a manual recount ofdisputed ballots, at least until he hears arguments beginningSaturday.

The Florida Supreme Court, which was implored to intervene,refused without comment. Waters said merely that the petition wasdismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be filed again.

There can be no ruling until there is evidence taken, saidSauls, setting the stage for a historic weekend trial on Gorescontest.

Gores lead attorney David Boies said, On one hand weredisappointed the Supreme Court didnt take this up immediately. Onthe other hand we understand it would have been a very unusualstep.