Lawyers for Republican candidate George W. Bush were to make the case in writing to Florida's top court Sunday that manual vote recounts currently underway in the state are "untrustworthy" and should not be included in the final presidential election tally.
The state Supreme Court was also a day away Sunday from hearing Democratic candidate Al Gore's request that the manual recount here be allowed.
On Saturday, the Gore camp laid out its position in a brief filed to the court, asserting that manual recounts are "an essential part of the law" in Florida electoral law -- mindful of course, that a decision in the Democrat's favor could swing the US presidential vote his way.
"The eyes of the nation -- indeed of the entire world -- are on Florida," the Democrat's lawyers began, declaring that, "manual recounts are an essential part of the law" in the southeastern state.
A ruling by the high court Friday prevented the state's top election official -- Bush loyalist Secretary of State Katherine Harris -- from certifying final results until it hears the oral arguments Monday.
In their court filing Saturday, Gore's attorneys asked the justices -- most of them appointed by Democratic governors -- to issue an order directing Harris "not to declare the winner of the presidential election until they receive the results of manual recounts now under way and then include those results in the official results."
Florida's seven Supreme Court justices on Monday will consider arguments from both sides, and could issue a ruling by late Monday or early Tuesday.
Meanwhile, hand tallies proceeded in Palm Beach and Broward counties and were set to begin Sunday in Miami-Dade, the state's most populous county.
Both sides are fighting tooth-and-nail over Florida's 25 Electoral College votes, without which neither can triumph in the presidential election, which was held on November 7.
Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes asserted pro-Gore staff and human error left the recount "fundamentally flawed," charging that the process was "no longer recounting, but is distorting, reinventing and miscounting" tallies in key Democratic strongholds.
Gore spokesman Chris Lehane strongly refuted those allegations.
"We want to have a manual recount to guarantee that the will of the people is accurately reflected while the Bush campaign is trying to do everything possible to impede that from happening," he said.
However the court decides, James Baker, Bush's top legal advisor in Florida, warned Friday the decision may be just the opening shot of a long legal war that could be fought in federal courts.
Meanwhile, Hughes said Saturday the overseas ballots and previously certified results from Florida's 67 counties "show that Governor Bush ... won the state of Florida."
The Texas governor saw his own unofficial lead over Gore increase three-fold, Saturday, thanks to a steady trickle of pro-Republican overseas absentee ballots. As of early Sunday Bush enjoyed a 930-vote edge over his Democratic rival.
At the same time, the Bush camp has been highly critical that up to 40 percent of the 3,500 overseas ballots from Floridians were discarded.
As the war of words heated up, a poll by Newsweek magazine out Saturday suggested US citizens still held accuracy and fairness over a speedy resolution but also that their patience with the political stalemate was waning.
Sixty-one percent of those polled -- down from 72 percent a week ago -- said "making certain to remove all reasonable doubt" about the fairness of the Florida vote count was more important than "getting matters resolved as soon as possible" -- TALLAHASSEE (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)