Halting the recount of votes in Florida in the disputed US presidential race would "leave a cloud" over the fairness of the election, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman said Thursday.
In an interview with NBC television, Lieberman said the decision by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to refuse new vote tallies based on manual recounts after the passage of Tuesday's deadline was a partisan and arbitrary.
The move "effectively would mean if unchallenged that the Florida secretary of state will determine who the next president of the United States will be and that's not fair," said Lieberman, the running mate of Democratic nominee Al Gore.
"The Republicans themselves have asked for and received hand counts in six counties in Florida before the controversy," he said
"Her action to me seems very arbitrary and would leave a cloud over this election."
The senator from Connecticut said the Democratic ticket will continue to press for the manual recount in four counties, or if Bush agrees, in the entire state that will decide the outcome of the election.
"This is a very close election," he said. "Every vote really does count and yet the secretary of state of Florida comes in and says, 'No stop counting votes.' This is unheard of in America," he said.
"I honestly believe that if every vote cast in Florida were counted, that Al Gore and I would have won Florida, would win Florida by thousands of votes and would therefore win the election."
Lieberman said Gore's offer, spurned by Republican nominee George W. Bush, to allow a full hand recount in Florida in exchange for an end to litigation, was a "fair" offer "and would allow the next president to take office without a cloud over his head." – WASHINGTON (AFP)
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