- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two Florida judges today threw out lawsuits seeking to throw out thousands of absentee ballots cast in Martin and Seminole counties, handing George W. Bush a victory in his bid to close out the state's contested presidential election.
The Judges, Nikki Clark and Terry Lewis, ruled that "despite irregularities in the requests for absentee ballots, neither the sanctity of the ballots nor the integrity of the elections has been compromised," a court clerk read from a prepared statement
The elections "reflect a full and fair expression of the will of the voters," the clerk, Terre Cass, read.
The rulings were a blow to Vice President Al Gore, even though he was not a party to either lawsuit. He had spoken favorably of both suits, and a ruling to throw out some or all of the 25,000 absentee ballots at issue would have given him fresh cause for optimism in his overtime battle with Bush for the presidency.
Democrats had sought to invalidate 15,000 absentee votes in Seminole County and 10,000 more in Martin County. Mr. Bush won the absentee balloting by 4,797 votes in Seminole and 2,815 votes in Martin.
The lawsuits were brought by Democratic voters who said that Republican elections officials in both counties had permitted GOP volunteers to add information that had been omitted from the absentee ballot applications.
Robert Harper, the lawyer in the Martin County case, announced within minutes of the ruling that he would appeal to the state Supreme Court.
There was no immediate word on whether the other case would also be appealed.


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