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Florida Legislature calls special session to name presidential electors

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Seeking to ensure the integrity of Florida's 25 votes in the Electoral College, the state's Republican-controlled Legislature announced Wednesday it will convene a special session at the end of the week to consider appointing the state's presidential electors.

Feeney
Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney speaks to the press Wednesday. Behind him is state Senate President John McKay.  

"We're protecting Florida's 25 electoral votes and its 6 million voters," Senate President John McKay told reporters Wednesday. The session is set to convene Friday.

Both McKay and state House Speaker Tom Feeney said they hoped legislation establishing a slate of electors would be unnecessary, particularly if Florida's Supreme Court resolves the contested presidential race between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

"The action taken today is done so with considerable reluctance on my part, due to the potential far-reaching effects of any actions," McKay said. "What we will do may impact the course of our country, and that is why I've approached the Legislature's role in this matter in a cautious and thoughtful manner."

GOP supporters of the move say it will guarantee that Florida is represented when the Electoral College meets December 18, should court challenges not be resolved by then. Republicans hold a 77-43 majority in the House and a 25-15 advantage in the Senate.

Badly outnumbered, Florida Democrats moved quickly to criticize the leadership's actions. House Minority Leader Lois Frankel accused McKay and Feeney of working in tandem with the Bush campaign's operations in the Sunshine State.

Frankel
Florida state House Minority Leader Lois Frankel  

"I have to say that I believe this is orchestrated, and the only thing missing from the proclamation today was the postmark from Austin, Texas," Frankel said.

Democrats also have argued that the special session could trigger a constitutional crisis if Gore is granted his request for manual recounts by the state Supreme Court and wins the election. That would leave Florida with competing groups of electors, they said.

Florida's legislative rules do not permit the minority party to filibuster in an effort to block a vote during a special session.

"It's inappropriate and it's unnecessary and it's unfair," said Frankel. "We're circumventing the will of 6 million voters."


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Wednesday, December 6, 2000

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