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Bush asks 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the recount

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Lawyers for Texas Gov. George W. Bush have asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to halt all Florida ballot recounts until the U.S. Supreme Court can hear the case, arguing that manually counting the ballots will cause the Republican presidential nominee "irreparable injury."

Their claims are outlined in papers, filed late Friday night, that were released Saturday.

On Wednesday, the federal appeals court had denied a similar Bush appeal that claimed he would be irreparably harmed if a hand recount proceeded because Bush already had been certified as the winner in Florida.

But the Florida Supreme Court decision Friday reopened the question of certification, the Bush lawyers argue. That decision ordered all counties with so-called undervotes to count them by hand if they had not yet done so. An undervote is a ballot on which no vote for president was detected by counting machines.

There are at least 42,858 undervotes in the Florida election. After Friday's state high court ruling, Bush holds an unofficial lead of 193 votes over his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore. Whoever wins Florida's 25 electoral votes would win the presidency.

In the appeals court filing, Bush attorney Ted Olson argues: "Simply put, there has been a sudden and dramatic change in the core factual assumptions underlying the court's opinion, and plaintiff's irreparable injury is more immediate and palpable than ever."

Kendall Coffey, a lawyer for the Florida Democratic Party, described the Bush filing as an "increasingly desperate bid to deprive voters of the right to have their votes counted."

There was no immediate indication whether the court would agree to hear the Bush petition. Only two of the 12 judges were at the court in Atlanta Saturday, but it often handles business by conference calls. The U.S. Supreme Court justice who oversees the 11th Circuit is Justice Anthony Kennedy.


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Saturday, December 9, 2000

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