Skip to main content
ad info

 
Greta@LAW
CNN.com  law center > news
trials and cases
open forum
law library
CNN.com EUROPE:

Editions|myCNN|Video|Audio|News Brief|Free E-mail|Feedback  
 

Search


Search tips
LAW
TOP STORIES

Prosecutor says witnesses saw rap star shoot gun in club

Embassy bombing defendants' confessions admissible, says U.S. Judge

KFC takes couple to court over chicken recipe

Discovery of bones may close O'Hair disappearance case

US, pyramid scheme firm reach $2.5 million settlement

Excerpt: John Grisham's 'A Painted House'

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Indian PM criticises slow quake aid

Judge reorders Pinochet arrest

Davos outlines healthcare revolution

BSE scare threatens EU budget

(MORE)

 MARKETS    1613 GMT, 12/28
5217.4
-25.00
5160.1
+42.97
4624.58
+33.42

 
SPORTS

(MORE)

 All Scoreboards
WEATHER
European Forecast

 Or choose another Region:
EUROPE

WORLD

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

  IN OTHER NEWS

U.S.

HEALTH

TRAVEL



(MORE HEADLINES)
EDITIONS:
CNN.com U.S.:
*

LOCAL LANGUAGES:


MULTIMEDIA:

CNN WEB SITES:

CNN NETWORKS:
CNN International

TIME INC. SITES:

SITE INFO:

WEB SERVICES:
find law dictionary
 

Democrats lose bid to throw out 25,000 absentee ballots in Florida election

Judges Nikki Clark, left, and Terry Lewis
Judges Nikki Clark, left, and Terry Lewis presided over the absentee ballots lawsuits in Seminole County and Martin County respectively  

In this story:

Reaction from Jacobs

Reaction from the Bush team

Background of the cases

RELATED STORIES, SITES



TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Saying that the sanctity of the election was left intact despite "irregularities" with the way ballot applications were handled, two Florida judges on Friday refused to throw out 25,000 absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin counties.

A joint ruling in two separately argued cases were issued together Friday afternoon. Leon County Circuit Judge Nikki Clark heard the Seminole County case, where some 15,000 absentee ballots were at issue. Another Leon County judge, Terry Lewis, heard the Martin County case, which involved the legality of some 10,000 absentee ballots.

graphic  COURT ORDERS
Order upholding absentee ballots in Seminole County, Florida
Order upholding absentee ballots in Martin County, Florida

(requires Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™)

graphic  VIDEO
Court administrator Terre Cass reads ruling in the Florida absentee ballot cases (December 8)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

The Boardman case on the will of the voter is the guiding principal in absentee ballot cases. CNN's Charles Bierbauer explains (December 7)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)
graphic  TRANSCRIPT
Emory Law School's Robert Schapiro answers questions on Seminole County and Martin County cases
Attorney Gary Farmer: Martin County Florida absentee ballot trial
graphic  DOCUMENTS
Notice of Appeal in Martin County lawsuit (FindLaw)
Documents in Jacobs v. Seminole County Canvassing Board
(requires Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™)

  LEGAL RESOURCES
  FindLaw Supreme Court Center
  • Court History
  • The Justices
  • Landmark Decisions


FindLaw opinion database:
Supreme Court opinions from 1893-2002

Search by party:
Search by full-text:

Despite irregularities in the process for filing applications to receive absentee ballots, "neither the sanctity of the ballots nor the integrity of the election has been compromised," the judges wrote.

Republican George W. Bush won the absentee vote in both counties -- by 10,006 votes in Seminole and 6,294 votes in Martin.

Democrat Al Gore received 5,000 votes in Seminole and 3,479 in Martin.

Bush has been certified the winner in Florida by 537 votes.

The Friday rulings represent a defeat for Gore, who would have overtaken Bush's slim lead if the judges had ruled for Seminole County Democrat Harry Jacobs and Martin County Democrat Ronald Taylor.

Gore was not directly involved in the lawsuits.

Reaction from Jacobs

Jacobs' attorney, Gerald Richman, expressed confidence that Jacobs would win the appeal, which Richman filed shortly after Clark and Lewis publicly announced their joint ruling.

He said he did not agree that the election was not tainted because there was a legal problem with the way 15,000 voters got absentee ballots.

"Ultimately, the (state) Supreme Court will be the decider of this issue," he said. "We think on the facts of the record in this case we have a reasonable chance of winning."

Referring to Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Sandra Goard's decision to allow GOP workers to add missing voter registration numbers to ballot applications, Richman said Clark found that Goard's decision was "faulty judgment."

"We believe very strongly that what occurred in this case was intentional, knowing wrongdoing because both the Republican Party and the supervisor of elections knew exactly what they were doing," Richman said.

"How can you have ... an absentee ballot if the process of getting it was in violation of the law?" Richman said.

Reaction from the Bush team

Bush attorney Barry Richard said the Democratic side did not prove its case and the judges ruled correctly.

"The judges found properly that these were hypertechnical violations of the statutes and ... that they did not in any way interfere with the will of the people," Richard said. "The law of this state is hypertechnical violations of the statutes do not warrant invalidating ballots."

He also said the Democrats do not have sufficient grounds for winning appeals.

"There was no evidence presented at the trial that would warrant overturning" the decisions, he said.

Another Bush lawyer, Daryl Bristow, said Clark essentially agreed that minor violations of the law did not deserve throwing out thousands of ballots.

"I believe in legal language what she said is what we have said all along," he said. "This is a very fine moment."

He also said Jacobs' case was "absolutely bogus."

Background of the cases

Terre Cass
Florida Circuit Court Spokeswoman Terre Cass announces the joint ruling  

Jacobs v. Seminole County Canvassing Board and Taylor v. Martin County Canvassing Board involved similar allegations.

They alleged that thousands of absentee voters sent in incomplete applications to receive the ballots from election officials.

After initially rejecting the applications for lacking the voter registration numbers as required by Florida law, Goard and Martin County elections supervisor Peggy Robbins illegally allowed Republican Party workers to include the registration numbers, according to the lawsuits.

Under Florida law, only voters, their legal guardians or immediate family members may request ballot applications, according to the lawsuits.

By allowing GOP workers to amend the applications, Goard and Robbins allowed absentee voters to cast their ballots when they should have been barred from doing so, the lawsuits allege.

The Florida Democratic Party was denied the chance to amend the ballot applications, the lawsuits allege.



RELATED STORIES:
Judges hear oral arguments in Florida absentee-ballot applications cases
December 7, 2000
Court watchers disagree on how judges hearing absentee-vote lawsuits would rule
December 6, 2000
Election battle returns to Florida Supreme Court
December 5, 2000
Bush attorneys argue against manual recounts before federal judges in Atlanta
December 5, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Florida State Courts
Florida Southern District Court
Electoral College
Volusia County government
Palm Beach County government


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 Search


Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.