Associated Press
November 17, 2000

Text of Judge Terry Lewis' Decision

Text of decision Friday by Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis denying a motion to force Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to accept hand counted presidential votes tallied after the state's Nov. 14 deadline:

"The limited issue before me on this motion is whether the Secretary of State has violated my order of November 14, 2000. The Plaintiffs assert that she has acted arbitrarily in deciding to ignore amended returns from counties conducting manual recounts. I disagree.

As noted in my previous order, Florida law grants to the Secretary, as the chief elections officer, broad discretionary authority to accept or reject late filed returns. The purpose and intent of my order was to ensure that she in fact properly exercised her discretion rather than automatically reject returns that came in after the statutory deadline.

On the limited evidence presented it appears that the Secretary has exercised her reasoned judgment to determine what relevant factors and criteria should be considered, applied them to the facts and circumstances pertinent to the individual counties involved and made her decision. My order requires nothing more.

Accordingly, it is ordered and adjudged that the motion is hereby denied."

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