BREAKING NEWS: Florida Judge Upholds 5 p.m. Deadline

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In a decision that stunned the Gore campaign, a Florida judge has upheld the legal statute which requires that the Secretary of State certify the votes for all counties in Florida effective 5 p.m. today.

All hand counts will be suspended immediately and polls are required to turn in votes this afternoon or they will not be counted in the general election.

A window of opportunity was left open for those who still hope that hand counting of ballots will be allowed. The judge's ruling states that preceincts with any pending manual recounts may file supplemental vote returns, and it will be at the discretion of the Secretary of State to accept or ignore such recounts.

The Secretary of State may not make such a determination arbitrarily but must apply the same decision to all precincts wishing to submit supplemental ballot counts. Secretary of State Katherine Harris has indicated that recounts will only be permitted if there is evidence of mechanical problems with the vote counts. The problems that have surfaced thusfar have not been mechanical problems.

The Gore campaign has announced it will file an immediate appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, which could address the matter as early as tomorrow.

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