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Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris

Supreme Court of Florida
772 So.2d 1220 (2000)


Facts

The Florida Division of Elections reported that George W. Bush narrowly won the general election in Florida for the president of the United States over Albert Gore, Jr. (plaintiff) on November 8, 2000, by approximately 2,000 votes. An automatic recount was triggered and narrowed the gap even further. The Florida Democratic Party (plaintiff) requested a manual recount in three counties the following day. The Florida Division of Elections determined that state law required all votes to be received by November 14, 2000, and that any returns received after that date would be ignored. Two of the counties, Volusia County and Palm Beach County (plaintiffs), sued Katherine Harris (defendant), the secretary of the Florida Division of Elections, seeking an injunction to prohibit Harris from ignoring returns submitted after November 14, 2000. The trial court determined that the deadline was mandatory but that the secretary had the discretion to accept returns that were submitted late. Harris refused to accept the late returns, and Gore and the Florida Democratic Party sued Harris to compel the acceptance of the returns. The trial court ruled in favor of Harris, and the Supreme Court of Florida accepted an expedited appeal.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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