TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — As President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden pull out all the stops to capture Florida’s 29 electoral votes, courts in the state capital are preparing for what could be a judicial tangle over the outcome of Tuesday’s election.
Recent polls show the Republican president and Biden neck-and-neck in Florida, with more than 7.8 million of the state’s 14.4 million registered voters already casting ballots as of Friday morning.
Second Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom, whose circuit includes Tallahassee, has issued an administrative order assigning election-related cases to certain judges. Under Sjostrom’s Oct. 15 order, Judge John Cooper will be assigned the first election-related legal challenge, and Judges Angela Dempsey and Charles Dodson — who also are assigned to the circuit’s civil division — will handle subsequent cases.
If more than six elections-related cases are filed, three other judges will be temporarily assigned to the civil division, according to Sjostrom’s order.
“Nothing in this order prohibits the chief judge from taking other appropriate action for reasons of judicial economy and efficiency,” Sjostrom’s order said.
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The Leon County courthouse, across the street from the state Capitol, was in the spotlight two decades ago, when the 2000 contest between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore resulted in a protracted recount.
Bush’s 537-vote advantage in Florida boosted him into the White House.
Trump has repeatedly said he wants the results of Tuesday’s election to be finalized on Election Day, despite laws in Florida and other states that give elections officials and canvassing boards more time to count mail-in ballots and provisional ballots.
Trump has also said the U.S. Supreme Court might play a major role in deciding the outcome of the presidential race and rushed to get Justice Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the nation’s high court this month.
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