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South Florida law firms are at ground zero in the fight for the presidency. Greenberg Traurig partner Barry Richard of Tallahassee is representing the Republicans in the election, in which every Florida vote was being re-counted Wednesday to determine who would become the next U.S. president. The GOP’s choice of Greenberg is ironic, given the firm’s strong Democratic Party ties. Partner Marvin Rosen, once a mainstay in Miami and now in its New York office, is former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee and an important Bill Clinton fund-raiser. A spokesman for the firm confirmed Richard’s participation but declined to elaborate. Meanwhile, Holland & Knight, one of the largest law firms in the state, was considering leading the legal effort on behalf of the Al Gore camp. Martha Barnett, a partner who is president of the American Bar Association, said the firm had been asked to represent the Gore interests. But according to Karen Schoening, Holland’s public relations coordinator, the firm decided Thursday not to accept the offer. At the West Palm Beach office of Lytal & Reiter, attorneys Wednesday began to feverishly collect affidavits from voters, who because of a confusing ballot, may have inadvertently voted for Pat Buchanan while intending to vote for Gore, the Democratic nominee. Among the possibilities under discussion, said Mark Clark, the Lytal partner in charge of the effort, is to file a challenge with the county election canvassing board or to file a suit seeking to invalidate the election in Palm Beach County and conduct it again. In Palm Beach County, some 2,630 individuals voted for Buchanan, second only to Volusia County in the state, where the conservative candidate tallied about 3,332 votes, according to USA Today. With George W. Bush’s margin over Gore hovering just below 2,000 votes Wednesday afternoon, the county’s possibly confused electorate could hold the key to the election. [Editors note: As of 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST on Thursday, some media reports had Bush's margin over Gore just below 800 votes.] Also in Palm Beach County, attorneys say at least one box of possibly uncounted ballots reportedly was found in an elementary school building in Northboro Elementary School in West Palm Beach. “People are coming out of the woodwork with their frustration and concern. We’ve had school teachers who have signed letters that they voted wrong and were confused,” Clark said, noting that the confusion spread among all age and ethnic groups. Pollworkers confirmed the confusion, he said. “If we wait too long, it will be too late,” said Todd Stewart, partner with Slawson Cunningham Whalen & Stewart and a Democratic activist, saying that 52 people in Century Village, a Democratic stronghold, voted for Buchanan, no doubt by mistake. Referring to a Florida statute that specifies the way ballots must be designed, he said, “Clearly, the Palm Beach ballot violated that statute.” Law.com staff updated this report.

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