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South Florida court officials say they’ve made no special preparations to handle emergent cases arising from today’s general elections. This, despite legions of lawyers on all sides of most electoral issues massed in the wings and prepared to bring any irregularities to the immediate attention of the state and federal courts. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have enlisted scores of volunteer attorneys to observe today’s polling. In court today, though, it will be business as usual. “The judges and I met quite a while ago and decided there’s nothing we should do except wait,” said Edward Fine, chief judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County, ground zero in the disputed 2000 election after the so-called butterfly ballot led thousands of voters who intended to vote for Al Gore to vote for conservative pundit Pat Buchanan. The court will allow election-related pleadings to be posted online, but other than that, Fine said, “we decided there really wasn’t anything we can do.” Court officials in Broward and Miami-Dade counties took similar positions. “Should anything be filed, it’s going to be handled in the way any other matter is handled,” said Broward Court Administrator Carol Lee Ortman in Fort Lauderdale. “We don’t have special people assigned … but we’ll be here, and should it come our way, we’ll be able to handle whatever it is.” The Miami-Dade Circuit Court also has no contingency plan in place, said Linda Kearson the court’s general counsel. “We will be prepared to deal with any eventuality, but I can’t say to you today that we have any particular plans in place.” Clarence Maddox, clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, said existing procedures will suffice in that venue as well. “If someone comes to the intake counter indicating they have an emergency matter and that it’s a new case, it will be sent immediately to a judge,” he said. “That’s what would happen under any circumstances.” In all, the courts appear to be playing the same sort of waiting game as voters in the contentious election. Said Judge Fine: “I’ve thought a lot about it. My fondest thought is that whatever happens, I hope it’s not in Palm Beach County.”

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