For this first time in six days of political and constitutional struggle, lawyers for Vice President Al Gore '69 and Texas Governor George W. Bush will argue the merits of manual recounts before a federal judge this morning.
Republican lawyers will ask Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks to issue an injunction barring a hand recount of every ballot cast in Palm Beach County, on the basis that such recounts are significantly prone to error, and that Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, would be deprived of their constitutional rights.
As of last night, the Associated Press reported that updated vote totals gave Bush a tiny margin of 288 out of nearly 6 million cast, or one half of one ten thousandth of one percent.
"I'm in agony of anticipation," said Erin Shelley, the secretary of the Harvard College Republicans.
Totals from four counties are still outstanding.
The Bush campaign alleges that hand recounts require human judgement and intuition, particularly when paper bits called "chad" aren't fully punched, or when two bits of chad have been punched for a single race.
They said that computer recounts are likely to make random errors, but that humans are likely to make errors of perspective and judgement, potentially skewing the results.
"I do think machines are a lot less biased than human begins," Shelley said.