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The BBC's Washington Correspondent, Philippa Thomas
"A blow for George W Bush"
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Republican presidential candidate, George W Bush
"The court re-wrote the law"
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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 15:34 GMT
Cheney ill as poll battle rages
Dick Cheney kept up a punishing schedule
Dick Cheney has kept up a punishing schedule
Further twists are emerging in the drama-filled US presidential election, while Dick Cheney, Republican candidate for vice-president, has been rushed to hospital after suffering chest pains.

Mr Cheney, 59, who has a history of heart disease, was later said to be resting comfortably in hospital in Washington DC.

Cheney and Bush
Concerns were raised when Mr Cheney was named as running mate
Adding to the confusion over the disputed ballots in Florida, Miami-Dade, one of three counties which are recounting votes by hand, announced it was suspending the recount.

The decision followed a ruling by Florida's Supreme Court, in favour of Democrat Al Gore, that hand recounts from the three counties must be included in Florida's final tally.

The court unanimously accepted Democrat arguments that the right of people to have their votes considered should be paramount.

The result left the Republicans furious and considering their next move.

Click here to see a US electoral timetable

Amid the uncertainty over the disputed ballots, Mr Cheney was said to have suffered pains in his chest and shoulder before being taken to hospital.

A Palm Beach county card punched for Al Gore
A Palm Beach county card punched for Al Gore
Ari Fleischer, a senior adviser to Republican presidential candidate George W Bush, said Mr Cheney had undergone tests and was resting "calm and comfortably" in hospital.

Concerns over Mr Cheney's history of heart disease were raised when Mr Bush named him as his running mate.

He has suffered three heart attacks and underwent bypass surgery in 1988.

Republican anger

Election board officials in Miami-Dade said on Wednesday that they had decided to suspend the hand recount because it would be impossible for them to complete a hand recount of the county's 700,000 votes by Sunday - the day on which the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that all ballots must be submitted.

State of the recounts
Miami Dade
140 of 614 precincts recounted - count suspended
Gore gain - 157 votes
All 609 precincts recounted
Gore gain - 106 votes
Another 38,000 absentee and 2,000 disputed ballots remain to be counted
Palm Beach
103 of 531 precincts recounted
Gore gain - three votes
Results awaited on another 384 precincts already recounted

The only ballots which would be included in an amended tally would be some 10,750 that could not be read by a machine, they said.

The decision drew sharp criticism from the Republicans.

Mr Fleischer said: "This is an attempt by a board without a Republican to pull out the election for Al Gore.

"Al Gore controls the referees and the referees give Al Gore all the calls. We're not going to stand by."

For the Gore campaign, spokesman Chris Lehane said the election board appeared to be trying to count as many questionable votes as possible before the deadline.

Miami-Dade's early recount results showed Mr Gore gaining 157 votes in the precincts that had been counted.

With Mr Bush leading by just 930 votes in Florida - the state which holds the key to the presidency - every vote gained is crucial for Mr Gore, and could still put him in with a chance of securing the White House.

Officials in Broward County have been able to make faster progress, and have completed the counting in all 609 precincts.

And in Palm Beach County, workers had recounted all but 102,000 of the 462,350 ballots cast.

At stake are Florida's 25 electoral college votes which will take either candidate past the finishing line in the race for the White House. Nationally, the result was so close that neither man can win without Florida.

  • 1700 (2200 GMT) 26 Nov: Supreme Court deadline for counties to submit amended vote counts
  • 0900 (1400 GMT) 27 Nov: Extended deadline if election offices closed on previous day
  • 6 Dec: Deadline for New Mexico recount
  • Early Dec deadline for Oregon recount

  • 12 Dec: Deadline for Florida to certify its votes. Electoral college votes with or without Florida
  • 18 Dec: Electoral college meets in each state. Man with most votes is president

  • 6 Jan: Congress counts electoral college votes. If no winner, House of Representatives chooses president and Senate vice-president
  • 20 Jan: Inauguration Day. If no president chosen, House speaker is acting president

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | Americas
Dick Cheney - Bush's elder statesman
22 Nov 00 | Americas
Senate race hots up
22 Nov 00 | Americas
Focus moves to dimpled ballots
22 Nov 00 | Americas
Bush fury over recount verdict
22 Nov 00 | Americas
Q and A: Dimples and hand counts
22 Nov 00 | Americas
Political poker in Florida
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