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Nader back on ballot in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Ralph Nader can stay on Florida's ballot, at least until the end of the week, when the state Supreme Court will make a final decision on his attempt to run for president as the Reform Party nominee.

The high court made that decision yesterday, about an hour after Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey ordered that Nader be removed from the November ballot because the Reform Party is not a legitimate party under state law.

The court will hear arguments on the issue tomorrow, and said it would settle the controversy before a deadline Saturday for mailing absentee ballots overseas.

"We're on the ballot, just not going anywhere," said Theresa Amato, Nader's campaign manager.

Democrats have sued to keep Nader off the ballot, arguing that the Reform Party is no longer a legitimate national party and that Florida election laws requiring minor candidates to qualify by petition or through a nominating convention weren't followed.

The lawsuit is part of a national effort by Democrats to keep Nader off ballots in states where he could siphon votes from Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry.

Shawn O'Hara, national chairman of the Reform Party USA, blasted Davey's decision yesterday, calling him "an incompetent and corrupt judge who has denied us due process of law."

Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, who was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush, the president's brother, said she is opposing the Democrats' lawsuit "as an honest broker" to protect the state elections process by including Nader. She said elections supervisors are "under the gun" because absentee ballots need to be printed and mailed by Saturday.

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