Some Gore supporters accuse Harris, a Republican and Bush campaign worker, of partisan motives. Republicans argue that she was right to try to stick to the Nov. 14 deadline set by state law.

A less-than-decisive ruling also could provide impetus for finding a political solution, such as the GOP-led Florida Legislature naming its own slate of Bush electors, Mann said. ``That's kind of risky,'' he said. ``I can't image a Bush presidency recovering from that kind of chicanery.''

Richard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan who follows Supreme Court issues, said he's certain Florida will be able to certify its electors in the normal fashion well before the Electoral College meets.

``My anticipation is that things are now going to come to a head quite quickly,'' Friedman said. ``I don't think this suit is going to go anywhere higher.''

Would Bush appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if the state court rules against him?

``That's a judgment that has to be made after you know precisely what it is that the court renders,'' said Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, a lawyer and Bush adviser.

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