TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ralph Nader (search) is again off Florida's presidential ballot, at least for now.
Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey on Wednesday ordered that Nader's name be removed from the November ballot, finding that the Reform Party — which nominated Nader — isn't a legitimate party under state law. Davey also ordered that four counties that have already mailed absentee ballots listing Nader send out amended ballots without his name.
Davey had issued a temporary order last week keeping the consumer advocate off the ballot, but his ruling was suspended on Monday after Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood filed an appeal. Davey's ruling on Wednesday reinstates his original decision.
The state Supreme Court has scheduled a Friday hearing on the appeal.
The state Democratic Party is suing to keep Nader off the ballot because, it argues, 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 Kerry.
Most Democrats and many Republicans agree that Nader's presence on the 2000 ballot as the Green Party candidate cost Al Gore the presidency. President Bush won Florida by 537 votes after a recount, giving him the White House.
Hood, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, has said she is fighting Davey's orders "as an honest broker" to protect Florida's elections process by including Nader. She said elections supervisors are "under the gun" because they have to mail absentee ballots by Saturday and first need to get them printed.
A federal judge refused to intercede in the case Tuesday.