CHICAGO, OCT. 22 -- A U.S. Supreme Court justice today halted printing and distribution of ballots for the Nov. 6 local elections, saying the full court should hear a dispute over third-party candidates.

The ballots being prepared didn't have the names of candidates from the Harold Washington Party, named for the city's late black mayor and representing some blacks disenchanted with the Democratic party. The party sought to put 19 candidates on the ballot for county offices.

Justice John Paul Stevens stayed an Illinois Supreme Court order that knocked Harold Washington candidates off the ballot in Cook County, which incorporates the city of Chicago and some suburban districts. He also barred distribution of ballots until the full court considers the case.

His order left elections officials questioning whether ballots could be ready in time for the election in two weeks if the court eventually rules in favor of the party.

"Our people tell us if they have to start from scratch doing the ballot it would be impossible to hold the election on Nov. 6," said Tom Leach, a board of elections spokesman.

Election officials said they have to stop delivery of voting equipment and suspend absentee voting, which officially began today.

"We ain't running this election anymore," said Cook County Clerk Stanley Kusper. "The Supreme Court of the United States is running it, and all we can do is wait until they tell us what to do."