Mark Potter on the legal maneuvering in Florida
CNN Correspondent Mark Potter is in Tallahassee, monitoring the pitched legal battles.
Q: What's been the reaction from the Bush and Gore legal teams in Florida after Monday's ruling by Leon County Circuit Court Judge N. Sanders Sauls, who rejected Gore's request for a manual recount of thousands of contested ballots?
POTTER:The Democrats say that the best way they can look at this is that, even though they suffered a major defeat, at least they now have a decision from a circuit court, so they can take the case to the Florida Supreme Court, where Democrats wanted to take it all along.
Q: What's the attack plan for the Gore legal team at this point, and how great is the sense of urgency for them?
POTTER: The sense of urgency is very great because the clock is ticking toward December 12 (when states officially select their elector slates). Their hope is that the justices at the state Supreme Court will do what they wished Judge Sauls would have done, and that's actually look at the ballots themselves.
David Boies, the attorney for Vice President Al Gore, says that's the one thing Judge Sauls failed to do -- look at the ballots, see the ballots, feel the ballots and better understand their claim that if these ballots are counted by hand, many votes that were rejected by machine would be found to be legitimate votes.
Q: Is there a near end to all the legal wrangling?
POTTER: It feels like the cases are winding down. Most everything is now coming to the Florida Supreme Court and their timetable could very well determine the outcome of this election. There is a sense that this matter is winding down. We don't know exactly when that could happen, but it is getting close.
Q: What's at issue in the so-called sleeper cases in Martin and Seminole counties?
POTTER: Those lawsuits ask that as many as 25,000 absentee ballots be thrown out in Seminole and Martin Counties because of alleged irregularities by election officials and Republican Party officials in the handling of absentee ballot applications. The Republicans and other defendants say those lawsuits are ridiculous, that the election supervisors and party members did nothing wrong and the cases should be dismissed.
Q: Why are the Republicans tracking those cases so closely?
POTTER: If all those absentee ballots -- and that is a big IF right now -- it could have the effect of changing the outcome of the election. George W. Bush would lose the election by as many as 8,000 votes if all those absentee ballots were tossed out. That's why the Republicans are tracking this so closely and fighting it so hard.