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Florida's Secretary of State Certifies Vote, but May Accept Amended Counts

Aired November 14, 2000 - 6:50 p.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bernard Shaw in Washington. The world is watching, the world is waiting for what's going to happen in the Recount 2000 in the race for the White House in the United States. We are standing by for a live news conference by Katherine Harris. She is the Florida secretary of state. At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time all of Florida 67 counties were to have reported to Tallahassee with their recount results.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is standing by in Tallahassee and we are going to switch to her to be brought up to date on the latest as the countdown continues. We await the secretary of state's news conference -- Deborah.

Correspondent Deborah Feyerick can you hear me, Debbie.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here waiting for a press conference from the secretary of state Katherine Harris. She came out earlier -- I'm sorry, an attorney for her came out just a little while ago, about an hour and a half ago, sort of, to update people. They said that they were very pleased with the judge's ruling. They said that they were not surprised by the judge's ruling.

Now what we heard today from the judge is that he said that he would not extend this 5:00 deadline. He said that he felt that it was within the statute to uphold the 5:00 p.m. deadline. But what he said is that the secretary of state has a lot more discretion than she is maintaining that she does have. And he said that counties could file supplemental or additional vote counts at a later date and that those would have to be evaluated by the secretary of state. Once she takes into consideration when recounts began, how they were filed, when the request was put in.

And so, he really said it is her obligation, that it would be an abdication of responsibility for her not to count these additional votes after they come in. He did not touch on the absentee ballots in the sense that we thought that he might yesterday, which was to say he was very curious as to why certify today and then why certify tomorrow.

Now, we also heard from representatives from Vice President Al Gore, Warren Christopher, also saying that they were effectively pleased with the decision. That, in fact, it showed that the additional votes or extra recounts could be counted at a later date. However, after he said this, we did learn that Volusia County is appealing the judge's ruling and of course the Gore folks are involved in that lawsuit as well.

So, right now, we're waiting for a press conference from secretary of state Katherine Harris. She has really come under a lot of fire because of everything that's been going on here. She said that she's not been involved in sort of partisan politics, but, however, she was co-chairwoman of the presidential campaign for Governor Bush here. So Democrats are having sort of a time believing that.

And of course, we'll have that press conference as soon as it happens. Reporting from Tallahassee, Deborah Feyerick, back to you.

SHAW: Thank you Deborah, we'll come back to you when it begins.

Now, let's go south, down Florida's east coast and check in with Martin Savidge in West Palm Beach, Florida.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening to you, Bernie. In the political roller coaster ride that was Florida today, the people and the officials here in Palm Beach County believe that they were riding in the front car and they certainly believe that that ride is not over yet.

It started off this morning at 7:00 a.m. when everyone thought that the recount by hand of all of the ballots here in this particular county was going to be conducted. However, even before that, the secretary of state of Florida said, no, you cannot conduct a recount by hand because that would be illegal because there were no problems with the voting machinery, that's what would constitute the reason for a ballot recount by hand. Then came the attorney general for the state of Florida that said, no, that's not correct. You can go ahead and count the votes by hand.

Well, the canvas elections board had enough. They almost threw up their arms in frustration and they said, all right, we are suspending the vote count by hand today. They sent all 50 election workers back home and they said we're probably going to have to appeal this all the way to the Florida supreme court, which is, in fact, something they are doing to try to figure out who is right here. Is it the secretary of state? Is the attorney general?

In the meantime, though, then comes the deadline of 5:00 p.m. At exactly 30 minutes before that deadline came out, there, or, actually, behind me, here, in a parking lot in a publicly held meeting, three members of the canvas board voted to certify the vote that they had at this point. Now that is taking into account the partial recount that was conducted on Saturday as well as the total recount of the county that was conducted by machine on the same day. Those results were released early Sunday morning. That's what went off to Tallahassee.

Fine, they said, that's done. Now we move on. Do we go ahead with the hand recount? They took a vote after some contentious debate and finally said, yes, we will. We'll do it again, 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. They will all come back and start counting by hand, a process they say that could take as long as week. Some people think they're being pretty optimistic with that. And then they will turn in the results, and they hope the secretary of state will abide by them. In fact, they believe she has to abide by them. And if she does not, they're also talking about, you guessed it, more legal action -- Bernie.

SHAW: Marty, on the recount, which, as you indicate, will take days, any estimate on the part of the professional election officials as to the general outcome of such a recount?

SAVIDGE: Well, when you say professional elections of people, the members of the elections canvassing board, especially Carol Roberts who has been one of the most outspoken -- she is also a Democrat -- she was extrapolating on Saturday night, saying that we had found a number of votes here that had not been counted before, extrapolating, saying if we take in all of the 540-plus precincts in this particular county, which is one of the largest in the state of Florida, you're talking about 19,000 votes that apparently can be brought into the count. Now she will tell you that that's 19,000 votes that could either go to Vice President Al Gore or it could go George W. Bush. But, being a Democrat, you quite honestly have to believe that she's hoping the vast majority of those could be found for Vice President Albert Gore. So, that's the projections they are throwing out. Some people find those to be rather hard to be believed.

But the numbers in this particular county did go up by several hundred votes, I believe it was over 700 votes from what they totaled up Election Night versus the results that they are turning in now and those votes went in favor, for most part, of Albert Gore.

SHAW: Martin Savidge, with the very latest, from West Palm Beach, Florida, thanks very much. We are standing by for a live news conference to be held by Katherine Harris. She's the Florida secretary of state.

Also watching this with intense interest along with you, Texas Governor George Walker Bush in Austin. CNN's Candy Crowley is there. We are going to check in with her shortly. And also, here in Washington, Vice President Al Gore and his supporters watching what's happening in the Sunshine State. We're going to check in with our senior White House correspondent John King.

Our live coverage continues. The recount, 2000, the recount in Florida.


SHAW: Three minutes past 7:00 Eastern time in the United States. Americans watching and waiting to see what the latest development will be out of Florida -- the world watching and waiting. This is Tallahassee, Florida the capitol of the sunshine state. This is the newsroom -- or the room, where we're anticipating the arrival of Florida's secretary of state, Katherine Harris. Apparently, all Florida's 67 counties have reported in and, apparently, the votes are being tallied. Watching the waiters: in Austin, Texas, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley; and here in Washington watching the Al Gore camp, senior White House correspondent John King.

Candy, first to you.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Like all rest of America, the camp in Austin here is watching what is going on in Florida. What they do believe is that, while time maybe infinite, public patience is not. What they expect to happen here today is for the secretary of state of Florida to come out and announce that the tally that she has shows George Bush to be the winner in Florida.

The Bush camp believes every time you hear those words that this is something more in there favor, that they can then argue that there has been an unofficial count, there has been a recount, now there is this official tally. They believe that once though absentee ballots come in Friday, midnight; once they are counted on Saturday and there is, again, another tally, that it will, again, favor George Bush and then the pressure becomes very intense on Al Gore, they believe, to bow out.

So right now they are watching the clock and watching Florida at the same time -- Bernie.

SHAW: Candy, please stand by for a moment.

John, what's the thinking in the Gore camp here in Washington?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Gore camp, as Candy said, concerned about public opinion, as is the Bush camp. Their line will be that this is not the last count; therefore the American people should not consider this the final count.

Their argument will be that the recounts are continuing in Palm Beach County and in other Florida counties. And their argument will be, look at Volusia county, which conducted a hand recount, finished it today, the vice president had a net gain of about 98 votes. That leaves the statewide tally somewhere in the area of 300 votes out of nearly 6 million cast.

Governor Bush with a slight lead; the Gore campaign will say, to be fair to vice president we must complete the recount process. They will say they hope that is finished within the next several days, but they are a bit concerned that the more the American people hear an official in the state of Florida saying Governor Bush has won that the public across the country will grow tired of this and want an end to this.

That's why they're playing political hardball, raising questions about the political motivations of the secretary of state, a Republican, asking why she would rush to certify the results when she knows several counties are still hand counting the ballots.

SHAW: John, you just anticipated my next subject area. Candy and John, tell us about Katherine Harris, secretary of state of Florida. How is she viewed by your respective camps. John, you just gave us a taste of the Gore attitude; Candy, how is she viewed there?

CROWLEY: Well, obviously this is a Bush ally, and there is no mistaking that, as she did campaign for him in New Hampshire and also in Florida. But what they say here is, look, this is woman doing her official job as secretary of state in Florida. They also sharply disagree with how the Gore camp is interpreting the judge's order that allowed the 5:00 p.m. deadline to stand today, but said that Harris should not arbitrarily use her power not to look at the votes that come in after this 5:00 p.m. deadline.

What Bush catch says is, look, this is not this giant loophole that the Gore camp is portraying. They believe the Gore camp is trying to publicly shove her into having to accept those votes as final. What they say is there are many reasons that she could say, this is why we don't count votes the votes, they're very late, there were no uniform standard for these hand recounts; it doesn't take into account that other votes in other places were not measured this way.

All this talk about, you know, pregnant chads and hanging chads -- and there argument is that this is a very flawed process in, again, very heavily Democratic places. So they say there are very good reasons and that, they say, legally, unless they can prove that, somehow the secretary of state has acted irrational or, in some way, has flaunted specific law, that there is no reason to believe that she would have to accept these ballots.

Now I will say that they have also gone to the 11th circuit court of appeals and filed papers there for an appeal on the injunction that they lost yesterday in federal court when they asked that the hand ballots be stopped. They lost that one, but they have taken it to the appeals court. Now, if that should be aired and that appeals court says, look, you know, there are no uniform standards for these, this isn't fair to other voters whose votes why not scrutinized in same way.

This, obviously, hands the secretary of state a very powerful argument when she looks at these hand ballots as they come in late. So they do not believe that the Gore camp is right in its interpretation of the original order about 5:00 p.m. deadline. And they do believe, in fact, that what the Gore camp is trying to do is push her into the position where it looks as though she must accept those hand ballots; and they very much differ on that here in Austin.

SHAW: John King, given what Candy has just said, in a very detailed manner, is it the essential gut instinct on the part of Al Gore camp, including the vice president himself, obviously, that because Katherine Harris is a Republican, therefore she is untrustworthy. To be very blunt, is that the attitude of the Gore camp?

KING: Not so much that she's untrustworthy, but they believe they can make the case as long as they can keep the focus on the recount; that this recount is allowed under Florida state law, that this judge today said that could not order her to extend the deadline, but that he would not understand it if she would not accept amended results from the counties.

They believe, if they can keep it on that -- a basic issue of fairness, in their view -- and then make the case, since she cannot certify the overseas absentee ballots until Friday, that is the state deadline, why would she want to certify the election results now on a Tuesday when there are still hand recounts underway. They believe that offers them a fairness argument; and if she goes ahead, as they fully expect her to do within the next few minutes, then they come out of the box saying, she's a close friend of Governor Jeb Bush, campaign for Governor George Bush, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and is a partisan Republican in their view.

Now that, they hope, sustains them long enough -- the political argument about this -- so that we will see results when Palm Beach resumes at 7:00 tomorrow -- see additional results that these hand recounts are narrowing the gap. If we don't see a change in the numbers, obviously the steam comes out of the Gore campaign argument.

And again, and we'd hate to confuse our viewers, but the flip side of what Candy said -- the Gore take on the Bush campaign appealing in federal court again is that they're nervous. That they believe that the Palm Beach recount -- since Volusia gave the vice president the net gain of 98 votes, now you count in the larger county, Palm Beach County -- that the Bush campaign is worried the vice president indeed will narrow the gap and they're trying to get a federal court to order the state to shut down these recounts.

SHAW: John King and Candy Crowley in Austin, Texas. John here in Washington. If you're just joining CNN's live coverage, wherever you are in the United States and around the world, this is what is happening.

In Tallahassee, Florida, this room is very key at the moment. To bring you up to date, Florida's secretary of state is compiling a tally of the state's presidential votes after all 67 counties apparently met a deadline to turn in results from their recounts. Earlier today, a state court judge refused to extend that deadline but he said the secretary of state must not arbitrarily reject any updated results that are reported after deadline.

Now, the most disputed Florida county, Palm Beach, has decided to resume a hand recount of votes tomorrow morning. Officials there say the manual recount will continue unless and until it is stopped by court order. CNN standing by for the live news conference by Secretary of State Katherine Harris. We will be back in a moment.


SHAW: Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who is she? She will be appearing in this room in Tallahassee very shortly. She is a Republican elected to her position in 1998. She co-chaired the George W. Bush Florida campaign. Yes, she is a member of the electoral college. And there's speculation that possibly she might run for the Senate after the year 2002.

Joining us now, our senior analyst Bill Schneider.

Bill, the world is watching and waiting, certainly as are the American people. How deep is the patience of the people of the United States of America?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the people are being remarkably patient so far. They're not shouting in exasperation. They're not upset. They don't think is a big problem. They're willing to wait for fair and accurate count. The patience not limitless. It's not infinite. When "The Washington Post" poll asked people, do you think that if the candidates have a Florida recount and it's announced, and they think it's unfair, should they take it to court? The people said, no, they should accept the recount of the Florida votes as fair and not take this thing to court. So they want closure at some point but they're not itching jumping around waiting for an answer. They'll give it a another week or two.

SHAW: Anticipating the next question, when do you think the American people will begin to place blame?

SCHNEIDER: So far, they think the candidates are handling it all right. They're obviously playing for political advantage. There's a lot a maneuvering going on. But people say they'd be willing -- they want an answer within the month. That's's what people say. If it stretches out beyond the end of this month, they're going to start getting very upset.

SHAW: Around the world, our bureaus are reporting that viewers and people reading newspapers and listening to newscasts and radio are becoming exasperated with this American process. Why are the American people so patient until now?

SCHNEIDER: Because they realized that there are lots of problems in the vote-counting mechanisms. Look, we have a president. There's not exactly a national emergency going on, and while James Baker and some of the Bush people are talking about effects on financial markets and dire consequences around the globe, we don't see them.

The stock market goes up and down. I think it went it today. People are used to seeing the stock market go up and down. There's no threat of a crash. There's no threat of foreign crisis. So I think Americans are willing to wait awhile for a process to be fair and accurate. But they don't expect that in the end this should be dragged in the courts week after week after week right up until Inauguration Day.

SHAW: Each of these candidates, Texas Governor George Bush, Vice President Al Gore campaigned vigorously across the United States, making very specific promises, saying what they would do -- what each man would do upon taking office January 20th.

As you reflect on what is happening now, project to after January 20th, in terms of legitimacy in the eyes of the American people, what will this fight do to the 43rd president's legitimacy and his ability to lead?

SCHNEIDER: Well, so far, we're not seeing this turning into question of real legitimacy. So far, about 80 percent of Americans say that either Bush or Gore would be a legitimate president if elected and they're willing to support that winner as the president, even if there is some questions about the electoral process.

The problem is if this goes on and on and on, those legitimacy questions will become more serious and if it stretches out say into next month, then I think you're going to find some real wondering if some real exasperation will set in and people will begin to wonder if they're not manipulating the system. And then real questions about legitimacy will come in.

But right now, the view is let's just get a fair count. Let's get a resolution, and whoever becomes president is going to become president of the United States. Kennedy had a very narrow margin, but it didn't seem to hamper his legitimacy. He wasn't elected -- well, he was elected under some questionable circumstances. The opposition chose not to make an issue of it.

But still, it was a very narrow margin. If the president is determined to lead and he has his party behind him, I think the president will be in a strong position.

SHAW: That's the executive branch. Let's go to Capitol Hill, the legislative branch, Given the even split in the United States, the virtual even split, and given this battle on the road to the White House, what pressures are put in the next Congress to produce?

SCHNEIDER: The pressure on the next Congress is to make compromises, not to assume they have some sort of mandate for revolution. Apparently the Republicans are going to be in control of both houses of Congress still, and there may be a Republican president.

It would be a grievous misinterpretation to assume that this is some sort of mandate for a conservative revolution. It is not, even though this will be the first time in almost 50 years that Republicans will control both houses of Congress and the White House. That is not the kind of mandate that some Republicans assume.

SHAW: Bill Schneider, please stand by. We're all standing by. CNN's coverage of Recount 2000, the Florida recount will be back in just a moment.


SHAW: As we await the appearance of a news conference in Tallahassee by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, we're going to check in at that location and CNN's Deborah Feyerick.

FEYERICK: Well, Bernie, as you can imagine, the room here is just packed. Everybody is waiting for the secretary of state to come down and make a short statement. A spokesperson earlier today came down and said that the press conference was being moved to 7:30, which is just less than 10 minutes away. He say -- he did not say whether she would answer any questions. We are hoping possibly at that time to get some numbers.

Earlier today, we did get a list of all of the counties that have so far reported -- and this came from the secretary of state's office -- 64 counties have reported, three have not, according to this earlier list. That includes Glades County, Palm Beach County, as well as Volusia County.

Now, it'll be interesting to see whether the secretary of state answers any questions on this issue of discretion, a judge today ruling effectively that although she can maintain the 5 o'clock deadline, which means all votes are now in, the judge did rule that she has to take a look at counties that do a further hand count or a further recount, and then make a decision as to whether those vote tallies should, in fact, be counted.

What, of course, that means for the election in Florida, well, the secretary of state could determine a winner, and then if she does allow further recounts and changes, of course, it's a whole new ball game. That's the big question that everyone is asking right now.

We did hear from representative -- from Vice President Al Gore today. They said that they were pleased with the decision. They said that it did open up a lot avenues that they can now pursue in order to make sure all of these hand recounts are in fact included in the final vote tally. But again, the secretary of state also saying that they were very pleased with this decision. So somebody's probably a little happier than somebody else, but right now, we are waiting for the secretary of state, who is expected to enter the room really within the next couple of minutes -- Bernie.

SHAW: OK, Deborah Feyerick in Tallahassee. Obviously, we're coming back to you as soon as Katherine Harris, the secretary of state, comes into the room to make her statement.

Well, there's been a lot of pressure on a lot of people, none other than the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, and the brother of the presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Texas Governor George Bush. At one point, Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, said today: "What's it like?" He said, "It's like the seventh day of being held hostage."

There's also pressure elsewhere in Florida. West Palm Beach, for example.

Martin Savidge, what's the pressure where you are?

SAVIDGE: Well, there was some very unusual pressure that the county elections canvassing board found itself under today, because you have the secretary of state and then a judge in Tallahassee saying, all right, you have to file and certify your results by 5 o'clock. However, keep in mind, this particular canvassing elections board was under an injunction that they could not certify their election results as a result of several lawsuits that have been filed in this particular county by disgruntled voters. This was an injunction that was put in place by a judge last week. The lawsuits by the voters were saying that because of that -- what they claim is a confusing ballot, the so-called now infamous "butterfly ballot," that their right to vote was taken away from them. They filed the lawsuits, the judge heard those lawsuits, and immediately filed an injunction and said, all right, Palm Beach County, you cannot certify your vote.

So there's legal quandary you're in, they found themselves in the middle of the day. They had to certify by 5:00 p.m. Another judge says they can't certify at 5:00 p.m. Well, eventually, that was cleared up, but there was a lot of legal tumbling that went on throughout the day.

In fact, the hardest part was trying to find a judge who could hear those lawsuits. There were a total of five judges that had to recuse themselves because there were concerns about political bias. It was finally the sixth judge that they landed on today, Jorge Labarga, who was able to finally say that he would lift the injunction, he would not -- he would not excuse or rather ignore the lawsuits. There were some attempts to try to have them moved to Tallahassee. That is not going to happen.

So, just barely an hour before they had to certify, that injunction was lifted away from them. So there was a lot of pressure and a lot of it coming from the legal areas. But they did finally certify, Bernie.

A very, very bizarre day.

SHAW: Indeed. Martin Savidge in West Palm Beach. We will continue our live coverage of recount 2000. We're still awaiting the news conference by Florida's secretary of state, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern. That's less than five minutes away.

Back in a moment.


SHAW: The Florida recount, the story of the moment, the story of the hour, the story of the day, the week -- we hope not the month. We're standing by for Katherine Harris' news conference, scheduled to begin in this room in Tallahassee -- she, the secretary of state, to come out and make an announcement.

To "CROSSFIRE" viewers around the United States and the world, "CROSSFIRE" will resume as soon as we finish covering the secretary of state. At the top of the hour, at 8:00 Eastern, the Florida recount, a special edition of "THE WORLD TODAY" with Wolf Blitzer.

He is outside the building now. He's atop a roof, the White House behind him -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Bernie, there's no doubt that there's a lot of excitement here in Washington. I was speaking to officials all day. Everybody in Washington, indeed everybody around the country -- perhaps around the world -- anxiously awaiting what Katherine Harris is about to announce. The anticipation, of course, is that she will announce that Governor Bush is still slightly ahead of Vice President Gore.

But remember, there are still a few thousand overseas absentee ballots that must be counted by Friday night and they will play in this, and perhaps it's up to her discretion whether or not the hand- counted ballots will play as well after her official announcement, which we are all anxiously awaiting to hear any moment now.

So this is by no means over, and of course, even as she announces what the tally is, the official tally, the certified tally today as well as Friday night, there are legal maneuverings going on all over the place, now in Atlanta before the 8th Circuit -- 11th Circuit, federal court, an appeal on that decision yesterday in Miami, and the state courts in Florida are hearing an appeal as well. So this is going to continue at least for a few more days -- Bernie.

SHAW: And also continuing is recounting, Marty Savidge, example, in West Palm Beach, Florida, saying that they resume recounting by hand tomorrow morning.

And on the point of expediting information, the United States Postal Service at this very hour is expediting delivery of military overseas ballots to assure that they arrive in the county election departments, theoretically, potentially all 67 counties, but the United States Postal Service making certain that those mailed ballots, absentee ballots coming from overseas, Wolf, get to the county where they should be tabulated.

BLITZER: And remember, Bernie, it's not just military ballots, military personnel living overseas who voted absentee, there are a lot of Florida residents who live perhaps part-time in Europe, many live in Israel, for example, they live around the world, their votes also will be tabulated Friday night, they are part of this overseas ballot.

Four years ago, in 1996, the then-Republican candidate Bob Dole carried about 55 percent of those overseas absentee ballots, Bill Clinton, who won the election, carried some 45 percent -- we don't know what the outcome is going to be this time, you -- a lot of speculation that since a big proportion of those overseas ballots -- there will be a few thousand -- probably come from the military, probably will be Republican, but there is no guarantee while the officer corps is said to be heavily Republican, enlisted personnel may not necessarily be Republican, and as far as private individual citizens living abroad, there is -- it's anyone's guess how they are going to vote.

So there is still some uncertainty irrespective of what Katherine Harris announces in the next few minutes.

SHAW: Indeed, Wolf.

Prior to this anticipated announcement, earlier today, there was an attempt to make a deal. Listen to this, former Secretary of State James Baker, Governor Bush's chief legal representative, top man down in Florida, had this announcement.


JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: The American people want the parties to find a way to bring this election to an end. Therefore, we make the following proposal to the Gore campaign: both sides should agree to accept the vote count of all the counties at the statutory deadline today 5:00 p.m. In addition, both sides should agree to accept the overseas absentee ballots as of midnight Friday in accordance with the law.

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: It truly was not a proposal. It was strictly a -- in my opinion, an inaccurate description of the laws of Florida and, again, the laws of Florida will be determined by the courts, not by representatives of these two campaigns.


SHAW: And now we go back live to Tallahassee, Florida, because we are anticipating -- we've just been told it's just a matter of possible seconds before the secretary of state comes into this room to make an announcement about the counties -- as you know, 67 counties in Florida. Deborah Feyerick told us that 64 counties have reported, three have not.

All of our correspondents are watching as you are watching, and as we watch and prepare to listen, we'll bring in one of them -- John King, our senior White House correspondent, the effort to make a deal today rejected by the Gore side.

KING: Well, they say it was no deal at all, that essentially Secretary Baker was asking the Gore campaign to accept this announcement we're about to hear from the secretary of state, accept the results as of 5:00 p.m. today. They say, no, and for obvious reasons, they are behind and they want those recounts to continue.

SHAW: Why are the recounts so important? Simplistic question, I know the answer, but maybe some viewers might not be aware of it. Please restate it.

KING: Well, the vice president conceding -- contesting it's the only way to get a fair and accurate result, that enough questions have been raised, that you should hand recount and that is clearly allowed under state law. He also says that if he's losing at the end of that process, he will concede the election as he was prepared to do on election night and wish Governor Bush well.

It is, of course, the expectation of the Gore campaign, because these are Democratic counties and because we have seen some evidence of making up some ground here -- Volusia County, the vice president picked up 98 votes net -- they believe they will come out ahead if this process continues, but they have also said that they are likely to concede if they don't. They still have some legal options, but the growing consensus is, if they can get these recounts completed, that if they were behind then that they would fold. SHAW: If you are just joining CNN's coverage, we are watching the room where the Florida secretary of state will come in very shortly. Earlier today, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time was the deadline to certify the ballots. She is going to come in and she is going to give us a count.

Also watching this, our senior analyst Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Bernie, the recounts will be -- the recounted totals will be announced in a few minutes, but then, of course, the question remains, will the secretary of state accept the manual recounts being done in several counties, suppose they show Al Gore ahead, he may decide, you know, those counts should -- that she should be required to look at those counts, to take them into account in her totals.

The problem is that's only a few counties, the recounts -- the manual recounts are being undertaken in three or four counties, some of them may start tomorrow, and then the question will be, is that fair, shouldn't the entire state be manually recounted? I think there will be a lot of pressure on the secretary of state then to say, we have to have a manual recount of the entire state if we're going to accept any manual recounts at all, not just selected counties.

SHAW: We see these officials on the right side of your screen, one just nodded. There she is, so let's listen to the tally.

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: Good evening. I'm going to read a brief statement, but please understand, on the advice of our legal counsel, I won't be answering any questions this evening.

First of all, I'd like to thank all of the independently elected supervisors of elections, their staff, their volunteers for the extraordinary work they performed over the past seven days. And they've just been terrific.

And I'd also like to acknowledge the overwhelming support that we have received as we've worked to fulfill our statutory responsibilities in ensuring a consistent, accurate and independent process.

As of 5:00 p.m. today, the director of the Division of Elections reported receiving certified returns from all 67 counties, as required by law. In the race for the president of the United States, these certified results from Florida's 67 counties for the top two candidates are as follows: Governor George Bush, 2,910,492; Vice President Al Gore, 2,910,192.

The usual practice of the state Elections Canvassing Commission is to certify these returns as soon as the compilations are completed by the division's staff. However, in three Florida counties -- Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties -- these counties may be contemplating amended returns based upon manual recounts not completed as of today's statutory deadline.

Within the past hour, the director of the Division of Elections faxed a memorandum to the supervisors of elections in these three Florida counties.

In accordance with today's court ruling confirming my discretion in these matters, I'm requiring a written statement of the facts and circumstances that would cause these counties to believe that a change should be made before the final certification of the state-wide vote. This written statement is due in our office by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Unless I determine, in the exercise of my discretion, that these facts and circumstances contained within these written statements justify an amendment to today's official returns, the state Elections Canvassing Commission, in a manner consistent with its usual and normal practice, will certify statewide results reported to this office today. Subsequently, the overseas ballots that are due by Friday will also be certified, and the final results of the election for president of the United States of America in the state of Florida will be announced.

We will continue to keep you informed of the relevant developments as they occur.

Thank you very much.

SHAW: Some very important points made by the Florida secretary of state, upper-most of course. She mentioned the Palm Beach -- West Palm Beach, Miami-Dade County and Broward County situation where there might be a recount but she indicated that officials in those three counties have been told that by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday afternoon, she must receive in writing why these officials think there should be a recount. And then she, Katherine Harris, would determine whether or not what they are arguing justifies a recount -- Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Well, those counties are already undertaking recounts. Broward County, I believe, has discontinued it. They decided not to do a recount of the entire county, but the Gore campaign is trying to take them to the supreme court of the state of Florida to require that recount. The question is, what will those recounts in those three counties show? Will they show enough gains for Al Gore?

And we should point out that according to the account just realized, Al Gore is running 300 votes behind in the state of Florida, 300 votes out of almost 6 million cast in the state of Florida, 300 votes. Can Gore make those votes up by the manual recounted ballots in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties? If he can, he will pressure the secretary of state to consider the facts and circumstances and to include those recounts.

But then the question will arise, if she includes manually recounted ballots in those three counties, why not include them in the rest of Florida? Why not allow all the counties of Florida to manually recount their ballots? Would that be a fairer solution? So, we will see what her decision is when she gets those facts and circumstances at 2:00 tomorrow.

SHAW: Wolf Blitzer, the secretary of state made it a point that she wasn't going to take any questions. Florida has become a legal maze and she said on the advice of the lawyers she would not take questions nor did she.

BLITZER: She didn't release all the numbers either. But we know from her previous announcements Ralph Nader received just under 100,000 votes or so, about 95,000 votes in the state of Florida. So, if you assume that a big percentage of those Nader votes might have gone to Al Gore, that in and of itself would have more than made up this tiny, tiny 300-vote differential between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

She is leaving open the option, as the circuit court judge in Tallahassee today said, leaving open the option with her discretion to determine if so-called facts and circumstances involving the recount, the hand recount, in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, if that will be included in this tally.

And of course every one has to wait until midnight Friday night to get those overseas absentee ballots to see how those Florida residents who live overseas, whether military or civilian, play into this very, very dramatic picture. So, the outcome is by no means at this point a foregone conclusion, although the 300-vote differential is clearly something in George W. Bush's favor.

SHAW: Which makes it time to check the pulse of these two respective camps. As you know, throughout all this, our senior correspondent John King here this Washington covering Vice President Al Gore's campaign, and in Austin, Texas, senior politic correspondent Candy Crowley.

Candy, as we heard the secretary of state indicate, questions about Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward County this word recount from the Bush camps perspective simply will not go away.

CROWLEY: Well, here, first of all, let me tell you their kind of original feeling about this announcement is that the power was in the mathematics. I can assure you that they will be saying soon we have won the count, we have now won the recount and George Bush is still ahead. We have to await those overseas votes.

But they believe that come Saturday, when the overseas votes are factored in, which they believe will favor George Bush, that that will then be three announcements that George Bush has won Florida. They think in the P.R. department that is a powerful statement. So, you can count on them to use that and say, you know, how many of these recounts do we have to have here, and suggesting, as they have for many, many days, that the Gore camp will not be satisfied until they take a recount that goes -- comes out their way.

Now, they are fighting the whole recount thing in these four counties at two levels. On the PR level they're saying, look, these are unreliable, there are no standards for how you look at a ballot and hand count it and all this talk about dangling chads and pregnant chads -- that there is nowhere any set standards for how people should look at these hand counted ballots. On the legal side they have gone to the 11th circuit court of appeals in Atlanta, taking the recount case to that court after being turned down in their original bid for an injunction to stop the hand counting. So it isn't going away, but the Bush campaign is arguing very forcefully on both the PR and the legal count that these recounts are no longer valid and should not be considered valid. They really believe that the clock, as it ticks towards Saturday and those overseas votes, they really believe the clock is on their side.

SHAW: Candy Crowley reporting the Republican strategy from Austin, Texas.

And now, John King with the Democrats' strategy here in Washington.

KING: Well, Bernie, the Democrats, obviously, hoping that the numbers eventually will be on their side. They believe that they can make the case that, look, this is a 300-vote margin out of nearly 6 million cast; and not only that, not only is it such a narrow margin, but what is at stake here -- the presidency of the United States. Why should we not have a recount that the Gore campaign contends is allowed under state law.

This was not as bad an announcement as they had anticipated. They believed that Secretary Harris was going to come out and say she was certifying the results and declaring Governor Bush the winner. Instead, she said she's close to doing that, but she's asked these three counties that are still doing the recounts to justify to her, by 2:00 Eastern time tomorrow: why should she wait? What extraordinary circumstances exist that she should wait?

So, obviously, now it is on those counties -- the burden is on those counties to justify why they need to do a recount. Will they say there's mechanical failure? Will they say there's evidence of irregularities? Obviously she did not set the standard by which she was willing to wait; but she indicated, at least, she would give them until 2:00 tomorrow.

One thing we do know: We won't know the results by 2:00 tomorrow. Even -- just in Palm Beach County, they've said their hand recount could take as long as a week.

SHAW: John King, thanks very much again. The three counties, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Broward County.

And to sum up for you briefly, Katherine Harris the Florida secretary of state come out in Tallahassee moments ago. She made an announcement: 300 vote difference. She said she would not take any questions on advice from legal counsel and, as John, indicated she has given those officials in those three counties until 2:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in explicit writing why they should continue.

Basically, this was the announcement on the tally from all 67 counties in the sunshine state:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: As of 5:00 p.m. today, the director the division of elections reported receiving certified returns from all 67 counties as required by law. In the race for the president of the United States, these certified results from Florida's 67 counties for the top two candidates are as follows: Governor George Bush, 2,910,492. Vice President Al Gore, 2,910,192.


SHAW: That's the latest from Tallahassee, Florida. I'm Bernard Shaw in Washington. Coming up, an abbreviated "CROSSFIRE." Wolf Blitzer at the top of the hour as CNN continues covering recount 2000.



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