ad info

 
CNN.comTranscripts
 
Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 

TOP STORIES

Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's GO.com is a goner

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

 
TRAVEL

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
 
CNN Websites
Networks image


Special Event

The Florida Recount: State Supreme Court Rules Hands Counts Can Continue; State Court Judge to Rule on Official's Rejection of Hand Counts

Aired November 16, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight: the battle for Florida's 25 electoral votes climbs higher on the legal ladder. The Bush and Gore teams hold fast to their positions, as more legal filings and court decisions keep the presidential election in doubt for another day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: How can a manual recount be accurate when the ballots themselves are changing right before our very eyes?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I think the Bush campaign has done everything it could in Florida to avoid a recount, and, of course, we think we won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Florida's Supreme Court allows Palm Beach County to restart its hand tally as attorneys for both campaigns head back to court for legal guidance. The latest vote totals, the latest legal actions, and the counting debate: man or machine. All ahead, on this special edition of THE WORLD TODAY: "The Florida Recount."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting tonight from Washington.

The complicated legal battle over who won the presidential election is now firmly entrenched in Florida and federal courts. Late today, Florida's Supreme Court ruled there is no legal reason why Palm Beach and Broward Counties cannot begin manual recounts. Broward officials were already counting, and Palm Beach officials wasted no time getting started.

Earlier, attorneys for Al Gore asked a state court judge to overrule the Florida secretary of state's decision to disregard hand recount totals. And Republican lawyers were busy as well pursuing their federal court efforts to block those same manual recounts.

As the situation in Florida churned through various courtrooms, George Bush's campaign chairman announced the Bush team will not ask for a recount in Iowa. More than a million ballots were cast in Iowa, and Bush appears to have lost the state by only about 4,000 votes. For the latest on the day's events, we go straight to Florida's capital. CNN's Deborah Feyerick is standing by in Tallahassee.

Deborah, what's going on?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Florida's highest court ruled that the election officials can keep counting. The Supreme Court upheld two lower court rulings, saying in their words, there was no legal impediment to the recounts. The Gore team very gratified tonight over judge's unanimous ruling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We urge these counties to conduct these recounts as quickly as is possible. The delays have been largely the product of lawsuits filed by Republicans' erroneous legal opinions with the secretary of state. With obstacles gone, we hope that the counts could be finished in the next few days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: But the Bush team points out that this still does not resolve several outstanding issues that are now before a state court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: This decision does nothing more than preserve the status quo. And that status quo is that state officials act pursuant to the law honoring its deadlines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Now, what are those issues? Well, Gore's attorneys say that the vote certification on Tuesday violated state law and they want a judge to prohibit the secretary of state from actually certifying those vote totals until there is a recount. They also want the judge to compel the secretary of state to accept the new totals if there are any. The judge is supposed to decide that tomorrow.

So, who wins in all of this? Well, I spoke to an election attorney. He said this is definitely a big deal for the Gore team. The reason being is that because these recounts can continue, it means that ultimately, we will know what the final counts are in Palm Beach and Dade and Broward and that means that even though the secretary of state still doesn't have to accept those counts, the rest of the country will know what they were -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick reporting live from Tallahassee. Thank you very much.

And joining us now is David Boies. He is one of the attorneys representing the Gore campaign in Florida.

Mr. Boies, thanks so much for joining us once again.

And let's get right to the point, what James Baker said. He said that this decision merely preserves the status quo, it doesn't force the secretary of state of Florida to reject those hand recounts.

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I think he's partly right and I think he's partly wrong. He's right in the sense that there's nothing in the Supreme Court's opinion that directly requires the secretary of state to consider the recounts. That is a decision that ultimately the court is going to have to make. But that was not a decision that the court had to make now.

On the other hand, the status quo has been very substantially changed. Prior to today, Palm Beach County wasn't conducting a recount. Palm Beach County was abiding by the secretary of state's assertion that recounts should not be undertaken. And the Florida Supreme Court said very unambiguously, get the recounts going. The voters have voted, now let's find out how they voted.

So, I think in terms of the change in the status quo, the change has been that now it's absolutely clear that Florida and the nation is going to know who got the most votes in the state of Florida.

BLITZER: Well, what happens, Mr. Boies, if on Saturday, she certifies that once these absentee overseas ballots come in that George W. Bush won the election and she makes it official on Saturday? What recourse do you have to get that decision overturned?

BOIES: I would hope that she wouldn't do that. Several courts now, three lower courts and the Florida Supreme Court have all said that these recounts should be completed. And I would hope that the secretary of state would not again act to try to prematurely cut off the electoral process.

Now, if she does, then there may be no alternative but to go back to court. But I'd like to think that at some point, people are going to listen to what the courts are saying and to let this process play itself out. Let's find out who voted and how they voted.

BLITZER: She's apparently giving no indication she's going to change her mind between now and Saturday. And as a result, is there anything you can do between now and Saturday to get her to change her mind? Is there any specific court action that would convince Katherine Harris not to go forward and make a final announcement on Saturday?

BOIES: If she hasn't been convinced by what the Florida Supreme Court has done and what the three lower courts who have considered this issue have done, I'm probably not going to be able to convince her to change her mind. I would hope that she would be convinced not by anything I could say or not by anything the Gore campaign could say, but by what the Florida courts have said she ought to do. We will find out. We haven't heard from her today. We haven't heard from her today, and it may very well be that she is considering what the Florida courts have done, and is going to make a decision to abide by that.

BLITZER: All right, David Boies, thank you so much for joining us.

And we also want to get reaction now from an attorney representing the Bush campaign. Theodore Olson now joins us.

Mr. Olson, you just heard David Boies say that, in effect, this decision, this announcement from the Florida Supreme Court today should convince Katherine Harris to delay any final certification.

THEODORE OLSON, ATTORNEY FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: Well, Mr. Boies must have been reading a different opinion than the one that the Supreme Court issued. The supreme court basically said that these recounts can continue. It gave no indication whatsoever with respect to what the outcome would be. It basically said when you bring a case to us that has to do with whether these votes have to be certified or not, which is not going to happen for a couple of days, then we may have something to say or something to do.

But the Gore lawyers are doing what lawyers do. They're trying to make lemonade out of lemons and they're describing these cases as victories and instructions to the secretary of state or to the electors -- the voters of the state of Florida. They are nothing of the sort and anybody who really wants to know what these decisions mean should look at them.

BLITZER: Would it be just an academic exercise for the Supreme Court of Florida say, go ahead, continue to count those ballots, if they didn't want those ballots to have some specific meaning?

OLSON: No, the Supreme Court did what courts always do. When it's time for us to make a decision, bring the case to us. The Court said, there's nothing for us to rule on. These people are recounting. We're not going to stop them from recounting.

But the Secretary of state hasn't decided whether to accept those recounts or to reject those recounts. And when she does, then we will look at it. Now, this secretary of state explained in detail her reasons for having reservations with respect to this process. And again, any one of your viewers who's interested in her reasons ought to look at them. She said, I don't see any evidence of fraud. I don't see any evidence of mechanical error by the machines. I don't see any of the other things that should concern us with respect to requiring a recount.

But, you know, maybe something else will happen. And the Supreme Court was saying, until something happens that we can rule upon, we're not going to decide ahead of the case. Now the Gore lawyers are characterizing that in a different way, which is perfectly understandable. But nothing really happened.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But the Supreme Court, the unanimous decision of the seven-member Supreme Court in Florida, did say these recounts could continue. Wouldn't you have been happier if the Supreme Court of Florida had said, the secretary of state has ruled no more manual recounts, only the overseas absentee ballots will be counted, and that is a decision that is binding. Wouldn't that have been much better news for your side in this case? OLSON: Well, I'm not surprised by the Supreme Court's decision and I'm not going to speculate what would have been better for anybody. The thing is that the ultimate and -- and the Supreme Court knew this and said this. We're going to make a decision when the time comes to make a decision. We can't make a decision in advance. We will make a decision at the time.

BLITZER: All right. Ted Olson...

OLSON: Now, what this is turning into is an election of the lawyers, by the lawyers and for the lawyers.

BLITZER: Mr. Olson, unfortunately, we are all out of time. Thank you once again for joining us, Ted Olson, representing the Bush campaign.

I want to bring in our CNN legal analyst now, Greta Van Susteren. She's been following this story from West Palm Beach.

Greta, we just heard two lawyers, well-known attorneys, both of whom you know quite well, make their respective interpretations of what the Supreme Court of Florida decided today. Who has more of the law on their side of the story?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let me tell you, Wolf, as good lawyers and good advocates -- and they are both that -- they are both right a little bit. Ted Olson is right that before the state Supreme Court was not the issue whether Katherine Harris was correct when she said she would refuse to consider other votes. And courts don't usually decide matters that are not before them.

But I've got to tell you, I've been on the winning end and losing end of court orders, and that Supreme Court gave a big nod and wink to the state secretary. And if I were her lawyer, I would have -- I would be sitting down talking to her, asking her if maybe she wants to rethink this.

The Florida Supreme Court did not tell her that she had to reconsider, it did not order her to reconsider any votes, but they certainly gave her a nod and wink by the fact that was a unanimous verdict.

Will the Florida Supreme Court ultimately order her to consider? I do not know, but I will tell you one thing, that this is a big victory for the Gore people and the Bush people are not very happy with this decision.

BLITZER: But there's a huge difference if Katherine Harris does or does not go ahead and certify the election as over with on Saturday, presuming she's going to announce that George W. Bush won. It would be much more, at least politically awkward, for the Gore people to continue the legal challenge after that kind of certification to overturn her decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: Not necessarily, Wolf. Look, what really matters here are the number of votes. If they count the votes here in Palm Beach County and Broward, and it turns out the winner is not Governor Bush but rather Vice President Al Gore, then the vice president will be in a very strong position to go back into court and say that she abused her discretion when she made the decision that she would not the consider the votes.

When you talk about discretion, you look to see whether it's reasonable. And what the Palm Beach people did -- the Broward County didn't. But what Palm Beach said is, look, the reason why we want you to consider this is that we followed the law and we looked at 1 percent of the county. That 1 percent said that Vice President Gore got 19 votes. If you take that out to 100 percent, you're talking about 1,900 votes. And the problem with that is the race is so very close, that right now the race is only 300 votes apart, and that seems like a good reason to at least look at the counties' votes.

That's why the Supreme Court said let the vote continue, the hand count. Now, will Governor Bush win or will Vice President Al Gore win, I simply don't know. I only can tell you that the Florida Supreme Court gave the nod today to Al Gore in terms of the votes.

BLITZER: All right, Greta Van Susteren in West Palm Beach, and you will be back with us later in this program for more analysis on what is exactly going on.

I want to bring in now the former Florida Supreme Court justice Arthur England, who's been following this case very, very closely, and he knows the Supreme Court. Were you surprised by this unanimous decision of the Supreme Court today, Mr. England?

ARTHUR ENGLAND, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: No, I was not, Mr. Blitzer. It was totally expected.

The Florida Supreme Court has a very limited jurisdiction, and the two orders they entered, one yesterday and one today, follow very closely what the court does when people ask the court to start with them as opposed to end with them. I guess the petitions could be likened to a Hail Mary pass in a football game, and they very rarely succeed.

This is not surprising at all. The Florida Supreme Court did exactly what it has always done when matters come to them that aren't ripe, That jurisdiction doesn't reach, and they say -- and they said it in both of these orders, I take it, yesterday and today -- they are matters in the state court that start at the bottom and come up.

You know, I find it interesting to listen to all the commentary, but people have been asking the wrong question when they -- they say what's the Supreme Court going to do. It's going to start in the trial level, and the next level is not going to be the Supreme Court. It's probably going to be the intermediate appellate court that sits in Palm Beach, a court that has 12 judges, three of whom will be asked to look at this.

And whatever is next, whatever the next thing is to look at, and those judges are going to have a choice to make. And they can bypass themselves, take it right to the Florida Supreme Court with a certification. But absent that, it could stop right there and those judges could decide it.

BLITZER: Well, assuming...

ENGLAND: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

BLITZER: I hate to interrupt, but we don't have a whole lot of time. But assuming it does wind its way up to the Supreme Court and you were a former Supreme Court justice in Florida, does the interpretation of the Gore campaign or the Bush campaign hold that this interim decision that was announced today does require the secretary of state of Florida to accept those hand-count ballots, those manual recounting? Does it force her to do so or does it do no such thing, as the Bush campaign is suggesting?

ENGLAND: It does nothing except to say, you knocked on our door, it's not time to talk to us, there are trial court proceedings, go downstairs and take it through the first steps. All it did was say, we are not acting at this time.

BLITZER: You know -- you know the Supreme Court. Take us behind the scenes. How anxious would the seven justices be to make a final decision on the outcome of this huge political battle under way in Florida?

ENGLAND: I think that would depend on the individual justices. They will take the responsibility seriously. These are justices selected by merit in Florida. They take seriously their job. It's a weighty responsibility. I'm sure they welcome being the position to have it and fear -- fearful of the consequences of what they do and will deliberate very carefully.

You know, they're not running out to get this at all. If it comes, they're going to do their job. I'm not worried about that at all.

BLITZER: OK, Arthur England, a former justice of the Florida Supreme Court, thanks for joining us on our special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.

ENGLAND: Thank you, Mr. Blitzer.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. And next here, our Candy Crowley and Chris Black with the political strategy from the campaigns. And ahead, the counting debate, man or machine. This is a special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The Supreme Court's clear and unambiguous ruling that the counties are authorized to proceed with the manual recount is a victory for everyone who wants to see the votes counted fully and fairly here in Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: You have just witnessed a superb example of the art of legal spin: A one paragraph interim order of the Florida Supreme Court has just been portrayed to you by my good friend, Secretary Daley, as the biggest thing since night baseball.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Both Al Gore and George W. Bush remained out of sight today as the legal drama unfolded in Florida. Joining us now with reaction from both camps is CNN congressional correspondent, Chris Black -- she's here in Washington covering the Gore campaign -- and CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley in Texas, covering the Bush campaign.

Let's begin with Candy and the reaction -- what's coming out of Austin tonight, Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, very little has come out of Austin for several days now. They're largely leaving that to Florida. As you saw, James Baker is down there. But what did come out today that you saw was a decision not to ask for a recount in Iowa.

What was interesting about it was that the decision was sort of wrapped in the context of -- because Governor Bush believes that, you know, we should abide by state law and the Iowa deadline was coming up, and because he believes it's time to move on and because he believes that we really have to end to this, he's not going to have a recount in Iowa.

You know, the contrast here that we're supposed to draw is look what George Bush is doing in Iowa and look what Al Gore doing in Florida. And oh, by the way, a Florida deadline's coming up Saturday.

BLITZER: Chris Black, in addition to the legal courts, there's the court of public opinion. The Gore campaign, as the Bush campaign, they're both very sensitive to what's happening in public opinion. What have they doing today to try to buttress their position?

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really, today, Wolf, the Gore campaign was letting the courts make their -- score their political points. All of the energy today, or most of the energy today was really focused on fighting the legal battle on three different fronts.

And even though tonight's Florida Supreme Court decision that they know is not the final word legally, they say it gave a tremendous boost to their political strategy. Their strategy is to slog away towards a single goal, day-by-day, step-by-step to get those votes in the disputed area on Florida's Gold Coast recounted.

BLITZER: All right, Chris Black here in Washington, Candy Crowley in Austin, Texas, thanks for joining us. We have to take another break. When we come back, man versus machine. Who's better at counting ballots? We'll speak to an expert on the subject. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn't be in a position where people are having to wonder whether a punch card ballot is valid or not, whether there is a vote for a candidate or not. With the modern technology, they ought to be able to come up with a better way to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Technology is supposed to make things easier for people. But the Florida recount is fueling the debate of which to trust: man or machine.

Last night, both Al Gore and George W. Bush made their cases.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Machines can sometimes misread or fail to detect the way ballots are cast, and when there are serious doubts, checking the machine count with a careful hand count is accepted far and wide as the best way to know the true intentions of the voters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Manual counting with individuals making subjective decisions about voter intent, introduces human error and politics into the vote counting process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Human error versus machine error. Joining us to explore the issue is Bill Joy, the co-founder and CEO of Sun Microsystems. Mr. Joy, thanks for joining us.

We know that machines make mistakes. We know that people make mistakes. In your experience in an issue like this, ballot counting, who makes more mistakes?

BILL JOY, CEO, SUN MICROSYSTEMS: Well, I think the important thing is to have a process which detects the mistakes. If you only have one count of something, then a mistake can go undetected. And in a case where you have a machine counting, and it, say, undercounts, it will -- can produce a very large, biased error. And so a good process will have two independent ways of checking something.

BLITZER: So in other words, what you're saying is that the machine should have built in second mechanical source to check what the machine is doing as well as two humans checking if there's going to be a manual count?

JOY: Well, in particular we know that these machines see holes, not really punches, and that they undercount votes. The numbers so far would seem to indicate by about a half a percent. Now if these machines were used throughout the state of Florida with the votes this close, it wouldn't produce any statistical difference.

But since they're only used in certain regions of the state, you could ask Gallup to tell you based on the undercounting from this and the other methods that are used, probably a more accurate estimate of what the actual vote was the was counted if not the ballots were checked by hand.

BLITZER: But if there is an undercounting by machines, wouldn't it be sort of spread out evenly among the respective candidates? Machines aren't Democrat. They're not Republican. They're sort of nonpartisan, right?

JOY: Well, the problem is we're not using the same method in every county in Florida, and the different methods have difference undercount ratios. And so unless we manually inspect all the ballots which the machines can't count, the ones rejected by the machines will be biased in the counties where the less accurate or undercounting methods are used.

BLITZER: You've heard the Republicans make the case that once you bring people in this process and they're physically counting those little ballots and looking at those little holes, those perforations, that it becomes much more subjective and in effect they're guessing what the voter intended to do whereas a machine wouldn't do that.

JOY: Well, Wolf, I'd ask you, suppose I had a punch card and the punch affected your life. If the punch was read wrong, you would die. Would you have that punch read by one of the machines there in Palm Beach County or looked at by four citizens to decide the fate of your life?

BLITZER: I think that's a good point. But what is more acceptable from your perspective -- and you've studied these issue, humans versus machines for a long time -- what is more acceptable, human error or machine?

JOY: Well, I think what we should do is we should have a process which accounts for the fact that both people and machines can make mistakes and checks the things twice to make sure that they're correct, like the old adage, measured twice, cut once.

BLITZER: And the margin of error for humans and machine, who has greater margin of error?

JOY: Given the sufficient time, and the procedures that are being used right now -- I talked to another engineer at Sun this afternoon who voted for Governor Bush. I voted for Vice President Gore, and we both agreed that given sufficient time and what we know about the punch card ballot, we believe that people could do a better job if they had the time to do it and the process was good. BLITZER: All right, a bipartisan assessment from two experts at Sun Microsystems. Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Joy.

JOY: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Thank you, and after the break we'll hear from CNN's election law analyst Ken Gross on how the courts across the country have viewed hand counts and what kind of guide those decisions can tell us about what to expect in Florida. This is a special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our special edition of THE WORLD TODAY: "The Florida Recount."

And joining us is Kenneth Gross. He's a former enforcement officer of the Federal Election Commission. And he's now a CNN election law analyst.

Ken, are there any -- is there any state in the country where there's a uniform ballot? because we have seen all sorts of different ballots in Florida and all sorts of different ways of counting these results.

KENNETH GROSS, FORMER FEC OFFICIAL: Well, there are state statutes around the country that do dictate exactly what you're supposed to do. There aren't very many of them, but in Indiana and in Texas they have specific statutes that say in one case you actually count the hanging chad and the dimple ballot. That's Texas. In Indiana, you count the hanging chad and not the dimpled ballot.

And a couple of other states, the decisions have been made as a result of Supreme Court decisions. In South Dakota, in Massachusetts, they tended to take a liberal view. In South Dakota they used the light test. And in Massachusetts they said the dimpled ballot and the hanging chad both apply. So, that's some of the law out there in different states.

BLITZER: You know, there's been so much focus on these ballots, now, Ken, Americans are totally confused. There must be a better way to vote and not have these overcounts, undercounts, these dimpled chads and all of this. Isn't there some way to do a uniform procedure around the country that could avoid the mess this situation has now created?

GROSS: Well, generally speaking, this has been done at the local level. But I think you're going to see a real attention to pay to this in the future. Millions and millions of dollars are being spent on campaign ads and millions are being spent on get-out-the-vote activities. This is going to be a new activity. Maybe focus groups are going to be used to examine ballots, making sure there aren't technical defects. Are these the type of ballots that old people can handle? I think it's a whole new universe in the election world.

BLITZER: OK, Ken Gross, once again, thank you very much for joining us.

The Florida Supreme Court reconvenes, by the way, tomorrow. Justices are expected to rule on whether Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris had the authority to stop the hand recounts. Today's state Supreme Court ruling allowed those tallies to continue including in Broward County, the site of some political drama.

Before the high court issued its decision, Broward County Republicans tried to stop the manual tally and an attorney for the Republicans gave the canvassing board a subpoena to appear in court tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM SHERER, FLORIDA GOP ATTORNEY: You are acting in defiance of a directive from the secretary of state, which is binding upon you and that you are acting in defiance of the election laws because you had no basis to start your hand count in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The Broward County canvassing board took the subpoena, continued with its counting and a couple hours ago the manual tally got underway in Palm Beach County. That's where we find our CNN legal analyst.

Once again, Greta Van Susteren -- Greta.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, you know, what brought us down here in a large part is that some people say they were confused by the ballot and the voting process in Palm Beach County. But now the question is, are they going to be confused -- those who have to actually go through these ballots by hand -- are they going to be confused by the process in terms of how to determine what's a vote and what's not a vote?

Well, let's listen to Theresa LePore, who is the supervisor of elections, and incidentally, the architect of the butterfly ballot. Let's hear what she had to say about the process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA LEPORE, PALM BEACH COUNTY SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: Remember you are not to make any determination on the voter's intent. If it's a clearly punched hole, that's the pile you put it in. If there's a question, you're not sure, it goes into the questionable pile. The counters can put ballot cards into the questionable piles, just as easily -- just as much as the observers can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm joined by David Norcross who is a former RNC general counsel and a Republican observer as well as Ron Klein, who is a Democrat and a state senator here in West Palm Beach County.

Gentlemen, I was looking at today's newspaper that outlined the ballot hand count procedures. I must tell you I found it confusing as to how it is done. So, David, go through, explain to me, how is this hand count being done?

DAVID NORCROSS, REPUBLICAN RECOUNT MONITOR: Well, that's not a particularly easy question. They've had it explained to them. It has now been changed again. We are now onto I guess our third set of parameters for how this is going to be done.

VAN SUSTEREN: But how is it actually done? Do they separate the piles?

NORCROSS: They take the full can with all of the ballots in it and they pick part of them out and they put them down in three piles and they put the piles together and then they tell the counters, start taking them, hold them up -- hold them up to the light so you can see the little holes or not see the little holes, and then they pass them to the next person.

Our concern, of course, is too much handling. I've seen some people in there, they've just got to touch them. It's not that they're trying to mutilate the ballots, but these things, in my view at least, don't take a lot of handling well.

VAN SUSTEREN: But doesn't that also, though, adhere to the benefit of both candidates. I mean, the same thing -- ballots -- dimpled ballots that might fall out for Vice President Al Gore, the same thing might happen with Governor Bush. I mean, doesn't it go both ways?

NORCROSS: It might. But the point is -- and I think the secretary of state was right -- the point is these things are made for a machine count. They've been counted three times by that machine. What we are really doing in there is an election contest, not a recount.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ron, what about the process? I mean, take me through it. Do you disagree how David laid it out? I mean, obviously, he thinks it's unfair as a Republican observer and a Democratic observer thinks it's fair, but what about the process?

RON KLEIN, DEMOCRATIC RECOUNT MONITOR: Well, I think the process is fair. It think that we've used this process in Florida for decades and we've used it throughout the country with the use of punch card systems. There are Democrat and Republican witnesses to this whole process. I think at the end of the day, it's the legality of the process that's important.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, one of the things that they issued today, they issued a statement in terms of how they are going to look at the ballots. And they said for those that have one corner indentation that would be counted only as a vote if they can determine clear intent.

How do you determine intent by looking at a card?

KLEIN: Well, again, I think if you look at the card and they determine that all of the other holes look very similar to that, I think they can tell that maybe someone had a little bit of a difficult time pushing the pin all the way through. But as long as they're consistent, it inures either to Al Gore or George Bush, the consistency is the key. And I think that is what we are going to get here.

VAN SUSTEREN: David, how many people are actually looking at it right now?

NORCROSS: By the way, you know, they changed those rules again tonight before we started. It's now a two-hanger deal, not just one, but two.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think they did that to be consistent with Broward County.

KLEIN: That's right.

NORCROSS: And now we are going to talk about the voter intent, which is why I say it's a contest, and not a recount. They're going to sit there and think they can decide what the voter intends. I think that's the next step, not this step.

VAN SUSTEREN: How many teams, David, are in there looking at ballots right now?

NORCROSS: I think there's between 20 and 25. I did not actually count.

KLEIN: I understand there are 25 but I also understand that a number of Republicans have not made themselves available. So, we have to have one of each there and I think the key is to get this process on the way, make sure we have teams from both sides there to get it moving as quickly as possible.

NORCROSS: There was a late call about trying to up the number of teams and we were unable to respond to that late call. It was about 6:30, quarter to 7:00.

VAN SUSTEREN: How many Republicans, David, do you need? How many more Republicans do you need?

NORCROSS: We could probably use five more.

VAN SUSTEREN: Will they be there tomorrow?

NORCROSS: I think they'll be there tomorrow. The question is not really who is counting what right now, the question is getting people spelled because one of the other problems is people are going to get tired. It's tedious in there. The light is tough. It's not that you can't see, but the light's tough and they're going to get tired in there.

KLEIN: Again, I think that the process is set up so you have witnesses from both sides. It's a fair process. It's been used historically in the United States. We can criticize it but if it is our law, it is our law. We need to follow our law.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who are the people who are actually doing this? Where do you find these people?

KLEIN: Well, I think that both sides have sought out people that either are local here or possibly people that are active in their home states and in terms of the political parties and they've been trained what to look for and again, I think as lock long as we have witnesses.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously, it's not a full-time job just sit and look at dimpled ballots or hanging chads or whatever. I mean, what do they do in the rest of their life when they're not as part of this historic event?

KLEIN: Well, I hope they've got something much more interesting than this to do with the rest of their lives.

I hope that they don't have to do this again.

KLEIN: These are politically active people, I'm sure, but again, the fairness is having witnesses from both sides.

VAN SUSTEREN: David, you were very active in New Jersey elections. You were the former secretary of elections in the state of New Jersey. Did you have hand counts there?

NORCROSS: We have all kinds of ballots there. We have only one county that does paper ballots and we try to stay away from handling those ballots and doing manual recounts, but we have paper ballots. We have the old Shupe voting machine. We have recounts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ron, David, thank you very for joining us. We're going to take a break and when we come back, I'm going introduce you to another member of the community who was an -- who ran for election, wanted a recount, didn't get it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE CARROL, BROWARD CANVASSING BOARD: I'm always concerned about the chads that come out of the cards because the more they're handled, the more will come out and some counts may change. But as I said the chads are not partisan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back. I'm in West Palm Beach where I'm now joined by Beverly Green, a resident of West Palm Beach. Beverly, you ran for office. When did you run fro office?

BEVERLY GREEN (R), FORMER FLORIDA STATE SENATE CANDIDATE: I ran for office in this term in July.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you run for?

GREEN: I ran for state House of Representatives.

VAN SUSTEREN: And how did you do?

GREEN: I lost, as a matter of fact. I lost in the primary in September by 14 votes, and naturally, I asked for a recount. My daughter asked me to do that for her. So I asked for a recount, and they granted me a recount, which is part of the Florida Constitution.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was that the machine recount?

GREEN: The machine recount; however, I asked for manual recount specifically.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you had the machine recount, there was a 14- vote differential?

GREEN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then you made an application for a manual recount?

GREEN: I made an application for a manual recount and they overruled that. The Palm Beach County Canvassing Board voted unanimously to deny me that manual recount, but they did do another machine recount and I gained three votes and I lost ultimately with 11 votes.

VAN SUSTEREN: How many votes were cast? I mean, give me some idea in terms of...

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: There were 2,048 votes cast in my election in September, eight weeks ago, which is why I find it so strange, and I'm questioning, you know, the standards here in Palm Beach County. There seems to be a double standard.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you're a Republican.

GREEN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so this was the primary, so this was against other Republicans?

GREEN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: What was the reason that was given, if any, why you weren't granted a hand count?

GREEN: They said that they didn't see any indicating that the machines were malfunctioning and that there wasn't any indication of voter fraud and both of those are reasons to do a manual count or hand count. VAN SUSTEREN: Was there any instance of any sort of confusion on the ballots, whether it was the double voting or was there anything sort of that was an anomaly in terms of the voting that would suggest that perhaps the voters might be confused?

GREEN: Not at all in the primary.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you see, is the situation -- do you think yours is similar to the situation here involving Governor Bush and Vice President Al Gore or is your situation different

GREEN; Well, I find it interesting and I guess I'm asking the question as to why they want to impose a hand count on Governor Bush and I asked for one and they denied me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were there any missing ballots in your case?

GREEN: I didn't ask. I know they threw away thousands in the primary.

VAN SUSTEREN: And did you ever ask why they threw away thousands?

GREEN: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in this race, I understand in the building behind us, one of the problems was there were double voting on ballots. Was there any sort of problem with double voting on your ballots at all that you remember? anything like that?

GREEN: No, I don't believe there were any irregularities that occurred in my race.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so there's nothing wrong with the ballot as far as you know?

GREEN: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, Beverly Green, thank you very much for joining us...

GREEN: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... in West Palm Beach where they're doing the hand count. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, thank you very much, Greta, we'll see you tomorrow.

And amid all of this, President Clinton has arrived in Vietnam for the last scheduled overseas trip of his presidency. He and daughter Chelsea got a subdued reception at the airport. The visit was surrounded by a near media blackout. But that was in stark contrast to scenes on the streets of Hanoi. Thousands strained to catch a glimpse of the president's motorcade. Likely discussion points during the trip: an accounting of some 2,000 American MIAs and some form of compensation by the U.S. for thousands of Vietnamese war orphans and amputees.

Israel, meanwhile, has frozen millions of dollars in tax revenues earmarked for the Palestinian Authority. The act is meant to pressure the Palestinians into complying with cease-fire agreements. That followed fierce Israeli rocket attacks on Palestinian positions in the West Bank. A German chiropractor was among today's casualties. Israel said the offensive was in response to a Palestinian gunfire on a Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

And a mid-air collision in western Florida has left at least one person dead. Wreckage from an Air Force F-16 landed in a wooded area, triggering a brush fire. Debris from a Cessna 172 scattered over a golf course. The pilot of the jet fighter parachuted to safety. The crash victim was flying on the small private plane. And after the break, more on the Florida recount with Jeff Greenfield and Jeanne Moos. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hadn't really thought about the electoral college since eighth grade probably, but I really think some changes need to happen, for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The unexpected and still unknown outcome of last week's election was part of the chatter last night in New York, where a mix of celebrities and politicians shared their thoughts on Florida's deadlock. But as our Jeanne Moos found out, the star attractions proved themselves to be real dummies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Which one is the real Tony Bennett? If only picking a president were this easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Tony Bennetts, ladies and gentlemen.

MOOS: The Evander Holyfields, the Ivana Trumps.

It was the grand opening of the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Times Square and the confetti was flying. Or was it plus size chad blown north from wayward Florida ballots?

(on camera): Abe, George, have you guys seen what's going on in Florida?

(voice-over): It's enough to make a wax figure wane.

IVANA TRUMP: I'm a little embarrassed for us as Americans.

MOOS: Ivana's ex, Donald, was also on hand.

Since he almost ran for president, might as well hum hail to the chief, though Ivana refused to even go near his wax figure.

(on camera): Oh, yes. What about Donald? Should we go look at Donald for a second?

TRUMP: No, I'm not going to look at Donald. You go and look at The Donald.

MOOS (voice-over): Everybody was looking at RuPaul. We were there when Ru got a first glimpse of her likeness.

RUPAUL, ENTERTAINER: Oh my god.

(CROSSTALK)

MOOS (on camera): I like you better in the flesh.

RUPAUL: You like me in the flesh? That costs extra.

MOOS (voice-over): Ru was one of the few who wasn't interested in Florida.

RUPAUL: No, I stay away from that stuff. I was going with Nader.

MOOS (on camera): Albert, we need your help, we need a formula to get us out of this mess we're in down in Florida. You're good with math, right?

PATRICK STEWART, ACTOR: I would like to see Al Gore in the White House.

MOOS (voice-over): Colin Powell wouldn't like that. Actor Patrick Stewart avoided his own wax figure.

STEWART: I couldn't wait to get away from it. It just made me feel very odd.

MOOS: Yasser Arafat's figure apparently made some Jewish visitors feel odd. We're told a group of Hasidic Jews were seen shaking their fingers at it.

Interaction is common...

(on camera): Kiss him.

(voice-over): ... from kissing Brad Pitt to inspecting Nicholas Cage's chest hair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It ends here.

MOOS: Live people mingling with life-like figures can be a little spooky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually have spoken to a few of them and realized it wasn't my husband. MOOS: There's Yoko Ono, but where's George Bush? There's the pope, there's the Dalai Lama, but where's Al Gore? The two candidates are in London, in limbo, half done in clay says the museum's director of marketing.

NANCY MCGRATH, MADAME TUSSAUD'S: But we don't -- you know, at the moment, we're like, well, which one to go with, guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they should have made a two-headed monster.

MOOS: Unlike RuPaul, George W. and Al aren't quite ready to turn the other cheek.

(on camera): Whew, I got a mouthful.

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank you, and joining us now live and the real Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, tell us, how long can this drama in Florida keep on going?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I don't mean to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you're going to be up on that roof for a while, because if you think this battle for the White House is going to end this weekend, I've got a bridge to the 21st century I'd like to sell you.

The fact is there are so many different forces at work here that unless somebody suddenly gives up, a protracted battle, I think, is almost inevitable.

Consider just some of the players, as of tonight. You've got the Palm Beach canvassing board, you've got a Palm Beach circuit court, you've got the Florida secretary of state, you've got the Florida Supreme Court, you've got a federal circuit court of appeals in Atlanta.

Now, it is possible that the Palm Beach court or the Florida state Supreme Court might eventually order the secretary of state to count those hand-counted ballots in her certification, and then the Bush campaign will appeal.

It's possible the federal court in Atlanta will tell the Palm Beach and Broward County canvassers to stop their hand counting. In that case, the Gore folks will appeal. It's even possible that each court could issue directly conflicting rulings, and both sides will appeal it to the United States Court.

A matter of days? It doesn't sound like it, Wolf.

BLITZER: So is that the end of this nightmare, though?

GREENFIELD: Oh, no, no. Here's what could be happening in the days, weeks and months ahead. You could have the Florida legislature in the next couple of weeks, believe it or not, decide to appoint the electors. They seem to have that power under the Constitution.

You could on December 18th have two or three electors somewhere around the country refuse to vote the way they promised, which would throw the thing into the House. But you could have the United States Congress in early January say we're not certifying Florida's votes when they convene in early January.

You know, Shakespeare, Wolf, talked about the law's delay, and I think he knew what he was talking about. I'm beginning to think here's the way this is going to end.

On January 20th, the new president will raise his hand to take the inaugural oath, and a lawyer is going to slap a subpoena into it. I'm not betting on any -- we're here for a while.

BLITZER: I'm ready. I have my coat, and I'm ready to go. Jeff Greenfield, thank you so much for joining us. And that is this special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.

Next on "LARRY KING LIVE," Bush attorney Barry Richard and Gore attorney Dexter Douglass. And one hour from now, Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw anchor a special report on the Florida recount: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. After that, Bill Press and Tucker Carlson open "THE SPIN ROOM" on today's developments.

We'll be back, of course, here tomorrow as the overseas absentee ballots are counted, and we'll keep watch over whatever announcements are made in the Florida recount.

For now, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   


Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.