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The Florida Recount: Palm Beach County Manual Tally Continues Despite Legal BlowAired November 17, 2000 - 1:38 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The hour's top story, the recounts that may or may not count. A judge's decision today not to second- guess Florida's secretary of state means the manual recounts still under way in Broward and Palm Beach Counties may be all for naught. On the other hand, the Gore campaign is appealing and that means the secretary of state may not be able to declare a winner tomorrow, as she now intends.
Between now and then, Florida's 67 counties will be counting almost 3,000 absentee ballots from overseas. So far, five counties have finished and the results have been a net gain of five votes for George W. bush. That makes his lead 305 votes overall.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Now to Broward County where the recount continues even though all three regular members of the canvassing board there are in a courtroom. They were subpoenaed by local Republicans who are trying to have the hand count declared illegal and stopped. So far, the process has netted Gore 34 additional votes.
To allow that count to go on, the canvassing board chairman appointed a temporary stand-in. The court hearing is due to start right about now. We'll keep close track of that. We'll keep you informed of what's going on there.
In West Palm Beach County where the idea of recount originally began, you know there was a suspension this week in the recount while the canvassing board there waited for a court decision on the matter. The supreme court of Florida about 10 minutes to 5:00 p.m. yesterday allowed that recount to go forward. We assume it's still going forward.
John Zarrella is in West Palm.
What's happening there, John?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it is, in fact.
Before I get to that, though, a little piece of news here. In about less than two and a half hours now at 4:00 local time, the canvassing board has announced they're going to come out to that podium, the stage behind us, as they've been doing right along with the Government in the Sunshine law. They're going to count right out here the absentee ballots from this county before they certify those absentee ballots and send them into the secretary of state's office. So apparently they do plan to go ahead and get that out of the way and sent into the secretary of state's office.
Now, the count does continue. We can't get any updated numbers. They're not giving us any updated figures. They've been counting feverishly since about 8:00 a.m. this morning. The second team of counters should be arriving by 2:00 or 3:00 this afternoon. They've got 26 teams in there counting along with one Republican and Democratic observer for each team. The only count we got was just from one precinct that was finished up last night and gave the vice president a 6-0 baseball score lead over the governor from Texas.
Now, of course, what led to all of this was that now infamous so- called butterfly ballot. And because of that butterfly ballot, lots of legal challenges in state court as well. There were 29,000 votes that were thrown out in Palm Beach County: 19,000 that were overvotes, where people voted for more than one presidential candidate, and 10,000 undervotes where they didn't vote for any presidential candidate.
Well, a state court judge in the circuit court heard constitutional arguments today about all of that and he decided that, in six cases that were filed by local citizens here who want a revote -- they're demanding a revote because they say it wasn't fair, that butterfly ballot. Well, the judge listened to the constitutional arguments today about whether or not he has the authority to even call for a revote, and afterwards he said that he would rule on Monday what his decision is. And the folks that are representing -- the attorneys representing the plaintiffs are pleased with how things are progressing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY FARMER, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: If Gore carries the absentee ballots or if the manual recount is ultimately considered by Secretary of State Harris, which we are still very hopeful and believe will happen -- we believe that Judge Lewis's ruling today will be overturned and that Secretary of State Harris will consider the results of the manual recount -- then, yes, that is going to essentially moot our lawsuit and obviate the need for another election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Now, we've been waiting for the canvassing board to come out and give us an update on numbers. And it may be that they'll be coming out in a little while. And if we get any updates, of course, we'll bring it to you folks just as soon as we can on how the score card, so to speak, is shaping up here.
The vote is going to continue, though, because the supreme court of Florida, which gave them the go-ahead yesterday, has not yet told them to stop -- Lou, Natalie.
WATERS: John, we've been looking over your shoulder at that picture of the canvassing board there passing ballots amongst this group at the table. Tell us what's happening there. Who are those folks?
ZARRELLA: What they're doing there, the canvassing board and the observers from the Republican and Democratic parties, the way it is working out, that the counters are told, what you do is you count only the absolutely clear ballots, those that have absolute punch holes for one of the presidential candidates. Any questionable chads with only one corner out or the dimpled Chad, you put those over in a separate pile. And it is only the canvassing board members, with the observers watching them, the canvassing board members who can decide voter intent, if indeed this was a legitimate ballot where the voter intended to vote for the particular candidate.
That's what they're doing. Those are the questionable ballots that they are going over right now and determining whether they're going to count or not count. And, of course, ultimately, we have to decide whether this recount counts, as we've been saying all along.
So it's the process continuing on in there, but we have, again, not gotten any updated numbers all day today. And as soon as we do get something, of course, we will be bringing those figures to you -- Lou, Natalie.
WATERS: I have 431,000 votes in West Palm. When do they expect to finish with that.
ZARRELLA: They expect that they can at this pace -- they gave us an updated forecast of Tuesday evening at this pace that they will be done with the count, which I think is about the same time they're saying they can be done in Broward County as well.
WATERS: All right, John Zarrella down in West Palm.
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