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Bush and Gore Campaign Attorneys Make Arguments to Miami-Dade County Canvassing BoardAired November 17, 2000 - 3:05 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST, CNN "TALKBACK LIVE": We've got to switch over now to Miami-Dade County where Gore attorney Kendall Coffey is addressing, I think, the canvassing board down there.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
KENDALL COFFEY, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: ... that the six additional votes compellingly demonstrate that the sample recount could change the outcome of the election if applied county-wide. But for purposes of our request to you this afternoon, we take the position that rather than a full county-wide recount, that an examination by hand of just the undervotes, representing approximately 10,750 votes, will suffice and that we will make no further request to this canvassing board for further manual recounts if the undervotes are examined and counted by hand as the law requires.
This, by the way, is consistent with what a number of Florida counties have done, many of which were Bush counties around the state. We calculate at least seven counties that have done varying degrees of partial manual recounts. We're all aware of Palm Beach and Broward.
I think logistically, based on what Supervisor Leahy (ph) described before, the undervotes could be separated in a matter of 12 hours. Side by side with that process the manual recount could go on. And Dade would be finished well and far below the manual recount processes that are under way at this hour in Broward and Palm Beach.
And I emphasize that they continue, notwithstanding Judge Lewis' order, which we obviously disagree with and I think can be described in a lot of different ways. Those canvassing boards, who are looking at hundreds of thousands of manual recount votes, are proceeding because they believe that once the votes are tallied, that if the total outcome shows that it could change and would change the outcome of the election, that there will be no discretion of any functionary in this country to deny the will of the people; that once all the votes that are being recounted are tallied, if they are enough to change the outcome of the election, then surely those votes will be counted, they will be heard.
At this hour, we are informed that the Supreme Court of Florida is taking direct jurisdiction of Judge Lewis' order. So just as Judge Burton of the Palm Beach Canvassing Board, who, by the way, completely disagrees with the order, has insisted that they are going to go forward to provide the truth for their communities of what the vote totals actually were, we urge you to do that.
And, again, I emphasize a number of some 10,750 votes, which I think would involve a long day and an arduous day, is what is before you now. And let me be clear: There will be nothing more coming from the Democratic Party.
That is a compromise position, it is, I think, a readily doable thing. I contrast it with Broward, where they had four votes generated by the 1 percent total, where they are committing the resources, because of their commitment to their community to get the most accurate possible examination and to enfranchise as many voters as possible, they are proceeding to examine 583,000 votes.
This canvassing board should certainly do no less when we present six votes as statistically greater...
(UNKNOWN): Yes, Mister...
BOB MARTINEZ, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: The argument at this stage was supposed to be on whether or not there was going to be a hearing.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
Mr. Coffey, I agree that Mr. Martinez' point is well-taken. Could we please focus -- and I know you are -- but focus on the request for the rehearing that you've made.
COFFEY: Well, the reason that's so critical is none of that information was available before. Because when we came before you Tuesday, Broward had rejected a canvass.
And that, Judge Laird (ph), Ms. King (ph), Supervisor Leahy (ph), has a completely additional dimension that is critical to your analysis. Because what's going on in Broward, out of 106 precincts so far...
(UNKNOWN): Yes, sir?
MARTINEZ: Your Honor, the issue before this body at this point in time, whether or not the canvassing board was going to be holding a hearing on their motion for reconsideration. I think it's quite apparent to the public that Mr. Coffey is a very clever attorney and very talented, but what he is doing is he's getting into the heart of the argument. So I would request once again to this body...
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
Mr. Coffey, I agree. Would you please focus, if you can -- and I know it's hard to so, and I'm going to grant -- and the panel wishes to grant a leeway in this matter, but we are here solely for that purpose.
COFFEY: But here's the issue. What I'm focusing on is why critical, new information arose since Tuesday, and that is the essence of reconsideration. Rather than simply argue all the same points, what I think would be of assistance in your decision as to whether you should reconsider a decision as to whether Dade's results could affect the outcome is to know what's going on right now. It is new information that didn't exist Tuesday.
And let me tell you why it's so important. One-sixth of the Broward precincts...
MARTINEZ: Point of order.
(UNKNOWN): I'm sorry, Mr. Martinez, let's give him some leeway, allow him to finish his sentence or two.
And the new information in Broward, I'm not sure what that is. You did say something that did -- was unknown to me, which was that the Supreme Court had granted straight jurisdiction from Judge Lewis. That was something new that you said.
But other than that, if you could stick to simply why we should consider your request for rehearing of our original ruling.
COFFEY: Mr. Martinez doesn't want you to know the facts that have just come to light in Broward. So if the specifics are not something I should submit right now, I'll stand back.
But let me tell you if a reconsideration is considered -- and by the way, Broward reconsidered. They had decided not to go to full manual recount, then they proceeded to full manual recount. You clearly have the jurisdiction and legal right to do so, technical arguments notwithstanding.
But what we will demonstrate, once the objections are overcome, and the attempts to keep us from giving the facts to you or set aside, is that the results in Broward demonstrate beyond any question that the margin -- it's only 300 votes to begin with -- is narrowing drastically.
And because you didn't have that information Tuesday, and you were looking perhaps at a 300-vote margin without the reality of how Broward would compress and compress and shrink that margin, I think it's important for you to have that information.
The other new elements that we'll describe include different judicial rulings. We attached, of course, the Palm Beach ruling on the reasonable certainty standard which we believe is something we'd like to address further.
So simply stated, your canvassing board that has every right to know what has happened in the last few days.
Events in this case are exploding upon us with a rapidity and a dimension and a profound importance that has never been seen. So to say that these realities should be ignored and that you should be blindfolded to what is happening judicially, legally, and most importantly what is evolving so dramatically with the vote counts in other counties, I think ignores the most basic duty there is, which is to look at the truth and make a fair decision.
So we believe, for all those reasons, that the various Republican objections to examining the facts, to examining the legal developments are meritless and couldn't be more misplaced in a context of something of this dramatic importance. We would urge and prevail upon you to allow us to continue to make the presentation.
I think before so important and historic a question is answered, you should have all the facts, all the arguments, all the circumstances that can guide you in this most difficult and most important decision.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you, Mr. Coffey.
COFFEY: I just -- the Supreme Court -- I'm sorry...
(UNKNOWN): Did you file a supplemental memorandum?
COFFEY: Well, we're going to file -- we had a supplemental memorandum procedurally that we're in the process of filing under reconsideration.
(UNKNOWN): We've received this supplemental, if that's what you're referring to.
COFFEY: Well, Mr. Zak (ph) is pointing out what I think you also know from reading the newspaper, that the Supreme Court yesterday came out unanimously to hold that manual recounts could continue. I assumed you're aware of that.
(UNKNOWN): The county attorney is very professional.
Good afternoon, Mr. Martinez.
MARTINEZ: Judge King (ph), good afternoon, sir.
Judge Laird (ph), good afternoon.
Judge Leahy (ph), good afternoon.
May it please this body, distinguished members of the Dade County Board and staff, distinguished counsel. I want to start off, Your Honor, by thanking you. There's something that perhaps the public is not aware of, and that is that the other day, on Wednesday afternoon, you put a stop to an ambush by the Democratic Party.
Let me rephrase that. You put an ambush, a sneak attack, not by the Democratic Party, because, frankly, I've seen Democrats speak about what's going on here, and Democrats in the Gore campaign are becoming divided. And I'm not going to personalize this, I'm not going to talk about Steve or Joe or Kendall and say that they're responsible, what has gone here, because they're being true soldiers and they're fighting the legal combat for the Gore campaign.
So let me focus on what the Gore campaign attempted to do the other day and let me make sure that the public knows what you put a stop to.
On Wednesday afternoon, at night, after all these cameras had left...
COFFEY: Can I object? This is not (inaudible). And Mr. Martinez object repeatedly, and that he's going outside the narrow issue of your jurisdiction to reconsider, and going into some sort of various factual allegations, mere allegations...
(UNKNOWN): Thank you, Mr. Coffey. When we get there -- and I hear what you're saying, but we're not yet at a point where I can discern whether Mr. Martinez is going into such a broad presentation.
And, gentlemen, so we don't have repeated objections, and I'm sorry that I have to say this to all of you, but this is not a court of law. This is a forum that's open to the public, open to the citizens and residents of our county, who'd be moreover appalled to see that we weren't allowing the free airing of the views of both parties.
So let's try to give each other a little leeway here. And if it does encroach upon things, we've either heard before or that maybe -- because I know you attorneys have been to several different forums in the last three or four days, but this canvassing board is hearing all of this for the first time.
So I did try to put a five-minute limit on it, I think that's reasonable and fair. But let's try to not to interrupt. Thank you very much.
MARTINEZ: Thank you, Judge King (ph).
It's very important for the public, not just the camera folks -- because they weren't here the other day -- what they attempted to do and you put a stop to it, and I want to thank you in front of the camera and in front of the public for what you and your colleagues did.
They weren't here. The public wasn't here. The cameras weren't here. The press, except for a few who just stayed towards the end of the Shaw-Bloom (ph) matter, the press had gone.
What happened then was that the Gore campaign machinery attempted, without any notice to you, without any notice to us, without any notice to the public, in violation of the sunshine law, they attempted to put before you an argument to then have a quick argument the next day on their motion for reconsideration. And you, to your credit, stopped it. You said, "Mr. Geller (ph), the canvassing board is an entity that continues its work until the overseas ballots of the national election are received.
"Mr. Martinez makes a point. You caught us a little bit by surprise, and quite frankly we didn't know what you were going to say until you walked up here.
"But I will say this: Mr. Martinez is dead right. He is not to be subjected to a last-minute motion and then be forced to argue the matter before this panel. That is not right. That's not going to happen tonight."
Well, Your Honor, regrettably it didn't stop then.
(END AUDIO FEED)
BATTISTA: We seem to have lost our audio from this Miami-Dade feed. What you are watching Democratic and Republican lawyers make arguments before the canvassing board in Miami-Dade. Miami-Dade opted not to do a hand recount down there. And the Democratic lawyer, obviously Kendall Coffey, is trying to get them to reconsider that and to change their minds and do a partial hand recount in that county.
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