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The Florida Recount: Judge Rules That Broward County can Continue Manual Counts

Aired November 17, 2000 - 2:46 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A new development in Florida; another question has been answered: Can the manual recount still going on in Broward County be continued? A judge has ruled on that.

Here's Susan Candiotti, now, from Broward County.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the answer is yes. The hand recounts can continue in Broward County; this, despite an effort by the Republican Party, who filed a lawsuit in court and asked this judge to have an immediate trial in which the Republicans wanted to try to prove that the hand count was a waste of time, given the edict from the secretary of state saying that she would reject any hand recount results.

And in one of the most liveliest of court proceedings that I know I've ever attended, considering the arguments by both sides, the judge ultimately decided that there is no emergency now to hold a trial on this matter and that the hand recounts can continue.

So let's talk to the Republican attorney who represented these four Republican voters who tried to stop the recount from happening.

This is William Sherer -- seems like a defeat -- a major defeat.

WILLIAM SHERER, REPUBLICAN PARTY ATTORNEY: Well I don't think it's a major defeat. We wanted to have a trial in Broward County to show the nation what the facts are, not what the spin is in Broward County -- that the Broward County election board is defying our law and the election laws with these illegal hand recounts and we wanted to get to trial, and there's been no trials, no evidence.

CANDIOTTI: The judge, however, said there's no rush, let the hand counts continued and left open the possibility that he could look at it later; but it might be a moot point by then?

SHERER: It very well may be by that point -- and he did do that and we tried our best to convince him that it is, indeed, an emergency; that the nation and the state is watching and he should have started -- or, we wanted him to start the trial. He didn't do it, he ruled, that's his job. Now our job is to consider what we need to do next.

CANDIOTTI: All right, thank you very much. Mr. Sherer, I can't let everything go without talking to Leonard Samuels, who argued on behalf of Florida's Democratic Party. What does this mean for the hand count?

LEONARD SAMUELS, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: The hand count will continue. We have yet another judge in Broward County determining that the hand counts go forward.

CANDIOTTI: What's the significance of the ruling?

SAMUELS: The significance is that the hand counts will go forward. Another Republican effort to stop them has failed; seems like I'm in court every day on another Republican effort to stop the hand counts and, thankfully, they've all failed.

CANDIOTTI: Nevertheless, the secretary of state has said, I'm going to reject everything that's going on here in Broward County and elsewhere.

SAMUELS: We all know that the Florida Supreme Court may have something to say about that.

CANDIOTTI: All right, Mr. Leonard Samuels, thank you very much, as well as Mr. William Sherer.

Hence, though, you heard it, that hand counting is continuing. The canvassing board members did appear here briefly in court -- the three of them, two Democrats and one Republican -- while the judge allowed them to go back to work while he heard arguments. And so everything appears to be proceeding on schedule. The canvassing board here in Broward County expects that it will be able to continue its efforts by Monday at 5:00 -- we'll see if that works out.

And in the meantime this canvassing board must also begin counting those overseas ballots. They expect to have only about 100 of those to do. The canvassing board themselves will be counting those ballots and then submit them to the state.

Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: OK; Susan Candiotti in Fort Lauderdale on the Broward County matter. The judge ruling that the count there can go forward; there are 588,000 votes to count in Broward. It's also going on in Palm Beach County, the manual recount -- 431 votes there. We're still waiting on a decision by the Miami-Dade canvassing board which had earlier considered a manual recount, then declined by a vote of two to one. They're reconsidering this afternoon -- we're awaiting on that -- there are 654,000 votes in Miami-Dade.

All combined, a manual recount possibility of over a million and a half votes.

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