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Election 2000: Legal Teams For Bush and Gore File Briefs; Manual Counts in Broward and Palm Beach County Continue

Aired November 19, 2000 - 6:00 p.m. ET


STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: Both sides present final written statements to the Florida Supreme Court. Tomorrow we'll hear the oral arguments.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, two counties hand count their ballots, not knowing if those tallies will eventually matter.

FRAZIER: Plus, a closer look at some of the Florida officials who've become national icons during the recount

From CNN Center in Atlanta, this is a special one-hour look at the Florida recount. Good evening, everyone, I'm Stephen Frazier.

HALL: And I'm Andria Hall. Thanks so much for joining us.

It was a busy day for the lawyers representing George W. Bush and Al Gore as they prepare to mount their legal challenges in the battle for the White House. The Bush camp filed legal briefs in advance of tomorrow's arguments before the Florida Supreme Court on hand recounts in the state. The Gore camp responded with its final brief. Amid all the legal maneuvering, the manual counts in Broward and Palm Beach County went ahead. The official, but uncertified, vote total has George W. Bush ahead by 930 votes.

Our Charles Zewe bring us up-to-date on the ballot-by-ballot count.


CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Using counting machines to save time, so-called "undervotes," punch-card ballots on which no vote for president was found, were culled from ballots cast in Miami-Dade County. Election officials say among the county's 653,000 total votes are 10,750 undervotes that will now be examined to see what voters intended.

Democrats predict undervotes will be a treasure trove of votes for Vice President Al Gore. Republicans, however, charge the sorting has shaved countless new chads from ballots, increasing the number of illegal ballots with more than one vote for president.

REP. JOHN SWEENEY (R), NEW YORK: Saw thousands of chads, thousands of chads on the floor, which suggests that the ballots are further being damaged and the integrity of this process is to be called into question.

ZEWE: Election officials deny that and say those ballots weren't damaged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a chad falls off, it doesn't make it any less or more of a vote, the vote already existed.

ZEWE: A GOP request to photograph alleged ballot mishandling from inside the tabulation room was turned down by the canvassing board in Miami. A state judge also refused a Republican request to stop the sorting, though Republicans say they'll be back in court to try to stop the Miami recount.

In Broward County, where Gore has so far picked up 93 votes in the recount, Republicans accused the Broward Canvassing Board of bending to political pressure by easing standards for considering whether a ballot counts. The board had been throwing out ballots that did not have two corners poked out of the chad. The board says it will now consider ballots with a dimple or one-corner chad after a county attorney said the stricter standard would probably not have held up in court anyway.

And in neighboring Palm Beach County, Canvassing Board Chairman Charles Burton defended recounters against charges of disarray and sloppiness.

JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH CANVASSING BOARD: Despite the allegations of widespread problems, they simply don't exist.

ZEWE: Recount officials estimate half the ballots in both Palm Beach and Broward Counties have been hand counted so far.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Miami.


FRAZIER: With all that in mind, advisers to the Bush campaign are beginning to increase their criticism of the manual recounts in Florida. Here's what Montana's Republican Governor Marc Racicot had to say just a short time ago.


GOV. MARC RACICOT (R-MT), BUSH SPOKESMAN: Recognizing that they are not extracting votes that the vice president needs, Gore supporters now want to change the rules halfway through the process by lowering standards in Broward and Dade Counties. To reverse the results of this election, Al Gore's supporters are less interested in accuracy and more interested in changing the rules to generate the votes that they need to win.


FRAZIER: Well, those are fighting words so we have asked Democratic observer and Gore supporter Kim Cline to join us with a reaction to those remarks. Ms. Cline, good evening. KIM CLINE, DEMOCRATIC OBSERVER: Good evening.

FRAZIER: Thanks for joining us. Let's get your credentials first. How long have you been in there observing this count.

CLINE: I was in there for four hours earlier today and will be returning at 6:30 and stay until it completes.

FRAZIER: And what is you job -- what do you do during that time?

CLINE: I am a Democratic observer. I observe the count. I observe the ballots. I observe the placement of those ballots into the piles.

FRAZIER: OK, now you just heard based on -- well, based on your experience, what's your reaction then to what the governor just said?

CLINE: I feel as it's an affront on my integrity. I've based 27 years of my life on counting. I'm a bookkeeper. That's what I do, I look at the numbers and for him to say that I would manipulate or I would try and do something dishonest in order to sway this election, I take that personally. I've been there. Let him come down here. Let him look at these ballots. These ballots are in very good condition compared to what we've been hearing on TV.

FRAZIER: I know you were wired up and perhaps you heard some comments that were made during Charles Zewe's report there that thousands of chads have been knocked out and have been swept away.

CLINE: I did not observe any chads being knocked out during my time of counting. I observed one swinging door chad for a Bush vote and allowed that to go through knowing the criteria that Judge Burton has put before us.

The integrity of these ballots are very, very well. They've been very well maintained and the counters and the observers -- the observers's job is to make sure that this count is fair, is accurate. This is what we are there to do. We have volunteered our time to do this. The counters have been excellent.

FRAZIER: Give us some sense Mrs. Cline, of what it's like actually handling the ballots now. According to some charges, it sounds like they're so fragile that pieces are falling out of them every time you pick one up and look at them. So you've got to handle them like they're made out of plutonium or something.

CLINE: No, sir. No, sir, not by any means. I mean, this is a piece of -- a strong piece of paper. I won't say it's as thick as cardboard, but it is a very strong piece of paper. You have to make a definite impression on a chad in order to pop it out. If they are falling loose, as I said, I witnessed a two-hole chad or a swinging- door chad and it was intact. We had no loose chad sin our area. And these ballots are in very, very good shape.

FRAZIER: Well, we're grateful for your insights. Thank you for bringing those to us tonight and good luck as you get back to the count. Kim Cline.

CLINE: Thank you. If you would for me, tell the gentleman that I deserve and expect a personal apology. Thank you.

FRAZIER: That would be Governor Racicot from Montana you're seeking and apology from. Let's see what happens to that -- Andria.

HALL: OK, we'll deliver the message then.

An observer from the Bush campaign declined to appear together with Ms. Cline, and she'll join us in just a moment. But first, let's hear what Gore campaign spokesman Doug Hattaway had to say about hand recounts in an interview earlier today.


DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We've been counting those by hand in this country since it was founded. Under Florida law -- interestingly, under Texas law as well, Governor Bush himself signed it -- hand counts are given precedence over machine count because people trust people.


HALL: We are joined now by Mary Hammond, a Bush supporter and Republican observer in Florida. Ms. Hammond.


HALL: Thank you for joining us. We know that your time is tight.

HAMMOND: Thank you for having me.

HALL: First, your response to Doug Hattaway's comments?

HAMMOND: Well, quite honestly, we have seen chads in boxes. We've seen chads on the counter and on the floors. So, there has been some mishandling in the process of recounting these by hand.

HALL: Well, you call that mishandling. Isn't that to some extent just simply par for the course when you look the at fallibility of the system. I mean, they are paper so some are expected to come out, I would assume?

HAMMOND: Well, I can understand that, but for instance, we've seen Gore, which is hole number five, punched with eight which is Howard Phillips and I've seen a number of those. I've seen a number of Gore votes that with are with the Constitution Party, Baker -- Howard Baker and to me those are lost Gore votes.

In addition, I've seen a number of Bush votes that had Bush with this Socialist Party and then with the Workers Party, three holes out of them. So, in my mind, moving them from the elections board offices over here, they've been jostled in the truck, They've been bumped moving into emergency operation center. They're moved around roughly when they're put on the ground. They're taken out of these metal boxes then they're put into cardboard boxes.

So it there's like six different steps that have happened to these, and plus they've been run through the machine twice and Governor Bush won both of those counts.

HALL: Let me ask you this, two days ago, we heard that people were sweeping up maybe 50 chads on the floor. Now we're hearing reports of thousands of chads. Explain the discrepancy there for us.

HAMMOND: Actually, I think the thousands of chad -- chads quote came out of Miami-Dade. Personally, I have not seen many, but I have talked with many other Republican observers and Democrat observers that do feel that the overvotes are escalating, and I'm recommending the precinct that I was in, 93-B, that had 36 overvotes in my estimation Governor Bush lost 14 and Gore lost 14 and there were a number with four holes punched out of them that I didn't even get to record who they were from. So in my mind...


HALL: Let me ask you a question. I'm sorry -- I just want to ask you one more question before we have to go, and this is a really more in terms of people coming together to resolve this process ultimately. You're a recount observer, a Republican; Ms. Cline is Democrat observer and yet you refuse to even appear in same segment. How do you suppose this is ultimately going to get resolved if we can't even come together on an interview? Republicans and Democrats.

HAMMOND: Actually -- actually, I was brought over here quickly. I've been here most of the day. That is not a quote that came from me or anybody in our party. I would have gladly appeared with her. I had no knowledge of what you're saying. I'm basically on here to tell you that the process has been flawed by hand counting and that Governor Bush has won both of the counts in Florida and in my mind he's president-elect.

HALL: Well, Ms. Hammond, we thank you for clearing that up because it was something that seemed a little odd. Mary Hammond, thank you for joining us.

HAMMOND: Thank you.

HALL: OK -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Andria, it's been a big day and tomorrow is expected to be another even bigger day in this Florida recount drama. Let's bring you up to date now. They're counting in Broward Count and Palm Beach and if you've been watching football all over the weekend. you might not be aware that in Miami-Dade, where they had originally voted not to bother with the manual recount because a small one had not produced any kind of significant change from the machine count. They've changed their minds and they're about to launch into a recount on that tomorrow.

So we asked Deborah Feyerick to join us from Tallahassee with a preview of what to expect during all of this. Deborah, you've been all bundled up waiting for us in the cold. Thanks.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, the temperature has definitely dropped here in Tallahassee, definitely much different than down in West Palm Beach. We want to let you know that the seven Supreme Court justices have been reviewing the legal documents filed this weekend by Vice President Al Gore as well as Governor George Bush. They were filed over the weekend. The judges will know all the facts of this case before they even enter the courtroom tomorrow at 2:00.

This way, the lawyers can cut directly to the arguments. They don't have to bring any of these justices up to speed. Now, the judges, the make-up the judges, six are registered Democrats. One is a registered independent. Right now we are told that they have basically cleared their schedules of all other responsibilities and of all other cases. This so that they can make a decision on the this hearing as quickly as they are able to.


CRAIG WATERS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: The court has expedited this case. If you noticed when the District Court of Appeal, which is Florida's intermediate appellate court, certified the case, they used language from Florida's Constitution, and that language is that this is a case of great public importance requiring immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court. The Court takes the word immediate seriously. So this case has the court's highest priority right now.


FEYERICK: We've heard a lot about abuse of discretion. Well, now both sides are using that term. The Bush team, in filing their brief today, said that the real abuse of discretion would have been had Secretary of State Katherine Harris actually accepted the late hand recounts after the deadline. The Democrats all along kept saying that Katherine Harris had the discretion to include those hand recounts, but that she abused it by deciding not to include any of them, not even knowing what they were.

So, that we are likely to hear during the court case tomorrow as that unfolds. The secretary of state did file a motion today. She wants in on these oral arguments, and she is asking that she be given some time during this 120 minutes to make her case as well. She said she is an independent party, although many have pointed out that she ran -- she was the co-chairwoman of Bush's presidential campaign here in Florida. But she says that she's an independent party and that she wants to speak and speak last.

The court has not ruled on that decision, but a lot of attention going to be given to this. The public is actually invited to attend and a court spokesperson says he's been getting numerous request. There are only 100 seats available in the courtroom. Some people may start lining up as early at 8:00, that's six hours ahead of time -- Steve.

FRAZIER: Deborah, thank you; Deborah Feyerick joining us live from Tallahassee.

Now if you're not one of those people who can get the 100 seats available, we'd like to let you know you can watch on television. Here's a programming note: We will provide live coverage of the Florida Supreme Court hearing on manual recounts. That begins 2:00 tomorrow -- 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

HALL: George W. Bush and Al Gore have been MIA in the media frenzy down there in Florida. We'll have a check of the candidates and how they spent the day when we come back.


FRAZIER: We showed you pictures a moment ago of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush; despite those, he has kept a low profile all day today, but his supporters were hard at work in Florida and in Texas.

And so was our Jeanne Meserve, who reports now from Austin on the latest moves by his campaign.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush and his wife Laura went to church this morning while his surrogates went to war, charging forward on the Sunday talkfests with questions of subjectivity and subversion in Florida's election. Bush partisans remained particularly incensed by reports that large numbers of overseas military ballots were disqualified for technical reasons, like the lack of a postmark.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: They knew that those votes primarily were Bush votes. So every -- they want every vote to count, including felons, apparently, unless you're in the military.

MESERVE: The Gore campaign claims it would never purposely exclude those ballots, and there appears to be a discrepancy between state and federal law about whether overseas military ballots need postmarks. CNN has learned Secretary of State Katherine Harris sent a memo to election supervisors instructing them to follow Florida law, which requires the postmark. Meanwhile, Bush advocates continued to hammer on their theme that the entire recount process is flawed.

RACICOT: Right here I have 283 chads from Broward County that weren't even picked up by those who are supervising that recounting process. Our election workers picked up these chads, and you can see there are 283 votes here.

MESERVE: Broward County election officials, including the Republican supervisor of elections, dismissed that allegation as meaningless, saying chads don't just fall out and fallen chads only come from punched holes.

Affidavits about some of these alleged transgressions are part of the legal filing Bush lawyers made Sunday with the Florida Supreme Court, which will hear arguments Monday on whether Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris acted within her authority to exclude hand counts from Florida's election totals. The Bush team describes her actions as "reasoned and reasonable."

What if the court rules against Bush, and allows the recounts to be included in the final vote tabulations? Bush surrogates left the door open to further legal action.

DICK THORNBURGH, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I can't speak for the Bush campaign, and I doubt if they would speak without having seen the exact wording of the opinion that comes down one way or the other. We don't know.

MESERVE (on camera): Governor Marc Racicot says the Bush campaign has not eliminated the possibility of taking action in other tightly contested states; but at least one prominent Republican has had enough. Former Senator Howard Baker said, quote: "This is idiocy. The country simply should not have to put up with that."

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Austin, Texas.


HALL: As for the Gore campaign, vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman made the round of the Sunday talk shows to explain the democratic strategy in all of this.

Chris Black has more, now, from Washington.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of a critical hearing before Florida's highest court, the Gore campaign is deliberately lowering the decibel level.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't want one ballot unfairly, but we don't want one ballot that should be counted not to be counted.

BLACK: The Gore team sent out its low-key vice presidential candidate to make its case on all the Sunday morning talk shows and deny GOP charges the Democrats tried to throw out the ballots of overseas military personnel.

LIEBERMAN: They're unfair both to our campaign, which would never have a policy aimed at disqualifying military voters, but they're also unfair to the local election officials in the counties around Florida, most of whom I think are Republicans who made the decision to disqualify those ballots.

BLACK: Vice President Gore canceled a long-scheduled trip to Tennessee, unwilling to be pulled into the political tit-for-tat. He stayed close to home, jogging with his wife Tipper and only leaving the official residence for church.

Gore advisers say Republicans are making a mistake by raising the political rhetoric before the Supreme Court of Florida makes a decision on including the hand-tabulated results in the final tally. Gore operatives remain convinced Gore can pick up enough votes in a hand count to overcome George W. Bush's 930-vote lead. In Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, the voting machines did not record votes in the presidential contest on almost 28,000 ballots.

DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: The machines failed to count thousands of people's votes. That's why we're here.

BLACK: In its case to the Florida Supreme Court, the Gore campaign is also arguing for a uniform standard for judging ballots, one that reflects the intent of the voter. The Florida Supreme Court ruled three times in favor of the Gore position last week, so Gore lawyers hope those preliminary rulings are a sign of things to come.

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I think it's very unlikely that the Florida Supreme Court would have directed that these recounts go forward if all they meant to do was to preserve the votes for history.

BLACK (on camera): The Gore camp says further legal action to resolve other ballot disputes is still on the table, but officials privately concede an adverse ruling from the state Supreme Court would deal a fatal blow to the Gore campaign.

Chris Black, CNN, Washington.


FRAZIER: Just ahead, an insider's look at the personalities emerging in the Florida recount.


HALL: Now to get a little perspective on the personalities involved in the Florida recount, we are joined by Mark Seibel, assistant managing editor for the "Miami Herald." And he joins us from Miami.

Thanks for joining us, Mark.


HALL: Let's take a slightly different tact on this interview. Let's not talk about appeals and court decisions and counts and recounts. Let's talk about those individuals who are really emerging from this, many of whom we've never heard of as a whole, as personalities and as real power players.

Let's start first with Katherine Harris, secretary of state, a Republican, co-chair for the Bush campaign in Florida.

SEIBEL: Well, Katherine Harris, the secretary of state's job in Florida is not one that draws a great deal of attention. And I would bet in Florida most voters have never heard of Katherine Harris until she stood up last week and said she was going to certify the election.

Of course, the secretary of state's office is a cabinet post that in the original Florida Constitution was elected statewide. But in another two years, the office has basically turned into an appointed position. And there won't be another secretary of state elected statewide.

But she is not a well known personality in Florida. She comes from a citrus family, very well known, very wealthy. And she's considered very conservative.

HALL: And she now claims herself as an independent party. She wants to speak before the Florida Supreme Court tomorrow in all of these hearings. Do you think that she really indeed can be an independent party considering her affiliations with the Bush campaign prior to all of this?

SEIBEL: Well, I think she has a responsibility to defend her office. Whether she's speaking independently politically, that will be judged I suppose when we hear what she has to say.

But certainly, no officer is going to sacrifice what they believe their office's responsibilities and authorities are. And I think it would probably be derelict on her part to not appear as the secretary of state at the hearing.

HALL: And let's take a look at the makeup of the supreme court now. Give us a sense of who these folks are and the role they'll play.

SEIBEL: Well, you have seven justices here, really all of whom were appointed by Democratic governors, six by Lawton Chiles, one by Bob Graham who is a senator now from Florida but was governor. The last person appointed to it was appointed in a joint appointment by Lawton Chiles, who was still governor, and by Jeb Bush, who had already been elected governor but had not yet taken office.

They are eclectic thinkers. They do very unpredictable things. They have overturned constitutional amendments approved by the voters because the legislature didn't explain the difference in the meaning between "and" and "or." So these are people who can really hone in on a fine point of a legal argument and come up with some surprising decisions.

HALL: We will see how surprised we are come tomorrow. Mark Seibel with the "Miami Herald," thank you so much for your insight.

SEIBEL: Thank you.

HALL: And we will continue with more of our Election 2000 special report right after this.


HALL: We have another check of the latest developments in the Florida election dispute. The Bush and Gore campaigns filed their final briefs Sunday ahead of Monday's crucial arguments before the Florida Supreme Court. Manual recounts went ahead in Broward and Palm Beach County. Broward County voted to change the way it counts ballots, deciding to allow so-called dimpled ballots.

In Montana, Governor Mark Racicot accused the Democrats of changing the rules in search for Gore votes.

FRAZIER: In a separate but equal controversy over the Florida vote, Republicans are charging Democrats with trying to throw out hundreds of absentee ballots thought possibly to favor Governor Bush because many had incorrect postmarks or no signatures. But Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman says officials should take another look at the rejected ballots.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Al Gore and I want everybody who voted to have the maximum chance to have their vote counted. We would never countenance or approve or tolerate a policy that in any measure discriminated against our military personnel abroad when they try to vote.


FRAZIER: Former presidential candidate Bob Dole, a Republican, also wants those military ballots reconsidered.


BOB DOLE, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I understand, they sign their ballot, but they're not postmarked. It seems to be a technicality. But I think every effort, and I agree with Senator Lieberman, who is my friend and a good person, that we ought to lean over backward to count these military ballots.

Should they receive preferential treatment? No. But I'm not there. So I don't know what's happening.

They're looking up into the light seeing whether or not the punch where there's a dimple or a pimple or whatever. I don't think that's the case with the military ballots.


FRAZIER: Well, now a little bit more on dimples and pimples. In Broward County, the three-member canvassing board voted unanimously Sunday to change its standards for checking such things. The board decided to count the so-called dimpled and one-cornered ballots. But it will segregate those in case the Florida Supreme Court requires the two-cornered chad standard be followed.

Now in Miami-Dade County, a spokesman for the Bush campaign said election workers were mishandling ballots during the recount there. Republican Ed Gillespie said he had a videotape that will show a box of ballots that fell and spilled on the floor, damaging them. County spokesmen denied there was any damage to the ballots. HALL: And now we take you to West Palm Beach where CNN's Mark Potter is standing by with an update -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Andria, that count here has been underway since 7:00 this morning. They're expecting it to go until 10:00 or 11:00 tonight. And we still do not have any new numbers today to suggest how this count has been going.

All we know is that as of this morning, 202 of the 531 precincts have been counted preliminary. Thirty-one have received their final counts. And what that means is that the challenged or questionable ballots have been ruled on by the canvassing board.

We do expect we're told the final vote here to finish up here Wednesday right before Thanksgiving. So far in just those 31 precincts, George W. Bush leads by, has an additional 12 votes.

Now a number of people involved in the count have come out to talk with us today to say that the count inside is going pretty smoothly today, although there are a lot of challenged ballots. And there are some criticisms that have been leveled, as we heard earlier in this program.

Judge Charles Burton, who heads the canvassing board, says that he's getting tired of all the criticism and says that he's actually personally offended by some of the complaints raised by both the Democrats and the Republicans.


JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, CANVASSING BOARD HEAD: For these parties, either one of them, to make a mockery of this is really a disservice. People ought to have confidence. And that's why we try to have it open. That's why we've held our meetings in the open. That's why we've allowed everybody in.


POTTER: Now we are told that we may and I stress may get some new numbers tonight to let us know exactly how this count is going.

Mark Potter, CNN, reporting live from West Palm Beach, Florida.

HALL: Thanks, Mark.

FRAZIER: Mark, thank you.

Well, as we've been saying, hand recounts of those now infamous punch card ballots are underway, grinding along in several Florida counties.

HALL: And despite all the publicity, recounting ballots by hand is really not all that unusual. But it is actually an effective way to judge a winner. That is the question.

Our Kate Snow takes a look.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To hear Republicans tell it, counting ballots by hand is an unreliable way to decide an election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We warned from the very beginning that this process was going to lead us all into a very tangled web.

SNOW: But those who study voting for a living say hand counts can serve a purpose and often do. Almost 40 percent of Americans vote on a punch card system like the ones used in Florida. Typically, hand recounts are used to go over those cards that a machine for some reason rejects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The machines are quite accurate. But the whole final accuracy of the town is greatly enhanced by the manual count.

SNOW: That's because human eyes can see what no machine could ever discern, what a voter meant to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You might be able to clean up that question mark about that ballot by looking and seeing whether it was punched sufficiently to indicate that the voter intended to vote that.

SNOW: But no voting system is error free. And humans are prone to making mistakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're counting for eight hours or 10 hours or 12 hours a day looking at little tiny holes on a piece of card that you're trying to figure out who voted for whom, that is the mind gets tired, the body gets tired. We're humans.

SNOW: And there's another problem. The companies who make those paper punch cards swear they're mean to be handled by people. But outside experts say passing ballots from hand to hand can wear them out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more you handle the ballots, depending on the tolerances that the ballots were made to, there are going to be some inadvertent chad droppings from it.

SNOW: Although hand recounts have been done for years in local elections, there's no national database to show whether they tend to overturn original election results or uphold them. About the only thing that's guaranteed with a hand recount, both sides are likely to gain votes.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


FRAZIER: Well, it may be hard to believe, but there is some other news occurring today. And up next, we'll take a look at some of that.

HALL: And that news is also about President Clinton's historic trip to Vietnam. We'll be right back.


HALL: President Bill Clinton is on his way home following a trip to Vietnam. His three-day visit was the first by a U.S. president since the Vietnam War. The aim was to cementize with a former foe, this amid much talk of what's to come.

CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace reports from the final leg of Mr. Clinton's trip.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A thunderous reception for President Clinton, Vietnamese of all ages yearning for a glimpse or a handshake. And on the final day of this historic journey, the president told CNN's John King he is optimistic about Vietnam's future.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that the trend toward freedom is virtually irreversible. And these folks are too young, they're too vigorous. And as you can see in the streets, there's a lot of goodwill toward America here.

WALLACE: Mr. Clinton urged the country to open its economy and loosen its grip on dissent. That prompted the Communist Party chief, who met with the president Saturday, to say while Vietnam welcomes engagement the U.S. should respect its political system.

Still, the president believes future generations hold the key to change. He delighted the littlest ones, met with young professionals, artists, and students, and toured a state of the art shipping facility on the banks of the Saigon River. The message here, that stronger ties must follow a painful past.

CLINTON: The years of animosity are passed. Today we have a shared interest in your well being and your prosperity. We have a stake in your future. And we wish to be your partners.

WALLACE: Mr. Clinton announced modest steps, $200 million to help U.S. investors develop in Vietnam. And for the first time, the man who once wrote that he opposed and despised the war spoke about how it felt to be here.

CLINTON: My overwhelming feeling when I first got here was thinking about the boys I grew up with who died in Vietnam, four of my high school classmates.

WALLACE: The president hopes his visit can heal some of the wounds that still linger.

(on camera): It will take years, senior administration officials say, before this country can become a more open society. But Mr. Clinton hopes this groundbreaking trip encourages Vietnam's next generation to press for a new future.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


FRAZIER: Confirmation today that Peru's controversial President Alberto Fujimori will reportedly step down earlier than expected. The country's prime minister says Mr. Fujimori will resign within 48 hours and then turn Peru's government over to his deputy.

The departure of the 62-year-old president will end a decade of hardline rule in which he was praised for ending leftist rebel violence but was criticized for crushing dissent at home. Fujimori's administration has been dogged by corruption charges in recent months.

In Jordan, gunmen fired on an Israeli diplomat in the capital Amman. The diplomat was treated at an Amman hospital with minor injuries. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak described that attack as very grave.

And we'll be back in a moment.


HALL: Well, mid-November, no big deal that it might be snowing. But it is a big deal that it might be snowing here in the southeast.

Chad Myers is standing by with the numbers at the board.


HALL: Thank you, Chad.

FRAZIER: Ted, thank you.

Glad to see on Ted's forecast a little sun there for the Sunshine State. It's been kind of gloomy and a little bit of heavy weather down there.

HALL: That's all right. We have the lighter side of everything that's going on in Florida when we come back.


HALL: Well, the votes are in, and in one race Bush is the winner over Gore. We're talking about Terrell Bush (ph). He defeated Johnny Gore (ph) for homecoming king at Weaver High School in Hartford, Connecticut. The matching names aren't the only similarities between the presidential and the popularity contest. Ballots from three home rooms were disqualified because they were handled improperly.

Bush's prize, not the keys to the White House, just a crown and a scepter and a free ticket to next Saturday's homecoming dance.

FRAZIER: You may be thirsty after all this talk of ballots and machine counts and legal flings. If you are, this pub in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has a drink which may whet the whistle of any voter or political pro. It's called Hanging Chad Ale, introduced Friday by the Cedar Rapids Brewing Company.

A brew master there predicts that this beer, made with a little bit of oatmeal and choice malted barley, will sell out long before a president is determined.

HALL: A little paper thrown in there too I would imagine.

FRAZIER: Yeah, right, for texture.

HALL: Stay with CNN for the latest on the recounts and the legal battles in Florida. Up next, Wolf Blitzer hosts a prime time "LATE EDITION."

FRAZIER: Then at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, as you can see there on your screen, an "INSIDE POLITICS" special with Judy Woodruff. And at 9:00, "AND THE WINNER IS" with CNN political analyst Jeff Greenfield.

HALL: And finally, at 10:00 Eastern, "CROSSFIRE."

Thanks so much for joining us for this special Election 2000 edition here at CNN Center.

I'm Andria Hall.

FRAZIER: And I'm Stephen Frazier. Good night from all of us.



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