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Special Event

Election 2000: Sen. Bob Graham Holds News Briefing on Florida Recount

Aired November 20, 2000 - 7:32 a.m. ET

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

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: And we want to take you right now to something that is happening at this moment in Florida. Florida Senator Bob Graham is speaking in Miami-Dade County. We'll let you listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: ... other than the means of arriving at the truest expression of Floridians' intention so that whoever is elected the next president will have the credibility of being elected honestly by the rule of law.

QUESTION: What would (ph) you like to see today out of the state supreme court?

GRAHAM: I would like to see the state supreme court do three things: one, to say that the manual-counted votes will be included in the final totals from Florida; number two, establish some uniform standards as to which ballots will be counted; and three, direct that the manual count will be conducted on a statewide basis so that all Floridians are treated exactly the same, in terms of their vote being subjected to a second examination manually.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

GRAHAM: I don't see any reason why we shouldn't do it. We are standing in front of the Miami-Dade building, where the voting is going to be counted here. This is the largest county in the state, has the most ballots to be counted, it is likely to take the longest, therefore, to get through the process. Other counties that are smaller than Miami-Dade, even if they started tomorrow, should be able to finish their process before Miami-Dade finishes.

QUESTION: .. the process is chaotic and flawed, the recount is flawed. How would you...

GRAHAM: Well I would say that is an affront to the good people that are trying to carry this program out. Hundreds of Floridians are working very hard, day and night under very difficult circumstances to assure that the intent of every voter is reflected in the final vote total from Florida.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: Listen, this is the most open process. The media is there, Democrats, Republicans are all represented. If there is a problem, there is also a solution. This is being conducted under the leadership of the responsible state official Katherine Harris, our secretary of state. If there are allegations that there are problems, it is her responsibility to find out what those problems are and to correct those problems. To date, her silence would indicate that it does not appear that she thinks there is a problem.

QUESTION: Senator, statewide recount would take Florida out of the electoral process?

GRAHAM: No. We're standing in front of the building where the recount from the largest county in Florida will take place. It will take no other county as long to do its recount as it is going to take Miami-Dade, just because of the sheer numbers of ballots involved. So if the court were to order today or tomorrow that all counties would do a manual count, the other counties should be able to get their process completed well before Miami-Dade, which is already underway, will get its completed.

Yes?

QUESTION: Do you think the margin for Bush...

GRAHAM: I don't know and I don't think that is the relevant question. The relevant question is, how do we elect a president of the United States who has the credibility and legitimacy of being elected by the rule of law, by an honest, open election? That is what we're trying to get to.

QUESTION: Do you think the balloting system here in Florida needs to be changed in light of all the problems?

GRAHAM: The system that we are using in Florida is the system that most states in the United States follow. The thing that is different is that Florida is extremely close in its division, as between Vice President Gore and Governor Bush. Second, that we are such a large state, and therefore, our 25 electoral votes will play a key part of who is finally elected. And third, that we are under the spotlight of world attention, witness all of you folks who are here this morning. There is nothing peculiar about Florida other than those circumstances.

OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

STOUFFER: And that was Senator Bob Graham speaking in Miami, Florida, a Democratic senator, in advance of the Florida Supreme Court decision that may come in several days, or perhaps as soon as -- excuse me, as soon as they reach a decision on hand counts. The Florida senator saying that he would like to see the state supreme court do several things. He would like the manual counts to be included in the Florida state total for the presidential election. He would also like the court to establish some kind of standards that would be used, as ballots are counted by hand. And the other thing that he would like, the third thing that he would like the court to do is order a statewide manual recount so that every vote in Florida would be subject to a manual count.

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