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Republican Party Lawyer, Rep. Diaz-Balart Hold News Briefing Criticizing Decision by Miami-Dade Canvassing BoardAired November 22, 2000 - 9:14 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go now down to Miami and get some reaction from Republicans to the word about the decision this morning by the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board. This is Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
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REP. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: ... only those votes, 10,000-plus, where no one voted for president. There are about 10,000 votes in Miami-Dade County where people voted for no one for president. They left blank the column where they could vote for someone for president of the United States. Last week the Democratic Party asked this canvassing board, count only those votes. The canvassing board said, on the record, "That would constitute a violation of Florida law. We must, if we're going to have a hand count, count all the voters in Miami-Dade County."
This morning the Democratic Party made the same request and the canvassing board said, "We're going to do it. We are going to count only those votes where the voters of Dade County decided that they would not vote for president." What happened was that the way they were going about it, where they were counting all votes with significant numbers of observers in a large room, opened to you, the press, and open to observers at each table, that wasn't going the way that the Gore campaign had hoped.
And so, now, they've decided to leave that room, to leave the sunshine of a place where you, the press, and observers can be at every table, and to go back into a room, separated from the press, where they will count only the votes where the voters of this county decided that they would not vote for president. That, I think, is an outrage, and I think that all Americans should know what is going on at this very moment in Miami-Dade County.
The fact that, on the record, the head of the canvassing board said last week that counting only the votes where people voted for no one for president would violate the law, and that that canvassing board, at this moment, decided to do precisely that, is something that I would have never believed I would see in the United States of America.
This is something, that if it were not so tragic, if we would not be witnessing, in effect, the stealing of a presidential election, it would be laughable.
In addition, there are other very serious questions of law that the attorneys addressed before the canvassing board, and I think that the American people should know, and this community should know, what they entail.
I would like Miguel De Grandy, one of the lawyers for the Republican Party, to speak at this time.
MIGUEL DE GRANDY, MIAMI-DADE GOP ATTORNEY: Thank you. Going to the point the congressman made, I would like to read to you what the chairman said last week regarding whether a -- a vote of just a -- a counting of just the undercount would be legal. And he stated, "I have read the statute, I have listened to Mr. Greenberg" -- his county attorney -- "and Judge Leer" -- the other member -- "I wish for you input if you wish. It says under sub-section" -- and then he quotes all the different sections -- "that the option available to the canvassing board, assuming the canvassing board were to consider voting yes for this issue, a manual recount of all ballots. I think it's pretty clear it says 'shall.'"
Later on, the judge says the following, he says, "And I share that concern, both parties, that it would be fraught with error not to consider potential for an entire recount."
So now that what we know is this: A judge, who is chairman of the canvassing board, made a legal ruling on the interpretation of Florida law and ruled last week that it would be illegal to count only undercounts and that if we were going to proceed with a manual recount, the only thing that the statute allowed would be a full recount.
And not only is it not legal, but that same chairman of the canvassing board acknowledged that it would be fraught with error to only count a portion of those votes, as opposed to the will of the entire population of Miami-Dade County.
We have an even greater concern, as Hispanics in this community, in terms of our voting rights being violated at this point by the illegal procedures that are being implemented by this canvassing board. For example, there were votes that were counted in the sample recount that occurred last week. Those votes were not in precincts that were Hispanic communities. Those votes were culled with a different process than the machine process that is being used to determine undercount.
Those votes -- undercount, by the way, is the votes in which the machine did not record any evidence of a voter voting in that presidential election.
And so we are now taking precincts that voted 10-1 for Gore, which are not Hispanic precincts, we are counting those votes, and then we are putting these other undercounts that, as the chair said, are fraught with error, and counting those.
HARRIS: We are listening now to Miguel De Grandy. He is a lawyer for the Republican Party in Miami-Dade County, and he was joined -- he was accompanying Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart. They were criticizing this decision by the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board to change the way that they were going to count ballots. They have decided now to only count the so-called undercounted ballots, ballots that did not have any choice for president on them, and they will be examining those. There are some 10,000-plus ballots in that condition. They will only look at those in the recounting process that is going to take place between now and sometime Sunday, we understand.
We had Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart says that the count was not going the way the Gore campaign wanted, and now the canvassing board is going to go into a closed room and conduct this process without the oversight of the press.
We will continue to monitor that story and the Republican reaction.
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