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Election 2000: Democratic Party Asks Judge Labarga to Clarify Last Week's Ruling on Dimpled BallotsAired November 22, 2000 - 9:48 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Going to West Palm Beach now, where John Zarrella's standing by. We were having a discussion about Hamlet, John, when you said, "To be counted, or not to be counted -- that is the question." What is the answer?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is certain -- I don't know yet, but we should know soon, before Judge Jorge Labarga here at the circuit court in West Palm Beach, no less than three issues on his plate.
He has just disposed of one. Judicial Watch has asked that they be allowed to examine the ballots after Monday, when everything is said and done. And the judge has granted them that -- says he'll issue a written order that Judicial Watch can examine the ballots -- they want to make sure that there were no problems. They believe that the canvassing board here in Palm Beach county is partisan, and they just want to make sure that there were no shenanigans, they say.
Another other issue is a voter issue, a voter who wants a revote. That has not been taken up yet.
The biggest issue, the biggest one, is that dimpled ballot issue. Now, what has happened is that the Democratic Party has come back to Judge Labarga, and they are hearing that right now and is asking him to reconsider or to outline further and specify for the canvassing board here, what his order meant when he issued an order, about a week ago, that said that they could consider dimpled ballots. He didn't order the canvassing board to, and up until this point, they have not been considering dimpled ballots -- putting them over in a questionable pile.
Democrats say that the vice president could pick up some -- has, would have already picked up about -- 550 more votes, and the governor from Texas, Governor Bush, would have picked up about 260.
So significant numbers could have been picked up if the vice president was getting those dimpled ballots counted. The Democrats back in court, Democratic Party in court, asking the judge, basically, to tell the canvassing board here that they've got to consider those dimpled ballots.
Let's listen in for a few moments.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GREG BARNHARDT, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: ... the president of the United States, are now being disenfranchised. And, as we have seen, from our discussions that we had last week, courts around the country, and courts in this state, recognize that the right to vote carries with it the right to have that vote counted. We have to -- we have recognized, of course, the right to vote, that the right to vote means the right to speak, and the right to speak means the right to be heard.
Court after court has instructed us that citizens, the voters, are the owners of the government. Not a canvassing board, not an electoral board: the citizens. And courts have instructed us, as you did yourself, your honor, that canvassing boards are to determine what the voters intended to do, and not based on hyper-technical rules of construction, but based upon looking at the ballot to try to find out what that voter meant -- for whom did they intent to vote -- not can we follow a rule and do it more quickly and more swiftly?
Now, your vote, your order, if it please the court, could not be clear. And perhaps there is an unclarity, perhaps the reason that they're doing what they doing is based upon the first sentence, where you say that no vote is to be declared invalid or void, if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter.
Interestingly, you use the words, or the phrase, "intent of the voter" no less than three times in this order. You've told the canvassing board the present policy utilized by the local election officials restricts the canvassing board's ability to determine the intent of the voter. And you tell them they have discretion to use a methodology, because you're not going to sit there as a fourth member of the canvassing board, nor should you. But you sitting here...
ZARRELLA: That is, of course, the Democratic Party attorney, arguing that they need to have those dimpled ballots counted. The intent of the voter -- and, of course, that's what the Florida Supreme Court said yesterday, although they didn't talk in specifics about dimpled chads or partial chads -- but the will of the people of Florida.
The Republican Party argues that you can't determine the will of the people, or the will or intent of a voter, by looking at a dimpled chad.
So this is a critical, critical hearing, what the judge does. It could, as everyone believes, make a major shift in the number of votes in Palm Beach county. So far, the vice president has only picked up one vote, we understand, at latest count. But if these questionable ballots, dimpled chads, were counted, that could be, they say, a significant shift in the numbers here in Palm Beach county -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: As the hearing continues, we'll be checking in with you, John Zarrella, thank you.
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