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Bush Campaign Appealing Florida Supreme Court's Ruling on Manual Recounts; Cheney Has Slight Heart Attack; Miami-Dade Halts Hand Recount

Aired November 22, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, fallout from Florida's Supreme Court ruling to allow the hand recount.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, we cannot meet the deadline of the Supreme Court of the state of Florida.


BLITZER: As Miami-Dade says no to a recount, Palm Beach County says yes to dimpled ballots. Florida's legislature considers intervening in the selection of the state's 25 electors. And George W. Bush gives the go-ahead for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The court had cloaked its ruling in legalistic language, but make no mistake, the court rewrote the law.


BLITZER: And the health of Bush running mate Dick Cheney is now in question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did say the enzymes were elevated. If we did not use the word heart attack, I apologize for that.


BLITZER: Cheney's condition, the legal challenges, the political fallout and the road ahead in this special edition of THE WORLD TODAY: The Florida Recount.

Good evening. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting tonight from Washington.

One day after Florida's Supreme Court ruled the hand count can go on and its results be included in the final tally, momentum shifts on both sides seeking Florida's 25 electoral votes.

But the day began with a health scare for one of the men who would be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney suffered what's termed a very slight heart attack undergoing an angioplasty. It's his fourth heart attack.

As far as the recount goes, a victory for Al Gore in Palm Beach County where a judge rules thousands of dimpled ballots must be considered in the manual recount.

But a victory for George W. Bush in Miami-Dade County, which voted to end its manual recount altogether, saying it could not meet Sunday's deadline set by Florida's Supreme Court.

The Gore campaign is appealing and the Bush campaign is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule Florida's Supreme Court decision in favor of the hand counts.

Here's where the recount stands right now: Bush has an official lead of 930 votes in Florida. However, Gore's net gain from partial hand recounts in Broward and Palm Beach counties is 139 votes, giving Bush an unofficial lead of 791 votes. Still to be counted in Broward, about 2,000 so-called undervotes being analyzed for dimples or other signs of voter intent by the canvassing board, and in Palm Beach, roughly 330,000 ballots plus 10,000 disputed ballots. Miami-Dade is asking the state to certify its original returns, plus overseas totals and six Gore votes found in a sample ballot.

The decision in Miami-Dade County is a setback for Al Gore's hopes of catching George W. Bush and it followed an angry demonstration by Republican recount observers.

Joining us with the latest from Miami-Dade County is CNN's Frank Buckley -- Frank.


This evening Democrats in Miami have filed an emergency motion before a judge appealing to him to, in a petition for writ of mandamus, to direct the canvassing board to go back to the recount and to continue the manual recounting of ballots here in Dade County. So far, no action. We haven't heard on any action on what will happen.

That coming at the end of a very long and interesting day of developments. First very disappointing for the Republicans this morning when it was revealed by the canvassing board that it would not take up all of the ballots, but would instead just take up the undervote ballots, 10,750. Republicans were outraged at that and also were outraged about the fact that they couldn't get access to the tabulation room where they hoped to watch, to observe, the vote counting process.

Then, the disappointment went to Democrats later in the day, when the canvassing board reconvened again and reconsidered its earlier situation and decided to, in fact, stop its recount completely. So, as it stands now the canvassing board in Miami-Dade has stopped its manual recount of any ballots, will only put forward its certified votes that it has already certified and will not recount.

But again, this is pending legal action with the Democrats here in Miami-Dade, hoping that a judge will order the canvassing board to go back and continue its recount -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Frank, very briefly, are there any suggestions that that angry reaction that we saw, that videotape which just played, that that angry reaction intimidated the canvassing board? Some suggestions that they may have backed down in the face of what was some strong Republican reaction.

BUCKLEY: Well, certainly, it did contribute to their decision to, at one point, at the end of the morning, when, after the Republican observers went up to the 19th floor and had their angry protest, the canvassing board at that point decided that it should move its operation back down to the 18th floor where it had been conducting its vote counting process all along.

That decision however, also caused David Leahy, the election supervisor to say, because I can't be in the tabulation room for this process, he needed to do two things at once. He said that he couldn't therefore guarantee that they would finish even this ballot counting by the Sunday deadline. So, in that sense, perhaps, it did contribute -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Frank Buckley, in Miami, thanks for joining us.

Broward County, another Democratic stronghold just north of Miami-Dade, heard arguments today over those disputed dimpled ballots. And Republican attorneys petitioned the county canvassing board to revert back to its stricter standard for counting votes. The board now is allowing ballots that are dimpled or only slightly pierced to be counted. County officials plan to work through the Thanksgiving Holiday to meet Sunday's deadline.

The Gore campaign may have started out the day in cruise control, but by the end, shifted into legal overdrive. As you can imagine, when the lawyers got wind of the Miami-Dade County decision, they set about trying to put the brakes on it.

CNN's senior White House correspondent John King has more.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day began with the vice president in high spirits, a little humor along with some holiday charity.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have to count these boxes do we?

KING: But soon, yet another turn in the recount saga, this one for the worse: Miami-Dade County abruptly shut down its count, meaning more than 10,000 ballots that registered no vote for president will not be reviewed. So, it was back to court for a campaign that had hoped its Florida Supreme Court victory would be the decisive legal battle.

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We believe the decision of the Miami board, when they did decide to do a mandatory recount, as required under Florida law, it will be upheld by the Florida courts.

KING: Hours later, a ruling seemingly favorable to Gore's chances: Palm Beach County was ordered to consider so-called dimpled ballots in its hand recount. Senior Gore aides say it is still mathematically possible to erase Governor Bush's 930-vote Florida margin through the ongoing recounts in Palm Beach and Broward counties. But Miami-Dade's count was a critical reservoir of hope, and Gore aides were quick to voice displeasure.

DALEY: It is important that we listen to the Florida Supreme Court, that we listen to the clear rule of law and not turn our back on it.

KING: The Gore appeal of the Miami-Dade ruling was filed late Wednesday, and that's not all. The Democrats are also preparing to fight a Bush attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court shut down the entire Florida recount process.


KING: Now, the Gore camp voicing confidence the U.S. Supreme Court will reject the Bush appeal, but they are increasingly worried among Gore top advisers about that Miami-Dade decision. They have gone to court seeking an emergency order to get the canvassing board to reconsider. They say there's enough votes in Palm Beach and Broward County, but Wolf, they are worried that it will leave little margin for error unless they can get the Miami board ordered to reconsider.

BLITZER: And all legal maneuvers moot, John, if the simple math simply doesn't add up by Sunday night? That the two counties that are still hand counting, that they don't get the nearly 1,000 votes they need to beat George W. Bush?

KING: Well, certainly if that Sunday deadline holds, and the only way that it wouldn't, in the eyes of most, would be for the U.S. Supreme Court to somehow intervene. If that Sunday deadline holds, if they have not made up the ground, what argument does the vice president have then? That's why they think it is so critical. They think they might be able to get there, but tonight they're voicing increasing concerns that they need that Miami-Dade board to be ordered to go back and count those votes.

BLITZER: And how optimistic are they, or pessimistic for that matter, that the judge in Miami-Dade will force the county canvassing board to reconsider and allow hand counting to go forward?

KING: There's a divide, if you talk to senior Gore advisers about that. Some of the lawyers saying the law is pretty clear that this canvassing board said they had a problem with the count, and they say the law says once you admit to a problem, you must do a recount. On the other hand, some Gore lawyers in Florida say canvassing boards have a lot of discretion about how to handle these things and the court might say this is up to the canvassing board. They voted three to nothing. I leave it there.

BLITZER: John King, our senior White House correspondent, thanks for joining us once again.

Lawyers for the Bush campaign raised the stakes yet another notch today when they filed two petitions asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the election dispute.

CNN national correspondent Bob Franken joins us now, live with more on that development -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Republicans have not only asked the Supreme Court to take the case, but to take it on an expedited basis, to bypass the circuit court of appeals, which is considering the matter right now, the court of appeals in Atlanta. They say this is a case, according to their briefs, of the utmost national importance. The Republicans, in their brief, said, the outcome of the election for the presidency of the United States may hang in the balance.

Now, as I mention, this is before the appeals court. The Republicans are arguing that there are two petition that they needed to file. One, which challenged the action of the Florida state Supreme Court allowing the hand recounts to go forward. They say that the Florida Supreme Court acted in contravention with the law.

They also raised the same constitutional issues they've been raising in lower courts, which have thus far been unsuccessful. Particularly, they say that the arbitrary nature of the Florida recount where some counties are having recounts and others are not violates the equal protection law, the equal protection amendment of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, promising that all U.S. citizens have equal protection under the law. Now they say that the reason for that is because these recounts are arbitrary, standardless and selective.


THEODORE OLSON, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: The counting and recounting of ballots in Florida in counties selected by the Gore campaign has turned the election there into chaos. New rules for the review of ballots are invented almost daily, more often than that in some cases. Subjective evaluation of a voter's intent from indentations or marks on a ballot are being made in certain counties but not in others.


FRANKEN: The Supreme Court justices have several possibilities. They can reject the case. They can turn it back over to the lower courts or they can accept it and once again, Wolf, live up to their description as the court of last resort.

BLITZER: Bob Franken at the Supreme Court here in Washington. Thank you very much.

As for George W. Bush himself, he says if the U.S. Supreme Court does not step into the fray, a Constitutional crisis could be the result. CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is with the Bush campaign in Austin, Texas, and has more on the mood there.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As his lawyers prepared to file an appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, the governor took the same case to the public arena.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm disappointed with last night's ruling by the Florida Supreme Court. We believe the justices have used the bench to change Florida's election laws and usurp the authority of Florida election officials.

CROWLEY: Legally and politically, the Bush team is arguing Florida's Supreme Court violated federal law by changing state election law after the election was over. Bush and company also argued that those recounts the Florida court sanctioned are so chaotic as to be unreliable and the rules so fungible nobody's vote is being weighed the same way.

BUSH: The effect of the court's opinion will be that voters' votes are being evaluated differently in different parts of Florida. Some votes that were cast legitimately may be offset by votes that were not.

CROWLEY: But even as he prepared for a U.S. Supreme Court appeal to stop the recount, Bush also authorized his team to file an appeal to begin a recount of overseas military ballots disqualified in 13 counties. Bus supporters believe the Gore camp deliberately set out to depress the military vote.

REP. JOE SCARBOROUGH (R), FLORIDA: In South Florida, they're trying to the count vote four or five times. For our military men and women they're working overtime to stop it from being counted even the first time. That's a disgrace and they know it and this suit is going to take care of that.

CROWLEY: In the end, while the legal arguments have evolved over the past 15 days, one thing has not changed since early morning of November 8th: George Bush remains a believer.

BUSH: I believe Secretary Cheney and I won the vote in Florida. I believe that some are determined to keep counting in effort to change the legitimate result.


CROWLEY: Despite that devastating and unanimous Florida Supreme Court decision, the Bush camp seems energized. Said one aide close to the legal maneuverings, we are 100 percent undeterred. For now, the strategy is this: Watch what's going on in the ground in Florida and keep all legal options open -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But Candy, is there a back-up plan? So they have a plan b if the U.S. Supreme Court decides not to hear this case?

CROWLEY: Well, I think they have many templates that go to if this legal decision happens, then let's do this. But one would assume that once you go to the Supreme Court, it could bounce back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and that's certainly a possibility.

But beyond that, they're watching the recount. That could go their way, as we heard John talk about it, and there is the Florida state legislature, which making noises about a special session and as we know, under federal law, they can elect their own electors if they want.

BLITZER: And we'll have more on that later in this program. Candy Crowley in Austin, Texas, thanks so much for joining us.

And I want to bring in Greta Van Susteren, our CNN legal analyst, who's been watching all of these amazing developments. First question, Greta, about the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme court will in fact here this case, take up this case and give it consideration. What do you sense given the history of the Supreme Court and state elections?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, they get literally hundreds of requests to have cases heard before the United States Supreme Court and very few actually get to the United States Supreme Court. You have to have the specific grounds to attract the attention of the Supreme Court.

What the Bush team is saying is that this is so very important that for that reason the Supreme Court should step in and resolve it. They claim their Constitutional violations, due process violation because there are no standards, in terms, at least, in the Bush camp view, no standards that are consistent throughout the state. And when we talk about due process, you mean things that are evenly done throughout the area.

Secondly, they say there's an equal protection violations problem because voters are treated differently in Florida, according to the Bush people. And finally, they claim a First Amendment violation saying that the votes are not recorded the same, meaning that one person's vote may not equal another person's vote.

So what they're saying is we have Constitutional violations. The Supreme Court should hear this. Most people think that it's unlikely the United States Supreme Court will step in, that this will be considered a state matter alone. But in law school, as much as we like to think they teach us how to read minds, they don't and we can't.

BLITZER: Switching gears to Miami-Dade, what are the prospects that the Gore campaign can reverse that decision, the decision that would stop all hand counting going forward in Miami-Dade?

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Wolf, again there's the luck of the draw. Who's your judge? They've asked for something called a mandamus, an order from a judge to begin the count once again, that manual hand count. And what they're going to lean heavily on is the decision from the Florida Supreme Court which seemed to have been a directive that a hand count should go forward merely by the fact that the Florida Supreme Court said that the secretary of state must consider any additional votes that are handed in to her by a deadline that comes up on Sunday or Monday morning, depending what happens on Sunday night. So it seems likely, but no one knows what's goes on in these minds of these judges and one judge may look at the facts and laws different from what another judge may do.

BLITZER: On the surface, the decision in Palm Beach County to go ahead and consider those dimpled chads, those dimpled ballots seems to be an important win for the Gore campaign. Is it?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's green light. It's a green light that the canvassing board in Palm Beach County should consider everything, but in many ways it's not really a departure from what the law is. The law has always been in Florida that the canvassing board has the obligation to determine the intent of the voter, and in terms of looking at everything, the totality of the circumstance. For some reason, the canvassing board thought that they should restrict what they look at and did not consider simply a dent or a dimple as being sufficient to be an intent.

The judge merely said, look, the law is you have the job to determine the intent of the voter and you should consider all the circumstances, and not limit yourself.

BLITZER: And finally, Greta, if the Florida legislature decides to take up this matter and name their own electors to the Electoral College, is there anything legally standing in the way of that Florida legislature from doing that?

VAN SUSTEREN: Probably not, Wolf, but you have to appreciate the irony of it. I mean, one of the reasons why you have such a problem in the state of Florida is because the legislature passed two laws that were in conflict to each other. One as to when the secretary of state was supposed to certify the vote and the other had to do with the hand counts, and the two statutes conflicted with each other.

And now the very people who created the conflict in the statutes which required the Florida Supreme Court to step in and sort it out are the ones that could ultimately make the decision. So they would benefit, perhaps, from what may seem like inconsistent statutes. At least, that's what the Supreme Court said they were.

BLITZER: All right, Greta Van Susteren, thanks. You'll be back in the program later as you have been all these past several days. Always good to have you on this special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.

Still to come: Dick Cheney's heart attack. How serious and how long it took to let us know? But next here, Florida's legislature: What they can and might do to step in.

Also, those dimpled ballots. The case Florida's Supreme Court cited in its ruling. This is a special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court was right in the decision they made. The votes all should be counted, I think.


BLITZER: With the presidency still undecided and the legal battle being fought on several fronts, the Florida legislature is leaving open the possibility it might intervene in the selection of the state's 25 electors.

CNN's Kate Snow explains how that could happen.


TOM FEENEY (R), FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKER: The Florida Supreme Court could have given us a resolution. Instead, I fear, it has given us a potential constitutional crisis.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida's Republican speaker of the House says Tuesday night's Florida Supreme Court decision to extend the deadline for hand recounts effectively rewrote state law and encroached on the authority of the state's lawmakers.

FEENEY: In my view, the judicial branch has clearly overstepped their powers.

SNOW: Feeney isn't alone. Republicans hold a majority in Florida's State Senate as well. In a written statement, Senate President John McKay said he was "stunned and displeased" by the court's ruling.

"We find ourselves in uncharted territory," he said. We must take a thorough and methodical approach in determining whatever action, if any, we will take."

The Republican leadership sees several options: piggyback on litigation being pursued by the Bush legal team, go independently to federal court or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, or call a special legislative session. Normally, the Florida legislature wouldn't meet until March, but if the House speaker and Senate president agree, a special session could be convened. Federal law gives state legislatures exclusive power to prescribe the method of choosing electors, and if a state fails to make a choice of electors by the set date -- in this case December 12th -- the state's legislature can decide how to appoint them.

MIKE FASANO (R), FLORIDA HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: What happens if no vote is counted because of the delay after delay. I think at some point in time you have to have a finality here, and somewhere the legislature may have to step in and select those electors.

SNOW: Democrats in the Florida legislature say that would be a travesty. The Gore campaign says state lawmakers shouldn't get involved.

DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: I think people all over Florida and all over America would raise serious questions if we had the politicians here in Tallahassee, including the governor, stepping in to overturn the will of the people as expressed through their votes.

SNOW (on camera): Republican leaders in the Florida legislature say they're not likely to hold a special session over this long holiday weekend, but they could do so sometime before December 12th.

Kate Snow, CNN, Tallahassee.


BLITZER: Joining us now for some insight on all of this is Florida State Senator, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Tom Rossin. He joins us from West Palm Beach. And the Republican state senator, Daniel Webster, who's in Tallahassee.

Senators, thanks for joining us. I want to begin with you, Senator Webster. How likely is it that all of this will fall into the lap of the State Senate in Tallahassee?

DANIAL WEBSTER (R), FLORIDA STATE SENATE: Well, I think, first of all, you have to understand that we were dismayed by the Supreme Court decision, and the law that we would be protecting, if we were able to say, look it, this is our venue, this is our deal, we're supposed to be choosing the way electors are chosen, is a law that was enacted by a Democrat legislature 11 years ago.

We have a pretty bipartisan approach in our legislative process, and I think whatever we do, we're certainly going to weigh all our options before we do them.

BLITZER: Senator Rossin, you know, you're heavily outnumbered by the Republicans, both in the Senate and in the House, in Tallahassee. Are you going to go in a bipartisan way along the lines if the Republicans demand that the legislature selects the electors to the electoral college?

TOM ROSSIN (D), MINORITY LEADER, FLORIDA STATE SENATE: Well, it's my opinion, Wolf, that we should not take this into the legislature: not necessarily because it's a Republican legislature. I just think this election has polarized the people of Florida and the people of the nation to the point where I think it would be a big mistake to take it into a Florida legislature, whether it was a Republican legislature or a Democratic legislature.

I think that's a mistake. I don't think we're equipped to handle those kinds of problems. And after all, all we're trying to do is count the number of votes that the Floridians voted for, which candidate they voted for, find out what -- you know, how many votes there are that are proper votes that people have confidence in, and then elect the candidate.

If that's Governor Bush, then that's who it is. If that's Vice President Gore, that's who it is.

The Florida legislature really is not equipped to handle this.

BLITZER: Senator Webster, we heard the House Republican speaker earlier today saying he's consulting with a legal expert, a law professor, apparently beginning the process of considering whether the legislature should take up this issue of selecting the 25 electors.

What is the Senate doing, if anything?

WEBSTER: Well, I think you have to remember each side is looking at the options, but you also have to remember, too, that -- I don't believe that we select the electors necessarily. It sounds like we determine methods by which electors are chosen. We did that. We set an election. There was a seven-day period. There should have been a certification, and there was a 10 day window to contest that election.

That wags overturned by the state Supreme Court, and I think it's a lot of people's feelings that we were empowered by the United States Constitution to do that, and therefore, there has been a breach of the separation of powers.

BLITZER: How bitter right now, Senator Rossin, is the mood in Tallahassee? We know a lot of Republicans are bitterly angry at the Florida state Supreme Court for the decision it came up with last night.

ROSSIN: Well, I don't know. As Senator Webster mentioned, we try in the Florida Senate to be as congenial and as bipartisan as we possibly can be. And I think that bringing this issue into the Florida Senate at least would not be helpful to that process.

It's not bitter now. I don't think the Florida senators on either side feel bitter about it. I think that would happen if we brought it there. And as I said, we're just simply not equipped as a body to start deciding what the count was.

After all, this is almost a tie between these two candidates. The Florida legislature clearly is not a tie in terms of their members, and it just doesn't make a lot of sense to take it one political step further when we're having enough trouble trying to figure out what to do now.

BLITZER: Senator Webster, we heard Governor Bush today slam the Florida Supreme Court decision, saying that those seven justices unanimously overreached. Are you prepared to go as far in criticizing the Florida Supreme Court as Governor Bush did earlier today?

WEBSTER: Well, these justices are friends of mine, but I will tell you this: I do believe in this case they did overreach. However, you have to remember the Constitution of both the state and the United States Constitution figured that might happen and gave remedy for those situations. And I think we need to look at remedies for that, but I don't think we necessarily need to accept the fact that they have in a sense stolen away some of our legislative authority.

BLITZER: Did, Senator Rossin, did the Supreme Court steal away some of the legislative authority that existed in Tallahassee?

ROSSIN: No, that's -- you know, that's -- you know, that's absolutely untrue. I know Senator Webster is sincere in his belief, but it's not correct.

The fact is, is that the Florida Supreme Court followed the law, followed the Constitution. This clearly was their mandate. They did it properly. And just because it didn't turn out the way the Republicans wanted it to turn out, they're now attacking the court.

I think that's wrong. I think it's a -- it shows a misunderstanding of how our system works and is something that is not going to be proper if we go ahead and now try to overrule what is the proper constitutional process that we have in this country.

BLITZER: All right, Senator Tom Rossin, Senator Daniel Webster, thanks to both of you for joining us on our special edition of THE WORLD TODAY.

BLITZER: And coming up next, who knew dimples could set off such a debate? The many different opinions on how to handle indented ballots. And Greta Van Susteren examines today's hearing on considering dimpled ballots in Palm Beach County.



SUZANNE GUNZBERGER, BROWARD COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: I'm not going cooking turkey. I'm going to be looking at ballots and making decisions all day on Thursday.


BLITZER: Florida has no statewide standard on handling dimpled ballots, but other states do, including George W. Bush's home state of Texas. And that, Bush's lawyers say, is the key, not whether to count dimpled ballots, but how.

CNN's Brooks Jackson explains.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside Florida, dimples are counted, but not every one. Take a look at that 1990 Republican primary in Illinois for state representative, a recount the Florida Supreme Court mentioned in its opinion. At first, an Illinois judge refused to count indented chads as votes, and declared a tie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tails! JACKSON: Peggy Pullen lost the coin toss, but later won in the Illinois Supreme Court. The court said -- quote -- "These voters should not be disenfranchised where their intent may be ascertained with reasonable certainty."

So the trial judge counted again. This time Pullen won by six votes, all dimples, according to her lawyer.

MICHAEL LAVELLE, ELECTION LAWYER: Of those six, they were all dented ballots that were counted on behalf of Pullen.

JACKSON: And that's a point being stressed by Al Gore's lawyers. But it's also true that most dented chads were not counted in that same case. The trial judge examined 19 disputed ballots, but saw clear voter intent in only eight, counting seven for Pullen, one for her opponent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked at some of those ballots and thought they clearly indicated the voter's intent. The trial judge didn't. There is a discretionary judgment involved here.

JACKSON: Other states also count dented chads. The Massachusetts supreme judicial court justices personally examined more than 900 disputed ballots in a 1996 Democratic congressional primary recount. Subjective judgments are inevitable.

Even George W. Bush's own state of Texas counts dents as votes, more often than not, according to the election supervisor of the state's largest county.

TONY SIRVELLO, HARRIS COUNTY ELECTIONS ADMIN.: If the chad is indented so that you are able to ascertain the intent of the voter, that you are to count that as a vote for the candidate in whose chad was actually indented.

JACKSON: In fact in Hays County, Texas, two years ago, dimples made the difference in a race for the state legislature. A recount made Republican Rick Green the winner by 36 votes, mostly indentions made by straight-party Republican voters.

RICK GREEN (R), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: That's right, we did include some of those ballots, but we had the hanging chads and pregnant chads and other types of ballots. What we didn't do is count all of what they are calling dimpled ballots in Florida. We call them indented ballots here in Texas. In Florida, apparently, they're counting everything that's been even slightly touched by a stencil. It's starting to look like they're counting a chad that's been breathed on.

JACKSON (on camera): One rule Texas officials say they try to follow is that a dent won't count if a voter has made clean punches elsewhere on the same ballot, but that's not specified in Texas law or regulation. It's a judgment call.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: For more on the day's events and the legal issues surrounding them, we're joined once again by CNN legal analyst Greta Van Susteren -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Wolf, there's always a lot of court activity down in the state of Florida. And, of course, the exciting activities in West Palm Beach earlier today, we had an order by Judge LaBarga.

And joining us to talk about the order is Mark Wallace who is a lawyer from the Florida Republican Party.

Mark, let me ask you about the judge's order. He said, among other things, the only bright-line rule a canvassing board is permitted to have in Florida is that there can be no per se rule excluding any ballot.

Do you agree with the judge's ruling or not?

MARK WALLACE, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY COUNSEL: Yes, I think that's right. I think the judge and this canvassing board have said you need to look at the totality of the circumstances when you look at a ballot card. I think it's very important that you try to divine voter intent from as many factors as possible and you can't simply look at one individual mark.

The judge has said, Judge Burton in the canvassing board and Judge LaBarga have all said you need to take a look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding each individual card.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did the Republican Party of Florida in any way or did Republicans join in this litigation? It was originally brought by the Florida Democratic Party against the canvassing board. Did the Republican Party weigh in, in any way? Did it oppose this totality of the circumstances decision?

WALLACE: No, not really. We did argue before the court today. But really what happened was is the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board and Palm Beach County put Judge Burton, the chairman of the canvassing board, before the court and proffered him as a witness to explain what the canvassing board was doing here in Palm Beach County.

Judge Burton explained, he said that they were trying their best and they were looking at every conceivable factor they could in evaluating a decision as to whether or not to count a vote. Judge LaBarga looked Judge Burton in the eye and said I think you're probably doing it the right way.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this the end of the dimpled ballot dispute down in West Palm Beach?

WALLACE: Unfortunately I don't think it's the end of the dimpled ballot dispute because I think the Democratic Party refuses to give up. Every time there's been a new dimple standard, the Democratic Party has tried to change the standard. I expect Friday they will try to attack the standard once again and persuade the canvassing board and anybody else they can not to follow Judge LaBarga's decision. VAN SUSTEREN: But Mark, isn't the judge's decision that the discretion rests solely with the canvassing board and the only thing that he said is they have to consider the totality of the circumstances? So how can you fight over the standard of whether a dimple may be considered or not?

WALLACE: Well, I happened to agree with you, Greta. I believe it's very hard to attack that, but I believe the Democratic Party will try to challenge and make the argument that they made before Judge LaBarga today that every indentation should count no matter what.

In fact arguing for a bright line rule enforcing all dimples. And that simply is not the law, not what Judge LaBarga ruled and not what the three-member Democratic canvassing board has been doing here in Palm Beach County. I believe it's somewhat an act of desperation when the Democratic Party is essentially attacking its own Democratically exclusive canvassing board.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, you've been inside that room and I've been down in West Palm Beach as well. How do these ballots -- when you pick up a ballot and look at it, how do you determine the intent?

WALLACE: It's not easy. Frankly, the number of different types of marks, the number of marks, there is pen marks, there's one ballot that was sealed by a kiss with lipstick on it even. I mean, the number of marks is astounding and not all dimples are created equally. There are some dimples that are greater than others and there are some that are barely indentations. And I think the canvassing board is trying to do the right thing and look at each factor and identify a voter's intent.

But to say that it is an inexact science is an understatement. That is why, I think, Governor Bush has all along said that this is a flawed process. We are not happy with the process, but to the extent that we have to have this process, we are going to live with what this canvassing board is doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: You did not disagree with Judge LaBarga when he says that -- he says that despite our increasing reliance on computers and other machines a human check is more likely to deliver a more accurate count of ballots?

It sounds like he thinks the human check is the better way to go.

WALLACE: I would have to disagree with Judge LaBarga on that. The whole intent of the Florida statutes is to insure that there is no subjectivity, no partisanship, and no opportunity for mischief. And that's why we have machines doing the count, not people. The machine count is really the most accurate because you eliminate all those equations.

If you think about it, the Democratic canvassing board has had many two-one votes as to whether or not to include a ballot in this process. If it's a two-one vote, it has to by definition be subjective because you can't have reasonable people differing. And, although they're all Democrats, I do believe the canvassing board is trying to act reasonably right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, as a practical matter, as a lawyer -- you're a lawyer. How much of a problem is it that the Texas standard is the one that the Democrats in Florida would love to see adopted throughout the state of Florida and one which the Republicans seem to be running away from? As a tactical matter, how much of a problem is it when the Democrats keep saying let's use the Texas standard?

WALLACE: Well, as you know, Greta, the Florida statutes are very different from the Texas statutes and the Texas statutes are very different than the Maryland statutes. The statutory scheme in every state is very different. And Florida's statutory scheme has been set up to ensure that subjectivity is not included and partisanship is not included, and that is a machine count. I think what Governor Bush signed in Texas relates to the Texas statutes and it's a different statutory scheme.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mark Wallace, thank you very much for joining us from West Palm Beach. When we come back, we're going to go to the other side of the aisle. We're going to talk to Ben Kuehne, who's a lawyer for the Democratic Party. Stay with us.


VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back. We're talking about the decision out of West Palm Beach today in which a trial court judge has issued an order saying that the canvassing board down there should not have any per se exclusion of any ballot, which means dimpled ballots may be considered and we're joined now by Ben Kuehne, who's a lawyer for the Democratic Party.

Ben, the hearing today was a request for a clarification of a November 15, 2000 order. What was wrong with the November 15, 2000 order that the Democratic Party had to run back to court?

BEN KUEHNE, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY COUNSEL: Well, we ran back to court because we thought that the canvassing board needed some help in applying the law. Judge LaBarga's earlier order told them what to do, but it left a little bit of room for the canvassing board to feel uncomfortable following the law, so we thought a new order would do a better job of telling this canvassing board you've got to be clear and count these votes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, you say uncomfortable. What's so uncomfortable for the canvassing board?

KUEHNE: I think the canvassing board was torn between people not following the rules. They seemed to be a stickler for the fact that a lot of voters just didn't do it right versus the Constitutional right of counting the votes. They recognized that people came to the polling place. They tried to vote. So how do they balance that? So they needed a little nudge to push them in the direction of counting the votes. A lot of people in Palm Beach County voted and the canvassing board can't just throw out those votes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, Ben, that what's needed is some sort of standard? There's been an awful lot of talk about there had to be standards or is it enough to repeat the law in Florida that it's their job find the intent?

KUEHNE: Judge LaBarga did try to give them standards, and the standards which have been applied by virtually every case that's ever decided this says that if there's a mark near the place where the voter is supposed to make the punch card, that counts as a vote. Very clear standard, very objective.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ben, there's some ballots still that are close, and in examining these ballots, is anyone on the canvassing board using anything like a magnifying glass or anything to sort help try to determine whether or not there truly is an indentation and intent?

KUEHNE: You know, Greta, I've actually offered my glasses to some of the canvassing board members at times, but they all assure me they've got 20/20 vision, so I don't think they need a magnifying glass.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has there been any discussion, though, to do anything to try to facilitate it or is it just the bare, naked eye?

KUEHNE: It's the eyeball, and I'll tell you, the interesting thing about these cards are, you could look at them, I could look at them, 20 people could look at them, and I'll bet you 99 percent of the time we'd know if that person voted or not. It's not rocket science. It's just practical, common sense.

VAN SUSTEREN: What if there's a dimple in a Bush chad and a dimple in a Gore chad? Is that a vote?

KUEHNE: No. If there are multiple marks in a -- for presidential candidate it would be just as though somebody tried to punch two different holes. You can't vote for two candidates. You can only vote for one.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what if you have one dimple in Bush and two dimples in Gore? Is that a vote?

KUEHNE: No, I think once again, you're really looking did the voter intend to vote. And if they make multiple marks for multiple candidates, it just doesn't count as a vote. Why? Because you don't know what they were doing.

What we're seeing over and over again are people go to the voting place and particularly in column one, when you look at the ballots card, column one, the experts say is the worst place to have a punch hole because it's difficult to punch those holes in column one. Why? Because it's close the edge of the card and a lot of people have trouble punching column one. It's really very simple. They should have started all the votes in column two and we would not have had this dimple problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you have a ballot that's contested and the three canvassing board members are looking at it, do they look at it individually or do they look at it together? Do they deliberate? Do they talk? What's the process down there?

KUEHNE: Well, the process is kind of ad hoc. It really depends how many cards they have to look at and what the time of day is. But generally speaking, each canvassing board member tries to look at it, and then we'll have some discussion. A vote, no vote, under vote. Gee, looks like a turned corner. And they'll have some discussion if it's a close one to try to come up with a reasonable approach to counting or not counting that ballot.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we're going take a break. Ben Kuehne, thanks for joining us. When we come back, Judge Charles Burton, who is the head of the Palm Beach Canvassing Board will be joining us.


VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back. We're now joined by Judge Charles Burton, who is head of the Palm Beach Canvassing Commission, who's got a very important job down there in West Palm Beach.

Judge Burton, how do you determine intent looking at a ballot?

JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: Well, that seems to be the question of the week here. It's a difficult process, and you know, I think what we have to do is take it ballot by ballot and mark by mark and try and see if we can figure out what this voter intended to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the most difficult aspect of this job for you, judge?

BURTON: Dealing with the lawyers from both sides, I think, most of the time, but it's been a difficult process, and I think quite honestly the -- it's a difficult burden placed on three citizens to try and figure out what somebody intended from a ballot card.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there much dissension between the three of you looking at these questioned ballots in terms of what the intent is or is it unanimous?

BURTON: I mean, there's been some cases where we've split two to one, but for the most part there's been a lot agreement and, quite honestly, for the most part there's been a lot agreement with the lawyers from both sides.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think that -- the rest of the country is looking and it's a little curious as to why the standard seems to be so ill-defined. Do you find that to be a problem?

BURTON: It is a problem, and, you know, one of the things we've been through since this whole event started has been trying to seek guidance from other courts. We were just in court earlier today in front of Judge LaBarga and I was trying to toss the ball to him saying, look, we'd welcome a clear standard if he'd like to give it to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes or no, judge, if you had to do it all over again, would you?

BURTON: It's been very interesting and to be honest with you, I do feel honored to be a part an awful historical event, so...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, thank you very much, Judge Charles Burton, for joining us. Wolf, now back to you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Greta. Still to come, the latest on the medical condition of Republican vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney.


BLITZER: Doctors for Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney say he did in fact suffer a slight heart attack this morning.

CNN medical correspondent Eileen O'Connor has more on Cheney's condition and the procedures he underwent today.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary Richard Cheney went to George Washington Medical Center with chest pains a little past 4:00 a.m. Wednesday. Doctors say an initial EKG and blood work showed no evidence of a heart attack.

But by 8:30 a.m., a second EKG indicated the need for a heart catheterization. Later tests confirmed what doctors suspected, that Cheney had experience a mild heart attack.

By 10:00 a.m. doctors were performing a procedure called balloon angioplasty, designed to expand the artery and restore better blood flow to the heart. A stent was installed to keep the artery from collapsing again.

DR. ALAN WASSERMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: After placement of the stent, the artery now appears normal.

O'CONNOR: But little was made public at the time. Two hours after the angioplasty had taken place, Governor George W. Bush said he had spoken to his running mate. Not only did Governor Bush say Cheney showed no sign of having a heart attack, but Bush made no mention of the angioplasty procedure.

BUSH: He sounded really strong and he informed me that as a precautionary measure he went into the hospital. He was feeling chest pains and turns that subsequent tests, blood tests and the initial EKG showed that he had no heart attack.

O'CONNOR: Only at a late afternoon news conference did doctors acknowledge Cheney had suffered a heart attack.

WASSERMAN: These second set of values show an elevated level, a minimally elevated level that shows that there was a very slight heart attack. O'CONNOR: Secretary Cheney suffered three heart attacks before the age of 50, with a quadruple coronary bypass to repair four blockages in 1988. This latest episode involves a new artery. Despite that, doctors say they saw no other damage.

WASSERMAN: He will have no limitations and should be able to go about whatever his job in the next few months.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Secretary Cheney is expected to stay in the hospital until Friday or Saturday. Doctors say by then or even earlier, he could be feeling well enough to be back to the business of dealing with a possible presidential transition.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: And that's all the time we have for this special edition of THE WORLD TODAY. Don't forget a special edition of "NEWSSTAND" at 10 p.m. Eastern on the Florida recount and at 11, Eastern, "THE SPIN ROOM." For now, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.



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