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Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board Decides to End Hand Recount of BallotsAired November 22, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, election officials in Miami- Dade, as we just reported, decided just now they simply do not have time to manually recount every single ballot so they won't be recounting any.
Let's get more on this development from CNN's Frank Buckley, who is there.
Frank, what's going on?
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, I was in the room when this vote was taken, when the discussion began. This is a remarkable turn around -- it is the fourth position that this canvassing board has taken. First, last week, deciding not to do a recount; over the weekend, deciding to go forward with a full recount; earlier this morning, deciding to do only a recount of the so-called under-vote; and then today, just now, as we have just -- a decision that it will not do a hand count at all. The only vote total to go forward will be the certified vote from November 8 that was taken here by the canvassing board.
A remarkable turnaround. I can tell you that inside, as this vote was taken, after the second vote to stop with the idea of a manual recount was taken, that -- after the second vote was cast, Republicans in the room -- in the back of the room -- started high- fiving each other, they started hugging each other. The Republicans here clearly see this as a major victory. There are Republicans outside where I am now in front of the building holding up signs, "Bush-Cheney" and chanting. They feel like they have won a major victory here -- Natalie.
ALLEN: I was wondering who that was that we could hear in the background there, Frank. Why the decision -- why the change in the vote we just saw in the past few minutes from this canvassing board to not count the under-voted ballots? Was it just an issue of time?
BUCKLEY: Well, what happened here was, as I understand it, the canvassing board wanted to move it's operation to the 19th floor into the tabulation room where they felt they could efficiently work to -- with just tree members, move forward and they felt they could actually count all 10,750 votes by the Sunday deadline. After, you'll recall, the Republican observers here had a tremendous protest on the 19th floor outside of that tabulation room there was a decision made, as well as members of the media, were lodging protests with the canvassing board about the news media exclusion from that area.
After that the canvassing board made a decision to move its operation back down to the 18th floor, which is accessible to the media and accessible to the observers and the public -- everyone could watch the process. Now, at some point between that decision being made and some time this afternoon, there was, apparently, a discussion among those canvassing board members that led up to this hearing, once again, on the 18th floor, which is what you were seeing a few moments ago when they decided to take arguments about whether or not to proceed.
The sense was that the -- David Leahy, the elections supervisor, could not guarantee that they would finish in time if they physically did the counting on 18th floor and had to tabulate on the 19th floor. That, apparently, was the decision of Leahy, and he wanted to express that to his fellow board members. Upon hearing that, the board felt that some of the 10,750 might not be counted in the end and they felt that that was not fair, and that's what led to the three-zero vote to simply go forward with the votes that have been certified to date.
ALLEN: What a day so far in Miami; and logistics being, apparently, a big part of what has happened there. Any reaction from the Democratic lawyers who made an appeal before the canvassing board?
BUCKLEY: Well, I suspect we will get that fairly quickly -- so far, nothing. I did see some of the Democrats who are here. And the way it's set up here, there's a camp of Republicans, there's a camp of Democrats; they actually have staging areas right next to each other inside this building, and I suspect that we will hear very soon from the Democrats as to whether or not they will try to appeal this on some level or exactly what their next move will be -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Frank Buckley who's there amidst the action. We thank you, we'll be talking with you further and we'll be exploring this turn of events in Miami-Dade County throughout this afternoon.
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