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Special Event

Florida Elections Director Testifies Before Special Committee

Aired November 29, 2000 - 10:52 a.m. ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, live in Tallahassee. I want to take you back inside that special committee. Clay Roberts now addressing the members there. He is the head of elections division on that state canvassing commission, who certified the vote, along with two others, on Sunday night.

Here is Mr. Roberts.

CLAY ROBERTS, FLORIDA ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: ... had won by a margin of less than one-half of one percent of the total votes cast. The next morning, or continuing on into the 8th, after we had come back into the office that morning, we had faxed a notice to all of the supervisors of the elections that the margin of victory for the winning candidate was less than one-half of one percent, and instructed the supervisors of election to proceed with the automatic recount under 102.141.

This automatic recount is an automatic recount, of course, the losing candidate can waive that. We received no indication from any candidate that they wanted to waive their opportunity to have the automatic recount. So the supervisors of the elections proceeded.

Part of that process, the supervisors of elections were supposed to verify their machinery. They are supposed to check to see if their tabulators are in working order, and then they run their ballots through the machines again, and get another machine recount.

The supervisors of election did that, resulting in numbers that I previously certified to the secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House of Representatives in a previous correspondence, as requested last week.

As part of the procedures under Florida statutes, there is a protest of election provision, and a protest of election is a procedure which a candidate can protest the election to the county canvassing board. In many counties, protests were filed. One of the forms of relief that a county canvassing board can give in a protest proceeding is to have a hand recount of at least one percent of the total vote in the county, consisting of at least three precincts in the county.

Hand recounts were done, following this procedure, in Broward and Dade and Palm Beach County. As part of the manual recount, once the one percent of the total votes is recounted, by hand, the candidate can petition the county canvassing board several methods of relief. Section 102.166, Sub 5, Florida statutes provides that if the manual recount issue shows that there is an error in the vote tabulation, which could affect the outcome of election, the county canvassing board shall one of these three things: correct the error and recount remaining precincts with the vote tabulation system; request the department of state to verify the tabulation software; or to manually recount all ballots.

In many of these counties, as you are well aware, candidates requested a manual recount of all ballots. On the evening, Saturday evening, after the election, the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board was meeting to consider whether to conduct a manual recount of all ballots. The chair of the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board...

HEMMER: Clay Roberts, again, head of elections here in Tallahassee, issuing his testimony in front of the special committee. Again the issue here as to whether or not the state legislature, the House and Senate in Tallahassee, should go into special session to dictate and determine the 25 electors for Florida. They say, the clock is running fast. December 12th is the deadline, the drop dead point for picking those electors. We will continue to track this here in Tallahassee.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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