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Special Event

The Florida Vote: Three Court Cases may Decide Election

Aired December 7, 2000 - 4:54 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Joie Chen at CNN center as we continue our special coverage of the Florida election results.

We want to bring you up to date now; the latest is that both the Seminole and Martin County cases over the applications for absentee ballots -- both of those cases have now been completed and we are awaiting rulings by judges in both of those cases. We do not know when we should expect those.

Also, as well today, the attorneys for Gore and Bush campaigns were back at the Florida Supreme Court making additional arguments regarding the counting of some 14,000 ballots -- disputed ballots -- mostly from south Florida.

CNN political analyst Bill Schneider joins us now from Washington.

Let's talk first, Bill, about these latest hearings for the Seminole and Martin County cases. These are technically not Al Gore's fight, but to help him it almost seems to need to go against the arguments that his lawyers have been making on the other cases that all ballots need to be counted here. What they're saying in Seminole and Martin Counties is let's not include a lot of votes.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That is why Al Gore is not taking up these cases. He says, I don't want to be party to a case where we're asking -- where anyone is asking a judge to throw out ballots. But you know what? If the judge in either one of those counties throws out the ballots, the indications are, he'll take the votes.

CHEN: What happens now in terms of Mr. Gore's ambitions? It's pretty much the last stop at the Florida Supreme Court here.

SCHNEIDER: Well, the Florida Supreme Court, he has indicated -- vaguely, but pretty clearly -- he's indicated that that would be his last stop. He won't go on from there.

And what they're waiting for is the Florida Supreme Court, somehow, some way to say three little words -- not "I love you," but "count the ballots," which is a way of saying we love you -- but count the ballots.

If they order the ballots to be counted, then somebody's going to open the door, put down the ballots and we'll start, you know, having election monitors sitting there and feeling the dimpled chads. And that is process that, once it starts, it's going to be hard to stop, even if it's December 12.

If that happens, Joie, I can assure you, all hell will break loose -- legally and politically because the Bush campaign will say, wait a minute, wait a minute! They're just counting disputed ballots in two counties, what about the rest of the ballots in those counties and in other counties? And they'll seek an injunction to stop immediately the counting of those ballots -- or don't even let it get started. And it's likely to take beyond December 12.

They can't stop it, so you could have the legislature naming the Bush electors and you could have Gore electors coming out of the count of the ballots. And then it will go to Congress and who knows where this will all end.

CHEN: All right, Bill, we'll ask you to stand down.

Now Barry Richard, for the Bush team, is now at the podium it Tallahassee after the conclusion of the Seminole County hearing. Let's listen.

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: In the case that we just had before Judge Clark, Daryl Bristow (ph), of course, handled that case with me. He also handled the Martin County case with Judge Lewis, and Phil Beck handed the Bay County case with Judge Smith; so they're available to answer any questions you have of them.

Oh, I'm sorry, Herb Terrel (ph) was also on the Bay County case.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) big day of law.

RICHARD: Every day is a big day of law these days.

QUESTION: Personally, are you tired today.

RICHARD: Not yet.

QUESTION: How do you feel it went for you in (OFF-MIKE)

RICHARD: This case we just had? I don't think that the plaintiffs in the Seminole County case proved any element of their case, as I told the judge in my closing argument.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) remedy rather than the factual issues themselves -- (OFF-MIKE) about what happened, it's a question of how you fix that.

RICHARD: Well, No; it's not a question of how you fix anything until you prove it's broken. They didn't prove that there was anything that violated anything, so they're not entitled to any remedy. In addition to which, the remedy that was proposed, I think, is not an acceptable remedy -- but you don't get to a remedy until you prove your case. You can't go into court and get a remedy, you know, first you have to prove you're entitled to it. And I just think there was absolutely a complete lack of proof for the reasons I said in the closing argument.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) when you pointed out that formula that they were trying to get in there...

CHEN: Yet another long day for Barry Richard -- attorneys for the Gore team, among the others there, appearing in Seminole County late this afternoon as well at Martin County earlier in the day. He said, surprisingly enough, that he's not tired yet, despite the long, continuing legal wranglings that he has been involved in, pretty much all of -- he also noted today that he believed, as he said in his closing argument before Seminole County Court Judge Nikki Clark that the other side had not proved any element of its case.

We're standing by, waiting for decisions both from the Seminole County case as well as the Martin County case over the application for absentee ballots in both of those counties. Both of those cases have been completed and are awaiting the judges' discretion and decision in those cases -- as well, the Florida Supreme Court and its decision regarding those 14,000 disputed ballots from elsewhere in Florida.

Standby now, "INSIDE POLITICS" is coming up next with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff right after a break.

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