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Special Event

Florida House Convenes for Special Session

Aired December 8, 2000 - 12:06 p.m. ET


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: And we want to zip right back down to Florida and go into the Legislature there, and listen to the deliberations and discussions under way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Count the electoral votes. And whereas actions by the courts may have rewritten the provisions of the Florida Election Code and policies, procedures, or practices of local and state election officials after November 7th, 2000, creating serious doubt as to whether the conduct of certain aspects of the recounting and reporting of the 2000 election for electors for vice president -- for president and vice president of the United States were conducted in accordance with the laws, policies, procedures and practices in existence prior to November 7th, 2000, as required by Title 3, Section 5 of the United States Code, which could jeopardize the conclusiveness of Florida's electors and possibly result in all of the voters of the state of Florida being disenfranchised.

And whereas there remains serious doubt as to validity and conclusiveness of any appointment of electors arising out of the election process, which failed to fully comply with the laws, practices and procedures in existence prior to November 7th, 2000.

And whereas Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution provides that the legislature of Florida shall provide for the manner in which electors shall be appointed to the Electoral College to represent the voters of the state of Florida.

And whereas Title 3, Section 2 of the United States Code provides that in the event that an election for presidential electors fails to produce a choice of electors, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such manner as the legislature of such state may direct.

And whereas failure of the Florida Legislature to prepare for the possibility that the results of the 2000 general election may still be in doubt December 12th, 2000 may disenfranchise and deny the citizens of Florida any voice in the selection of the 43rd president of the United States of America now, therefore, we, John McKay, president of the Florida Senate, and Tom Feeney, speaker of the House of Representatives, by virtue of the authority vested in us, by Article 3, Section 3-C Florida Constitution, and Section 11.011 Florida Statutes, do hereby proclaim that the Legislature of the state of Florida is convened in special session pursuant to Article 3, Section 3-C Florida Constitution and Section 11.011 Florida statutes at the Capitol in Tallahassee at 12:00 noon on Friday, the 8th day of December for a period of 11 days, ending Monday the 18th day of December, 2000.

That the Legislature convened for the sole and exclusive purpose of exercising its power by resolving or enacting legislative measures, providing for the manner in which electors shall be appointed if the 2000 general election fails to produce a final constitutional choice of electors conclusive under Title 3, Section 5 of the United States Code in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and with statutes enacted and policies, procedures and practices in existence prior to November 7th, 2000.

Providing for the appointment of electors for president and vice president of the United States, providing for any other matter necessary to fulfill the duty of the Florida Legislature under Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution or federal laws incidental there to.

Making a final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of Florida's electors for president and vice president of the United States appointed by the Legislature.

Reading of the proclamation, Mr. Speaker.

TOM FEENEY (R), FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKER: I'm informed by the clerk that we are passing out copies of the resolution, and I believe also the special rules. Let's go ahead and say the pledge, Rep. Frankel, and then you and I will have a discussion about the time frame.

The members and visitors in the gallery will please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag be led by our own Representative Joe Negron from Stuart, Florida.

SESNO: The Florida Legislature now, of course, pledging allegiance to the flag, even as they declare their special session, their special session to run through December 18th. That is the date, of course, by which the Electoral College meets or on which the Electoral College meets and electors are sent to Washington for the process that culminates on January 6th with the United States Congress counting the electoral votes and a president, obviously, and officially being determined.

To Gary Tuchman, now, who is on the phone, tracking the legal implications and the legal cases that are going on, even as the Legislature does its business -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Frank, an unusual procedure is taking place right now, which is not so surprising, considering the unusual nature of the last 31 days. But we have been told already that at 12:30 Eastern time, the decisions on the Seminole County absentee ballot application case and the Martin County case, the decisions will be announced at this court. But as we speak, lawyers from both sides, George W. Bush's side, Democratic plaintiff's side, and also the sides of Seminole and Martin County are meeting inside the court administrator's office to be told the decision before the rest of the world is being told. They are doing that as we speak.

Now, normally, a decision is announced either in open court or it is read by somebody in the court and everyone finds out at once. We specifically asked why all the attorneys are finding out before everyone else, and the specific response to us was: We thought it would be courteous, due to the unusual nature of this, to tell them before CNN tells the world about the decision.

As we speak, all the attorneys are inside the court administrator's office being told what the decisions are on these two critically important lawsuits here at the Leon County Courthouse -- Frank.

SESNO: Obviously, someone wins, someone loses, what is the nature of their posture on appeal, Gary?

TUCHMAN: Well, both sides say they will appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee the Florida Supreme Court will take the case, but we are poised to watch the losing sides in each of these cases, and we could have two different results in each county's case, we are poised to watch the losing side walk to appellate window here in this circuit court and file their appeal.

SESNO: All right, Gary Tuchman. Of course, when that happens, and we expect it about 17 minutes from now, we will take you right down to Leon County, and we will be bringing that to you, as I said, as it happens.



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