Bill Hemmer on the significance of the Florida recount
CNN anchor Bill Hemmer is reporting from Tallahassee as Florida election officials move closer to certifying the state's election results.
Q: What's the significance of everything that's unfolding today?
HEMMER: I get the impression that this is a real battle against the clock. You have a midnight deadline Friday night that's fast closing in here on this campaign. Midnight Friday is when the deadline for the overseas absentee ballots must be in.
It's largely believed that unless there is legal action from a high court - either the Supreme Court here in Florida or the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington - that the canvassing commission in Florida is going to go ahead and proceed to certify the overall vote. They certified the vote Wednesday night in Tallahassee for the count that is currently in, but as you know there are a couple thousand overseas absentee ballots that will not be entered into the record until that midnight deadline.
Q: With the nation watching this process so closely, is it realistic to believe that a resolution to everything that's been going on could come on Saturday?
HEMMER: Here's the sense that one gets here: Certainly, Secretary of State Katherine Harris and the canvassing commission in Florida, and high ranking Republicans, do believe that this matter will be resolved on Saturday morning. In fact, Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida and brother of George W. Bush, said the same thing on CNN this morning.
They believe that they will be able to go ahead and certify this vote by Saturday morning.
What could stop that? Well, legal action could stop it, and that's what is happening right now from a couple different corners.
Q: Why do Democrats feel it's imperative that the hand recounts go forward, and why do Republicans object to those manual counts?
HEMMER: Republicans feel that the law states the deadline has come and gone, based on a 5 o'clock Eastern Time deadline this past Tuesday. The secretary of state contends that state law requires their vote to be finalized at the close of business, seven days after the election, which would have been this past Tuesday.
Democrats contend that there are a number of ballot issues that are still unresolved. They are pushing for a hand recount because they believe Al Gore continues to gain votes when a hand recount is done.
Basically, the Republicans want the clock to run out. They think it's a done deal; they've already had counts and recounts with machines. They are suspicious of doing a hand recount, because they believe Democrats will foil the recount because people might not be objective, when machines are.
Democrats contend that the hand recounts they've done show that Al Gore gains votes. Therefore, they are pushing for a complete hand recount because the extrapolate based on the small samples they've done that Gore would gain votes and possibly overtake George Bush's narrow lead of 300 in Florida.