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Susan Candiotti on Broward County's first-ever hand recount

Susan Candiotti
Susan Candiotti  

CNN Correspondent Susan Candiotti is reporting from the Broward County Emergency Operations Center -- a building typically used for hurricane emergencies. She spoke with CNN.com about the hand recount in Broward County.

Q: Describe for us the mood inside that hurricane bunker?

CANDIOTTI:These people started at about 3:45 p.m., when the Broward County Canvassing Board decided to go forward with a manual recount of the vote without waiting for a decision from the Florida Supreme Court.

They felt as though they had the law and the legal opinions on their side. They wanted to get the process going. Regardless of the ruling by the Florida secretary of state, the canvassing board said it is going to proceed anyway, because the Supreme Court said it was all right.

There are 12 teams, with four individuals on each team; two counters and two observers.

At each table, there is one representative from the supervisor of elections office, one person from each political party and one examiner of ballots. They're using what's called a two-corners standard when looking at a ballot. You've heard about the pregnant chads. The Broward County canvassing board has elected to use the two-corners standard, meaning at least two corners must be punched out from the ballot card in order for them to determine it is a valid vote.

They feel that is a fair more objective and fair way to do it.

People seemed to be very serious about their work. It's a professional atmosphere. They are doing the recount near four large glass windows. We were able to watch them throughout the afternoon and the evening.

Broward County wants to keep it an open process for the press and public to view. So far, observers are the press, party, and elected officials.

Forty-five precincts have been counted, with a net gain of seven votes for Vice President Gore, and no change for Governor Bush. There are 609 precincts in Broward County.

The counters and observers stopped at 10:15 p.m., and plan to return at 8 a.m. They plan on working 10-hour days, and hope to finish by Monday.

Normally, this building is used whenever there is a hurricane in the area and then the building is activated with emergency personnel from various departments. Certainly, the activity level in the building is as busy as if there was a hurricane in the area.

At the end of the evening, the attorneys for the GOP and Bush campaign marched through the room, and were charging they had discovered chads on the floor, on the chair, on tables. The GOP charges that this is proof that you can't trust a hand recount.

Suzanne Gunsburger, a Democratic member of the canvassing board, said that was "ridiculous" and "preposterous."

Q: What is security like inside the building?

CANDIOTTI:Security is very tight. For one thing, everyone is wearing a security badge. Vote counters, examiners, representatives of both the Democratic and Republican parties and the news media are all wearing badges.

The news media is working in a secure area. If we leave the two rooms where we are located, we must be escorted.

Q: How long is the process expected to take?

CANDIOTTI: They estimate it will take 4 1/2 days if they work 10 hour days. For instance, on Thursday, they plan on working from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. In addition to all of this, they also have to worry about counting the overseas absentee ballots, which must be in by midnight Friday.




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Thursday, November 16, 2000

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