Patty Davis: Gore team racing against the clock
CNN Correspondent Patty Davis is with Vice President Al Gore's campaign in Washington.
Q: Why has the Gore campaign filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court asking for an immediate recount of disputed ballots from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties?
DAVIS: Vice President Gore's legal team is asking the Florida Supreme Court to step in and get the ballots counted as fast as possible. What they're talking about is 13,000 or so ballots -- some 10,000 from Miami-Dade that were kicked out of the machine and weren't counted because there was no preference indicated for president, and about 3,300 in Palm Beach County that were in dispute. The Gore campaign is saying those ballots were never counted and they want the Supreme Court to step in to get them counted right away. A Leon County Circuit Court judge denied a Gore request for an expedited count of those votes and said they would have to wait for a hearing on Saturday.
Q: Why the rush? Why does the Gore team feel it needs to expedite the process?
DAVIS: The Gore campaign feels that time is not on their side. They have to, number one, get the votes counted, and number two, see the court process all the way through. December 12 is their deadline, because that is the day that the Florida electors are selected.
Also, they need to show some progress in court to keep the public support on their side and to keep Democrats on their side. They need to show they are getting votes and that votes are being counted in their favor. That's not happening now.
Q: It seems that if they don't speed things up, the process could be decided for them. It will take time to count the ballots, and December 12 is looming.
DAVIS: That's a big problem for the Gore campaign, if they can't get the court to act and must wait for the Leon County circuit judge to decide when and if those ballots will be counted. The earliest the counting could begin is next week, and the deadline is creeping closer and closer.
Q: Could they reach a point where the court process just wouldn't matter anymore, where the state has already chosen its electors and the court cannot change the outcome?
DAVIS: The Gore campaign certainly hopes not and they're going to do everything they can to make sure that doesn't happen, that a court moves on this as fast as it possibly can.
The Gore lawyers have said that they need about seven days to count the disputed ballots and the ballots they consider undervotes, that is, votes the machines kicked out.
They've said at court they need seven days for that count, and the bottom line here is that Vice President Al Gore needs to come up with more votes. He's losing right now in the numbers game to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and if he doesn't come up with those numbers one way or the other, he loses.
Q: Is the Gore campaign worried about word the Florida Legislature might act to bypass the courts and choose its own electors?
DAVIS: The Gore campaign doesn't want the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature to choose its own slate of electors because most likely that would slate would favor Texas Governor George W. Bush. Vice President Al Gore said that the people of Florida will not stand for the Florida Legislature taking away their right to choose the candidate of their choice. So if he wins the election and the Florida Legislature puts electors in there who vote in George W. Bush, then the people wouldn't stand for it. But they're obviously worried about that prospect as well.
Q: Anything else you'd like to mention?
DAVIS: Optimism. The Gore campaign feels that if it can get their case out there so that disputed ballots and ballots they call "undervotes" (are counted), then they feel that there are enough votes there so that Gore could win Florida and the presidency. The case that Gore has been making all along is that these votes need to be counted and they never were counted in the first place.