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Bush and Gore Campaigns Await Florida Supreme Court's Decision on Manual RecountsAired November 21, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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CRAIG WATERS, SPOKESMAN, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: We have no, nothing, no schedule, no timetable at the present time as to when anything may be coming out of the court.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Waiting for word: The Florida Supreme Court keeps the candidates and the nation in a state of electoral suspense.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he is declared the loser, he will say so, and he'll get behind George Bush like all the rest of us will.
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WOODRUFF: Is the political pressure building for Al Gore? John King on the latest from the vice president's camp.
Plus, 14 days and counting -- and recounting. Looking at ballots, dimples, and of course, chad.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff in Washington,
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernard Shaw is off today.
The high-stakes drama in the Florida Supreme Court has given way to a tense waiting game as the Bush and Gore camps prepare for a ruling that could end the two-week stand-off. The court is expected to decide whether those hand recounts in three Florida counties will count toward the state's final vote total. The Gore campaign wants them included. But the Bush camp wants the recounts shut down and filed new papers today questioning whether the court can decide which votes are valid.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick joins us now with the latest from Tallahassee. Hello, Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy. Well, the Bush team did file those papers with the justices. It is an addendum, they say, concerning the setting of standards for ballot counting. They say the Democrats raised this issue very late on Sunday and that they did not have a chance to respond. They say that the court has no power to decide the question of ballot standards, and they say that if the court does go ahead and rule on this, then they first want a chance to reply.
Now, it didn't take the Gore team very long to answer this. They said that this is not new, that in fact Broward County raised this very issue on Saturday in their brief when they asked the court to decide on the two-corner rule.
Now, they say Governor Bush is asking the court to basically delay ruling on which ballots can and cannot count while at the same time asking the secretary of state to certify the elections.
It's quiet here with the justices as they are in the Supreme Court mulling over all of these different facts. A spokesperson said that we will be given 30 minutes before they make a decision, and that he will be out later today to let us know, in fact, whether the justices will decide.
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WATERS: Our staff has been working full-time. I left here late last night, and there were many lights on in the lawyers' office. So the work has been going on continuously. We are putting in an extraordinary effort in this particular case.
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FEYERICK: Also today, new lawmakers sworn in at the Florida legislature among the crowd. Katherine Harris, the secretary of state. She actually received a standing ovation from all those Florida lawmakers. She's been very popular lately, her office filled with dozens of roses being sent to her by different people around the state.
Now, on the issue of the overseas military ballots, well, the attorney general today sent out a letter saying that the votes should be counted. Yesterday, he had asked all counties to sort of take a look and examine the issue. Today, he is saying that, yes, those votes should be counted as a matter of law.
Remember, he is the state's highest attorney, and he says it is an issue that he will take up before the governor and the legislature when they meet, so this issue of overseas military ballots and the postmark doesn't happen again -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Deborah, just to be clear, there still could be a ruling by the court tonight? FEYERICK: Absolutely. There definitely could be. These people are really working around the work. They've got all of their attorneys with them. They are hammering out all of the issues. And so while we are approaching Thanksgiving very rapidly, you know, he said the clerk's office may 5:00, it doesn't mean that the justices are going home, that he could let us know at some point later whether they are going to go home sooner or later based on whether they have a ruling.
WOODRUFF: All right, Deborah Feyerick reporting from Tallahassee.
Well, now let's check in with our reporters who are following the hand recounts in the three Democratic-leaning counties. Susan Candiotti is in Broward County, Frank Buckley in Miami-Dade, and Mark Potter in Palm Beach County.
First to Susan.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... 109 precincts now completed, with a net gain of 124 votes for Vice President Gore. So clearly the work here is almost done, at least one aspect of it. However, these teams behind me still must complete going through approximately 50,000 absentee ballots. If that work is not finished tonight, then these teams will be back in the morning to wrap that up. Then, they'll be able to go home, these teams of ballot counters as well as partisan observers. Then it will be up to the canvassing board to consider those so-called dimpled ballots and partially punctured ballots, which, of course, is a very controversial issue.
Now, Republicans are asking the canvassing board here in a new request to consider going back to the two-corner standard they had been using. As a matter of fact, they brought up the issue that the county attorney who had given this board the advice of considering a broader standard is married to a woman who works for a law firm that has been representing the Florida Democratic Party, and the Republicans here in the state of Florida are suggesting that the county attorney is guilty of questionably unethical behavior. But that charge has been denied by the county attorney, that he has done anything wrong. And furthermore, he says, if they want to make that charge, they should go before the Florida bar, and that has not been done.
We also learned this afternoon from the canvassing board chairman that only six military overseas ballots were rejected by this canvassing board for reasons other than missing a postmark and the like. So, only six were rejected. This board all along said it has taken into account all military overseas ballots as long as they were signed and dated by Election Day.
That is it from here in Broward County.
Now let's turn to my colleague Frank Buckley in Miami-Dade County. FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Susan, the counting continues here in Miami-Dade County as well.
It got underway at about 8:15 this morning and so far as the figures changed constantly throughout the day, the latest we were given was 78 precincts counted of the 614 precincts in this area. Gore has a net gain of 72 votes.
As we say, day two of the count began here just after 8:00 a.m. as Republicans ratcheted up their criticisms of the local canvassing board. Republicans say the process here is too subjective and prone to human error. Tensions are high between Republican observers and the three-member canvassing board. At one point, the tension bubbled over.
We are just being told now that one precinct was counted twice earlier today, so the actual net gain for Al Gore is 69 votes not 72. So, as you can see, that's one aspect that the Republicans may point to. We were told earlier that the net gain was 72. Now we are being told that the actual net gain is 69.
So, the count here continues. It is expected to continue until December 1st.
We now go to West Palm Beach and Mark Potter.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Frank.
Well, The count continues here as well and will go into the night. And it seems like they're making some progress. We're told that they now have counted 72 percent of the votes. That represents 332,000 ballots. Now, we do not know here what that means for Al Gore or for George W. Bush. That calculation has not yet been made in Palm Beach County. The count here will likely go on past Thanksgiving, due in large measure to the considerable number of contested ballots. There are thousands of them. In fact, we're told there were 6,000 contested or challenged ballots in just the last three days alone.
Now outside the building where we are, everybody is talking and complaining and criticizing what's going on inside the building. It's clearly topic A. It's a hot topic. A number of political figures have been brought here today to talk to the media.
The Republicans say that this manual recount process is inherently unfair, it is subjective, it is prone to mistakes and should be brought to an end.
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LYNN MARTIN, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: The country is greater than either of the two parties. In this case, however, we're moving toward a point where we're diminishing -- whichever party you belong to -- both candidates. And the race is beginning to have that awful Ebola- like symbolism of starting to eat within the nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP) POTTER: Now, the Democrats are complaining about the so-called dimpled or pregnant chads that we have heard so much about. They're saying that the canvassing board is not counting them the way that it should and that the way they argue the canvassing board was told to by a judge. The judge said that they must be taken into account.
So, the Democrats have gone back to court to Judge Jorge LaBarga who we have heard so much from in the last few days and they are asking for what they are calling a clarification. And you can read that to mean a clear and stern instruction from the judge to the canvassing board to include those dimpled chads in the final count.
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DENNIS NEWMAN, DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEY: As of this morning, we have -- the Democrats have protested 557 ballots that have a clear dent in the number five chad, and the Republicans have protested or objected to 260. So, if those ballots are counted, which we think they should be because they show the clear intent of the voter to actually vote for one candidate or the other, we will pick up 297 votes.
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POTTER: Now, Judge LaBarga will be hearing those arguments over dimpled chads, both sides, tomorrow morning in his courtroom at the Palm Beach County Courthouse at 10:00. Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right, Mark Potter, thanks you, and thanks to Susan Candiotti and Frank Buckley. Thank you, all three. We appreciate it.
Well, now to sum up. Let's give you the latest we have on the vote count in Florida. In Broward County, the recount gives Al Gore at this point a net gain of 124 votes with 607 of 609 precincts counted plus 477 absentee ballots.
In Palm Beach County, Gore has a net gain of three votes with 104 out of 531 precincts counted. And in Miami-Dade County, Gore with a net gain of 72 votes, although we just heard that amended, I think, to 69 votes with, and again that's 78 of 614 precincts reporting. The official uncertified returns give George W. Bush a 930-vote lead, but the partial tally of the recounts in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami- Dade counties would give Al Gore a net gain of 197.
I'm just amending that figure based on what we just heard from our correspondents. Not to confuse you too much. All the recount figures coming in from canvassing board officials in these counties, we're trying to keep you as up-to-date as we are being made up-to-date ourselves. We still don't know whether these numbers, of course, will become part of the official count.
Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, basking in home town support -- and a sense of party unity -- Candy Crowley with the latest from Bush headquarters.
Plus, is the state Supreme Court the last stop for Al Gore? John King on Democratic strategy and politics.
WOODRUFF: Two weeks after Election Day, neither candidate can claim the presidency. For Vice President Al Gore, the Florida Supreme Court ruling could determine whether to move forward or step aside. Today, the vice president remained out of public view.
But as John King reports, his campaign was not silent.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey is the vice president's new point man in the overseas military ballots uproar. Hundreds were disqualified over the weekend because they did not have postmarks. And Republicans are labeling the Democrats anti-military.
Kerrey, a decorated Vietnam veteran, says the vice president has no problem with taking a second look and counting as many military ballots as possible. But the Democrats say then it's also fair to count ballots that have obvious dimples next to a candidate's name but were not completely punched through.
SEN. BOB KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: Now, are they willing to do the same thing for an 85-year-old that simply didn't have the strength to punch through a punch card, that simply didn't have the capacity to get that done?
KING: The preliminary recount numbers have some Democrats worried, because the vice president is not picking up as many votes as anticipated. It is the several thousand contested ballots in Miami- Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that the Gore camp says will turn the tide if they are counted. In the words of senior Gore adviser overseeing the recount -- quote -- "We are confident that we are within range of victory, but there is a little turbulence in getting there."
Support from fellow Democrats is likely to evaporate if the state Supreme Court rules in Governor Bush's favor.
SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D), LOUISIANA: I think there's a growing feeling among a number of individuals that this should be the final decision. This is, after all, the Supreme Court of the state of Florida. Supreme means the final decision.
KING: Those who have spoken to the vice president in recent days say he understand the stakes of the court ruling.
KERREY: He understands at some point that it's going to be over. And he's not going to appeal this thing ad infinitum. He is going to stop and say: I still believe on the 7th of November, I had a majority of the votes. But I know this thing has got to go on. I know that the electors have to be certified. And I know that I may not end up being president.
KING: Now, in new court papers filed today with the state Supreme Court, the Gore campaign argues that not only should the state Supreme Court allow the recounts to continue, but should set a clear standard for the counties to count those dimpled ballots. Simple math explains why.
Lawyers on both side, the Gore camp and the Bush camp say that if those dimpled ballots are counted, the vice president could pick up a net gain of more than 1,500 votes -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: John, hypothetically, if Gore were to lose in the Florida Supreme Court, what would his options be if he wanted to continue to pursue this?
KING: He could fight it in federal court, if he wanted to: go to the Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court through the federal court system. But remember, when Governor Bush went to federal court, it was the Gore campaign that went in and said: This is a matter for the state of Florida. This is a matter that should be settled by the Florida state Supreme Court.
Democrats, including the vice president's own advisers, believe this is it: that if the Florida state Supreme Court shuts this down, he will have no choice but to fold. They don't expect that to happen. But they say the vice president is fully prepared for that possibility, if it goes that way.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King, thank you very much.
Well, Texas Governor George W. Bush is also waiting for the decision in Florida. But while the Republican hopeful's next move remains up in the air, his support in Texas and in Washington is solid.
Candy Crowley reports from Austin.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The grassroots and the Republican Party show no signs of crumbling, as George Bush faces a critical -- but Republicans say not necessarily final -- ruling from the Florida Supreme Court.
As the governor of Texas goes about the process of normal activity under abnormal circumstances, his political team in Austin and his legal team in Florida are in contact with the Republican leadership, monitoring the pulse of support. A source close to the Florida operation says James Baker, the Bush point man, receives calls from Republicans, asking how they can help, asking for talking points before they meet the media.
Basically, said the source, the message is: Hang in there and fight. In Austin, the campaign says it talks with the Republican leadership nearly every day. The dynamic, said a top Bush staffer, is completely different in the Republican caucus than in the Democratic caucus. The aide said there is no sense on Capitol Hill of major criticism, either of the style or substance of what the Bush campaign is doing, nor any sense that Bush should drop legal pursuits. This seemingly solid support is in no small way attributable to a very real feeling in the Republican community that George Bush won Florida.
The Bush camp admits to some initial hand wringing from GOP officials, particularly as court rulings ran against the governor. But an aide adds, they are unified behind our approach that the hand count is flawed. Capitol Hill lawmakers contacted confirmed that, at this point, the Bush campaign has wide latitude to pursue legal options in the battle for Florida. Bush officials won't say whether they would appeal a Florida Supreme Court ruling should it go against the Texas governor, but several Republicans on Capitol Hill indicate he would have their support, should he choose to do so.
"There is a legal basis to make an appeal, should they need it," said one, "and they have every right to go after it; and I think the public would support it."
CROWLEY: Still, public opinion has a way of changing, and the Bush camp understands full well that most of the time politicians have a way of following that changing public opinion -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: Candy, what is their sense, internally, of what would happen if those hand recounted ballots down in those three counties were added to the total?
CROWLEY: Well, I think they've pretty much said it all along, that these are three heavily democratic counties and that the odds just are that Al Gore will pick up a lot more votes than George Bush ever would. So I think their feeling is, if those dimpled ballots that we hear so much about are, indeed, counted, that that will go in favor of Gore.
Of course, you know, as John pointed out, all along both camps thought that Al Gore would pick up a lot more in the hand recounts absent the dimpled ballots and he hasn't. So, you know, conventional wisdom has a way of sort of being turned on its head in during campaign 2000 and this may be another one. But right now they suspect, in the heavily democratic counties, dimpled ballots would fall for Gore.
WOODRUFF: All right; Candy Crowley in Austin, thanks very much.
Now, more on the support for these two candidates with Senator Bob Kerrey, who will join us from West Palm Beach and GOP Congressman Steve Buyer in Miami. And we begin with Congressman Buyer.
Congressman, is it your view that, if the Bush side and, again, totally hypothetical -- if the Bush arguments were not to prevail in the state Supreme Court, that there's any question that Texas Governor Bush should go ahead and pursue legal remedy at a higher or different court? REP. STEVE BUYER (R), INDIANA: I am not here, Judy, as a spokesman for the Bush campaign. I came down here as chairman of the military personnel subcommittee of House armed services to look into this issue of the allegations against the Gore-Lieberman campaign, that set out in a scheme and design to disenfranchise the overseas military voter.
And so I've been interviewing lawyers that were in these canvassing rooms across the state of Florida and that's the purpose of me to be down here; and I'm very disappointed with the facts that I'm learning here on the ground. I'm very pleased that the attorney general here in the state of Florida recognized that Florida was breaking federal law with regards to how -- in the mechanics of their state -- on how they actually exercise a federal election.
In the end, how many of these ballots will be counted is unknown at this time, though, Judy.
WOODRUFF: So how were they breaking the law? What were they not counting of those military ballots that they should have been counting?
BUYER: Yes, the Constitution says that we leave under the 50 states the mechanics to do our federal elections. But when we have a federal statute -- and we have one -- to enfranchise American citizens abroad, whether they're military spouses, whether it's men and women in uniform or whether it's American citizens working at our outposts, which are embassies. We want them to vote and participate.
That federal law preempts state law, and what these canvassing boards were doing at the encouragement of the Gore campaign was to deny these overseas ballots because for lack of postmark. Now, a lot of these military ballots were coming in without a postmark and those of us in the military know that not all this mail has postmarks and they should not have done that.
WOODRUFF: Well, Congressman Buyer, hasn't Joe Lieberman, the vice presidential nominee, said that he thinks that those military ballots should be counted, and in addition, the Democratic attorney general of Florida, Bob Butterworth, has said the military ballots without a postmark should be counted?
BUYER: Right, but Judy...
WOODRUFF: But is there really still an issue? Is there really still an issue here is my question.
BUYER: Absolutely, yes, there is. There is still an issue, because the words of Joe Lieberman on Sunday were just words. I called his office to seek that his campaign take an overt to make appeal to these canvassing boards to actually carry through on his word. He didn't do that.
It actually took the communication with Jim Smith, the former attorney general here in Florida, to work with Bob Butterworth, the present attorney general, to issue this opinion. Now, just because they've issued an opinion doesn't necessarily mean these canvassing boards are going to go back in and re-examine these ballots.
I'm going to stay here in Florida and I'm going to fight for these men and women who served our military overseas to make sure that their vote counts.
WOODRUFF: So are you charging the Democrats at this point with blocking the counting of these?
BUYER: What I'm saying -- what I'm saying -- no, I'm not. What I'm saying is just because the attorney general here in Florida has issued this opinion doesn't necessarily mean that these canvassing boards are going to go back in and re-examine these military overseas ballots. Now we're hopeful that they do. And if they do, then the issue is, are they going to count?
That's up to the secretary of state, because she's already certified the election with regard to the account. And so what we're going to have to do here is wait for what the Florida Supreme Court is going to do.
WOODRUFF: So in other words, the statement by -- or the opinion rendered by the state attorney general in your view is not sufficient? Just to be clear.
BUYER: Well, not at all. I mean, it is a directive, and it encourages the canvassing boards to go back in and re-examine this issue. But it's not -- it doesn't -- you know, no one's petitioning these boards to go in and do just that, and that's my frustration here.
WOODRUFF: All right, Representative Steve Buyer of Indiana, who, as you just heard...
BUYER: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: ... there in Florida keeping an eye on this military ballot situation. Thank you very much, congressman.
And now joining us is Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska. Senator Kerrey, I don't know how much you were able to hear of what Representative Buyer is saying, but bottom line is he's concerned that these military ballots, no matter what Joe Lieberman or Mr. Butterworth have said, he's concerned that they're not going to be counted.
KERREY: Well, if he wants to petition, if the Republicans want to petition or if military personnel want to petition, they can petition and ask that those votes be counted and ask a court to make a determination just as Democrats have done in Palm Beach and in Broward and in Miami-Dade. I mean, that's the legal process, and in fact they're apt to find Democrats joining with them.
We have been insisting that in fact that in many instances voters were unfairly denied their opportunity to vote. But I think the Republican problem is once they start that they'll have Democrats saying, well, if you see something that's unfair and people are not allowed to vote, why don't you join with others who have said that were denied the opportunity to vote unfairly?
WOODRUFF: So are you saying that it's not enough just to make these statements? You're saying somebody, as Congressman Buyer was saying, somebody's got to petition? And are Democrats prepared to do the petitioning as well, I guess is my question?
KERREY: Well, if Republicans are asking as to petition based on fairness, they should put the request to us, and they certainly ought to put it to -- in those counties where they think that they're unfairly treated.
But let me say one of the things that I think they're going to have to do in addition, they're going to have to extend an apology to Vice President Gore for questioning his ability to be commander in chief or his patriotism as a consequence of Democrats in Florida challenging overseas military ballots.
You know, Gore -- the vice president hasn't -- hasn't called somebody an anti-semite or racist because we challenge Jewish or black voters. Look, what's going on here is a challenge of a recount, a legal challenge of a recount. It's going to -- the Supreme Court is hearing it. They're going to establish whether or not these hand counts themselves can go forward and what the standards ought to be.
It is an orderly process. It is a process that will reach an end. And one of these guys in an extremely close election is going to be president.
And those of us who are down here commenting on it have to be very careful not to make statements that are so irresponsible it makes it difficult either for our person to get out or the other person to win.
WOODRUFF: And are you saying that's what the Republicans have done?
KERREY: I think they have. They've challenged the vice president's ability to be commander in chief. They said he's down here stealing votes. They're accusing him of vote fraud.
I mean, that's what's been going on over the last 48 hours since the Supreme Court has ruled that the certification of the outcome cannot go forward.
That's not what's happening here. There's an orderly process going on right behind me here in West Palm Beach. There was one I saw in Miami-Dade as well. They set a standard as to what ballots are going to be allowed and what ballots are not going to be allowed, and they'll reach hopefully an orderly outcome that the Supreme Court will support, and one man will win and one man will lose, and we'll have a new president. WOODRUFF: Senator, as you know, that's a very different description from what many Republicans are describing. They're saying -- they're talking about chads all over the floor, tape on the backs of ballots, ballots being dropped.
How can there be two such very different descriptions?
KERREY: I would just invite you to go in and watch it. I mean, you don't have to take my word for it. You can just go in and look at it. It's a very orderly process. There aren't chads all over the floor. Republicans misdescribed it and misdescribed it intentionally. They want the American people to believe it is chaotic. They want the American people to believe it is subjective. They want the American people to believe that you can trust a machine more than you can a human being. And I think the American people -- if you come in here and watch what's going on here, you will see something entirely different.
WOODRUFF: Why do you think they did this intentionally?
KERREY: Because they feared that the outcome might be different than what the current outcome shows. I mean, what we have is not a victor. What we have is somebody who is currently ahead as a consequence of the votes being tallied in their current form.
I mean, Judy, the machines discovered 4,000 new votes. Now, the Republicans, under a hand count, they will say that we're trying to discover new votes, we're trying to create votes that didn't exist. The machines found 4,000 votes. That's four times the current margin. This is a close race. We don't know who the winner is going to be. We won't know until the hand counts are done.
The Supreme Court is going to play an enormous role in this thing and I think we have to be very careful not to say things that are not -- that are either inaccurate or not true or might make it difficult for our candidate if our candidate ends up losing to get out of the race if they need to get out of the race or the other guy to govern.
WOODRUFF: All right, Senator Bob Kerrey, we appreciate your joining us. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.
KERREY: All right, bye.
WOODRUFF: Still much more ahead on this extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Just ahead...
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A campaign sought to target the military overseas voter, and that is wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't stand out here and say that votes are being stolen or the vice president is not fit to be commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Ratcheting up the rhetoric over those overseas absentee ballots. Plus...
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 17, 18...
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dimpled ballots? Count them or not. They do in other states, including the great state of Texas.
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WOODRUFF: Brooks Jackson checks the facts on ballot counting from Florida to the Lone Star State.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can make a check, an X, write yes. It all works, even the most simple people who can't even read don't mess it up.
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WOODRUFF: Why some Russian voters now feel their elections are better.
WOODRUFF: Recapping our top story today: the Florida election recount. Two weeks after nearly 100 million Americans went to the polls to elect a new president, the nation is awaiting a decision from Florida's Supreme Court. The high court is considering whether manual recounts from three heavily Democratic counties will be included in the state's final vote tally which will decide who gets Florida's 25 electoral votes and thus wins the presidency.
The manual recounts continue in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami- Dade counties. So far, in recount numbers provided by canvassing board officials, Al Gore has picked up about 196 votes. We still don't know if those results will be included in the official vote tally which currently gives Bush a 930 vote advantage.
And now to the issue of the dimpled ballot. The Democrats and others say these tiny indentations, dimples, in ballots that were not punched through, are evidence of voter's intent so that those ballots should be considered valid. The Republicans and others say dimpled ballots can count in some instances. But they say in this case, Florida law does not address the issue of voter intent.
CNN's Brooks Jackson checks out how they do things in Texas and he gives us the inside view.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JACKSON (voice-over): Dimpled ballots: count them or not? They do in other states, including the great state of Texas. Democrats are saying Florida ballots should be counted where punch cards merely show an indentation. Republicans say no -- that's not enough. But in George W. Bush's own state, indented ballots are counted and often.
TONY J. SIRVELLO, TEXAS ELECTION ADMINISTRATOR: Since we introduced punch cards in Harris County in 1982, I've probably done approximately 50 recounts. At the beginning, some of those were electronic. In the last 15 years, most of those have been manual recounts and in most of those manual recounts, we have counted what the media is calling "dimpled chads," what we call in Texas "indented chads."
JACKSON: Tony Sirvello supervises elections in Harris County, the largest in Texas, where punch-card ballots, like those in the disputed Florida counties, have been in use since 1982.
Just last year in Harris County, Houston voters produced a squeaky-close race for a city council seat. Mark Goldberg was the apparent winner, but by only 26 votes. His opponent, Maryann Young, demanded a hand recount.
Texas law specifically allows for counting dimpled ballots, saying a punch card ballot may not be counted unless, among other things, quote, "an indentation on the chad is present and indicates a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote."
The Houston hand count found 97 more votes for Young than the machine count had registered, including some ballots that were merely indented. But the recount also found 109 additional votes for Goldberg, so he won the recount by an even bigger margin than before. It's not that hard for voters to merely dimple a ballot when they are trying to vote, as Kim Brace of Election Data Services showed us.
(on camera): How can this happen?
KIMBALL BRACE, ELECTION DATA SERVICES: Well, it's pretty simple for many voters to simply attempt to push in and record a vote and not push in all the way or push in part of the way. We've got a hanging chad right here. We've got a couple of chads that are partially off. Here's a pimple or a dimple.
JACKSON (voice-over): Dimples were counted by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in a 1996 Democratic primary recount for Congress. Generally, state courts count ballots where voter intent is clear. Governor Bush's lawyers plead ignorance of Texas law.
MICHAEL CARVIN, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I really don't know what Texas law is.
JACKSON (on camera): Well, we know. Texas election law allows dimpled chads to be counted or any ballot where the intent of the voter is, quote, "clearly ascertainable." So dimpled chads? Texas election officials count them.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Well, joining me now to help sort through today's events and more and consider what may be coming up tonight or tomorrow, our election law analyst Ken Gross, who's here in Washington and former Florida Supreme Court justice Ben Overton who is in Tallahassee.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Justice Overton, let me start with you and what we heard in Brooks Jackson's report about the acceptance of the dimpled or indented ballot. As you know, in the Bush filing today, the additional filing before the Supreme Court, they in essence, said the court should not set a standard for a ballot, that the facts were not before the court, they raised the question of time frame and so on. I trust that you have looked at what their arguments are.
Based on your own experience, is the court in a position to make a ruling on the question of ballot and ballot standards?
BEN OVERTON, FORMER FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Well, first of all, it was discretionary with the court as to whether to take that brief under -- in consideration, because it was filed after the oral arguments and ordinarily, when somebody files a supplemental brief, it allows the other side to file a response. Whether they're taking that into consideration or not, I do not know.
WOODRUFF: Ken Gross, is this something that is -- well, I mean, it depends on, I guess, your perspective here. But is it something that the court could rule on, despite the Republican arguments in the new paper they file today?
KENNETH GROSS, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, I listened to the argument yesterday before the court and read the pleadings that were before the court, and it was my impression, based on the argument and the pleadings, that the Broward County Canvassing Board did, in fact, place that argument before the Supreme Court and they even asked questions about it before the Supreme Court. So I think it's within their jurisdiction, and it seemed to be on the plate for the oral argument yesterday for them to make a substantive decision on whether to count the dimpled ballots, or somehow rule even to expressly say, we'll leave it up to the canvassing board.
WOODRUFF: So, Justice Overton, what I understand you to say and what Ken said, the court obviously could go either way. They could come out and say, we've come up with a standard, we think it's our right to do so; or they could say, it's not our right to do -- it's not our position to do so?
OVERTON: That's correct. And it is in the record, so anything that's in the record in the proceeding, they can take up and decide.
WOODRUFF: But you're saying just because they accepted this brief from the Bush camp does not mean that they're going to rule on it? OVERTON: No, it does not.
WOODRUFF: In -- Justice Overton, this court has been deliberating last night, today, based on the complexity of the arguments before the court, is this the sort of thing that you think could take days and days, or would you expect to see them reach some sort of conclusion in the coming hours or day?
OVERTON: I've said since Sunday that I thought that they would try to reach a decision in this within 48 hours from the time they heard argument in this case. This court is experienced in handling cases on an expedited schedule, because of the number of death penalty cases they have and particularly the post-conviction relief proceedings when an execution date has been set and is imminent.
So it's not something new for them to have to totally focus on one case and try to get that case resolved as quickly as possible. One of the things they will try to do in this case, not only is to resolve it, but also to articulate reasons that will be fully understood by the public.
WOODRUFF: And, Ken Gross, does that mean that we may be pouring over their statements very, very closely and for quite some time to come?
GROSS: Well, they're not operating in a vacuum, they understand the timing issues here. They discussed during the oral argument that they're bumping up the December 12 deadline and they've got to build in statutory procedures prior to that date if, in fact, they're going to rule in Gore's favor, so I think they're under some pressure.
If they rule against Vice President Gore, then of course, that will be the end of the process. But if they're going to rule in Vice President Gore's favor, they're going to have to rule, I think, either today, tonight possibly, or tomorrow.
WOODRUFF: Why the distinction there?
GROSS: Well, because if they rule against Gore, then there's no more counting to be done, presumably the secretary of state will quickly certify the vote and that'll be the end of it, and then Gore would have to move on to another court. He would have to appeal it, perhaps to the U.S. Supreme Court. If they rule in Gore's favor, they're going to have to allow for votes to be counted, to be tabulated, and even put in a period of time for a contest of that tabulation prior to December 12.
WOODRUFF: All right, gentleman, I appreciate both of you being with us. Ken Gross, and former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton, thank you both very much, we appreciate it.
And ahead on this expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS: breaking it down state by state, county by county. Our analyst Jeff Greenfield takes a look at patterns of voting in this historic election.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Given all the attention focused on Florida in recent days, it's understandably easy to overlook what the presidential election tells us about who we voted for and why. But our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield has been looking into all this -- Jeff.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, Judy, you know, depending on who you're rooting for, you're likely to look at the fight over Florida in radically different ways: re-count every vote, or, we know who won already. Well, it turns out the same kind of partisan division can also affect your view of what actually happened way back to last election night.
Now, take a look at this map that appeared in "USA Today." It's a county-by-county breakdown of who won what, red for Bush, blue for Gore. Some of what happened is obvious. Gore carried much of the coast, Bush took the heartland. Gore carried cities, did well in many of the suburbs, Bush was the candidate of rural America. Those pockets of blue you see in the Bush states were larger towns, often those with big universities in them.
Now, there is a more ideological way to paint this picture. Former Clinton aide, Paul Begala, noted that those red areas included Jasper, Texas, where James Byrd was dragged to death by racists, the small town in Wyoming, where Matthew Shepard, the young gay man, was killed, Oklahoma City, where a terrorist bomb killed nearly 200 people in a federal building.
On the other hand, former Delaware Governor Pete DuPont, produced an analysis arguing that Al Gore had carried what he called the porn belt. Writing on "The Wall Street Journal's" online page, Mr. DuPont wrote that Mr. Gore carried the areas with the highest percentage of sex movies in the home-video market. Mr. Bush carried the area with the lowest percentage. Interesting kind of research, I guess.
Now, let's assume that neither man really meant to say that Mr. Bush was the candidate of hateful violence, or that Mr. Gore was the candidate of moral degeneracy. There are two points than can be made about the election.
First, the vote did reflect a deep division over cultural issues in this country. Bush did emerge as the candidate of tradition, Gore as the candidate of cultural liberalism. This is just another way of stating a political fact of life: If I know where you stand on abortion, gun control, school prayer, gay rights, I have a pretty good clue, not absolute, but reasonably reliable, on who you probably voted for.
Second, in the hands of a political partisan, this cultural division can be painted in strikingly different colors -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, we appreciate that perspective. Thanks and we'll see you later.
When INSIDE POLITICS continues, a Russian city with a message for Florida: do it our way.
WOODRUFF: Remarks from officials in one Russian city might just be the most audacious to come out of the deadlocked American presidential election. They are telling us how to do it.
CNN's Steve Harrigan reports.
STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seen from the Russian port city of Kaliningrad, the U.S. elections are not even close, not to those who are betting on the outcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): 97 percent are picking Bush to win. The hand count hasn't changed the odds.
HARRIGAN: That means a $2 bet on Bush would pay off just a few cents, a risk this young man is willing to take.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I like what Bush said about stopping our politicians from stealing everything.
HARRIGAN: The U.S. vote coincides with local elections here for governor and city council, and has given Kaliningrad election officials a chance to gloat.
VASILY ZUBANOV, KALININGRAD ELECTORAL COMMISSION (through translator): You can't mix up our ballots. You can make a check, an x, write yes -- it all works. Even the most simple people who can't even read don't mess it up.
HARRIGAN: The ballots are marked by hand, in booths, or out in the open. There are no write-in votes, but if you're sick, the ballot box will come to you, sometimes with advice on which way to vote.
The count is also by hand, with cups of water nearby and plenty of eyes to watch. The only problem: the winner for some of the city council seats, none of the above.
ZUBANOV (through translator): It's a protest vote. That means we're going to have to have a new election in that district, and that's going to cost money. In some ways, things are better now, but in some ways, it was easier in the old days.
HARRIGAN: In the old days, under communism, the category "none of the above" did not exist.
Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.
WOODRUFF: And there is still much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, from the county recounts and the battle over the dimpled chad to the legal ins and outs as the Florida Supreme Court considers the Florida election.
WOODRUFF: Two candidates locked in a legal battle over one state: we'll look at the law and the politics in the Florida stand- off. Also:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's empty, locked up, and no one is getting the keys until a winner is declared. It's the headquarters for the transition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Eileen O'connor on the offices and the obstacles awaiting the president-elect. Plus:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We have enough what-ifs -- what if Gore campaigned harder here, Bush there -- to keep analysts busy for years. But that's history. The question now is how does this end?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Our Bruce Morton suggests one possible conclusion to this tumultuous election.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Once again, Judy Woodruff in Washington.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to this extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS. At this hour, members of the Bush and Gore teams are still waiting for a ruling from Florida's Supreme Court, one which could prove decisive in the 2000 presidential contest. At issue: the validity of hand-vote recounts in three heavily democratic Florida counties. For his part, Governor Bush was greeted by a boisterous crowd as he attended to state business in Austin. Vice President Gore stayed out of sight in Washington.
But as vote counters in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties continued the painstaking task of manually reviewing hundreds of thousands of ballots, the Bush legal team filed new papers, challenging the Supreme Court's authority to decide which ballots should be part of the state's final tally.
Here, now, is the latest we have on the vote count in Florida. In Broward County, the recount gives Al Gore a net gain of 125 votes with 606 of 609 precincts counted, plus 407 absentee ballot -- we'll go slowly here. In Palm Beach County, Gore has a net gain of three votes with 104 out of 531 precincts counted. And, finally, in Miami- Dade County, Gore has a net gain of 69 votes with 78 of 614 precincts reporting.
Now the final, uncertified returns give George W. Bush a 930-vote lead. But the partial tally of the recounts in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties gives Al Gore a net gain of 197. All these recount figures are coming from canvassing board officials in those counties. We still do not know whether they will become part of the official count.
For the very latest now on what Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush have been doing today, we turn, first, to John King with the Gore camp here in Washington. In a moment, Candy Crowley with the Bush campaign in Austin.
First, to John King -- John.
KING: Well, Judy, the vice president keeping quiet -- his campaign believes that's the best thing to do while awaiting this court decision; but they are active. You saw earlier in the show, Senator Bob Kerrey dispatched to Florida for two reasons: one. to try to calm the controversy over the overseas military ballots -- he is a decorated Vietnam veteran -- and No. 2, to make the case that if you revisit those ballots, the ones that have been thrown out, then why shouldn't we also count those dimpled ballots. And that's the key issue here.
You just showed the numbers. Gore making up ground, not quite enough, though, to overtake Governor Bush, and when the counts are finished as they are now proceeding, most in the Gore campaign believe they will still be a little short. But in each of the three counties there are stacks of contested ballots. Ballots that are dimpled, marked a little bit but not punched all the way through. The Gore camp says Florida state law clearly allows them to be counted. As you heard Brooks Jackson report earlier, other states count them as well.
They believe if the court says one, the recount should continue and those results should be counted, and two, the counties have the discretion to look at those dimples and ascertain a voter's intent that the vice president will pull ahead. A lot of ifs involved there. They are waiting anxiously for that court decision. They believe they will win, but they're also being advised by Democrats if they don't, it's time to pack it in -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, John, we're going to ask you to stay with us and let's hear now from Candy, who's been talking with the Bush people there in Austin -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Judy, also anxiously awaiting that Supreme Court decision out of Florida is the governor of Texas, as well as his entire political team here in Austin. While we have seen the governor as he moves from the governor's mansion over to the statehouse where his office is, we haven't heard anything from him. Mostly what he does, of course, is shake hands with the people who have come to realize that he comes back and forth in a particular route and come out to greet him.
The Bush campaign at this point is still maintaining that it wants to give the court the respect of the time that they have to contemplate this decision, so they're not saying much about it. Obviously, what they really hope is that the Supreme Court will uphold the circuit court opinion which they got, which was sort of the highlight of their legal wrangles when the circuit court said that the secretary of state was acting within her purview and could indeed go ahead and certify those votes.
Still, obviously, there is plans a, b, c, and d, if that does not come to pass in the Supreme Court ruling, but Bush folks are very hesitant to say they will or will not go ahead with another court proceeding or take this, say, to a federal court because they say it's impossible to know what you're going to do until you know, first of all what the court is going to rule on, and then how it's going to rule on the particular subject.
So, they are basically in a suspended animation, as one aide described it yesterday, awaiting this court procedure. They do feel that on the matter of the military ballots, that PR wise that obviously has taken hold. We begin to see signs here. We begin to see them in Florida as well.
They believe that essentially the Gore camp was cornered on this whole idea of the military ballots. They continue to believe, however, that all these assurances from the attorney general in Florida that people should indeed count those military ballots, don't have the force of law.
They continue to believe that what is coming out of Gore's supporters is more a matter of public relations than anything that will actually happen about those military ballot -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley in Austin, John King here in Washington. Thanks to both of you for being with us. Thanks very much.
Of course, the ruling that everyone is waiting for still has not been made by the Florida Supreme Court. CNN's Deborah Feyerick is in Tallahassee with the latest from there -- Deborah.
FEYERICK: Well, Judy, we are getting word that we may be notified of an upcoming announcement. What we don't know is whether this announcement that a ruling has been made or that the judges are going to go home for the evening. Everybody is on stand-by here outside the Supreme Court. The Bush team did file more papers today. They said that the court has no power to set rules on which ballots can and cannot be counted.
And the reason they're saying is because this case is not before the court. They say the Democrats raised it for the first time late Sunday, However, the Republicans do say if the justices do decide to rule on this, then the Bush team definitely wants a chance to speak on this issue. They're also pointing out that time is running short should this election be contested.
As you can imagine, the Gore team filed the response rather quickly. They say that this case is definitely before the court. They say that Broward County raised it in their papers on Saturday, the day before the Bush team filed their own papers. They say Broward County had asked the Court for direction on whether or not those two- cornered chads can count and they want some direction on that. The Democrats also say that Bush's lawyers did raise some sort of this issue during the oral arguments yesterday. However, the Republicans counter, saying that they didn't have time to address this issue.
Now, once we get the announcement here, just to bring you back to the Supreme Court, if there is a ruling that the recounts cannot be included in the final total, then we are told by an election official that Katherine Harris within two hours will have an official signing ceremony to certify all of these vote totals.
If the judges postpone a decision until a day or day or two later, well, we are told that several of the lawyers will be heading home tomorrow for Thanksgiving -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, just to be clear, Deborah, even if the ruling were to come out sometime tonight, she would go ahead and hold a ceremony two hours later tonight, if it happens?
FEYERICK: Absolutely, that's what she has told us. That's what she has told us. They want these votes certified, they want them certified quickly. It doesn't mean that one side can't appeal or the Democrats can't appeal in this case, but she said she's going to certify those votes just as quick as she can.
WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Deborah Feyerick, Tallahassee. And we know you'll be standing until we know whether or not there will be an announcement from the court tonight. Thanks very much.
And joining us now for more on this, former Florida state elections director David Cardwell.
David Cardwell, I want to ask you about some language in the filing by the Bush camp before the Supreme Court, the added filing that they made when they in essence said to the court, we don't want you to set standards for the counting of ballots, and it laid out several reasons that this should not be done.
One of the reasons they said was that -- they said this is an intensely fact-bound question, and there is no existing Florida law on this question. Is that the case, that there's nothing in Florida law about standards for which ballots should be counted or not counted?
DAVID CARDWELL, FORMER FLORIDA ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Well, there's not anything specifically on a punch-card ballot, and whether you accept it as a valid vote if it's merely indented or whether it's partially punched or not. That's always been left up to the discretion of the local canvassing boards.
The significant court decision, which everyone relies upon, is the Boardman versus Esteva case, which was several years, a decision by the Florida Supreme Court, where they said that the canvassing board's responsibility was to determine the intent of the voter. That involved absentee ballots. But the -- sort of the standard that was given to the canvassing boards then was, you've got a lot of discretion, apply that discretion and do the best you can to determining the voter's intent, and it may be from a variety of factors, it's left up to your discretion.
So there is not a statewide standard that's been established either legislatively or judiciously other than trying to determine the intent of the voter.
WOODRUFF: But when you say that the determination that there should be a determination made as to the intent of the voter, in that ruling that you cited, the state Supreme Court was saying to the counties, try as best you can to determine that intent. Am I hearing you correctly?
CARDWELL: That's right and did leave it to the local canvassing boards. They said the statewide standard is determine the intent of the voter as best you can, and the local canvassing boards, you figure out how to do that because you're closer to your community, you're closer to the voters there, you're more familiar with your election system.
Keep in mind that we have a variety of different election systems in the state, so it's hard to establish a statewide standard.
WOODRUFF: Is there -- what is the standard, David Cardwell, in those counties that have these questionable -- these now controversial punch-card ballots?
CARDWELL: Well, each canvassing board has at various times when they've had elections that were challenged and they went to manual recounts, they adopted policies as to how they would instruct their counters in counting ballots. Palm Beach County has done that, Broward has done so, I know. But the canvassing board could change those policies from time to time based on experience or their desire to try to better determine the voter's intent.
So it's really not anything that's been established by statute or ordinance. It's merely been a policy of the canvassing boards, sometimes a policy carried on for several elections, other times sort of raised ad hoc for each election.
WOODRUFF: And is it possible for you to describe the policies of these different counties as a looser standard or a stricter standard or how would you -- can you characterize it in some way?
CARDWELL: Well, it really comes down to which type of chad you're going to count and which type you're not going to count. Let me point out, in particular, because there's a lot of discussion about these indentations, the so-called "pregnant chad"...
CARDWELL: ... is that that's something that sort of cuts both ways. If you're looking at the undervotes, when the machine did not count a vote, if you hold up the ballot, you may note that there's an indentation. That undervote you may to then count. But then if you go to the other side and looked at the overvote, there might be an indentation and then a clear punch. In that instance, you would not want to count the indentation, because the canvassing board may say that it's that clear punch that really indicates the voter's intent.
So when you're dealing with the indentation or pregnant chad, you need to be consistent between the undervotes and the overvotes.
WOODRUFF: So in other words, the pregnant chad, as you described it, the one with the indentation, could be counted one way for the undervotes and a different way for the overvotes and that different standard would be accepted, is that what you are saying?
CARDWELL: No, I don't think so, because if you are going to count it as a vote with the undervotes, then you should not be counting it as a vote in an overvote if there is a clear punch. And that's where I think the canvassing board has to be careful as to how it's going to apply these indentations. Because, if it says every indentation is a vote, then when you got an indentation and a clear punch, then you are going to have to throw the ballot out as an overvote.
WOODRUFF: All right, and we have probably gotten lost in the forest of indentations and punches and chads, so thank you for bearing with me with those questions, David Cardwell, and we should point out again that the question before the Florida Supreme Court is whether or not to set a standard, and if they do decide to do so, of course, what that standard is. It may very well be that they would rule that that is as it is now, up to each individual county.
Again, David Cardwell, thank you very much for joining us.
CARDWELL: Glad to be with you.
WOODRUFF: Ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, preparing for the move into the White House. Eileen O'Connor on the daunting task facing the eventual winner of Election 2000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SIEWERT, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has already asked his staff to do everything that we can here to make this transition work effectively. We're ready, we will do everything we can to help. We understand there are unusual circumstances here but we are ready to do everything we can to help make that transition a smooth one when it happens. But I don't think it is helpful or even advisable for us to try to provide a timetable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: White House Press Secretary Jake Siewert today, talking about the transition to the next administration, which has not yet officially begun. For now, there is still no president-elect as we know.
And as Eileen O'Connor reports, each day of delay in Florida means one less day of preparation.
O'CONNOR (voice-over): It's empty, locked up, and no one is getting the keys until a winner is declared. It's the headquarters for the transition, 90,000 square feet for 540 employees, designed for a government in waiting. Instead, everyone is waiting, a delay that Republicans and transition experts say will cause more practical problems for George W. Bush.
PROF WILLIAM GALSTON, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Governor Bush, were he to become the president-elect, would be faced with the urgent task of replacing everybody of any significance in the executive branch.
O'CONNOR: It isn't an easy task in the best of times, some 3,000 jobs, 600 requiring Senate confirmation, and that is after lengthy background checks.
PAUL LIGHT, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: You go to the FBI, where they investigate the answers to your forms. There are only so many FBI agents available to do that.
O'CONNOR: Party strategists say the heightened emotions over this battle of the ballot means both men will have to reassess their top cabinet picks, putting pragmatism over politics.
KEN DUBERSTEIN, FORMER REAGAN CHIEF-OF-STAFF: If, in fact, he wants his honeymoon to be more than a honeymoon for a second marriage, he has to find people who are going to govern pragmatically, and that's the key.
O'CONNOR: By this time in November, most past presidents have been well into the process. Some, like Ronald Reagan had even announced their chief of staff. Most of his cabinet was filled by week seven.
Despite early criticism of Governor Bush for starting to work on picking his cabinet, even Gore advisers like Jack Quinn say the time to start is now.
JACK QUINN, GORE LEGAL ADVISER: I think both sides can make significant strides now toward getting some of the most important work done.
O'CONNOR (on camera): As important as their cabinet picks, party strategists say, is just how they plan to prioritize their policy initiatives for a honeymoon in Congress that could be over before it's begun.
Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, we consider this unique moment in our electoral history and ask some tough questions.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATERS: I've actually got a family reunion to go to in Alberta, Alabama and I'd like to be there. I've already RSVP'd, and I have -- my Aunt Ethel will be very upset at me if I do not attend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: So we hope you make it.
Well, tonight, finally, it has been a remarkable two weeks since Election Day with more yet to come.
CNN's Bruce Morton takes a look at our recent history and a bit of the past in consideration of our future.
MORTON (voice-over): "May you live," the old Chinese curse or blessing goes, "In interesting times." Right. We're there.
Two weeks after the vote, we don't know who the next senator from Washington state will be. One House race in New Jersey is uncalled. And presidentially, of course, there's Florida. It didn't have to end there if Al Gore had carried his home state and maybe if he turned Bill Clinton loose in Arkansas and carried it, Gore would be the winner -- never mind what Florida.
But W. campaigned hard in Arkansas and Tennessee, and carried both. Should he have campaigned more in Florida? Did he rely too much on the state's having elected his brother governor? Could Gore have done anything different? His running mate, Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish vice presidential candidate, must have helped with the elderly Jewish voters who dominate counties from Palm Beach down to Miami.
Did Gore win or lose when he broke with his president, appearing to pander to Cuban-American voters over Elian Gonzales, the refugee who was saved from drowning off Miami just a year ago?
And you have to wonder, in passing, what the Cubans who welcomed Elian home make of the odd, lawyer-riddled Democratic process unfolding in the state he left behind.
We have enough what-ifs. What if Gore'd campaigned harder here, Bush there, to keep analysts busy for years. But that's history. The question now is, how does this end without doing real harm to the electoral process we've muddled along with for the past 200-plus years?
So far, nothing bad has happened. But the rhetoric is heating up. Accusations the Democrats don't want the men and women in the military to vote. Other charges, the Republicans could use their majority in the U.S. House to put Florida's electors, never mind the state's voters, any of them and so on. (on camera): What we'll need, at some point -- and we'll know that point when we get to it -- is for a grown-up to appear. For whichever candidate seems to have lost, to say, right. I lost. I concede. It's over. That way, the process survives to work next time. Without it, we could do damage which would last for years.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: In the last 30 minutes or so, CNN has gotten word that there may be, and I stress may be, an announcement from the Florida Supreme Court saying that a ruling is forthcoming this evening. We don't know, but we will continue with our coverage now. We will keep going until we know one way or another. So stay tuned. We'll be right back.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
WOODRUFF: ... votes. Now we still do not know whether they will become part of the official count or not. Bush still leads officially by 930, recounts notwithstanding.
Let's go right now to CNN's Deborah Feyerick, who is at the Florida -- outside, I should say, the Florida state Supreme Court in Tallahassee.
Deborah, some indication that there may be an announcement of a ruling or maybe not?
FEYERICK: Well, we are still on hold with all of this. We had gotten notice that we would be getting an announcement shortly, but what that announcement is we still don't know. We don't know whether it's that the justices have made their ruling or that the justices are going home for the evening.
They worked late last night, a court spokesperson telling us that they're not going home early this evening either.
Now, the ruling is one, of course, that will help decide who is the next president of the United States, could help decide, of course. Any further appeal would have to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation, based in Washington.
Now, Governor Jeb Bush was just inside the capitol rotunda a few minutes ago, which is just in front of us, right across from the Supreme Court, which is behind us. He said that -- he was there for a swearing-in ceremony, several Florida leaders into the Women's Hall of Fame. And he said that he spoke to his older brother, George, yesterday, and that he describe his brother as doing remarkably well. Jeb Bush saying that he's been known to be an impatient man, but this has definitely taught him how to be more patient.
Again, we are waiting for more word on what the content of that announcement will be. As you said, the Bush team did file papers today. They said if the court does rule on anything relating to the ballot standards -- that is which ballots should or should not be counted -- then they at least want to be able to speak directly to the court. The court has not come back with any decision on whether they will allow that to happen. This, of course, could be part of the announcement that we're expecting.
So right now, everybody on high alert. Everybody on stand by. The Gore team, of course, watching all of this very closely. They immediately filed a response saying, you know, this issue that the Republicans are saying was not brought up until late Sunday was, in fact, brought up on Saturday, well before the Bush team filed their brief that was to be read by all of these justices. So, again, we're on stand by -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Deborah, if they were to be an announcement, how would you and other reporters find out about it?
FEYERICK: What will happen is this. We will get a heads-up, basically -- a five-minute heads up that in 30 minutes there will be some sort of an announcement. Now, if there is that major announcement, everybody will be able to get in place and be in whatever position. The court spokesperson has really been keeping us pretty well briefed; so he is the one who will come out and tell us.
He's also the one who will come out and read that ruling. And this is a ruling -- interestingly, it will be have to be a majority opinion. But the justice who actually writes it doesn't even need to be in the majority. He could actually be one of the dissenters. All of this is done by lottery, so whichever justice is chosen will be the justice who writes that opinion -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right; CNN's Deborah Feyerick; and we know you won't go away until you know it's safe to go away. Thanks very much.
Well, joining me here in the studio in Washington, CNN's Greta Van Susteren, our very familiar legal analyst who spent a lot of time in Florida over the last two weeks.
And Greta, you're now back in Washington keeping no less-close an eye on all this; and Greta, you told me you've just talked, in the last few minutes, with the gentleman who's the spokesman for the court.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right; the public information officer just told me that he has no information that there's going to be an announcement at 6:30 or 7:00. But what he did tell me is there's a wild rumor circulating among the journalists and the media down in Tallahassee. And I have to tell you, it's wall-to- wall media, and I've never seen rumors fly as quickly when announcements like this might be made.
But he said he has no information this announcement will be made, or any announcement this evening. Now, what he did tell me, though, is that it's after hours there in Tallahassee and the justices are still there burning the midnight oil -- so they're still working. An announcement may come this evening, but right now the media is full of rumors; but the public information officer said they are not planning an announcement at the moment, but it could come soon.
WOODRUFF: Greta, the seven justices worked late into the night last night; they're already working late -- what is it, 6:30 Eastern time -- they're working now, they're continuing to work. Does that tell you anything about what's going on. I mean, clearly they're conscious of time bearing down on them; but does it tell you anything beyond that about what's going on?
VAN SUSTEREN: It tells us that they recognize that this is important. They know that they -- I mean, usually justices might go home at 5:00 or 6:00, but they know this is an important decision. You've got dates in here, you've got December 18 for the Electoral College to meet and vote. They know that's a deadline...
WOODRUFF: Indeed, that was a big part of the discussion yesterday.
VAN SUSTEREN: Big part of the discussion. You've got these votes, these hand counting -- looking at the hand counts right now in a couple counties. So they know that hand counting is going on; the Bush people want the hand counting, essentially, to stop. They know that they have that problem.
And they also, probably -- they may have internal dissension. They may be talking among themselves and have difference of opinion. Maybe some of them agree with the Bush side, which says that they shouldn't be dealing with the issue about setting standards for looking at these chads. They may be -- they may have a dispute among themselves about that.
So the one thing we can discern -- one thing we know for sure: They're working hard. What they're doing, we simply don't know.
WOODRUFF: Greta, it was pointed out to me just a short time ago that the justices had the -- it was in their discretion to accept this additional Bush filing today. They did not have to accept that. Now, is that your understanding?
VAN SUSTEREN: That's right, they didn't have to accept it. But you have to look -- in terms of fairness, both sides always get to be heard on a topic. And what happened was the Florida Democratic Party raised the issue not in the trial court where this thing originated -- this lawsuit originated with Judge Lewis in Leon County and went up to the Florida Supreme Court, and issue was added into the Supreme Court.
WOODRUFF: This is the issue of whether the court should set a standard for which ballots are acceptable?
VAN SUSTEREN: That's right. The original issue was whether or not the secretary of state abused her discretion in having a cut-off, saying she would not consider the additional results from any hand count. What has bee sort of pasted onto the Supreme Court discussion is the issue about whether or not the Supreme Court should set standards. That was raised over the weekend by the Democratic side. So it makes sense to let the Republicans respond today; and one of their responses is -- I mean, the thrust of their argument is, is that, look, this is just being brought up now in the Florida Supreme Court. It should have been brought up before the trial court judge earlier in the week. So it certainly is fair to let the Republicans respond, and the Supreme Court has the authority to ignore it or to set standards.
WOODRUFF: And one of the points that Republicans made was that, if you're going to rule on this then we think you ought to wait because we deserve the right to make our arguments here and we haven't really made -- completely made our arguments.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right. They're saying that this isn't just a discussion of law. This is not just asking the Florida Supreme Court to decide the law. What this is, it involves facts and evidence and the Republicans are saying, it's unfair for you to decide this issue when you don't even have any facts before you.
WOODRUFF: All right. Greta, also joining us, David Cardwell, who is in Miami. He's a former Florida elections official there.
David, I want to bring up with you the question I raised with you a little while ago when you were joining us on INSIDE POLITICS, this whole question of ballot standards and which ballots should be counted and which one shouldn't.
Just to clarify once again, right now I understood you to say there's no statewide standard, but there are standards in each of every one of 67 Florida counties. Is that correct?
CARDWELL: Yes, each canvassing board can establish its own standard. Some are written, some are more informal. Palm Beach County has had written policies before. Broward County has had policies that they have followed. But the canvassing board still has the discretion to change those.
And as I mentioned, it is difficult to have a real statewide standard because we have many different types of voting systems. So, for example, with the punch card type of system, you would only establish standards just for those counties that use the punch card system.
WOODRUFF: And up until now, the court, when the Supreme Court was asked this question or a similar question, they in essence threw it back to the counties and said it is the counties who are closest to the voters. It is up to the counties to determine what the voter intent was. Is that correct?
CARDWELL: That's correct. And in this instance here, keep in mind that the court is well aware of the fact that there's one county that is virtually completed its manual recount. There's another county, Palm Beach County, that is substantially through it. Dade County got started with it and is moving through the process.
And this court seemed, yesterday, during the court of oral argument, to be very pragmatic. They were very conscious of deadlines and timelines and what effect certain actions would have. For a standard to be established now by the court could cause those recounts to be done over again or they would have to apply different standards in the middle of the court.
I think the court is going to take into consideration where we stand with the status of those recounts when it considers the standard issue.
WOODRUFF: Greta, does that make sense, that in considering all this the court is cognizant if that they suddenly come up with a brand-new statewide standard that they're adding time to this process?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, I've always thought this issue of setting standards might be a little bit of a red herring, because what the law says is that the canvassing board must determine the intent. And you know, often times we call upon citizens to determine intent. We do it regularly, routinely in criminal cases, whether someone has the intent to do bodily harm.
I mean, it's oftentimes citizens do have to determine intent. And so, it seems rather unusual to me that the Supreme Court would tell us how we arrive at determining intent. It seems unusual to me. But, this is an unusual case.
WOODRUFF: Is it in either candidates favor, Greta, that the standards would be left at the county level and that there not be created a new statewide standard, whatever it is?
VAN SUSTEREN: It depends on what the standard is. I mean, obviously it is certainly in the Democrats' interest if the Supreme Court says you should include the dimple.
WOODRUFF: In the under -- I mean, these are in the undervotes. And David Cardwell and I were talking about that earlier. If it's an undervote and it's dimpled chad, then you want that, presumably if you are Al Gore and it's your chad that's been dimpled.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right, so it makes a difference. If the Supreme Court determines -- sets standards that are consistent with your side, then obviously you want those standards. And right now the only question -- there is a huge issue about whether the Supreme Court would even get into the standard business.
WOODRUFF: David Cardwell, just to be clear, I know you are still with us, you made the point that if it's the overvotes, if it's those ballots where more than one chad was poked, or punched, or pushed, or whatever, in that case, you might -- you don't want the indentation to count.
CARDWELL: The most common standard that has been applied in an overvote situation, which is where the machine determined that there were two votes cast and therefore did not count any votes for that particular office, is that you may have a dimple where someone apparently started to vote and then didn't completely punch out that particular hole and went and clearly punched another one. And in that instance, typically the canvassing board would look at that and say, all right, let's count the one that's clearly punched because that's the one that indicates the voter's intent, not the dimple.
On the undervote, you may look at it just the opposite way. But if you are going to be consistent, you either count the dimple for one and not count it for the other. You can't count it in both places.
WOODRUFF: I love this discussion.
David Cardwell and Greta, one more question for you. We've been discussing standards for ballots, but in fact, what the court may well do is rule primarily on whether these hand recounts should continue, and in that event, what are the basic questions they are looking at, just quickly?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the basic question they're looking at, I mean, they're looking at the big pick picture in terms of what's fair for all the voters. We heard that from the question. And secondly, they're looking at the time problems. These seem to be a very practical court and we are up against important deadlines. So they're looking at the practical issue and the big picture.
WOODRUFF: All right, Greta Van Susteren here in Washington. I know you're going to stay with us. David Cardwell there in Miami. We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk with CNN correspondents in those three Florida counties where the count, recount goes on.
WOODRUFF: Here now is the latest we have on that vote count in Florida. In Broward County, the recount gives Al Gore a net gain of 125 votes and that is with 608 of 609 precincts -- all but one -- counted plus 477 absentee ballots. In Palm Beach County Gore has net gain of three votes with 104 of 531 precincts counted. And finally, in Miami-Dade County Gore has net gain of 114 votes with 99 out of 614 precincts reporting.
Now, the final uncertified returns give George W. Bush a 930-vote lead. But the partial tally of the recounts in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade gives Al Gore a net gain of 242. All these recount figures are coming from canvassing board officials in those counties. We still do not know whether they will become part of the official count.
And now while we're on the subject of those counts, we want to go to our three CNN correspondent in the counties in question: Susan Candiotti in Broward County; Frank Buckley in Miami-Dade County; Mark Potter in Palm Beach County. Susan, I'm going to hand off to you first.
CANDIOTTI: Hello, Judy. Work on the main floor here has virtually ended for the night. The work that was going on there being done by both ballot counters as well as partisan observers. However, the canvassing board is still at it in a room just beyond your view, having wrapped up, as you said, all but one of 609 precincts with a net gain of 125 votes for Vice President Al Gore.
The next stage is for tomorrow for everyone to come back to work and complete the recount of approximately 50,000 absentee ballots. Work has already begun on those, with the completion of more than 1,100 of them thus far. After that, the dimple ballot issue will be taken up.
However, they probably will not get to that tomorrow. The Canvassing board says more than likely, once it finishes with the absentee ballots, it will take an early Thanksgiving holiday, allow everyone to rest up, and of course, wait for word from the Florida Supreme Court about whether their work should continue or at the very least whether the board should consider those partially punctured ballots.
We have a new face at work today on the canvassing board. He is Judge Robert Rosenberg. He is a Republican and he replaces the what -- who had been the only other Republican on the canvassing board, Jane Carroll, 70 years old, the Broward supervisor of elections, who was going to retire in January anyway. And she said that she was stepping down because of health reasons, leaving this process up to someone else to complete. Judge Rosenberg said he hopes to be a fair and impartial judge of the rest of the votes.
He -- he said that so far, it's been an interesting process for him and he hopes to complete it as soon as possible, naturally.
Now in the canvassing board, as we speak, as they continue their work, there is a television set on there. They are very much aware that an announcement is soon to be made by the Florida Supreme Court one way or another. They hope it is something definitive, as everyone else does as well. But we're all to learn what's to happen.
Now, let's turn to Miami-Dade County and my colleague Frank Buckley for an update on what's been happening there.
POTTER: Well, here at Palm Beach County we're told that the officials, the canvassing board and the volunteers are kind of keeping one eye on the television sets at the same time that they count, just in case the Supreme Court comes out with an announcement tonight. That's a big if here. They don't like it. The rest of us don't know what's going to happen.
But if there is any sort of announcement from the Supreme Court, we're told that the canvassing board officials will come out here to talk to us afterward to give us their feelings on it. They would not speculate on what they might say, because that's the great unknown right now, what the Supreme Court's going to do. But they said that they are keeping a close eye.
Meanwhile, the count continues: They are convinced here that this is very important work, and they are plugging away. They are still working tonight, and it seems like they're making some considerable progress.
We're told that now 72 percent of the vote has been counted. That's 332,000 votes. We have not been told, however, what this means for Al Gore or for George W. Bush. That calculation has not been made since the one that we got last night.
This count will continue on probably past Thanksgiving. They're unlikely to make that deadline. And the reason for that is largely because of all the contested ballots. There are a lot of those. There are thousands of those, 6,000 we're told in just the last three days alone, and that three-member canvassing board has to go through all of those. And that's going to slow this down and probably take it into -- into next week.
Now, as the count continues, there is another area of activity, and it's out here where we are, and it's where -- this is the spin city, outside the emergency operation center. This is where everybody is talking and criticizing and complaining about what's going on inside the building.
We've seen some luminaries brought here by the various parties. We've had Senator Bob Kerrey. Lynn Martin, the former labor secretary, was here talking. We've had numerous news conferences as everybody is trying to give their point of view about what's going on inside.
And of course, that's a bipartisan effort: The Democrats and the Republicans are here trying to convince us to see it there way.
Now, the Republicans mainly are complaining that this manual recount process itself is inherently unfair, it is subjective, it's prone to mistakes, and it should be brought to a quick end. They have said that over and over around the country, and are certainly saying it here at ground zero in Palm Beach County. The Democrats are complaining about those pregnant and dimpled chads. They're saying that the canvassing board is not taking them into account like the Democrats believe that the board should be doing.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Mark Potter in Palm Beach County, Susan Candiotti, as you saw, in Broward County. And our apologies, Frank Buckley is in Miami-Dade County, but we were having problems getting the sound out of there. So we're going to try to go back to Frank a little bit later.
When we come back, we're going to talk with CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield for his thoughts about where we stand on this election. We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: I didn't tell the truth a moment ago. I said Jeff Greenfield, our senior analyst, would be with us. It turns out he is not, but we are here. We want to know very much whether or not there's going to be a court ruling tonight by the Florida Supreme Court.
We will be standing by, sitting by until we know one way or another whether that ruling will be handed down, and just as soon as we know, we will past that word along to you. You can count on that.
For now, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Thanks to all of my colleagues in Washington and elsewhere, in Florida. And we are going to pass it on to the MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR. They're coming up next. But as I say, if we get word of anything from Florida, we'll be back first thing.
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