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Breaking News

Election 2000: Florida Supreme Court Orders Five-Day Extension to Continue Recounts

Aired November 22, 2000 - 8:11 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go now to the other big story, the first big story we thought we had this morning down in Tallahassee, Florida. CNN's Bill Hemmer standing by as usual -- Bill.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Leon, Carol, good morning to you.

The headlines this morning follow up the state Supreme Court ruling last night, unanimous, 7-0 vote, to give a five-day extension to the three counties to continue their recounts, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. They are given now until 5:00 on Sunday to get any amended returns back into the secretary of state's office here in Tallahassee. The court has ruled and ordered at this time that any amendments to those votes must be accepted here in the state capital.

Let's talk about it more with CNN's Mike Boettcher sitting here now to my right.

And as we move from last night, from the state supreme court building, there is a story bubbling up today that involves the state legislature. Bring us up to speed on what is happening there?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if -- when the vote count is certified, either Sunday night or Monday morning, we go into a contest period when any citizen can challenge the vote count, go to any county. We know that people are being lined up to challenge now, people want to challenge on the Republican side of the fence. That would throw the election into a big mess right now, and the legislature then, we're told, would step in. The latest they could probably meet would be December 8th to try to step in.

When they are in session, the Supreme Court cannot enjoin them, according to state officials I've spoken to.

And the other interesting thing is that they believe that the federal statute that allows them to get involved in this does not allow them to specifically say these 25 electors of Florida are going to one candidate, it gives them the right to determine what means can be used to assign those 25 electors. For example, they could go district by district -- congressional district, find out what the popular vote is, and then divide up the electors in Florida proportionally. That is one of the scenarios being talked about now. HEMMER: And late last night, in case any of our viewers were in bed, James Baker came out in Tallahassee, and referred to the legislature that he believes they interpret federal law to state that when issues are contested here in Florida, or any state for that matter, the legislature in Florida has the authority to step in and decide the matter. That's what they are pressing toward, again, because we are moving toward this deadline of December 12th, when the state of Florida has to have its electors lined up.

BOETTCHER: Absolutely. There is no mistake that that was put at the very top of James Baker's statement last night. The legislators who are here in session being sworn in yesterday were talking about this yesterday. They did not want to talk publicly because they didn't want to speak while the court was in session. But they have been talking about this and planning this for quite some time.

HEMMER: And as it starts to percolate again, it is quite clear this thing is a long way from being over, and anybody who thought the Supreme Court was going to settle it last night, we are seeing quite clearly today that may not be the case at all.

BOETTCHER: Absolutely. This could go on for quite some time in many different arenas.

HEMMER: All right, Mike, Mike Boettcher, thanks. Stand by here.

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