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Manual Recount Underway in Palm Beach CountyAired November 11, 2000 - 2:11 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Palm Beach, Florida, where the vote count, by hand, has begun.
John Zarrella is there -- John.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly has, Gene. Just a few minutes ago the folks that are going to be the counters sat down at the tables inside there, as you can see in the counting room; and they have begun the count of the four precincts, the 4,600-odd votes we are told. Again, they are from counties -- the precincts, picked out by the Democrats because, we understand the Democrats feel there were an inordinately high number of ballots there that were not punched at all.
And to get an idea of exactly how this hand count is going to be handled, just a few minutes ago the communications director came out and held a press conference to tell us all how they're going to go ahead and handle this count.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The team that was selected as counters includes two employees from the supervisor of elections office: one Republican, one Democrat. They will actually be taking the cards and they will put them initially into ten piles, if you will, because there are ten candidates on the presidential side of the ballot. Now, each of those stacks will then be done under those particular candidates.
Then, they will go back and check each ballot by hand, and they will count each one. Then, two more stacks will be created, 11 and 12. One is an under-vote one is an over-vote. You can understand in that one will be a place where some people went into the ballot booth, into the election booth at their precincts, and didn't vote for a presidential candidate at all. In that case, they will go in the under-vote. There will be some of those cards that may have been punched more than twice in the presidential race, those cards will go into the over-count pile, that you've heard so much about. So those will be pile number 12.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Now, just a few minutes before this vote count began, the folks here, the elections officials here were notified that the Republican Party has gone -- officially notified -- that the Republican Party has gone to U.S. District Court in Miami seeking an injunction -- filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the hand ballot counts.
Now, of course, the hand ballot count has started here. Still no word on whether the injunction -- what the judge is going to do with that request. But what we can tell you is that, named in that request -- the lawsuit -- the three defendants named are the Dade County elections officials here, the commission -- the Dade County commission, the Palm Beach commission and the Broward County commission. That's because those are the three counties where hand counts either are underway, as it is here, or expected to be underway at some point next week.
The defendants and, of course -- the plaintiffs are, of course, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Ned Seagal (ph) of Palm Beach County, a resident here, is also one of the three listed plaintiffs; and the Republicans are, according to the lawsuit, looking at challenging the Florida statute that permits a hand recount, saying that it is unconstitutional.
And I have to tell you when you're talking about the public opinion that the both sides are so concerned about, many, many people here in Palm Beach County have come up to us and said, you know what? This isn't about Mr. Gore or Mr. Bush. This is about us, this is about the people's right, under a democracy, to have a fair vote. And that is what a lot of people here have been telling us, that it's not about what these two gentlemen may or may not want -- what about what we want? is what the people here are telling us.
So, again, the hand count is underway, four precincts that were selected by the Democrats being hand counted. If there is a significant number of mistakes found by this hand count, that could mean that it would be broadened out to the Democrats -- the Democrats could ask for it to be broadened out to encompass all of the votes here -- Gene.
RANDALL: And, John, maybe there is one word missing from that poster behind you; maybe it should read, "Pray for political peace."
Joining us with more on the nature of the voting in Florida is Jim Kane, editor and chief pollster of "The Florida Voter."
We get the partisan view from each side; is there an objective view of what's going on in Florida, Jim?
JIM KANE FLORIDA VOTER POLL: Well, the objective view is chaos. We don't know what's going on. I mean, you've got the possibility of hand recounts in very big counties like Broward County and Palm Beach. That could change the outcome with only about 327 votes difference between the two candidates; that could change overnight here.
RANDALL: With most of the eyes -- the political eyes -- of this country focused on the state of Florida, what should Americans know about the care that's going into this process this weekend, the hand counting?
KANE: Well, I think that the public officials here are really taking a big effort in trying to do this fairly, objectively and trying to get through it as quickly as possible. But they are dealing with a lot of the problems that they're going to have to resolve over the next few days if they're going to find a final count here.
RANDALL: Now, I know we must yet get final figures from the state of Florida on Tuesday's vote and the machine recount, but I suppose a lot of Americans are asking, why weren't those vote counts done right the first time?
KANE: Well, you know, in every election throughout this country there are irregularities. The voting process is not a uniform one. Each of the counties here in Florida determine what kind of data collection system they have, how they count them, how they recount them. So you're going to have these kinds of irregularities. The only difference here is that this race came down to Florida and it's so close here that the entire world is actually watching what's going on here.
RANDALL: And what's your view about the way Governor Jeb Bush, the brother of George W. Bush, has handled this controversy?
KANE: Well, I think he's done the best he can. He recused himself from being on the state canvassing board. He said they were going to make every effort to make sure that this is a fair and equitable process. And he's really stepped out of the picture; he's not made many public statements and he's leaving it up to the local officials in each of the counties to determine how this vote's going to go.
RANDALL: Jim, finally, what would you guess would be different in the presidential voting in Florida four years from now in process?
KANE: Well, I think they're going to address how the tabulation of these votes are occurring throughout the 67 counties. I think there's going to be a big push to unify, and make it more uniform throughout the state so that we don't face these kinds of problems, particularly how the ballot is laid out in itself.
RANDALL: Jim Kane is the editor and chief pollster of "The Florida Voter"; Jim, thanks very much.
KANE: Thank you, Gene.
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