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Election 2000: Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan Explains Lawsuits Surrounding RecountAired November 15, 2000 - 9:36 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: It is Wednesday morning here live in Tallahassee, the state capital in Florida. Friday night, at midnight, again, is that deadline for those oversea ballots to be counted and included in the current election.
Couple of interesting notes to pass along to you right now. This is a letter that was sent out this past week. actually on Friday at the end of last week, from the Florida Republican Party, it went to a number of different county supervisors in different parts of Florida. Requesting them to take the overseas ballot, set them aside, and wait for the end of business day to make sure that there are representatives from both the Gore campaign and the Bush campaign. So that when they open that letter, they can certify indeed who indeed picked up the votes, whether it was Al Gore or George W. Bush.
Now we don't know how many absentee ballots have come out just yet. But in the past, in Florida especially, those overseas ballots have favored the Republican candidate. In 1996, Bob Dole picked up about 54 percent of those votes, despite the fact that he lost the state.
Now before you say it's a slam-dunk for Republicans getting the majority of those votes, a high-ranking Republican official here in Florida indicates that the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, had stepped up their efforts rather aggressively in this part campaign to go, quote, toe-to-toe with Republicans in getting Americans oversea to cast their votes in the election.
Again, the deadline does not happen until Friday night at midnight, but it is still an open question as to who will garner the majority of those votes in this current race. More coming up shortly throughout the morning here on that issue.
Meanwhile, back here in Tallahassee, Katherine Harris, the secretary of state, has indicated that she will petition the state supreme court to go ahead and take care of all legal matters surrounding this case in Florida.
What does this mean? Let's talk more about it now with Gerald Kogan. former Florida supreme court justice, who is with us live in Miami.
Justice Kogan, good morning to you. JUSTICE GERALD KOGAN, FMR. FLA. SUP, COURT JUSTICE: Good morning.
HEMMER: Your reaction, first of all, to what we're hearing here in Tallahassee about this request, sir?
KOGAN: Well, first of all, it's obvious to me that this case will wind up in the Florida supreme court, eventually. The only question is, how soon? And the court apparently will have to make the final decision here, unless somebody in one of these cases raises a federal constitutional issue. If that's the case, then the case could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court. But barring that, if it's done based solely on state law, the Florida supreme court will be the final arbiter in this case.
HEMMER: OK, given that, and again that's an unknown factor right now, but given what we know right now, does the state supreme court have to listen to the request from the secretary of state? In other words, does it have to accept the petition?
KOGAN: No, it doesn't have to accept the petition. But I'm sure that under these circumstances that they probably will.
HEMMER: All right, there is a suggestion also that the reason why Katherine Harris may be taking this measure is to streamline the current process, knowing the vast amount of lawsuits that are out there right now. Would you agree with that logic?
KOGAN: Well, I would assume that it's better for the supreme court to have all these cases. There's only one problem, and that is, from what I understand, in the Palm Beach County cases, there's going to have to be findings of fact entered by the circuit court judge, which means the judge is going to have to have a hearing, whereby he takes sworn testimony in order to arrive at what the facts are before that case can go up to the supreme court. And that may take a while.
HEMMER: There's a lot -- I apologize for the interruption -- There's a lot of confusion here in Tallahassee, not only among members of the media and the press working here, but attorneys as well that we have been talking to and even spokespeople for both campaigns, the Bush and Gore campaign. Could you give us, please, a clarification again of why this matter is important with the state supreme court?
KOGAN: Well, certainly, because this is a matter of great public importance. The supreme court takes cases generally dealing with matters of substance, of this type. And I can't think of something that's more important at this time than to have a solution to the problem in the state of Florida, and I'm sure that the court would take jurisdiction.
HEMMER: And do you believe this order right here from Katherine Harris has anything to do with the letter of discretions that are supposed to be in at 2:00 later today?
KOGAN: I don't know. Because remember, it's early in the day, but I don't know whether or not the supreme court is going to be able to handle that by 2:00 this afternoon.
HEMMER: All right, Justice Kogan, appreciate your time. Thanks for your insight, sir, and for being with us here on CNN's MORNING NEWS. Much appreciated.
KOGAN: You are welcome.
HEMMER: Again, just to recap, again. All right, sir, thanks again.
2:00 Eastern time is the deadline for those letters of justification, the letters of discretion that must be filed from the counties in Florida with the secretary of state's office here in Tallahassee to indeed continue their recounts in certain parts of Florida.
We'll watch it. Again, we're connecting the dots. Again now day 8 here in the Sunshine State. Back to Atlanta.
Here is Daryn and Stephen with more.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Bill, thank you very much.
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