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The Florida Recount: Hearing Over What Constitutes a Vote on 'Butterfly Ballot' Gets Under Way in West Palm Beach CourtAired November 15, 2000 - 9:51 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Back to our coverage of the Florida election 2000. We go to West Palm Beach where our Greta Van Susteren is standing by covering what, for lack of a better term, has become known as the "butterfly ballot hearing," Greta.
As I understand, they're looking at things like dimples and pregnant chads, something that, of course, causes us to snicker, but there's some really serious business going on.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There certainly is, Daryn. And just as an aside to give you a little local color before I get started, as we're talking there's a police officer here because they're trying to decide if we're too far on the sidewalk or not. CNN is caught a little bit between the sheriff's department and the police, but I think we can finish this live shot.
Just let me tell you what's going on. The hearing is going on now and it started this morning with a judge making a disclosure, a public disclosure that he had some Republican Party affiliation but that was years ago, that he's now making a career on the bench. But he wanted the lawyers to know that, at one time, he had been affiliated with the Republican Party.
But the hearing is proceeding. It started with the Republicans on behalf of Gov. Bush wanting to do what's called intervene, be involved in this case, have their say. And the judge said that Gov. Bush and Gov. Bush's lawyers would be heard. That is rather routine. There is no opposition to that.
Finally, the issue really before the court this morning is, what is a vote here in Palm Beach County? Is it this dimpled ballot, is it this pregnant ballot, as they say, or is it something else? And the Democratic Party has come to this judge and said, please give us guidance. What does constitute a vote here in Palm Beach County?
There's a recess right now, oddly enough, because, despite all the lawyers in the courtroom, no lawyer thought of getting a court reporter in order to record what is going on in the courtroom. So this judge has said, let's take a short break while we wait for a court reporter.
So we simply don't know which way the judge is going to rule, but it is an extremely significant ruling because he's going to give guidance to this Palm Beach Canvassing Board as to exactly what it is that constitutes a vote here in Palm Beach. Does it include this dimpled or pregnant chad?
KAGAN: And so, meanwhile, all counting or recounting of these ballots has been put on hold until this hearing can take place.
Greta, how does this play in with what's happening in Tallahassee where Florida's secretary of state has called on the state supreme court to bring everything together in all lawsuits regarding the election?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in some ways it might make a lot of sense. It's not a bad bookkeeping idea because, you know, you have these several actions, we have so many lawsuits pending down here in Palm Beach County, and of course we had the federal action down in Miami that's now been moved to Atlanta, which would not be part of what the secretary of state is asking for. But we certainly have a lot of state court actions.
And what the secretary of state has done is gone to the Florida Supreme court and, in essence, said, look, let's bring this under one umbrella; let's figure out exactly what we're going to do and let the Florida Supreme Court give guidance to all the other courts so that we don't have the risk of inconsistent decisions by any other courts, or even by any of the judges within any of the court system.
But that is also pending. We don't know what the Florida Supreme Court is going to do, if they're even going to take this matter.
KAGAN: Greta Van Susteren in West Palm Beach. So glad you didn't get hauled off to jail in the middle of the live shot there.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not yet, not yet.
KAGAN: If it happens...
VAN SUSTEREN: As soon as it's over, though...
KAGAN: ... we'll send bail money, we promise.
VAN SUSTEREN: As soon as it's over, Daryn, we're moving onto the grass where we're supposed to be because I don't want to be representing all of us in the lockup.
KAGAN: Yes, you're only one woman. Greta, thank you very much. Now move so the police aren't angry with you anymore.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
KAGAN: We'll check back with you later from a safer position.
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