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Bush Campaign Appealing Florida Supreme Court Ruling to U.S. Supreme Court; Democrats Suing Miami-Dade County for Halting Manual RecountAired November 22, 2000 - 4:00 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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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not believe that we have the ability to conduct a full, accurate recount. I would vote no.
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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Emotions run high after Miami-Dade County abandons its hand recount.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: The canvassing board's unanimous decision sends the recount process into a fresh state of flux and sends the Gore camp back into the courts. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Stephen Frazier, sitting in today for Lou Waters.
ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for being with us on a busy day of yet more developments in Election 2000.
First, here's a snapshot of the day's events. Miami-Dade County's canvassing board unanimously voted this afternoon to end its hand recount altogether. The board says its presidential vote count certified November 8th will stand as its final total. The Gore campaign expressed disappointment at the news from Miami, and says more court action is expected.
Hand recounts continue in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, which are under a deadline of Sunday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern to finish. All this as Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney undergoes a heart procedure in a Washington hospital. We'll hear more about it. He was admitted yesterday after complaining of chest pains.
FRAZIER: Before that update on the vice president, the would-be vice president's condition, first this latest legal maneuver. CNN has learned in the past hour that the fight over Florida recounts is now on its way to the United States Supreme Court in Washington. And that is where we find CNN national correspondent Bob Franken. Bob, hello again.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello again, and by coming directly to the Supreme Court, they're asking the Supreme Court to take this on an expedited basis when they pass by the 11th Circuit Court. That's the legal jargon for time's a-wasting. The Bush campaign says that given the urgency of this matter, the Supreme Court should take up the questions whether the federal court should be involved and stop the hand recount.
We've been hearing that argument as presented to an appeals court all week that they believe that the hand recount is unconstitutional because it denies equal protection to all the voters of Florida and that's because only some of the counties are getting that hand recount -- a violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. They also say there are First Amendment consideration.
Now you will recall that that argument, those arguments were rejected twice at the district court level in Florida. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is considering the case. The Supreme Court could decide to take action on the matter or it could decide that it more properly belongs at this time in the 11th Circuit, which has made some procedural moves that would open the possibility of an open hearing next week.
The justice who is in charge of that part of the country, the Supreme Court Justice, is Anthony Kennedy. He could grant the temporary restraining order stopping that in, probably in consultation with the other justices. The justices would have to decide whether they would hear the case or not or if they would just have it remanded to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals or they could decide ultimately it is not a federal matter.
And of course, on other side of the coin, they could decide themselves that the hand recount had to be stopped. A lot of possibilities. Not really a surprise move. This would be the kind of thing that would follow the arguments that were made at the state Supreme Court level, and as a matter of fact, some of the comments made today by George W. Bush, he raised these constitutional issues. The issues will get to the U.S. Supreme Court, where many people thought they would get eventually anyway -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: Bob, I know you've heard some of these arguments before when you were covering this case on its way through the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. But this seems to be a little bit different, a little bit more than the fundamental case between state's rights and federal jurisdiction. Here, now, the Bush campaign is citing violations of federal election laws for example because some of the ways in which ballots were counted changed in the course of recount. So that's a violation of federal law.
FRANKEN: Well, yes, on the other side of the coin the argument is made that this is a state matter. Article Two of the Constitution specifically says that the states and the state legislatures will determine how the electors are chosen. It is precisely that kind of argument that will be made before the Supreme Court, a question whether it is, quote, "a federal matter usually concerning whether there's a constitutional question."
FRAZIER: Bob, thank you for those insights. We know down in Atlanta you had to wade your way through 400 pages of briefs. I hope it's not quite that long here at the Supreme Court.
FRANKEN: One wouldn't think so, no.
FRAZIER: Thanks, Bob Franken.
ALLEN: Well, we go now to Miami, where CNN's Frank Buckley has the latest on the startling decision just a few hours ago by the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board to stop the manual recount there. He's here to tell us about it, Frank Buckley.
Go ahead, Frank.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, a turbulent day here in Miami. The end result canvassing board here in Miami-Dade County deciding to end the effort to hand count some 654,000 ballots. It will not continue.
This morning, however, the board had made a different decision, to actually go forward with the hand count of a limited number of so- called undervote ballots -- those in which the voter didn't clearly indicate a preference for a presidential candidate.
Party observers were excused, along with 25 teams of workers who had worked for two days straight to count all of the other ballots as the county had attempted to go through all 654,000. Now that they were no longer needed to count the 10,750, they were excused. That prompted a raucous scene by Republican observers, who demanded better access to a vote tabulation room on the 19th floor where the new hand count was to take place. After the protest, however, the board said it would in fact bring the count back to the 18th floor where it had been doing the count all along.
After that, however, yet another development. David Leahy, the election supervisor here in Miami-Dade, said we cannot do the count in the vote tabulation room, and we have to do it on the 18th floor, he could not guarantee that the so-called undervote ballots, the 10,750 undervote ballots that were left, he could not guarantee that he would be finished and completed by Sunday.
So by this afternoon, the canvassing board met yet again and made a decision, and voted 3-0 to in fact stop the hand count and to just go forward with the certified vote after election night.
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LAWRENCE KING, MIAMI DADE COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: I'm going to vote first, and therefore, I vote no. I believe we should stop at this time. We cannot meet the deadline of the Supreme Court of the state of Florida, and I feel incumbent upon this canvassing board to count each and every ballot and to not do a hand recount would potentially, potentially, Mr. De Grande (ph), not guarantee, but potentially -- even under the proposed plan of this morning -- could disenfranchise a segment of our community.
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BUCKLEY: That was the reason given by one of the canvassing board members as they decided not to go forward with this hand recount. This could be potentially devastating for Al Gore's campaign. They had hoped to pick up several hundred votes in Miami- Dade County, and of course promptly the Gore campaign announced that it would be in fact filing an appeal. Democrats here also saying they were planning to file an appeal with the courts -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Frank Buckley, thank you, Frank. And we'll be, of course, hearing more from the Democrats about that appeal. Now to Stephen.
FRAZIER: That hope remains alive for the Gore campaign as the hand recount continues also in Palm Beach County, but the issue before a judge there today is whether or not so-called dimpled ballots should be part of the hand recount.
CNN's John Zarrella is in West Palm Beach with the latest on that. John, hello again.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stephen, we're still awaiting that ruling from Judge Jorge LaBarga. But we are now at the emergency operations center, and a little bit of an update on what's going on here. The officials here are telling us that all of the ballot, the remaining ballot box, the precincts are out on the table and it is possible that if they work late into tonight they could be finished counting all the precincts.
Now that doesn't mean they'll be signed off on, the 462,000 votes. They still have to go back and do all of the challenge ballots, and the canvassing board will be doing that on Friday and Saturday. If they can't complete the task finishing up with all of the precincts tonight, then the workers will come back on Sunday morning to wrap it up, but as we were told, these workers here are excited about it. They want to be the last team to finish up, and so they're charging hard towards the finish.
And of course Judge Charles Burton is inside there and he is leading that charge. They all want to get done, but he wasn't inside there this morning. He was over in Judge Jorge LaBarga's court, and what happened this morning was the Democratic Party had gone back to court, to Judge LaBarga to seek him to specify what had to be counted of the dimple ballots.
To order, basically, the people of the canvassing board to take a harder look at those dimpled ballots, and if there's any kind of a mark at all, the Democratic Party wanted them to count those ballots. Now, what we expect is a ruling at about 4:30 this afternoon. But while Judge Charles Burton was on the stand and testifying, he outlined how it is that they are determining which ballots to count and which ones not to count.
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JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: We're looking at the card. We're looking at the card in total to see if we can determine the intent of the voter. If the only mark is on that first column and every other hole is punched out, our interpretation of that has been that does not show the clear intent of the voter. If on cards where a couple or two or three or four, and we don't have any set numbers, also show indentions or not quite full punches, then we've taken the position that does show the intent of the voter in that this person obviously had difficulty punching out.
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ZARRELLA: Judge Burton also said that it was extraordinarily difficult for them to determine the intent of the voter, and that they were doing simply the best job they could; and we will just have to see, in less than 30 minutes, a written statement, written ruling from Judge Jorge LaBarga.
John Zarrella reporting live from West Palm Beach, Florida.
ALLEN: Well, with all the movement on the Florida recount front, there is the added issue of Dick Cheney's health. As you know, the Republican vice presidential candidate was hospitalized in Washington after complaining of chest pains.
CNN's Eileen O'Connor joins us now with the latest on his condition -- Eileen.
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Secretary Cheney's condition is going to be updated in a few minutes from now by doctors here at George Washington University, but two of his doctors did come out a little bit earlier and they said that, after he came to the hospital with chest pains this morning, while early blood tests showed that he had not had a heart attack, a second EKG did indicate that there was a narrowing of one of the arteries in his heart.
So a decision was made to undergo an angioplasty; that's a minor surgical -- it's a procedure, basically, where they insert a line into his artery. They unblock that artery and then they put in a mesh stent, which is a medical device that's designed to keep the artery open. Long-term, doctors say, he came through with flying colors; and they say that now, despite his history of heart attacks and a quadruple bypass in 1998 and also with this procedure, he is fit to lead.
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DR. ALAN WASSERMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: His prognosis is excellent at this point in time. I would expect that he should be able to get back to normal functioning and normal activity within a few weeks at the very most. He will have no limitations and should be able to go about whatever his job is in the next few months.
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O'CONNOR: Now, Governor George W. Bush came out at noon, talking about his running mate and his strength. He declined to mention the procedure that had actually taken place, we know by doctors, two hours earlier; Governor Bush emphasizing that Dick Cheney had already shown how strong and steady he was and that he remains steady. And he also said that he will be a great vice president, clearly, despite any recounts or court battles ongoing -- Natalie. ALLEN: All right; Eileen O'Connor. He's a fortunate man to have such a good prognosis; and, again, we expect to hear from the hospital soon -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: And, as Eileen said, doctors say Secretary Cheney is doing fine now; should be back on his feet in a couple of days. But all this raises some rather delicate questions -- the question of "what if?" What if he did have to step down from the ticket?
CNN's Gene Randall joins us from our Washington bureau to ponder that question.
GENE RANDALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stephen, there are rules in place for both parties if a vice presidential candidate or a vice president-elect needs to be replaced. Dick Cheney, of course, is still just a candidate since there has been no resolution of the vote results in Florida; and we make the point at the outset there is no hint Cheney will leave the Bush team.
But there are mechanisms in place number if the No. 2 on a major- party, national ticket must be replaced. If it happens between the time of a party convention and when the Electoral College meets in December, the party formally makes the call, though, in fact, it simply ratifies the presidential candidate's choice.
A bit of history: The last time the Republicans replaced a national candidate was back in 1912. William Howard Taft's running mate James Sherman died days before the election. His replacement was a university president, Nicholas Butler. Because there was too little time, the RNC did not ratify the choice until after the election, a moot point since Taft lost.
On the Democratic side, in 1972 Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, the vice presidential candidate, resigned from the George McGovern ticket because of revelations about a history of mental health problems. The DNC approved McGovern's choice of Sargent Shriver as Eagleton's replacement. McGovern lost the election in a landslide.
Back to the issue of timing: After the Electoral College meets in December under the 25th Amendment, if a vice president-elect or vice president must be replaced then, that involves majority votes of the House and Senate. A case from history: Richard Nixon's choice of House Republican leader Gerald Ford as the successor to Spiro Agnew.
Once again, the word on Dick Cheney's condition is positive, and no hint he is going to leave the ticket -- Stephen and Natalie.
FRAZIER: Gene, thanks for that historical insight, and also what the sense of what the procedures are. Gene Randall reporting from Washington.
ALLEN: Well we have heard from George W. Bush today, not the vice president. In a moment we will talk with our correspondents covering both campaigns.
FRAZIER: Back in just a moment. Stay with us.
FRAZIER: Well, as we told you earlier, there's no more counting, based on the decision of the Miami-Dade County Election Canvassing Board. That's a decision that the Gore camp, though, is now vowing to fight.
CNN's John King joins us live from Washington with the latest on their efforts. John, hello again.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello again to you, Stephen.
That decision by Miami-Dade County, a major setback for a Gore campaign that was just beginning to enjoy a celebration of last night's Florida state Supreme Court ruling. Immediately now, the Gore campaign going to court in Miami to appeal this decision, the Gore campaign's case is this, that the canvassing board had voted that there were some irregularities in the count. According to the Gore campaign, that requires them to do a recount.
Now, reacting today officially was Bill Daley. He was the chairman of the Gore campaign. He is now leading the recount effort -- Mr. Daley saying that he believes the decision made by the Miami- Dade board of canvasses at least runs in violation of the spirit of last night's state Supreme Court decision.
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WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We were disappointed by the decision of the Miami board -- Miami-Dade board of canvassers, who had previously found that there was an error in the vote count that did require a manual recount. Under Florida law, once the finding is made, the recount is mandatory. We will immediately be seeking an order directing the Dade County board of canvassers to resume the manual recount.
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KING: Now, that appeal, we're told, to be filed this afternoon. Simple math explains the displeasure, 10,700 uncounted ballots, ballots that the machines had kicked out saying there was no vote for president, The Gore campaign believed that if those were examined manually that enough votes would be found to help the vice president catch up and indeed overtake Governor Bush's 930-vote official lead right now in the Florida tally.
And that not the only legal turn today: As we've been discussing, the Bush campaign -- Governor Bush has now authorized his lawyers to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to reverse last night's state Supreme Court decision. Gore campaign officials voicing confidence that the Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court will throw that out and make the case that this is an issue for the state courts, and in doing so they're raising this: Governor Bush's camp sharply critical of the Florida state Supreme Court, all those justices appointed by Democrats -- the Gore campaign hoping the political tide will turn in its favor if the U.S. Supreme Court dealt Governor Bush a setback, noting that seven of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court appointed by Republican presidents -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: John, I imagine these campaign advisers are war-gaming every possible outcome that this campaign could take at every step of the way. But this decision by the Miami-Dade board of canvassers took us completely by surprise here. Was it a surprise as big as that for the campaign there?
KING: It certainly was. At one point, the Gore campaign had hoped all 600,000-plus ballots in Miami-Dade would be inspected by hand. Then they were settling this morning when Miami-Dade said it couldn't finish by the court's deadline -- the state Supreme Court's deadline -- they were still happy if those 10,700 were looked at. A complete stunner to them that the board then voted 3-0 to shut down the recount altogether.
There was an emergency conference call between the vice president and his team here in Washington with the lawyers down in Florida, they decided which court to go to with that appeal, and just as they were preparing that, they've heard about the Supreme Court action likely by the Bush campaign. So this roller coaster continues, as one senior campaign aide put it, we were celebrating this morning, but then somebody said, hey, just wait, this thing turns just about every four hours.
FRAZIER: And John, we're glad you are on the roller coaster with them. Hang on tight, and thanks very much.
KING: Thank you.
ALLEN: Well, the Miami-Dade decision was a surprise that the Bush camp certainly learned -- liked hearing about, but the Bush campaign still planning new legal action and it involves the U.S. Supreme Court.
CNN's Tony Clark is in Austin, Texas, with more of the story -- Tony.
TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the decision by Miami- Dade, one of the most encouraging things that the Bush campaign has heard in some time. In fact, one of the aides close to the legal team said when he heard that the Gore campaign might challenge that decision in court, he called that "unbelievable" and went on to say that the Gore campaign is now suing their own people, it is so transparent.
Governor George W. Bush, we are told, is keeping a close watch on all of these legal maneuvers as they go on. He is keeping close tabs and being very much involved in the decisions. Today, he gave his legal team the OK to go to the Supreme Court to appeal last night's decision by the Florida Supreme Court. It is a way, we are told, to keep all of their options open, all of their options to deal with what's going on in Florida, they expect to file a notice of appeal in the court later today.
We saw the governor earlier today head over to the state capitol, where he was greeted by some supporters as he went into the capital, it was there at the capital at mid-day that he leveled a stinging attack on the Florida Supreme Court, accusing it of over-reaching its authority.
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GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The court cloaked its ruling in legalistic language. But make no mistake, the court rewrote the law. It changed the rules and it did so after the election was over.
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CLARK: The governor made it quite clear that he believes that he and running mate Dick Cheney won the election in Florida and indicated that other people, indicating the Gore -- implying the Gore campaign were trying to have so many recounts that they could change the outcome, but he made it definite that he felt he and Cheney won that. It is a sentiment that we have seen throughout the afternoon from supporters here, I'm across the street from the governor's mansion and there are a number of supporters who have stood out here throughout the afternoon with signs, they have been cheering, cars have been honking.
Among the supporters, golfer Ben Crenshaw out here with his family holding up a sign showing support for Governor Bush. We noticed at one point when the governor was going to and from the mansion, he waved to his supporters, it has been often a loud, vocal group of people here to show their support for the governor and to say that it was time for this election -- as you can hear now with the cheers -- time for this election controversy to come to an end -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, Tony Clark, thanks for that little tidbit about Crenshaw, we remember he was on the Ryder Cup team that received an inspirational speech from George W. Bush, so no doubt the golfer showing his support there today.
Thanks, Tony Clark in Austin, Texas.
CNN election law analyst David Cardwell, who has been a fixture now here for the past few weeks, joins us again. He is in West Palm Beach County to talk about the developments of this day, and they are quite enormous.
David, let's start with the Bush team taking this appeal now to the U.S. Supreme Court. We just heard George W. Bush say the court rewrote the law and changed the rules after the election was over, and that is the crux, apparently, that the Bush team will take to the U.S. Supreme Court, that will be their argument. What do you make of it?
DAVID CARDWELL, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, they really didn't have any other legal option in terms of the Florida Supreme Court decision other than to go to the U.S. Supreme Court and take their chances there. They are trying to consolidate the appeal they will take to the U.S. Supreme Court together with their case that's pending before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which is an appeal from the federal district court in Miami, which turned down the request to block the manual recount.
So what they basically are asking the court to find, the U.S. Supreme Court to find is that the manual recounts are unconstitutional, they should be stopped and should not be counted. But keep in mind this is a U.S. Supreme Court that has shown over the past several years a great deal of deference to the states, so in this instance, they've got to decide whether the Supreme Court will allow the state process to continue, or inject the federal court system into Florida's election process.
ALLEN: That will be something we'll be watching closely.
Let's also talk about Palm Beach County -- a judge set to decide whether he will get into this debate and make a decision on whether to count the dimpled ballots there in Palm Beach County, which could be crucial to any attempt by Al Gore to try to get more votes from Palm Beach County in the final tally.
If you were following that hearing today, could you tell what this judge might decide there?
CARDWELL: Well, we are expecting the judge to issue his order on the dimple issue some time late this afternoon. He had indicated at the hearing today he would try to issue it by 4:30. In terms of how he may rule, he got arguments really from both sides as to whether it should or should not be counted. And the history in this state is that the local canvassing boards have made that determination, sometimes in some elections they've counted the dimple, other times they haven't, and it really rests on what's the intent of the voter, and different canvassing boards have taken different positions.
Now, there are some cases in other states that have held that the dimpled ballots are to be counted, Florida hasn't had a definitive court decision on this, so once again, we are making some new Florida law.
ALLEN: And that is another issue that the Bush team will take to the U.S. Supreme Court, the fact that there aren't uniform standards in counting these votes amongst the counties.
We have time for one other issue, there are so many, David, but let's talk about Miami-Dade County, just a few hours ago deciding to stop the recount entirely, and then we heard Bill Daley from the Gore campaign say, hey, the recount is mandatory, we are going to appeal this.
What's your view?
CARDWELL: Well, the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board really got caught in a time crunch, that's the largest county in the state, they had 600,000 plus ballots that they were going to have to count. Under our manual recount statute, the process that you follow is, first, there is a sampling of three precincts, or enough precincts to equal 1 percent of the countywide total. Once those precincts are done, if the county canvassing board determines that there are some irregularities in the count, that it differs significantly from the machine count, they then have three options.
They can, one, correct the error of just the few precincts they did and do the rest of the recount on machines. Or they can verify and test the tabulation software to make sure it is correct. Or third: Do a manual recount of the entire county. When the Florida Supreme Court said: You've got until Sunday at 5:00 to finish your recount, and the Dade County canvassing board look at those three options, they realized they could not complete a countywide recount. So they backed up.
So it is going to remain for the court to determine whether or not they should go ahead with the countywide recount even though they won't be able to finish it by the 5:00 Sunday deadline.
ALLEN: David Cardwell, as always, thanks, David, for helping us with the analysis on these developments.
We will take a break. We'll have much more for on you the news of this day regarding election 2000 -- right after this.
ALLEN: If you are just joining us, the latest developments now in the Florida recount: No more recounting is the word from Miami- Dade election canvassing board. Board members say they cannot possibly meet the state Supreme Court Sunday deadline. So their November 8th vote tally will stand. The Gore camp vows it will appeal the board's decision.
In Palm Beach County, officials held a hearing on the controversial dimpled chad. And we expect hear from a judge on whether he'll say whether or not the county should vote those dimpled chads at any moment. And, of course, the big news is that the Bush camp is appealing last night's Supreme Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
FRAZIER: Even before that decision Natalie just mentioned in Miami-Dade, it was a hectic day in Dade County.
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PROTESTERS: Let you see the ballots! Let us see the ballots!
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FRAZIER: Earlier in the morning, Republicans got into a bit of a scuffle with police after they learned that workers planned to tally so-called non-votes. Those are ballots that weren't included in initial tallies. Tabulations were going to moved to a larger room to permit them to observe the process. Then, early this afternoon, the county canvassing board voted to cancel the manual recount. Members feared they couldn't complete the process by the Sunday deadline. They said, so -- rather than jeopardize the certification of the all county's votes, they decided to go with the November 8th vote tally. Now, the Gore campaign will appeal that decision. It will seek a court order to force Miami-Dade to resume its hand counts.
Hand counts continued throughout the day in West Palm Beach County. But the chairman of its canvassing board took time out today to talk dimples. Judge Charles Burton was called to court to tell a judge there just how the county is handling dimpled ballots. And Burton explained how, in such instances, workers examine the entire ballot to try to gauge a voter's intent. Florida law permits canvassing boards to count such votes when intent can be determined.
ALLEN: In Broward County, election workers have cleared two major hurdles. But the job isn't over yet.
Let's get a progress report from CNN's Susan Candiotti -- Susan.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.
Here in Broward County, things have wrapped up for the day involving the Broward County canvassing board. And, in the end, Vice President Gore now have a net gain of 137 votes. They got a lot accomplished here today. First of all, the Broward County canvassing board has completed an initial certification of all 588,000 ballots cast here.
In addition to that, it sent home all of those ballot-counting teams that have worked here for eight straight days. Those teams who have been working here in part of that process, their work is done. Then the Broward County canvassing board went on to review absentee ballots, more than 41,000 of them, and proceeded to look over some very controversial taped absentee ballots: 105 of those. After doing that -- just to remind you what those are -- where people punched through a hole -- absentee ballots -- taped over the back and then punched another hole in the ballot.
After reviewing those, Vice President Gore gained many more votes. After all of that was over, the canvassing board agreed to hear arguments from both Republican and Democratic attorneys. Republican attorneys have been urging for days that the canvassing board reconsider its decision to -- to depart from the using a two- corner standard when considering these so-called dimpled or partially punctured ballots. But the board has said it is going to use a broader standard. Nevertheless, it heard arguments first from an attorney representing the Republican Party. And here is part of what he had to say.
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WILLIAM SHERER, REPUBLICAN PARTY ATTORNEY: We urge you not to succumb to this pressure that the Supreme Court last night did anything to tell you to change from that position. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: Now, the attorney representing the Gore campaign, David Boies, who's been making the argument before the Florida Supreme Court who did that, came here today to Fort Lauderdale's area to make his argument before the canvassing board as well, telling them that making consideration, taking consideration of these additional ballots that have a puncture -- you have heard about the pregnant or dimpled ballots, are those with one corner of a chad hanging out -- that those too should be considered by the board.
And here is what he had to say.
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DAVID BOIES, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: It is reasonably probable, it is the kind of proof that we judge and use in everyday life that you don't go around making those indentations on a ballot if you don't intend to make a vote.
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CANDIOTTI: After listening to these arguments, the chairman of the Broward County Canvassing Board, Judge Robert Lee, said that he has heard all of this before. It is something that the board has already discussed and they are going to reconvene starting at 9:00 in the morning Thanksgiving Day to begin evaluating those controversial dimpled ballots.
And right now behind me, there is about to be a news conference being held by the Republicans and Senator Bob Dole is here as well to address the crowd of Bush supporters.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Plantation.
FRAZIER: What Susan Candiotti's report included was news from two fronts of all of this. There is the mechanisms that canvassing boards are using to count the ballots and there are the judicial challenges to those recounts.
Now here is news from a third front. Some Florida state lawmakers have their own way of dealing with the state's recount controversy. They are thinking about pulling on the plug on the whole thing.
So, let's turn now to CNN's Kate Snow to explain that.
Kate, hello again.
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Stephen.
Well, Republicans here in the state legislature here in Florida are unhappy, to say the least, with what came out of the Florida Supreme Court last night. They say that by setting an arbitrary date for the recount to be concluded, that is Sunday, that the Supreme Court acted in violation of the separation of powers. In other words, they think that the Supreme Court has encroached on their duties as legislatures in state. This, of course, the Republican point of view.
Now, Republicans control both the house and the senate here in the state of Florida. So what they could do is insert themselves in this whole mess. They could get involved by calling a special session of their state legislature.
Now, we have learned that over this long holiday weekend. Republicans in the legislature here are urging their colleagues not to go ahead and call a special session of the legislature at this point. But Stephen, that does not mean that they couldn't do it further on down the road, some time before that December 12th deadline when they have to pick their electors.
And one other note: The other thing they could do as a body, as Republicans in the state legislature, is they could go to attorneys and they could somehow get involved legally to try to challenge what the Supreme Court did last night by saying that they overstepped their bounds, that they stepped on the powers of the legislative branch of the government here in Florida -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: Kate, don't rule any of that out. As we've seen from today, just about anything can happen in this.
SNOW: That's right.
FRAZIER: Kate Snow reporting from Tallahassee, thank you -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, in Palm Beach County, it is critical, say the Gore campaign, that those dimpled ballots be counted there. Let's go to CNN's John Zarrella, because that was the issue before a judge this morning -- John.
ZARRELLA: That's exactly correct. Judge Jorge LaBarga at the 15th circuit court in Palm Beach County, and just a few moments ago. He has issued his paper statement, his ruling, and it appears that this would be a victory for Vice President Al Gore.
The judge has said that the will of the people is paramount. I'm quoting here. The canvassing board cannot have in place a policy which provides for a per se exclusion of any ballot. He went on to say, where the intention of the voter can be fairly and satisfactorily ascertained, satisfactorily being the key word -- that was argued over in court today -- and ascertained, that intention should be given effect.
Now, the Democrats had gone in court saying, look, we want -- the Democratic Party. We want those dimpled ballots to count and they are being excluded here. The canvassing board is not taking them into consideration. The Republicans argued, look, you can't measure the intent of a voter by a little mark on a chad. It has to be punched through.
Well, apparently, the judge is siding with the Democratic Party, saying that canvassing board here has to take into consideration the intent of the voter, and if it is fairly and satisfactorily ascertained -- you don't have to absolutely know -- then that that vote should be counted.
So, that could mean a big shift when they get down to counting all of the -- of the questionable ballot, a couple of thousand of them, and the Democrats believe that in those couple of thousand of them, the majority of those would go to Vice President Al Gore.
So once again, it appears we have a new twist here with a judge actually telling the canvassing board, hey, you've got to take a closer look at these ballots, and if it appears that the voter's intent was to punch that chad, then you have to go ahead and count that vote.
So we will be waiting for reaction from both side, Republicans and the Democrats. No doubt that will be coming later today from here in West Palm Beach, as it has every time there's been a new twist and turn.
Back to you, Natalie.
ALLEN: All right. And John, when is Palm Beach County set to start looking at these some 2,000 questionable ballots?
ZARRELLA: They are telling us here that the counters may well be done tonight counting all of the precincts. They're on the last precincts now. And then starting on Friday, Friday and Saturday, the canvassing board -- and they're the ones that have to do it -- are going to start going through all of those questionable ballots, the challenged ballots. And now, there is a heightened degree of interest on exactly what will come out from this latest court ruling -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, John Zarrella, the latest from the judge there, just now ruling in Palm Beach County that the will of the people is paramount. It seems that the dimpled ballots will be counted there in Palm Beach County.
Now to CNN's legal analyst Greta Van Susteren. Greta, this has been at the crux of the Gore -- Gore team's work throughout this process. What do you make of it?
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Natalie, I'm not -- I haven't seen the decision. It will be getting into my hands very shortly. But I think that what I'm looking for in the decision is, does it say dimpled ballots must be counted? I doubt it says that.
What it says, I think from what John Zarrella said, is that you can't have an exclusionary rule, saying automatically we're not even going to look at dimpled ballots. I think what it merely is, is sort of a restatement of the Florida law, is that the canvassing board has the obligation to find the intent of the voters if they can discern the intent and they can't simply exclude a ballot simply because it has a dimple. Rather, they must look at it.
They may conclude after looking at a dimpled ballot that they cannot determine the intent, in which case that will not be a vote. But I think we have to very carefully look at the language of what the judge wrote.
I think what we can glean from it is that there is not an automatic exclusionary rule, meaning all dimpled ballots are out. I think the better way to look at it is that dimpled ballots may be in when you count votes.
ALLEN: Right. So the judge says the intent of the voter must not be excluded, you have to look at all of them. Will that make it harder, that language, for the Bush team to try to fight this, if they do?
VAN SUSTEREN: A little bit, but you know, it's merely a restatement of the law. I mean, the law has always been is that the canvassing board has the duty, has the obligation to try to determine what the intent is. It appears in some ways sort of a green light may appear to some to sort of loosen the standards, but it really doesn't. The standards have always been, not only in Florida, but in other jurisdictions, that you try to determine what the intent of the voter is, if you can.
For instance, let's say you've got two people that you voted for and each has a single dimple. Then I don't think that anyone would say you could really determine the intent of the voter. But if you have one person voted for with a dimple, it might suggest to those looking at the ballots that that is the single person that one intended to vote for and that simply the paper didn't get -- the punch didn't go all the way through.
So I think what it does is that it in some ways is a green light to the canvassing board to proceed and simply not limit what -- the way they're looking at the ballots, but instead use reasoned judgment to attempt to discern the intent of the voter.
But it's conceivable, at least from what I hear on John Zarrella's report, is that even a single dimple on the ballot may not be enough to determine the intent. But it may very well be. It just -- it's up to the people who look at the ballots.
ALLEN: Well, this is the same area that apparently the Bush team will take to the U.S. Supreme Court. We learned that that will be one of their arguments, that the recounts are selectively -- selected -- excuse me -- and unevenly carried out.
What do you think about that being part of their argument before the U.S. Supreme Court?
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I can see the argument made -- being made both ways. I mean, first, Natalie, when you go to the U.S. Supreme Court, it's not automatic. You have to get permission to have the Supreme Court hear the case, and the Bush team is going to have to supply sufficient reasons to the United States Supreme Court to say, listen, hear our case. It's called petition for writ of certiorari.
And what usually -- typically, they're questions that involve the Constitution, a conflict between two states. It's not to say that the Supreme Court won't take this case. I can't read the minds of the United States Supreme Court.
But usually -- and I underline the word usually -- this is a matter for the states to determine, how to run their elections. And so there's great deference to the state courts.
If the -- if the Bush campaign can find a constitutional issue, if they can somehow persuade the court that this is a constitutional issue, that there may be different standards supplied by different canvassing boards within the state of Florida, if that's a sufficient constitutional issue, then the Supreme Court will take the case.
But I caution everybody, is that, you know, when you look at the law, what the law says is that the canvassing board has the obligation to discern the intent of the voter. And if they -- if the person can, if the board can, then that is a vote. But it doesn't -- you know, the question of standards may be a little bit misleading, because it may be that the statute on its face is fine to begin with.
ALLEN: All right, Greta Van Susteren, thanks so much for helping us analyze today's developments. Now to Stephen.
FRAZIER: A moment ago, Natalie, we heard CNN's Kate Snow talk about what the Florida legislature might do in response to all of these developments, an even that could clear everything away and start all over again in a big way. So we're going to take a break now, and when we come back, we're very interested to hear what happens next from Tom Feeney, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, who tells us he's going to have something say in just a moment.
And here is Speaker Feeney.
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TOM FEENEY (R), FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKER: This is my second day on the job as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. I can't wait to see what excitement waits us on the third day. I will tell you that I have a brief statement to make; that we will be not taking any questions after that statement. I would encourage you to pay close attention to it.
In my view, the court's ruling indicated the tremendous lack of respect that the Florida Supreme Court has for the laws of the state of Florida and the legislature. The court continues to supplant its personal preferences over the statutory law of Florida, which was passed by the elected members of the legislature.
Yesterday, if the court has merely enforced firm and clear statutory deadlines, the Florida Supreme Court could have given us a resolution. Instead, I fear, it has given us a potential constitutional crisis.
The people of Florida have elected 160 members of the legislature and charged us with the creation and the protection of their laws. In my view, the judicial branch has clearly overstepped their powers. Title 3, Section 2 of the United States Code specifically delegates the power, authority and responsibility to ensure an Electoral College representation for Florida and the Florida legislature intends to uphold the Florida constitution.
This decision, in my view, was an expression of the court's view of appropriate deadlines or convenient deadlines, rather than the deadlines strictly set out in law. I'll tell you that every day the recount continues with new decisions, new guidelines, and canvassing boards reversing their own procedures from a day or two earlier, reversing procedures that they have had in place for years, new courts issuing new guidelines for them to proceed by, continues to create a charade and undermine the public confidence in the entire system. There is increasingly compelling evidence of widespread mischief, human error, vote and ballot manipulation in the manual recount process.
One of the reasons the Florida legislature was so clear in having a very definite deadline set out in statute which the court has decided to ignore, is to make certain we never had to be in a position where you had the charade that is going on now.
FEENEY: I will share with you a bit of news. I'm told by our information technology department that the Florida web site has had over 1 million hits today. Our offices have had over 200,000 e-mails. The large majority -- we haven't done the tabulation -- but the large majority asking us to do our constitutional duty to help resolve the crisis that the court, in my view, has created.
The fax machines are jammed. We received over 1,000 telephone calls from constituents and people from around the country, and, indeed, the world. My press coordinator, her second week as a press communications coordinator, has received roughly 500 calls from the press alone. Obviously, as my normal practice is, I just spent five or 10 minutes with each of you, we wouldn't get much else done.
The last thing that I would like to say is that I have spoken to a prominent law professor today. I have invited him and have issued an opportunity for him to decide to give the Florida House of Representatives advice about our constitutional responsibilities, our options and prerogatives. And until I have that advice, I don't intend to take any further formal steps.
And the last thing I wish to say is that for those of you that are assigned to cover the Florida legislature, or at least the Florida House, and for those members that have been waiting, I think we can all stand-down. This is Thanksgiving eve; I think we can all relax, take a deep breath for at least 24 hours.
And with that, I appreciate your patience. We've tried to do the best we can. I want to thank Kim Stone (ph).
And we will be sharing more information with you as we have it.
FRAZIER: The comments now of Florida's speaker of the House of Representatives -- Tom Feeney, a Republican -- saying that the House and the legislature intend to uphold the Florida Constitution as it pertains to the selection of electors to the Electoral College.
Let's turn now to Kate Snow, who has been following events in Tallahassee. I am not sure, Kate, whether I heard there an actual decision to move ahead with that nuclear step that and you I were discussing earlier...
FRAZIER: ... of electing a whole new slate of electors.
SNOW: That's right. That may be down the road, Stephen.
But he clearly -- Tom Feeney -- the speaker of the House -- saying: Look, I have spoken to a prominent law professor. He said: I have asked him for some advice. And, in fact, that is what his staff had told us earlier today: that they were speaking with constitutional law experts, trying to figure out the lay of the land here. But he says: Until I have that advice, I will take no further, formal steps.
He asked everyone to stand down for the next 24 hours at least. Go home and enjoy Thanksgiving. So I think, clearly, he has not come to any conclusion as far as whether they will pursue legal -- whether they will take any legal options right now, or whether they're going to call for a special session.
I should tell you, I also have a paper statement here from the Florida Senate president. That is his counterpart on the Senate side -- also a Republican, John McKay -- John McKay saying that he is also disappointed with this Supreme Court decision. He says -- quote -- "The Supreme Court contradicted itself in its most recent ruling by arbitrarily and capriciously setting another date by which the secretary of state is to accept amended certifications."
He goes on, however, to say that: "We are in a unchartered territory. We must take a thorough and methodical approach in determining whatever action, if any, we will take." So clearly, no decision has been made here yet. And that is what we had reported to you earlier this afternoon, that the likelihood of having a special session right away over this long holiday weekend just was not very likely. And indeed, that doesn't look like that will happen. But they hold out all of their options for down the road -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: Well, Kate, good prognostications earlier. And if I understand you correctly, what we're getting is no remedy as this time, but a call that attention must be paid to the lawmakers of the state of Florida.
SNOW: That is absolutely right.
FRAZIER: Kate Snow in Tallahassee, thanks. And since you have the day off tomorrow, enjoy it.
ALLEN: Live now to George Washington University Hospital for the latest on Dick Cheney.
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DR. ALAN WASSERMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: ... in addition to what we passed out. The first value was obtained at approximately 8 a.m., and the values are completely normal. The second set of values were available to Dr. Reiner some time after noon today, while he was in the catheterization laboratory. The second of values show an elevated level, a minimally elevated level, that shows that there was a very slight heart attack. The third set of values shows that a level has basically tapered off, and have not continued to increase.
To put this into some perspective: In someone that has had a significant heart attack, the levels would be somewhere 20 to 50 times higher.
Approximately a year ago, the American Heart Association established a definition for a heart attack that encompasses any enzyme elevation. Over a year ago, this amount of enzyme elevation would not have been considered, by most people, signs of a heart attack.
I want to also tell you that Secretary Cheney is continuing to do well. We continue to expect a full recovery, and to see him back to normal activity, very shortly.
Dr. Reiner, who performed the catheterization, is here with us and will be ready to answer some questions for us.
Are there questions for Dr. Reiner?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Good afternoon.
QUESTION: Can you tell me what is his ejection fraction, the level of the his heart's efficiency?
REINER: You know, we actually didn't quantify it this afternoon, but I would estimate it at around 40 percent.
QUESTION: And what does that mean in layman's terms? Is that good or bad?
REINER: It's moderately impaired. It's consistent with his history of prior heart attacks. I would leave it at that.
WASSERMAN: There has been no change.
REINER: Yes, really, it really remains unchanged.
QUESTION: Dr. Reiner, at this point can you anticipate any additional procedures?
REINER: No, none at all, actually.
QUESTION: For the immediate future, or can you go out on a limb? Is it possible to say that we could categorically rule out, for example, a coronary bypass?
REINER: Well, actually at this time, for a patient like Mr. Cheney, our traditional pathway would involve probably an exercise stress test in three to four months. But really no other procedures are performed. And it would be exceedingly unlikely for him to require a repeat bypass operation.
QUESTION: When do you expect him to be released?
REINER: Well, you know, we're still evaluating that. He's doing extremely well. I just spent a little time with him after he had some lunch.
I would say probably conservatively speaking some time over the next 48 hours or so.
QUESTION: Can you talk in layman's terms about what the catheterization is and then putting in the stent? What that means? And is that known as angioplasty? Is that different than angioplasty?
REINER: Sure. The term cardiocatheterization is fairly synonymous with the term coronary angiography. And what we do during this procedure is we inject dye directly into the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. And using X-ray imaging techniques, that gives us a very clear picture of the coronary artery anatomy.
We do this through a blood vessel that is accessible to us at the top of the leg.
Angioplasty is a technique which has been around for about 20 years -- it's been refined greatly over that period of time -- in which balloons and various other devices can be advanced across blockages in these heart arteries, and then the blockage is relieved by expanding the balloons and using other devices.
This morning, we deployed what we call a stent in Mr. Cheney's diagonal artery. A stent is a stainless steel mesh. It's crimped onto a balloon, and when the balloon is expanded, the stainless steel mesh is also expanded, and is essentially embedded into the wall of the artery, and it acts like a tiny stainless steel scaffold, to, sort of, buttress the wall of the artery and keep the artery open. And that's the procedure that he had this morning.
ALLEN: George Washington University hospital giving a very different report than it did just two hours ago on Dick Cheney and what has happened to him. A couple of hours ago, they said he came into the hospital complaining of chest pains -- did not have a heart attack. We have just learned that he did have a slight heart attack.
It seems, Rhonda, that they're trying to figure what standards -- here comes that word again -- to use when describing whether someone had a heart attack or not. RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What they talked about were these blood tests where they look at the enzyme and they said earlier this morning, they looked normal but they continued to do tests. And this is very common. They continued to do those tests a number of hours and the information can change. And in this case, they found that about noon, when they got more results back, there was an indication of a slight heart attack. So, they made that very clear
Also they were talking here about ejection fraction and...
ALLEN: I hope you know what that means.
ROWLAND: Well, I looked it up here in my book and this talking about the rate at which blood is pumped out of the heart through the ventricle. And normal is about 67 percent and the question was asked what his ejection fraction was and it was 40 percent. And a doctor said that that was, you know, moderate impairment there.
And again, talking about the procedure, the balloon angioplasty followed by the stint, very typical. But earlier today there was no mention of the angioplasty part of the procedure.
ALLEN: Right, and you pointed out that if they had a catheterization, which they said he did, that he likely had an angioplasty.
ROWLAND: That's typically and here's where it can differ. What we don't have information on is whether or not this blockage was in a bypass graph. We know that Mr. Cheney had a heart bypass operation 12 years ago. Or, if this was done in one of his native arteries, an artery that was not bypassed. And doctors we talked to assume it is probably in one of these native arteries, an artery that was not bypassed earlier. But again, they did not give us the specific information.
ALLEN: Rhonda Rowland from our medical team. Thank you for being here with us.
Again, Dick Cheney is in good condition. He is expected to be out of the hospital in 48 to 72 hours. But apparently he did have a slight heart attack and was admitted the hospital this morning.
FRAZIER: On a day of stunning developments start to finish, yet one more here as we begin to say good-bye. That is it from Natalie and me. Thanks very much for joining us.
Because of all of the importance of this, the political importance of the term heart attack, you want to stay tuned now to a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff for more on all of that.
ALLEN: And all that said, please have a happy Thanksgiving. We will see you tomorrow.
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