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Breaking News

Florida Recount: Bush Leads Gore by 327; Former FL. Elections Board Director Discusses Process Going Forward

Aired November 10, 2000 - 7:34 a.m. ET

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

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: With the White House in the balance, the unofficial vote recount from all Florida counties is now complete. George W. Bush leads Al Gore by 327 votes. The Florida secretary of state must still certify the results. In addition, Palm Beach County officials have ordered a hand and machine vote recount for tomorrow. And the counting of absentee ballots from overseas won't be done until next Friday.

The Bush campaign is now calling on Al Gore to concede, though. Bush aides say his victory is now confirmed. And the Bush camp is calling on the Gore camp to reconsider additional recounts or lawsuits. But Al Gore is not conceding. Gore is back in Washington to conduct his vice presidential duties.

Gore aides say the process of determining Florida's Winner is far from over. The Gore campaign wants hand recounts in four Florida counties.

And this is where Bill Hemmer picks up the story in Tallahassee -- Bill

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, it is clear when 105 million people cast votes, the awful amount of large number anyway of votes out there. The system right now is showing the less than perfection that we have operated here in the U.S., and as somebody suggested yesterday, warts and all are coming out right now.

Part of those warts we're going to get to right now. David Cardwell is the former director of the elections board here in the state of Florida.

And I want to say good morning to you. And when we say about an imperfect system we mean that in every sense of the were right now because so many things are cropping up about the system.

What's critical, though, here in the state of Florida from your estimation?

DAVID CARDWELL, FORMER DIRECTOR, ELECTIONS DIVISION: Right now I think what we have to do is make sure every ballots is accounted for, every ballot has been counted, every ballot has been counted correctly. We know that there are ballots that have been recounted, but there also absentees still coming, overseas ballots coming in. We need to make sure before anything else occurs that everything is counted correctly.

HEMMER: There are 19,000 votes that are considered in Palm Beach County to be invalid and have been thrown out. Republicans charge that four years ago, 15,000 ballots in the same county were also thrown out. In a four-year period, why wasn't that situation corrected?

CARDWELL: It's a problem I think with the election systems that are used. When it comes to funding at the local levels, as well state government, election systems are very often at the bottom of the list, they don't get modernized and updated the way they really should.

We use them every four years and they usually work. It's only when you have an election like this that is so close that every mistake, every problem gets magnified far beyond what it ever does in a normal election.

HEMMER: A question of cash then at the state level and county level when it comes to elections?

CARDWELL: Just a matter of appropriation priority. Election systems are something that's not at the top of the list.

HEMMER: Now I know you are going to be with us for the extent of our coverage here, but giving us your knowledge and insight into the Florida state election law, but given legal precedent in this state, there are legal challenges out there right now, charged by the Democrats to carry this case to court. What is the legal precedent in Florida? Is there any when it comes to elections and overturning them?

CARDWELL: Well, we've had a lot of election contest. The most recent was a Florida supreme court decision just a couple of years ago involving a sheriff's race in Volusia County, in which there was not any real fraud involved, as there has been in some other elections, but in that case, the court found that there was some problems with the system, there were mistakes made, there were some allegations of incompetence in the office. But even there, the court did not throw out the election, it counted the ballots that had been cast, but threw out some ballots it found were invalid.

HEMMER: There is a recount scheduled, possibly underway right now, in Palm Beach County, a recount done by hand. How does that work? How long could it take?

CARDWELL: Well, they began with just a few precincts, three precincts, though I believe Palm Beach has said they were going to do four. And that means literally taking each ballot and having counting teams of two people, one from each political party, looking at the ballot by hand and examining it, and determining what the intent of the voter was.

When those first few precincts are done, if there is a discrepancy from the machine count, the canvassing board in Palm Beach County can then order a manual recount of the entire county. HEMMER: So, in other words, 200,000 votes were cast in that county, all 200,000 right now are not being counted, just a small percentage.

CARDWELL: Correct.

HEMMER: All right, where do we go from here? Where does it end?

CARDWELL: I think it's going to take a few days to do some more recounts, do the manual recounts, get a good vote total that everyone's comfortable with. Only then can the courts really look at it, when they know what the margin is on victory or defeat, depending on your point of view.

HEMMER: All right, well, listen my list of questions here is quite extensive. So hopefully later today we can talk about it. David Cardwell, here in the state of Florida, appreciate it.

We'll get to more of those questions throughout the morning here. But again, the story continues, we'll let you know what we know when we know it here in Tallahassee.

Back now to Atlanta, more with Carol and Stephen.

LIN: All right, thanks, Bill.

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