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The Florida Recount: Broward County Recants Previous Decision, Allows Full Manual Recount to go Forward

Aired November 15, 2000 - 11:19 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: We have to go from Palm Beach County to Broward County which, after thinking about it once again, as we understand it, has decided to go ahead with a full manual recount.

With more on that, our Susan Candiotti, on the phone from Fort Lauderdale.

Susan, what do you have?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Daryn. Well, this is a stunning reversal to a vote made by the Broward County canvassing board on Monday. The Broward County canvassing board has now voted to do a full hand recount of all the votes in Broward County, Florida.

This is a vastly democratically favored county, in which Vice President Gore bested Governor Bush by a two-to-one margin. However, in doing an initial recount, just the other day, it was determined that four additional votes came in for Vice President Gore and the canvassing board, at least some members, determined that voter error was not -- there was no voter error involved but, instead, machine error. And it is on that basis that the board decided that it would be proper for them to go back and do another recount, no matter how the chips may fall in the end, to conduct this full hand recount.

This is being done despite the fact that there are petitions filed before the Florida Supreme Court both by the Secretary of State Harris, as well as outstanding petitions that are being filed today by this canvassing board continuing to seek clarification on various dueling opinions as to whether they can proceed with a full manual recount.

Despite that, the comment was made that time is of the essence and, therefore, the board has voted by a two-to-one margin to go ahead with a full recount. Now, the only Republican member of the panel, who is the supervisor of elections in Broward County, Jane Carroll, she voted against this. Nevertheless, the board is moving ahead and is going over the details of that right now.

KAGAN: OK, Susan there's been a number of counties to follow and other twists and turn; but as I remember it, the first time that Broward County decided not to do this, they decided because there was no problem with the machines.

So now they decided that there was a problem with the machines?

CANDIOTTI: That's correct. Two of the members said -- now, of course, there is a difference of opinion there...

KAGAN: OK, Susan, I need to interrupt you. We will get back to you in Broward County in just a moment; first we have these comments coming to us from Doug Hattaway.

DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Accompanied by David Boies and Dexter Douglas.

KAGAN: Susan, we can stand by. That was a little false alarm. That picture that we're showing our viewers right now from Tallahassee, Florida -- that's where we're waiting for Warren Christopher and David Boies to come out and make a comment and proposal on behalf of the Gore campaign. When they start we will go to them live.

So back to Broward County. Susan, you were clarifying, here, the first time the Broward County canvassing board sat down and thought about this, they said six votes different. Nothing wrong with the machine, no need for manual recount. As you are reporting, you're saying, now they decide there must have been something wrong with the machines?

CANDIOTTI: That's right; actually, there was a four-vote difference in the end.

KAGAN: OK.

CANDIOTTI: However, during today's discussion, despite what they said on Monday, at least two of the members agreed that, indeed, after examining the 1 percent of the precincts that they went over the other day; that, indeed, there had been a machine error that didn't count votes that had been actually made by voters for the presidential race. That is in conflict with what was said the other day, however -- and there remains to be a difference of opinion on that.

Certainly, the Republican member, who is the supervisor of elections maintains that, indeed, there was voter error involved. So we seem to be split along party lines this day.

KAGAN: Not surprisingly.

CANDIOTTI: Of course, we've got a court hearing yesterday. We've now had two additional meetings of the Broward County canvassing board and, as one member of the canvassing board, who happens to be a judge said, you know, this is not a court of law, we are able to change our opinions and because everything has been changing constantly, the facts have changed now -- that we feel it important to, at least, get the recount moving and then wait to hear what the Florida Supreme Court says as to whether we are permitted to continue it. But we want to get it underway.

KAGAN: A canvassing board reserving the right, having the prerogative, to change its mind, to borrow from an old phrase. Susan, one more question for you: I would imagine that this county, very soon, would find itself in a similar place that Palm Beach County finds itself in right now, having to even decide what is a vote? How are they going to go about that, deciding, you know, when do you look at dimples and pregnant chads -- which votes are they supposed to count here if, indeed, they go ahead with this manual recount?

CANDIOTTI: Well, one of the members of the board, Judge Lee, said that, in his view they have bent over backwards to be as objective as possible in examining these ballots. That they've -- he said, that when we went over our ballots the other day, we try to stay away from anything that would be questionable. If there was some question as to whether it was a so-called "pregnant punch" or something barely dangling, they rejected it. And so they felt as though, in the end result, they only went with the votes that everyone would agree upon. At least for the most part.

KAGAN: Because, of course, time is of the essence here, when exactly do they expect to start this hand recount in Broward County?

CANDIOTTI: Well, they're going over those logistics as we speak. Already they have begun the process of looking into possible venues where this would take place. Some phone calls were already made by one member of the panel in advance of today's meeting; and they're talking about using, for example, possibly, an emergency operation center in the county where there is considerable room, not only for them, for additional volunteers -- how much space is involved, costs -- but they said, even enough room for the press.

KAGAN: And we're keeping, Susan Candiotti, thank you very much for that report from Broward county.

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