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Breaking News

Election 2000: Democrats Challenging Secretary of State's Decision on Recount

Aired November 16, 2000 - 2:29 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We have a lot of news from three different courts, so bear with us here, as we try to make it clear for you. Because now we are going to talk about developments at the Florida Supreme Court, that is in Tallahassee. And for that, we turn to CNN's Mike Boettcher -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, actually the supreme court will come a little later. Right now, I am in the Second Circuit Court in Tallahassee, Florida, which is basically state trial court.

And to really boil this down, the bottom line here, and the arguments here deal with: Does the secretary of state of Florida have the right to call a victor in the election when there are people still out there counting ballots?

Now the secretary of state's attorneys and attorneys for Governor Bush argued that she is just following the law, and that she followed an order issued last Tuesday by Judge Terry Lewis in this Second Circuit Court saying that she could go ahead with the state-mandated deadlines, which said 5:00 on Tuesday certify the county results, and then on Saturday have the certification of the statewide vote. She could continue on, even though people are counting the votes, if she used due discretion, if she was not arbitrary in her decision.

Now, the Democrats contend that she was arbitrary in her decision. They contend that the Republicans and the secretary of state here in Florida tried to delay the vote count for several days, one, by issuing an opinion saying that there was no rule that would allow Palm Beach County to hand count votes. The only rule that would allow them to do that would be if it was an act of God, a hurricane, for example.

One Democratic attorney argued that it's like a police officer in the middle of the road saying: Stop. And then walking up to you and giving you a ticket for obstruction of traffic.

So those sorts of arguments went back and forth. The attorney for the Republicans argued: If we continue on with this, forever, it took Palm Beach County nine hours to count 1 percent of the vote. If you figure that out, it would take 900 hours to count 100 percent of the vote. That's 75 days. So these are the sort of arguments that they were using to go to central point: Does the secretary of state have the right to call a victor even though some counties want to carry on the vote because they believe there have been some irregularities?

The judge said that he might have something this afternoon. We'll wait and see. This happened over lunch time, and we're told that the judge gave up his basketball game at lunch time, which is very important to him, because obviously this is more important.

So, Natalie, another busy day here in court.

ALLEN: A lot of people giving up their lives these days to deal with this story. Mike Boettcher, we thank you.

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