2000 Election December 7, 2000 World News Tonight


>>>ON “WORLD NEWS TONIGHT,” THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS IN THE HANDS OF THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT. IT’S A MATTER OF TIME AND STANDARDS AND JURISDICTION.>>>AND ABC NEWS INVESTIGATION, IS THERE A REAL CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MEN WHO BOMBED THE “USS COLE” AND OSAMA BIN LADEN? WE’LL TAKE A CLOSER LOOK TONIGHT AT PEDDLING HATRED ON THE INTERNET. MUCH OF IT IS DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN.>>>AND THE LIVING MUSEUM. BENEATH THE SURFACE OF PEARL HARBOR, THIS IS PEARL HARBOR DAY. CAPTIONS MADE POSSIBLE BY
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
AND ABC, INC. GOOD EVENING. SO IS THE EPD AT HAND? WE’VE ASKED THAT ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SO OFTEN IN THE LAST MONTH. BUT TONIGHT THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT IS CONSIDERING WHAT MAY WELL BE THE DEFINITIVE CASE IN THIS ELECTION CONTEST SO FAR. THIS MORNING THE STAR LAWYERS FOR MR. BUSH AND MR. GORE GOT THEIR FINAL GRILLING FROM THE SEVEN JUSTICES AS THE COURT PREPARES TO DECIDE ON MR. GORE’S REQUEST TO START A NEW ROUND OF COUNTING BALLOTS BY HAND. THE JUSTICES HAD MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR OWN JURISDICTION, THE STANDARDS THAT MIGHT BE APPLIED IF BALLOTS WERE TO BE COUNTED AND THE VITAL QUESTION OF TIME. IS THERE ENOUGH? ERIN HAYES IS AT THE COURTHOUSE TONIGHT. I GAERT THERE’S TIME PRESSURE ON VIRTUALLY EVERYBODY.>>THAT’S RIGHT, PETER. THE JUSTICES TODAY WERE KEENLY AWARE OF THE CALENDAR. THEY HAVE DECEMBER 12th IN THEIR SIGHTS THE DATE FLORIDA NAMES ITS WINNER, ITS ELECTORS. THERE WAS A SENSE OF URGENCY HERE.>>WE’RE NOW HERE ON DECEMBER THE 7th WITH DECEMBER THE 12th, YOU KNOW, FAST APPROACHING.>>Reporter: THE GORE TEAM IS PLEADING WITH JUSTICES TO RECOUNT THOUSANDS OF BALLOTS IN TWO COUNTIES.>>WE HAVE 9,000 BALLOTS IN MIAMI-DADE THAT ARE ALLEGED THAT HAVE NOT BEEN REGISTERED BY THE MACHINE, THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN MANUALLY REVIEWED. EVERY TIME ANY BOARD HAS LOOKED AT THESE ISSUES, THEY’VE FOUND BALLOTS, THEY’VE FOUND VOTES.>>Reporter: BUT JUSTICES GRILLED THEM. WHY JUST THOSE BALLOTS? WOULDN’T THAT BE SELECTIVE? POSSIBLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL?>>THE ONLY RECOUNT, MANUAL RECOUNT, THAT COULD BE DONE UNDER THE STATUTE WOULD BE TO RECOUNT ALL THE BALLOTS. THAT’S SPECIFICALLY WHAT THE STATUTE SAYS, IS IT NOT?>>YOUR HONOR –>>”SHALL RECOUNT MANUALLY — RECOUNT ALL THE BALLOTS.”>>WHAT THE DADE COUNTY BOARD HAS DONE IS TO SAY, BEFORE THEY STOPPED ON NOVEMBER 22nd, THEY HAD DECIDED WHAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO IS COUNT ALL THE UNDERVOTES. WE THINK THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN –>>BUT THAT WOULD DEFINITELY BE A CHANGE IN THE LAW.>>Reporter: CHANGING THE LAW IS SOMETHING THEJUSTICES DON’T WANT TO DO AFTER THE U.S. SUPREME COURT ADMONISHED THEM THIS WEEK TO STEER CLEAR OF REWRITING LAW, STICK TO INTERPRETING IT. THEY WERE CLEARLY SENSITIVE ABOUT IT TODAY.>>THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HAS NOW CALLED THAT CASE TO THIS COURT’S ATTENTION.>>Reporter: THE GORE TEAM FACED A GRILLING, TOO, ON OTHER FRONTS. THE LOWER COURT HAD CALLED THEIR EVIDENCE INSUFFICIENT.>>DID ANYONE EVER PICK UP ONE OF THE BALLOTS AND HOLD IT UP AND SHOW TO IT THE JUDGE AND SAY, “THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF A BALLOT WHICH WAS REJECTED, BUT IN WHICH A VOTE IS REFLECTED”?>>NOT AN INDIVIDUAL ONE, ALTHOUGH WE DID TENDER THEM IN EVIDENCE, AND WE DID ASK HIM REPEATEDLY TO LOOK AT THE BALLOTS AS PART OF THE EVIDENCE.>>Reporter: THE BUSH TEAM, THOUGH, WAS NOT SPARED EITHER.>>WOULDN’T YOU AGREE THAT THE NUMBER OF CHALLENGED BALLOTS WOULD PLACE IN QUESTION THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION?>>NO, SIR. I EMPHATICALLY DISAGREE WITH THAT. THEY HAVE NOT MET THEIR BURDEN OF PROOF.>>Reporter: NOW, FOR JUSTICES, THE PRESSURE IS ON.>>THEY HAD THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDER. THEY HAVE THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE. THEY HAVE A CIRCUIT COURT DECISION THAT STRONGLY SUPPORTS GOVERNOR BUSH. AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT.>>Reporter: AT THE END OF THE DAY, NEITHER SIDE SEEMED CONVINCED OF A WIN. GORE ATTORNEYS SAID THEY WOULD ADVISE THE VICE PRESIDENT IF THERE’S A LOSS THAT IT’S OVER. THEY’RE NOT CERTAIN HE WILL AGREE.>>THANK YOU VERY MUCH, ERIN HAYES. THERE ARE TWO OTHER CASES WE’LL GET TO IN A MOMENT, BUT JACK FORD IS HERE WITH US. FORMER LAWYER. WE DON’T HAVE THE VAGUEST IDEA WHAT THE SUPREME COURT IS GOING TO DO. I THINK WE AGREE ON THAT. HOW DIFFICULT DO YOU THINK THAT THE LOWER COURT JUDGE HAS MADE IT FOR THE SUPREME COURT?>>IT’S MADE IT DIFFICULT FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS. FIRST OF ALL, IT’S MADE IT AN UPHILL BATTLE FOR THE GORE TEAM, NOT JUST BECAUSE THEY LOST, BUT FOR THE STANDARD OF REVIEW IS SO DIFFICULT FOR THEM. IT’S NOT ENOUGH FOR THE JUSTICE TO SAY, IF I WAS SITTING IN THE LOWER COURT I WOULD HAVE RESOLVED THIS DIFFERENTLY. THEY ARE TOLD THEY HAVE TO ACCEPT JUDGE SAULS’ CONCLUSIONS OF LAW UNLESS THERE WAS NO REASONABLE BASIS FOR WHAT THEY DID. THAT’S A VERY TOUGH STANDARD. THAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR THEM. HIS OPINION DID BUILD IN SOMETHING THAT THEY ARE NOT WRESTLING WITH, THE JUSTICES AND MAYBE A BENEFIT FOR THE GORE TEAM. THE STANDARD IN THE STATUTE, GROUNDS FOR CONTESTING ELECTIONS SAYS IF YOU CAN SHOW THAT ENOUGH LEGAL VOTES WERE TOSSED OUT THAT IT PLACED THE ELECTION IN DOUBT, THEN YOU CAN BE OKAY. BUT IN HIS OPINION, JUDGE SAULS SAID, WELL, I THINK THEY HAVE TO SHOW THERE’S A REASONABLE PROBABILITY THAT YOU COULD HAVE CHANGED THE ELECTION. SO THE JUSTICES SAID, IS THAT THE SAME THING, A REASONABLE PROBABILITY AS OPPOSED TO PLACING IT IN DOUBT? THAT’S WHAT THEY SEEM TO BE STRUGGLING WITH.>>WE WERE KICKING AROUND THIS PHRASE EARLIER THAT THE GORE PEOPLE MIGHT WIN ON THE LAW BUT LOSE ON THE EVIDENCE THEY PUT FORWARD IN THAT LOWER COURT.>>EXACTLY. WHAT COULD HAPPEN HERE IS THE JUSTICES COULD SAY, WE THINK THE LAW THAT THE JUDGE APPLIED WAS WRONG BUT HIS CONCLUSIONS WERE RIGHT, CASE IS OVER.>>THANK YOU VERY MUCH, JACK FORD. JUST TO RE-EMPHASIZE, WE DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO DO.>>>IN TWO TALLAHASSEE COURTROOMS TODAY, TWO OTHER TALLAHASSEE COURTROOMS, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVISTS SUPPORTED BY MR. GORE HAVE ARGUED THEIR CASE FOR DISCARDING THOUSANDS OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS CAST FOR GOVERNOR BUSH. IF EITHER JUDGE AGREED WITH THE DEMOCRATS, THAT MIGHT TIP THE ELECTION TO MR. GORE. HERE’S MIKE VON FREMD.>>Reporter: ON THIS FINAL DAY OF TRIALS, ELECTION SUPERVISOR PEGGY ROBBINS, A REPUBLICAN FROM MARTIN COUNTY, EXPLAINED WHY SHE ALLOWED REPUBLICAN PARTY WORKERS TO REMOVE APPLICATIONS FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS FROM HER OFFICE. SO PEOPLE COULD VOTE.>>WE DID NOT WANT TO DISENFRANCHISE THE VOTER. THEY THOUGHT WHEN THEY MAILED IT IN, THAT IT WAS CORRECT.>>Reporter: DEMOCRATS SAY ALL ABSENTEE BALLOTS SHOULD BE THROWN OUT, BECAUSE BOTH THE ELECTION SUPERVISOR IN THIS COUNTY AND ELECTION SUPERVISOR SANDRA GOARD IN SEMINOLE COUNTY ALLOWED REPUBLICANS FREE ACCESS TO PUT IDENTITY NUMBERS ON ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS THAT WERE ALREADY SIGNED BY VOTERS.>>THAT IS CLEARLY WHAT HAPPENED HERE. THAT IS A FELONY. THAT IS FRAUD. THAT IS INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT.>>Reporter: TODAY, JUDGE NIKKI CLARK QUESTIONED WHETHER IT WAS BEST TO THROW OUT THE BALLOTS OR SANCTION THE ELECTION SUPERVISOR.>>IF MRS. GOARD DID NOT SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLY, ISN’T IT SHE WHO SHOULD BE PUNISHED AND NOT THE VOTERS?>>Reporter: BUT DEMOCRATS WHO WANT REPUBLICAN VOTES DISCARDED BROUGHT IN THE HELP OF STATISTICIANS. THEY SUGGESTED A COMPROMISE. THEY TOLD BOTH JUDGES TO REJECT ONLY A LIMITED NUMBER OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS, BASED ON A PROPORTIONAL MODEL — MODELS THAT WOULD GIVE MR. GORE ENOUGH VOTES TO WIN.>>JUST BY COINCIDENCE, THE RESULT OF YOUR OPINION WOULD END UP GIVING GORE 20 MORE VOTES?>>YES, IT WOULD.>>Reporter: NOW BOTH JUDGES WILL MAKE THEIR DECISIONS. EITHER ONE HAS THE POWER TO TIP THE ELECTION IN FAVOR OF MR. GORE. SHOULD THAT HAPPEN, REPUBLICANS SAY THEY WILL APPEAL. MIKE VON FREMD, ABC NEWS, TALLAHASSEE.>>THE CANDIDATES SPENT A QUIET DAY, THOUGH IT MAY HAVE BEEN A NERVOUS ONE, IN WASHINGTON. MR. GORE WATCHED THE SUPREME COURT PROCEEDINGS ON TELEVISION WITH HIS RUNNING MATE, JOE LIEBERMAN. IN TEXAS, GEORGE W. BUSH GREETED SUPPORTERS AFTER ANOTHER TRANSITION MEETING FOR THE ADMINISTRATION HE STILL BELIEVES HE WILL LEAD.>>>PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS BEEN MULLING THINGS OVER IN “ROLLING STONE” MAGAZINE. HE WOULD HAVE RUN FOR A THIRD TERM IF HE COULD HAVE. MR. CLINTON THINKS HE WOULD HAVE WON. HE ALSO RESUME NATED IN THE ARTICLE ABOUT USING MARIJUANA. HE ONCE FAMOUSLY ADMITTED TO NOT INHALING. HE SAID POSSESSION IN SMALL AMOUNTS SHOULD B

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