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Text: Palm Beach Election Official on Deadline
Sunday, November 26, 2000

Following is the transcript of Judge Charles Burton of the Palm Beach Canvassing Board's comments on his county's inability to meet the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline for hand recounts.

BURTON: As all of you know, we have been working very hard this past week, trying to make the deadline that was granted to us by the Supreme Court.

As you know, the Supreme Court had issued an opinion giving the county until 5 p.m. tonight to submit the amended certification of the election, assuming the secretary of state's office would be open to receive it. And if not, they gave us until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

As you know, we're working very hard in there; we're trying to get through this. We are hopeful that we will be able to fully complete the recount.

In the abundance of caution, we did send a letter to the honorable Katherine Harris, secretary of state, that was just faxed to her office, which I wanted to read. It says:

"Dear Secretary Harris: The Palm Beach County Canvassing Board respectfully requests your assistance in ensuring that the most accurate results of the 2000 presidential election are submitted for certification. We have been working diligently to complete the hand count of this election.

"Beginning Thursday, November 16, approximately 14,500 questionable ballots were set aside by the counting teams, creating an extraordinary and unprecedented challenge for the canvassing board to review each of these ballots. We have been working diligently, including the last 24-hour period, to complete this critical portion of the hand count. Your consideration of our request to extend the deadline for final submission of this hand count until Monday, November 27, at 9 a.m., would be greatly appreciated. As we know, you are interested in counting all votes as accurately as possible.

"The canvassing board is committed to reviewing each and every one of these questionable ballots as quickly as humanly possible, including working through this evening. We do not believe this extension would prejudice the state in any way in light of the Florida Supreme Court's opinion.

"We appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to your response."

And we have provided the telephone number and fax number at this location.

As I indicated, you know, we're going through this as quickly as we can, and we see no reason why the secretary of state should not grant us that extension until 9 a.m., given the Supreme Court's opinion.

Thank you very much. We'll let you all know something as soon as we hear.

QUESTION: How many ballots have you...


BURTON: I don't know. We're just really trying to get through this. We're moving pretty quick.

QUESTION: If you work all night long...


BURTON: Well, it depends what they tell us. But if the secretary wants to give us till 9 p.m., that would be helpful, too, so anything in between.


BURTON: We are just really going through precincts quickly. And, you know, we're trying to go through them at the same the supervisor of elections is trying to get everything updated, and we're trying to get them out to you.

I don't know the last--you know, the last batch you've had.

QUESTION: If you don't make the deadline, Judge, will you go back to a prior certified ballot count?

BURTON: No, we're going to send them what we have.

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