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Special Event

Election 2000: A Race Too Close to Call

Aired November 9, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET

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

ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN special report: ELECTION 2000: A RACE TOO CLOSE TO CALL.

Governor Bush leads Florida's recount, but the numbers could keep changing for days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's frustrating, it's confusing, it's perplexing, and it's all worth it, because it is our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a close look at why the presidential election isn't over yet.

The questions about a crucial county...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: This ballot is fuzzy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Why Palm Beach County is ground-zero in the battle for Florida.

Plus, the escalating war of words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I believe that their actions to try to presumptively crown themselves the victors, to try to put in place a transition run the risk of dividing the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The Democrats who are politicizing and distorting these events risk doing so at the expense of our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The strategies and potential dangers in the battles being waged by the Bush and Gore campaigns.

Tonight, we hear from CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, senior political analyst Bill Schneider, and legal analyst Greta Van Susteren, and a panel of voters from Palm Beach County, Florida.

Now, from Washington, CNN's Judy Woodruff, and at CNN election headquarters in Atlanta, Bernard Shaw.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Here we are, two days after election night, and we still do not know who will be moving into the White House come January.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: And it now appears the uncertainty about the winner of the presidential election could continue for days or longer.

Republican George W. Bush still holds a slight lead over Democrat Al Gore in Florida, according to recount numbers being compiled by state and county election officials, and in a separate tally being done by the Associated Press. Now, as you can see, the AP's numbers are very close right now, and we're going to keep them on the screen for most of this hour.

Also, Governor Bush has nearly overtaken the vice president in the nationwide popular vote. The gap closed to less than 200,000 votes today. By one estimate, there are at least 2 1/2 million uncounted votes still out there.

It could take even longer to resolve the election if recounts are demanded in a number of states where the vote is close or if lawsuits are filed. And that brings us back to Florida.

Patty Davis is standing by in Tallahassee with the latest on the painstakingly slow process of recounting.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, the Associated Press is reporting that 66 of 67 counties have come up with their numbers. They're showing that Governor Bush still leads by 229 votes. They're getting those numbers because they're polling the counties directly, but the official Florida numbers could still be several days, if not a week away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIS (voice-over): Calling the Florida recount democracy in action, Florida officials announced so far Texas Governor George W. Bush is still ahead of Vice President Al Gore.

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: A difference of 1,784 votes.

DAVIS: The unofficial certified results are a mix of old and new, recounts from 53 of Florida 67 counties, and the old numbers from the rest. The actual recount may not be known until Tuesday when Florida law requires the results be certified.

Still to come, absentee ballots from overseas, which must be counted by November 17th.

Former secretaries of states Warren Christopher and James Baker, Gore and Bush's designated recount observers, met with Florida officials Thursday.

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: It is certainly the position of Governor George W. Bush that we would like to see this process carried out in a very transparent, open, deliberate way, as expeditiously as possible, of course, given the national interest. But in keeping, fully in keeping, with the requirements of the law of Florida.

DAVIS: The Gore campaign highlighted complaints from Palm Beach County voters, who say the butterfly ballot there caused them to choose Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore.

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, OBSERVER FOR GORE CAMPAIGN: We've come to believe that there are serious and substantial irregularities resulting from the ballot used only in one county, that that ballot was confusing and illegal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIS: Now Florida officials say that they will be working on Veterans Day, normally a federal holiday, but they're going to be here anyway trying to keep this process moving along.

I'm Patty Davis, CNN, live in Tallahassee, Florida.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Patty. Adding to the controversy in Florida are demands that thousands of people be allowed to revote because of confusion about the design of the ballots, as Patty mentioned. It is an especially big issue in that Palm Beach County.

Our national correspondent, Martin Savidge, is standing by in West Palm Beach -- Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Judy. It was announced earlier this evening by the election supervisor of this county, Palm Beach County, that there will be another recount that will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.

There actually are going to be two recounts. One will be conducted manually or by hand of 1 percent of the total votes that were cast in the presidential election in this county, and then there will be a second countywide recount, that is, that will be conducted by machine.

Now, you may ask why will they only count 1 percent of the votes by hand. Well, that's about 4, 000 ballots. It's a lengthy process. And in a sense, it will give them a sampling to see if there are any gross errors that are discovered. If that is the case, it could lay the groundwork for a complete countywide recount by hand. Nobody wants to think of that right now at this particular point. It's basically an attempt by county officials to appease both Republican and Democrat requests.

Either way, the results are not expected to be announced until sometime on Monday.

In the meantime, in the streets of West Palm Beach tonight, people are not only wanting to make sure their votes are counted, but their voices are heard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bush is a cheater! Bush is a cheater!

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Voters who went to the polls on Thursday took to the streets Thursday in West Palm Beach, Florida.

JACKSON: Keep hope...

PROTESTERS: Keep hope...

JACKSON: ... alive!

PROTESTERS: ... alive!

SAVIDGE: More than a thousand supporters of Vice President Al Gore, let by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, demonstrated outside the downtown government building, demanding another election in the county...

PROTESTERS: Gore got more!

PROTESTERS: Revote!

PROTESTERS: Gore got more!

SAVIDGE: ... chanting "Gore got more!" and "Revote!"

Jackson and the protesters contend the county's election ballot was confusing to voters, a number of whom now believe they incorrectly cast their ballot for the wrong presidential candidate.

JACKSON: The issue here today is not about black and white.

PROTESTERS: No...

JACKSON: It's about wrong and right.

PROTESTERS: Yes!

SAVIDGE: At least 19,000 ballots in Palm Beach County were thrown out by election officials because they had been punched twice for the same race, nullifying them. The Gore campaign contends the ballots in Palm Beach County were illegal. Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, who may have benefited from the confusion, blames, what he calls, inept ballot design. PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... we got some votes in Palm Beach County, but I don't doubt a number of those ballots, that those votes were cast for me probably were intended for Vice President Gore.

SAVIDGE: A number of lawsuits have now been filed in Florida state court by Palm Beach voters, challenging Tuesday's election results. One of those voters, now turned legal challenger, is Andre Fledell.

ANDRE FLEDELL, PLAINTIFF: I went into a place expecting a simple, fair ballot. I got a crossword puzzle.

SAVIDGE: More than a puzzle, voters in this coastal Florida area are finding themselves in the uncomfortable eye of a growing political hurricane.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: And outside of the elections board here in Palm Beach County there is still a crowd of people that are hanging on tonight. They're divided into two groups on both sides of the street: Republicans on one side, Democrats on the other.

It is clear in this community, two days after the election, like much of the nation, they are still politically divided -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Martin, do you have a sense of to what extent those folks who are out there have been organized to get there and how much of this is just a spontaneous show of concern about what's going on?

SAVIDGE: Well, that is difficult to judge at this particular point. Obviously, earlier in the day, you would have to say that was an organized event. As for the people that are hanging out here, many of them appear to be posturing for the purposes of the television cameras that are here.

But there are also people driving by, waving signs, holding up T- shirts that have now appeared demanding a revote. Some of that does truly seem to be spontaneous -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Martin Savidge in West Palm Beach, thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: The presidential candidates kept away from microphones today, letting their surrogates do the talking. And that talk is getting angrier.

Candy Crowley is with Governor Bush's team in Austin, Texas, and John King is keeping watch on the gore camp in Nashville.

John, do the vice president's people still think he can pull out a victory?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly do, Bernie. Indeed, the more they review Florida law, the more they hear developments, like Marty Savidge just said, about plans for at least a partial recount in Palm Beach County, the more optimistic they grow that they will actually end up being declared the winner of Florida and the winner of the White House.

But they don't think this will be over any time soon. They are plotting a strategy -- and this is an increasingly bitter both political and legal fight -- they're plotting a strategy that calls for this to go on perhaps for several weeks. The campaign office here is shutting down, the vice president back in Washington tonight. They will open new offices there.

They are trying to raise 3 to 5 million dollars to pay for this legal struggle now in the state of Florida. They believe (a) they want a recount in four big counties, 1.8 millions in those counties -- 1.8 millions votes cast in those counties. They want those ballots recounted by hand. And they're considering a big legal challenge in Palm Beach County, where there is the dispute over the Buchanan ballot that has been discussed in this program.

Meanwhile, on the political front, the Gore team voicing outright anger and bitterness, saying they're annoyed with what they hear out of Austin, Texas. The Gore line is the vice president still leads in the popular vote, still leads in the electoral college vote. Yet out of Austin you hear talk that Governor Bush is thinking of naming a cabinet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I believe that their actions to try to presumptively crown themselves the victors, to try to put in place a transition, run the risk of dividing the American people and creating a sense of confusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now the campaign offers shutting down here. The vice president will go back to Washington. One reason is he will go back to working at the White House. His schedule, his public comments from his team will now come from there, although they are also sending a campaign team of political strategists into Florida to assist the large team of lawyers already there. Again, they think this could go on for several weeks and they promise not to leave any stone unturned as they review their legal options in the state of Florida -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, please stand by for just a moment. We go now to Candy Crowley in Austin, where this afternoon, three top officials of Governor Bush's campaign team returned fire on the Democrats.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, you're absolutely right. For all of the annoyance and how upset the Gore team is with Bush camp, you can turn it right around and say that's exactly how the Bush camp feels about the Gore team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The Democrats who are politicizing and distorting these events risk doing so at the expense of our democracy. One of the options that they seem to be looking at is new elections.

Our democratic process calls for a vote on election day. It does not call for us to continue voting until someone likes the outcome. Throughout this process, it's important that no party to this election act in a precipitous matter or distort an existing voting pattern in an effort to misinform the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The Bush camp is looking with a wary eye at all of the talk out of the Gore camp about legal action. Late this evening, one senior aide told me we think if the recount goes our way and they expect, it will it will be time for the vice president to respect the will of the people of Florida.

SHAW: What about that point, John?

KING: Well, Bernie, the Gore campaign believes it has every legal right to demand these recounts and I think if you add to what Marty Savidge said earlier tonight, we may not actually be in such a dispute if Palm Beach County is going to do at least a partial recount. It appears we're going to have several days here before the results are know.

In all the comments today, even as they criticized the Bush strategy, Gore campaign say if they believe this is a fair recount and that Governor Bush is still ahead, that the vice president will concede the election. But they make the case with the margin so slim that in Palm Beach County alone there are more than enough votes in question to clearly throw the election to the vice president and they will continue to press that case until they've exhaust the any and all legal avenue.

SHAW: Now this is question I've been anxious to ask both you? And step back a moment, and put some flesh on your responses based on all the conversations you've been having with your respective news makers. In this Florida showdown, do both sides realize that someone is going to have blink -- Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, Bernie, sure. It's just that in the Bush camp they think it's going to be Gore that has to blink and I'm sure John will tell vice versa. I mean one of the things that a senior aide said to me tonight was, look, there are some very close races in Iowa, in Wisconsin. There's a recount going on in part of New Mexico. You know, if we wanted to we could drags it forever. But at some point there has to be a mark beyond which you won't go. They believe in this camp that the mark ought to be the recount in Florida.

SHAW: John?

KING: Well, Bernie, the Gore camp now predicting, anyway, that Florida will turn its way and they do expect that the Bush campaign will go looking to challenge the results elsewhere. In both parties, if you call around Washington today especially, in both parties people wishing that both candidates and both campaigns would be quiet. And even some Democrats who had questioned whether the vice president was wise in exploring this strategy.

Now that he is ahead in the popular vote, now that they have read the reports about the election in Florida, they are giving him what one called, quote, "wide latitude" to explore this challenge in Florida. But the adults, as we like to call them, in both parties wish both candidates would shut up during the process essentially and be quiet because they worry about the effect on the country and they worry that whoever is ultimately awarded the presidency will be criticized as illegitimate from the other side.

SHAW: Precisely the point I was going to raise, Candy and John. Candy, do the people in the Bush camp fear a possible public backlash. Same question for you, too, John King, that the public will summarily become fed up with this process?

CROWLEY: Sure. I mean, I think you always have to worry about that. But again, you know, when you believe in the rightness of your cause, that's not something you know that comes into their thought process about their own camp. They look at it as, you know, the fault of the Gore camp.

But again, they note that, you know, this could go on forever, that there are irregularities in any number of jurisdictions. That it's normal thing that happens. When you point out that it's not normally down to one state and one district, they still say, look, you know, take a look at the lost ballots, the double-counted ballots in Palm Beach.

Even if you take into account the percentage of voters has gone up from '96, they say that the amount of double-counted ballots that were thrown out in Palm Beach County was about the same as it was this year. So, you know, in direct answer to your question, yes, they do worry about the effect on the country but obviously they think it's Al Gore that's doing the damage and it's hard for them to see that they are in any way.

SHAW: And the view from your side, John?

KING: Pretty much the same, Bernie. The Gore people believe that how can Governor Bush be opposed to a fair recount of the vote in Florida? But the finger-pointing back and forth, you see the public relation campaign now geared just to the point you were making. Will the public become exasperated with this?

From the Bush side, you hear them saying Al Gore is a sore loser and he's involving all these lawyers, that's journalist and used car salesman, perhaps, held in low-esteem much like lawyers in this political debate. So you see the Gore team, on the other hand, now looking for prominent Democrats to step forward and say, he has every right to question it. There are a lot of legitimate questions here.

Former president Jimmy Carter among those stepping forward to help Gore make the case that the country should just have a little patience and a little calm and that this is an issue worth exploring in greater detail.

SHAW: John King, Candy Crowley, thanks very, very much -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: We're lucky we have those two.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno says she has had a number of calls and letters about the Florida vote and that she will review any complaint. But for now, she says, there's no reason for Federal authorities to get involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to be very careful that we don't do anything that politicizes what is a very important moment in American history when we should all be working together to see that the voice of the American people has properly been heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Reno says among the complaints she has received is a challenge by the NAACP regarding the way the Florida balloting was conducted.

SHAW: There's more to come on this CNN SPECIAL REPORT: ELECTION 2000. We'll examine the legal issues surrounding the Florida recount with CNN's Greta Van Susteren. The GOP in two more states where the tally is tight is willing to launch recounts in those races. CNN's Bill Schneider will have that. And Leon Harris is standing by in Palm Beach County, Florida -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, I just arrived here in West Palm Beach, and coming up we're going to be talking with some West Palm Beach County voters and find out what they think about the election that will never end and the ballot box boondoggle, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In the two days since the general election, eight, eight lawsuits have been filed by Florida voters because of voting irregularities. An additional lawsuit was withdrawn today in federal court to be combined with yet another lawsuit next week.

We turn now to CNN legal analyst Greta Van Susteren, who is standing by in Tallahassee.

Greta, how difficult will it be for any of these lawsuits be get past first base, if you will?

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Judy, that's the most incredible question, because no one knows the answer to it. And let me give you an example, in 1994, when all those tobacco cases followed, nobody thought the tobacco lawyers had a chance of winning. Of course, we've seen it happen that they did indeed win. In this particular case, once again, we're in uncharted waters. We have no idea. What they must do is show under Florida law that there is a substantial irregularity under the Florida election law. If they prove that to a state court judge, the next step is to prove to the judge that it raises a reasonable doubt whether the election manifests the will of the people. And the question is: Will that persuade a judge? No one has any idea right now because this is something we've never seen before.

WOODRUFF: Greta, who are the state court judges who would be making these decision? Are these elected judges? Are they appointed judges, or what?

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I'm not sure. I think they're elected in the state of Florida. But let me tell you what lawyers do do, is that we try to shop around a little bit when we have some option to find a judge that we might think would be particularly attracted to our viewpoint. The judges have gotten pretty smart about that in recent years, and what they do is they have a more random way to assign it. But lawyers have always -- when you file a case, if you can sort of direct it to a judge who you think might be predisposed to your position, you try to did that.

But there are surprises. I mean, look even at the United States Supreme Court. When George Bush, President George Bush, appointed him to the Supreme Court I think that he expected some of his decisions. So, you know, we lawyers, as much as we like to think that we know exactly how courts are going to rule, exactly what judges are going to think, we simply don't know.

All that we can do is tell the people in Florida and the rest of the nation what the standard is under the Florida supreme court case law. It's a 1998 case, which stands for the proposition that they must show a substantial irregularity under Florida election law. And then secondly, if they can show that, that they then show that a substantial irregularity in some way in inhibits the court from finding that the will of the people is upheld.

Now, one piece of caution, the court does allow some incompetence and efficiency. So there is a stop-gap. No one knows at this point what the court will do.

WOODRUFF: Greta, even if a judge said, all right, we're going to go ahead and hear this case, and if the decision came down, whether with a jury or not, that the case -- that the people filing the lawsuit were correct, it's hard to imagine that there wouldn't be an appeal, right?

VAN SUSTEREN: Absolutely, but even more than that, is that what happens in the meantime? What the court can do is a court could actually issue an injunction preventing the state of Florida from certifying its election. It's even conceivable that you could go in for a preliminary injunction after a certification process by the state of Florida and get the court to de-certify, issue an order de- certifying. You know, we simply don't know.

But even once you get a final decision under the Florida trial court, the next question is they're going to go to next court. And there is some precedent of Florida skipping the intermediary court and going immediately to the Florida supreme court. But this takes time. Courts will try to move very quickly. We saw in the Elian Gonzalez case in the federal court system, how they tried to move quickly. But that took three months. You know, moving quickly in the court systems doesn't mean overnight because lawyers get to brief things, they get to present evidence. So it can be very lengthy.

WOODRUFF: On the other hand, there is a -- there are a couple of deadlines coming up. The electors meet December 18th and there is supposed to be an inauguration on January the 20th. So, there are some deadlines at work.

Greta Van Susteren, thanks very much and we'll see you later -- Bernie.

SHAW: Still to come: other challenges, other states. Why our Bill Schneider says it's not just Florida where election day may be days from ending, next on this CNN special report: Election 2000, a race too close to call.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Florida, as it happens, may not have a lock on voter challenges to Tuesday's election. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us now to explain.

SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley said today, quote, technicalities should not determine the outcome, but that's exactly where things are headed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Gore campaign points to the highly unlikely results in Palm Beach County, Florida, which suggests a high level of voter confusion over the ballot. Florida has already undertaken a recount as required by law when the results are so close. If the Gore campaign undertakes a legal challenge to the results in Florida, that could open the floodgates to legal challenges by the Bush campaign all over the country.

After all, several states went for Al Gore by very narrow margins, like Iowa, which Gore carried by 2/10 of percent of the vote.

KARL ROVE, BUSH CHIEF STRATEGIST: In the state of Iowa, the margin is now just several thousand votes between Vice President Gore and Governor Bush.

SCHNEIDER: Or Wisconsin, which Gore also carried by less than one percent of the vote.

ROVE: The state the Wisconsin, Gore's lead has shrunk to 5,050 votes.

SCHNEIDER: The vote count is still going on in Oregon where no winner has been declared. But Gore is leading in Oregon by just over 2,000 votes. It wouldn't be hard for the Bush campaign to come up with complaints of ballot confusion in other irregularities in the Gore states.

ROVE: And there's also a recount going on as we speak in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, near Albuquerque, the largest county in the state. Twenty-seven thousand ballots were not counted on election night.

SCHNEIDER: The sniping could escalate. For instance, Bush won New Hampshire by just one percent of the vote. The Gore campaign might mount a challenge there as well as in Florida. Where and how will it all end?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: What we are seeing is a dangerous politicization of the vote-counting process. Each candidate has to ask himself: How much is winning this election really worth? Is it worth creating a constitutional crisis? Is it worth undermining your ability to unite the country?

SHAW: Question.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

SHAW: What if a judge orders a revote say, in Palm Beach County?

SCHNEIDER: You know, that would be very strange, Bernie. The revote would be among exactly the same voters who voted in that county on Election Day. But they would know something no voters anywhere knew on Election Day, which is how the rest of the country voted. A president of the United States would be elected by the voters of Palm Beach County. Can you imagine that campaign?

SHAW: Hard to. Bill Schneider, thank you.

And just ahead on this CNN special report: Further discussion of Election 2000 with this West Palm Beach panel of voters. We'll hear what they have to say with CNN's Leon Harris after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The Canvassing Board of Palm Beach County will conduct a partial manual recount and a complete machine recount of its presidential election votes on Saturday. But that's not enough for some voters who would rather have another election indeed.

For a look at the mood there, let's go West Palm Beach where CNN's Leon Harris is standing by with a panel of voters. Hello, Leon.

HARRIS: Hi, Judy. Good evening, folks. Yes, I am in West Palm Beach. Just arrived here and it is my pleasure to be with a rather lively group. They're quiet now. I told you guys not to lock up on me when the cameras came on.

But we've been sitting here talking about this election and about the ballots and about all the issues around this particular election and we've got quite a potpourri of opinions here.

If we can get a shot of the room. You guys all mind telling who you voted for? Do you mind? All right, let's see the hands of those who voted for Bush. All right. Gore. Any Naderites? Only one.

Did you stick with that? Did you have any qualms about that vote at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd do it again.

HARRIS: You'd do it again. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my vote. It's my right to vote for the person I think is best.

HARRIS: Even after seeing what happened and how things are all tied up now because there's no clear margin?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's my vote. I want the best person. I don't want to waste my vote on some political tie-breaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nor do I. I voted for Buchanan.

HARRIS: You voted for Buchanan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

HARRIS: So you are one of the West Palm Beach County voters who meant to vote for Buchanan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.

HARRIS: Is that right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.

HARRIS: As a matter of fact, you brought in with you a copy of the ballots. Now you say that every voter in this district got one of these flyers in the mail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the whole county.

HARRIS: OK, in the county, and you got it when?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think about 10 days before the election.

HARRIS: Is that about the same for every one?

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: About a week before, all right. So did you feel after you got that, that you had enough information about how to fill that ballot out adequately? You didn't have any questions at all after reading it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ballot that was sent in the mail was not -- did not look like the actual ballot that was presented.

HARRIS: How about saying that again just to make sure folks hear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This ballot that was sent in the mail to all of us did not represent, did not look like the actual ballot that we stood in front of in the voting booth.

HARRIS: Really? OK, which one was...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because -- and if you'll hold that, please, I'll demonstrated. The Democratic and Reform Party you see on this page, it is much higher up. The Democratic and Reform Party slots were on the same horizontal line.

Also, I read my instructions, my voting instructions...

HARRIS: You highlighted them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... highlighted them on how to vote, and it says, punch straight down through the hole to the right -- to the right of the arrow by the candidate. And you will see that half the ballot here, all these candidates, Buchanan and the Socialist, whatever, the hole is to the left of the candidate's name.

And -- I will point out something to you. So, you have Al Gore and Joe Lieberman right here. There's a hole here and then because this was right on the same line, you have a hole here. So you have two holes that are right next to each other.

HARRIS: We're not going to have time to go through all of it. I just want to ask you, first of all, did that confuse you, though, all of that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

HARRIS: How about anyone else?

UNIDENTIFIED: I raised my hand and said to you that I voted for Gore. The fact remains that I voted for Buchanan by mistake.

HARRIS: You did, by mistake?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I come from -- this is the first time I voted in Florida. I formerly voted in New York all -- my whole live. I've ran campaigns and I've been involved with elections. And I was always down to the belief that the major parties are No. 1 and 2 and that the party of the governor is in the No. 1 spot and the other major party, being the Democrat, would be the No. 2 spot.

So, naturally, I voted the No. 2 spot. It turns out the No. 2 spot belonged to Reform Party, not the Democrat party. I agonized that -- when I left the ballot booth, I walked outside. I talked to other people, and I could not believe that I, a Democrat, would have voted for Buchanan as opposed to Gore.

HARRIS: How many of your friends and family, do you think, made the same mistake?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of my friends. I've spoken with them at clubs. I've spoken with them while playing golf. Many of them made the same mistake. There's no question about it.

HARRIS: Anyone else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted Republican, and I didn't have any confusion to actually vote because Bush was on the first line. But as a Republican going through the ballot in the booth, I actually conceded somebody could be confuse for Bush and Gore. The difference between Buchanan and Gore because of the lines and the way they didn't actually line up and it was different from the sample ballot.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: All right -- hang on a second. Hold that thought. Hold that thought. We're going take a break right now. But since we have now found out what happened to you in the booth and what you all thought about what happened, now after the break we're going to ask you what you all think should happen from here on out. Don't go away. More in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Welcome back to downtown West Palm Beach. We are live from the St. Anne School, which has been in downtown West Palm Beach since 1925. Our audience hasn't been here for quite that long. They have been here for a while this evening. We've been talking about the election that never ends, it seems. And we are getting some very interesting comments from people.

I want to start here, because you say that you voted for the Republicans, and apparently George W. Bush did come out with more votes, he still at this point does have more votes. And most Republicans that I have been talking to over the last 36 hours or so are saying, so what about this problem with the ballots? We've got the scoreboard. That's all that matters. You don't agree with that. Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because I'm an American citizen first. And you know, as I said, when we were on the break, you know, just after the impeachment trial all the Democrats took one side of the issue. All of the Republicans took another side of the issue.

And last night on TV, the same thing happened with Mr. Wexler and Mr. Foley. And I support Mark Foley, and voted for him, but his position was tough nuts, is not the way it should be. And I, actually, as a voter who would like to see Bush elected, feel cheated by the election because of this confusion on the ballots.

HARRIS: The lady sitting next to you I don't think agrees with you on that one. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I don't. I do think that the bottom line with where we are at now, it's a bad situation for everybody involved. I personally didn't want my candidate, Bush, put into office this way. But -- and I do believe that all the parties have a right to their vote. But the lesser of the two evils, to open up another vote right now with a tainted sample is not the option.

You're going to go to states like Pennsylvania and New Mexico that were so close. They are going to say, well, we were confused or we a struggle. And they're going to request the polls be reopened. I don't think it's the best way constitutionally to deal with this.

HARRIS: All right, now, be honest now. We've been friends for -- what? -- all of 10 minutes. Let's be honest here. Would you feel the same way if your ballot had been one of the ones that had been kicked out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be quite honest, Leon, I've sat and been very truthful with myself since this has happened. And whether I would have liked it or not, and being just human beings, I would have had to have had the same outlook, that, you know what? This is the way it is, and I would hope, because I'm not them, so I don't know. I would have hoped I would have hoped that I would have had the outlook that, what is in the best interests of our country at this point?

HARRIS: At this point, then let me ask you all this question: No matter what happens here, one of these gentlemen are going end up with what seems like a tainted election or tainted presidency. Do you feel like there may be a problem with the legitimacy of whoever happens to ascend to that office? Do you think there might be a problem with that?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any man that's sent to the highest office of this country and espoused moral character and sent to the office under a cloud of controversy and possible corruption, it just doesn't make sense. I think we are the laughingstock of this country. Palm Beach County, in the state of Florida, is looked upon by people -- they say, what are you people? morons down here?

I get calls from New York, from many of my friends say, what's going on down there?

HARRIS: But wait a minute. You guys are going get a chance to pick the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's not the idea of the president according to the rules, the proper rules, the ethics involved. We talk -- Mr. Bush talks about ethics, ethics, ethics. Where are the ethics here? I don't see -- 19, 000 people were disenfranchised. That to me is a tremendous amount.

HARRIS: All right, since you brought that up, we only have about a minute here, let me ask you all...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A simple solution: revote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Revote!

HARRIS: That was my next question. What should happen next?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By paper ballot.

HARRIS: By paper ballot? You don't trust computers now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I do not. That's why I'm so careful when I vote. The system is corruptible.

HARRIS: Let me see the hands who think we should have a revote? That's something of a majority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a question. Why didn't those 19,000 people go up to the people that were working the polls in the thing and say, we've got a problem? 19,000? I doubt it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all did. I was there. I witnessed it. They went and complained.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I worked at the polls. And you couldn't get through to the election office. The lines were all busy.

HARRIS: Well, I'm sorry but that's going to have to be the last word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said that that was it and the votes could not be changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I raised my hand in the precinct like a child. I'm a teacher, a former teacher of 12 years, and somebody came over to me and I said, oh my goodness I think I voted for Buchanan by mistake and we took the ballot out and I looked at it in the light. It was ridiculous.

HARRIS: I'm sorry but that's going to have to be the last. We are up against a clock right now. Thanks very much. As you can see this is not a simple issue. There's not going to be a simple answer. Back to you, Bernie.

SHAW: That was simply priceless. Thank you, Leon, and thanks to those voters. Fascinating.

What kind of fallout can we expect from this Florida recount? Well, still ahead on this CNN special report, our Jeff Greenfield cracks open the Constitution and runs down several possibilities. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: If Election 2000 has already made the history books, in the end it may wind up adding several chapters. CNN's Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield joins us from New York to examine where we are, where we may be going, and how it could affect the next president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Every day this story drags on, we hear more and more voices among politicians, on the editorial pages, for a swift and statesman-like resolution to this unresolved presidential election. And at the same time, the arguments among partisans are getting louder. Republicans and Democrats are yelling at each other. The Gore and the Bush campaign teams seem to be getting testier and testier.

The problem here is that the longer such language is permitted to fester, the closer we get to a series of potential political and constitutional mine fields that stand between where we are now and the next president of the United States.

Just a couple of examples. First, let's say that Bush gets the Florida electors and Oregon goes Gore. That leaves Bush with 271 electors. In reality, none of them would ever state law say must vote for Bush. Even if the law said they do. If only two of these electors decide to say abstain because they don't like voting for a popular vote loser, because Bush has offended them in some way, that brings Bush down to 269 electoral votes. There is no majority winner and it goes into the House of Representatives.

Say that doesn't happen. Say that Florida certificates Bush. On January 5, 2001, when the new Congress meets to count these votes and certify them with Vice President Gore in the chair, if one senator and congressman object to the Florida vote, which is almost certainly going to happen if this contentiousness continues, they must -- the two houses must adjourn to their respective chambers and vote on the challenge.

Now, it's unlikely that a Republican House would reject the Florida vote, but if Maria Cantwell wins in Washington, that's a 50-50 Senate tie that Al Gore breaks and you could have the new president coming into office with at least one House telling that president, we don't think you legitimately won that vote. And that would be a mess in terms of legitimacy.

Now, if you assume somehow that this election is thrown into the House through, say, faithless electors, then you have the House deciding who the president is by state votes -- one state, one vote -- and there are 27 states with Republican majorities in Congress. That means they'd probably choose Bush, but the Senate, again, if Maria Cantwell wins, is 50/50 with Al Gore breaking the tie, and they could conceivably choose Joe Lieberman as vice president to serve with Republican George Bush.

Do I think any of this is likely to happen? I pray fervently it won't. Certainly if we get to the point where it's in the House of Representatives, I doubt that a Senate would force a Democratic vice president on a Republican president, but these are the kinds of mine fields that can throw into question the stability of the American process, that can make us look even weirder in the eyes of the world, that can rattle financial markets.

And it's the sort of mine field that lies around the corner that somehow in the next couple weeks everyone needs to work to try to prevent, because the longer and more partisan this becomes, the more contentious, the more divisive, the angrier, the more the chance is for this ticking time bomb that's in the Constitution, this whole electoral college structure, the better the chance it is that it will absolutely blow up in our face.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: So much to think about. Jeff Greenfield. Well, that's all the time we have for this special report.

SHAW: But stay with CNN for your chance to weigh in on the election. Bill Press standing by in "THE SPIN ROOM," ready to take your phone CALLS and e-mail comments. That's next at 11, Eastern.

WOODRUFF: And you'll find the very latest on the Florida recount plus election results from every state of the union at our Web site, cnn.com. For all of us, good night from Washington and in Atlanta.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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