Former President Carter supports Florida hand count
Electoral College here to stay, he says
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy
Carter, who has often served as an elections monitor, says a hand count of ballots in three Florida counties
should go forward.
Carter, a Democract and supporter of Vice President Al
Gore, made his remarks on CNN's "Larry King Live" late Wednesday night.
Former President Jimmy Carter talked to CNN's Larry King on Wednesday
The outcome of last week's U.S. presidential election will be
determined by whether Gore or Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins
the popular vote in Florida and the state's 25 electoral
votes. The Gore campaign wants a hand count of ballots in
three heavily Democratic counties; the Bush campaign contends
a hand count is unwarranted.
Carter, when asked if the hand count should be allowed to
proceed, replied, "Well, I think so. And if that is not
acceptable, when the courts make a ruling, then I think the
final determination -- which should be as a fall back only --
that the hand counting should be conducted in every county in
Those final tabulations should then be added to the counts of
absentee ballots from overseas tabulations, and both
candidates should agree in advance that they would accept
that result without further dispute, Carter said.
If a hand count were conducted in every county, Carter said,
"then I think that the nation could relax even though it
might take five or six days to count all the ballots by hand
in Florida. Then there wouldn't by any question about the
final and accurate results."
Such a proposal could be presented to Gore and Bush by a non-
partisan commission. If it were, "I think that both sides
would agree to that," Carter said.
King asked whether Carter would be willing to serve on such a commission, particularly if it included former President Gerald Ford, a Republican. Carter said he would be willing to to serve for a few days if he were asked to do so by a "higher authority."
The former president, who served one term in office from 1977
to 1981, said there had been "no allegation at all" that "anything has been done illegally or with deliberate reasons to cause an error" in Florida.
"I think, though, because it is so close and because we do
have some very serious fallibilities in how ballots are cast
and counted, that that tiny margin has now become the
difference between who will be in the White House," he said.
'Inconceivable' to abolish Electoral College
Carter also predicted that the Electoral College would
survive, despite calls in the wake of this election for it to
"Even if people theoretically don't like the Electoral
College," Carter said, "we will still have the Electoral
College a hundred years from now, because there's no way that
you could get two-thirds of the senators, two-thirds of the
House members and then in addition three-fourths of the
states to vote to do away with the Electoral College, because
small states would not give up their present privileged
position in the Electoral College."
For those reasons, Carter said, "to do away with the
Electoral College, I think, would be inconceivable."
However, he does favor two changes to the way the Electoral
College works, Carter said.
First, he favors awarding a state's electoral votes according
to the percentage of the popular vote received by the
candidates. All but two states now award all of their
electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote.
Second, Carter said, he thinks electors in the Electoral
College should be required by law to cast their votes the way
their states voted. Historically, most electors have done
that, but there have been some electors who voted contrary to
the popular vote in their states.
The Larry King program was aired from Los Angeles; former President Carter's segment was taped in Atlanta, Georgia.