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What Do Palm Beach Voters Think About Election 2000?Aired November 11, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST: Live from West Palm Beach, Florida, a special prime time edition of TALKBACK LIVE. Talk to the voters in the country's most talked about electoral districts.
Hear what they have to say about recounts and lawsuits.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to this special prime time edition of TALKBACK LIVE.
We are once again at Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, and we might add we welcome our worldwide audience tonight, as we are also appearing on CNN International.
Welcome to you.
We have lots to talk about tonight, obviously, as Florida's top election official says that the system is near meltdown here in the county, and the Bush campaign is challenging the hand count going on.
But first, we'll get the very latest from Andria Hall in Atlanta.
ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Bobbie.
That's right. Despite attempts by the Bush campaign to end the political wrangling over the results of the presidential election, a manual ballot recount began today in Palm Beach County.
Joining us with the very latest from West Palm Beach, with an explanation of what a chad is, CNN national correspondent Martin Savidge -- Marty..
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well good evening to you, Andria.
Explaining chad is going to take some work, but actually let me tell you -- bring you up to speed where we are right now. The hand recount is about six hours into its operation here at the government building.
If you want to see history being made, take a peer beyond the glass windows here because that is exactly what is happening inside there. You are looking at the elections canvas board, as they closely, carefully, very, very delicately look at the ballots, at least 1 percent of them, that were cast on Tuesday in this particular county.
They are looking at what are called the questionable ballots. These are the ballots that have been kicked out by the electronic counting machines in which a vote could not be determined in the presidential race. It could be that some of the ballots were double punched or over voted or other ballots that were under voted, meaning that there was no clear indication, at least to the machine, how the voter intended to vote for the presidential race. So they are hoping that the human eye and the human brain can come up with some sort of consensus.
And reports from inside say there has been some additions to the vote columns of both presidential candidates, specifically 19 votes have been added to the column of George W. Bush and 30 votes have been added to the column of Vice President Albert Gore.
Now that is only about half of a precinct actually, and what Democrats are talking about now is that if they see those numbers, that sort of irregularity, if you extrapolate it across all 500-plus precincts in this county, then they could begin asking the question, maybe we should hand count all of the ballots in this county. No one is too anxious to think about that, because this process is taking a long time.
Also, chads -- that's what's been talked about it. It may sound comical, but it is deadly serious inside of that room, the bits of cardboard that hang from the cardboard ballot, the indication of how the voter may have voted.
Listen to this. This is some sound coming to us from the communications director of Palm Beach County, Robert Nichols, explaining the is the various types of chads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB NICHOLS, PALM BEACH COUNTY SPOKESMAN: These are the guidelines on ballots with chads not completely removed. The instructions in the voting machines are as follows, and these are the printed rules as we were going: To vote, hold the punch straight up and punch down through the card next to the preferred candidate's name or issue position.
The guidelines assume that these directions have been understood and followed. Therefore, a chad that is hanging or partially punched may be counted as a vote since it is possible to punch through the card and still not totally dislodge the chad. But a chad that is fully attached bearing only an indentation should not be counted as a vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Are you confused? There are many people who are. There are actually three types of chad that are being counted as a vote: hanging chad that's attached by a corner, swinging-door chad connected by two corners, and tri chad that's attached by three corners. They are not counting what's called pregnant chad. Pregnant chad is an indentation but not a perforation of the voting card.
So the three above were ones that are being counted as a vote. A pregnant chad does not count as a vote. It may sound comical, but as we say it's very important in that room. And the Republicans this evening are not happy the way proceedings are going.
Reporting live, Martin Savidge, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
HALL: Thank you, Marty.
Nothing comical about how the Bush camp has proceeded. They have filed a lawsuit asking for a court injunction to stop the manual recounts in four counties in Florida.
With more from the Texas capital, we are joined by CNN's Jeanne Meserve -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Andria, that's right. The Bush campaign went to court today to try and stop that hand count, asking for an injunction in U.S. District Court in Florida.
Former Secretary of State James Baker, who is the Bush campaign's emissary to Florida, said to hand count ballots in only selected areas distorted the political process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES BAKER, BUSH CAMPAIGN OBSERVER: We feel we have no other choice. The manual vote count sought by the Gore campaign would not be more accurate than an automated count. Indeed, it would be less fair and less accurate. Human error, individual subjectivity and decisions to, quote, "determine the voter's intent," close quote, would replace precision machinery in tabulating millions of small marks and fragile hole punches.
There would be countless opportunities for the ballots to be subject to a whole host of risks. The potential for mischief would exist to a far greater degree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Hand counts often boost the vote total for the person who won the election, and these hand counts are being conducted in Democratic areas that Al Gore won.
The Republicans could counter by asking for hand recounts in Republican parts of the state, hoping to boost George W. Bush's vote tally, but no decision will be made on that, I am told, until the judge rules on the injunction request on Monday morning.
Governor Bush, meanwhile, remained at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with vice presidential running mate Dick Cheney. He would head any Bush transition effort. Also with him, Andrew Card, named as a possible White House chief of staff in any Bush administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody's keeping their powder dry. It's just an interesting period, Ken. We're all in limbo. And there are some responsible -- I keep using the word "responsible," because I think the people of America understand there's a very good chance that Dick and I will be the president and vice president, and we need to be, when that happens, we need to be prepared. It's an awesome responsibility, and so we're planning. I've told the state staff to, you know, be steady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Bush aides say what they have seen of the recount process in Florida supports their case for an injunction. One aide told me anyone who watches TV and sees what is happening in Florida should be queasy about the process.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, reporting live from Austin, Texas.
HALL: Thank you, Jeanne.
From the Bush camp to the Gore camp, what is it doing? Well, it is defending its request for the Florida hand counts, and it is also asking Bush to call off his lawsuit that aims to block them.
Gore campaign observer Warren Christopher says machines aren't guaranteed to give correct results. He says the Democrats simply are trying to get an accurate read of the will of the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN CHRISTOPHER, GORE CAMPAIGN OBSERVER: When doubts have arisen, a hand count is seen as the best way to ascertain the true views of the voters. This is common procedure around the nation. Machines can sometimes misread or fail to detect the way ballots are punched, particularly if there is a design flaw in the ballots themselves. In fact, the state of Texas recently enacted a law signed by Governor Bush providing for a hand count as the best way to reach an accurate result in certain disputed situations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALL: Warren Christopher said Gore campaign officials are considering various legal options, but he said they have not decided yet if they will resort to any of them at this point.
Well, in West Palm Beach, Florida, the ballot count continues. But steady up, Florida is not the only state in play. In New Mexico, election officials are recounting the presidential results in one county, and the statewide race there is still too close to call.
CNN's Greg LaMotte has more from Albuquerque -- Greg.
GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, election officials say they are going to need to verify at least 150 votes, possibly as many as 160, to find out in essence who won this election.
GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Lucero says he's had about three hours of sleep over the past four days. He is a very tired election official in the state of New Mexico, where he's dealt with computer glitches, more than 250 missing ballots and complaints from several hundred residents who said they didn't receive absentee ballots.
But Lucero says almost all the problems have been taken care of, and everyone seems satisfied.
ROBERT LUCERO, NEW MEXICO ELECTION OFFICIAL: We brought in a district judge, we brought in representatives from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Green Party, who has a major party status in New Mexico. This three individuals' attorneys watched the process from start to finish, so they've been by our side day in and day out, and they approved of this process.
LAMOTTE (on camera): So who won the election in New Mexico?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure. Gore is what I thought, but it's very unclear right now.
LAMOTTE (voice-over): Al Gore once led in New Mexico by 7,000 votes. Now George Bush is ahead by 17, and no one knows who's going to win the state's five electoral votes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows you how each person's vote counts.
LAMOTTE (on camera): Is it making you a little crazy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'd like to get it over with.
LAMOTTE (voice-over): But while everything that can be done has, New Mexicans will have to wait possibly until Tuesday, maybe until Thursday, for the final result.
LAMOTTE: Election officials say they still need to verify the votes of some 150 voters. These are the folks who said that they didn't get a chance to vote absentee. State election officials say that they will need verify that these people didn't actually end up voting twice.
So where is the state of New Mexico? The vote so close, this election could be decided by just a handful of votes.
Greg LaMotte, CNN live, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
HALL: That seems to be the mantra in Florida, as well.
I'm Andria Hall at CNN Center in Atlanta.
Back now to Bobbie Battista with a special edition of TALKBACK LIVE in West Palm Beach -- Bobbie.
BATTISTA: All right, Andria. Well, we have hanging chads, tri chads and pregnant chads to talk about when we come back.
As we go to break here, though, let me do a couple e-mails for you.
Bill in New York says, "Republicans are calling for Gore to step aside for the good of the country. But why is making sure that all the ballots are counted bad for the country?"
Michael in Maryland says,, why would we expect anything but challenges, complaints finger pointing and legal maneuvering from the current administration?"
Just a sample of what you'll hear when we come back.
Stay with us.
BATTISTA: Welcome back everybody to our prime time edition here in West Palm Beach of TALKBACK LIVE.
Joining us first today is CNN legal analyst Greta Van Susteren. Next to her is Frank DeMario, who is chairman of the West Palm Beach Republican Party, and Monte Friedkin, who is chairman of the West Palm Beach Democratic Party.
Welcome to all of you.
Frank, let me start with you, because that's where the latest news is coming from, out of the Bush camp, that they are refusing to withdraw that injunction against the land count going on in West Palm Beach County. Why was an injunction filed? Why do they want to stop the hand the count?
FRANK DEMARIO, WEST PALM BEACH REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, I look at it as, in my particular case, I think a hand count is dangerous, because now you put a human factor in there. You're asking someone to look at a ballot and then make a determination as to what someone was thinking when they punched that hole. Did they punch it all the way? Did they stop punching it? They didn't push it enough to make the chad fall off.
I think that the machine count, we've had two mechanical counts. We won on both counts. How many counts -- that was a test count, the third count today, but do they want us to keep counting until they get it right for them?
BATTISTA: Monte, go ahead. You want to answer that?
MONTE FRIEDKIN, WEST PALM BEACH DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Listen, the answer is very simple. There's 29,000 votes sitting out there that were voted incorrectly in one form or another or not voted all for the president of the United States. It's very difficult to believe that an average American citizen in Palm Beach County would walk into the polls and vote for the county clerk but wouldn't vote for the president of the United States in 10,000 cases.
DEMARIO: I would like to respond.
BATTISTA: Yes, go ahead.
DEMARIO: That is common in every election. There are many people that do not want to vote for the president of the United States because they don't like any of the choices. It's happened in every election that I can ever remember. Ten thousand people did not vote, and that's why I think when they ask for a revote it's ludicrous. Because what do you do with those 10,000? Give them a second shot? I think it's totally wrong.
BATTISTA: But let me ask you this, if discrepancies are found in favor of Al Gore, for example, isn't it likely there have been indications from the Bush camp that they would also ask for hand counts in counties that might favor George Bush.
DEMARIO: Right, I mean we can do that. We can go on forever. What I feel like right now, I'd like to wait, do our count, get it over with, let the Constitution take its course. We have laws in Florida. Let's wait until the absentee ballots come in Friday. Everybody go home, relax, wait. The demonstration and all the noise that's going on is not going to mean a hill of beans. Friday, when we get the absentee ballots, let's count. Whoever wins, that's it, declared the winner. If it's Gore, we support him.
BATTISTA: Greta, this injunction, the judge is supposed to rule on it, what, maybe Monday morning?
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Nine thirty a.m. Monday morning there's a hearing to see whether or not the request for the injunction will be granted.
BATTISTA: I hate to ask you to speculate...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well...
BATTISTA: ... but I'm going to.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? I'm always willing to speculate, Bobbie, but, you know, you speculate based on precedent, on history, when it's happened before. You can usually make something of an educated guess. And they're always just guesses. You can't get inside a judge's head and try to guess what a judge is going to do -- we do it anyway as lawyers. But in this case, there's nothing to look at. We have nothing to sort of look backwards. This is such a unique situation.
I will tell you some sort of interesting aspects. I have read the lengthy filing by the Bush people and Republican voters -- there's actually two sets of plaintiffs in this case. But what the -- they have to do two things. They have to show irreparable harm and that they're likely to win on the merits. And the interesting thing is the irreparable harm is us, because what they claim is that the media will publicize the recount. And if there's still -- and declare a winner. And then if there's another recount and declare a different winner, that we somehow destabilize the American people and their confidence in the system.
So the media is the irreparable harm that they assert if they should do this.
BATTISTA: Let me go to the audience here quickly. Let me take -- is this a student here in the back. I think? Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is for Greta.
In regards to the people actually counting the votes, is there a provision made for Republicans and Democrats to be equal in that where -- or is it just two parties, where it could be a Green and a Republican or a Green and a Democrat represented there?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well let me tell you about this process because I've seen it talked about a lot on television. One of the advantages of actually coming here is you get to see how it's really done. And I have to tell you, while there may be a lot of bad publicity for this state about how it counts or doesn't count or any errors, I'll tell you one thing, this county ought to be very proud about the way they do the recount. I have never seen anything so open.
Not only do they have a Republican and a Democrat, and not only do they have lawyers for the Republican Party -- or for the Republican candidate, lawyers for the Democratic candidate, but they have the entire media watching through a glass window. We have cameras, we're five feet away. It is the most accessible, open thing I've ever seen, and I think Palm Beach County deserves a lot of credit because this is a very open process.
BATTISTA: I've got to take a break. As we do, a couple more e- mails that have come in. Steve in Louisiana says, "Florida law mandates a recount. The law allows voters to ask for a manual recount. Republicans say Gore should ignore the law and concede. They are career hippocrits." That's hippo -- H-I-P, that's critical of hippos.
OK, Sherri in North Carolina says, "I've come to the conclusion that nothing is fair in this country. I can only hope and pray that Bush is victorious over the evil Democrats." Oooh, those would be fighting words.
We'll be back in just a minute.
BATTISTA: We're back, and we're still -- we're talking about the recount that is going on here, the hand count that's going on in Palm Beach County. Greta was just talking about the canvassing board and the process, because she spent a lot of time down there, and a gentleman in the audience had question here for Greta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was asking how it can possibly be fair if the election canvassing board consists of three members, Theresa Le Poor (ph), a judge, and a county commissioner, all of whom are Democratic. The Democrats also selected the precincts within the county for a recount. So we have a Democratic selection initially of presumably high precincts that contain a high percentage of Democratic voters, and we have the arbitrators. or the final -- the people who are making the final decisions in the election canvassing board are all three Democrats. That has a taint to it. I'm not saying that it is tainted, but...
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me...
BATTISTA: Let me have them address that before we run out of time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me answer several of those questions. First of all, those precincts that were selected, that is a right by the person seeking the recount. That's the first thing. That -- if it were the -- if the shoe were on the other foot, the Republicans could do that. That's your law here in the state of Florida.
But let me tell you about why I'm so impressed with the process here in Palm Beach. It is so open -- and I would challenge almost any other country in this world to have such an open process. We have media out there watching with cameras. We have Danish media, we have Dutch media, we have Italy -- we have the media from Italy, we have Germany, we have all the major networks, we have the local press here. We're all watching this.
And while there may be three Democrats who have the -- who are sitting there looking at the cards -- they do this laborious process where they're looking at them carefully and they're passing them around, but right there sitting behind them are two lawyers, both with red -- with blue tags that say Republican.
And I can't tell you about the three actual people, but I will tell you the process is so far out in the open for all of us to police that the process itself is quite impressive.
BATTISTA: Monte, let me ask you, that if the hand count is allowed to continue and discrepancies are found in the 1 percent that they're recanvassing, what is that going to mean? Does that mean you're going to have to recount all the Palm Beach county votes?
FRIEDKIN: It's up to the board to make the decision, but normally if there's a significant change they're going to continue going through the county and doing additional precincts until they get, in my opinion, all the way to the other end.
BATTISTA: Can the system sustain that? Can you do it by 5:00 on Tuesday like you're supposed to, or...
FRIEDKIN: No, not, it can't be done, not based on what they're doing today. They've done a half... BATTISTA: So we have more legal entanglements coming up.
FRIEDKIN: In five hours -- in five hours, I think, five or six hours, they did a half a precinct today.
BATTISTA: OK -- oh, boy. I've got to take a quick break again, and as we do we say goodbye to our CNN International viewers and thank them for joining us.
We'll continue here right after this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from Texas. I'm not even from Palm Beach, so I didn't vote here. But, you know, there's riots going on in Dallas now and everyone, you know, has problems there. But they're saying, let's get on. Lets elect our president and go on. And if George Bush has been elected, I honestly feel for Al Gore, too. And I really like him. But if we've elected a president, let's elect him.
BATTISTA: But we haven't yet.
FRIEDKIN: That's the problem. We haven't elected a president. It's not final yet.
BATTISTA: Let me straighten something out with Monte here. As we were going to the break, we were saying that the 5:00 deadline on Tuesday is supposed to be the end of this recount, correct? And if it is not accomplished, then a federal judge has to extend it. But you say that if discrepancies are found, it will automatically get extended, or what? How does that work?
FRIEDKIN: If there's a significant amount of discrepancies, they can, the board can, decide to extend it. And if they do that, this could go on god knows when.
BATTISTA: Well we -- I did see a quote earlier from Bob Crawford, who I believe is your top election official, saying that he just doesn't know if the system can maintain it if you have to go to an entire new recount in the whole county of West Palm Beach, that the system's in for a meltdown.
FRIEDKIN: Palm Beach.
BATTISTA: Palm Beach.
FRIEDKIN: Palm Beach.
BATTISTA: Where am I?
FRIEDKIN: It's being done in other counties right now, as we talk. They're counting other counties in the state of Florida by hand right now. And they started Saturday, or today, this morning, and they'll finish by Monday or Tuesday. And what's happened here is they've gone for this 1 percent rule. And at the end of the day, when the 1 percent rule is finished, if there's enough discrepancies -- and in the first half of the first precinct, there were 30 additional votes for Gore and 19 for Bush. So there's a net gain for Gore of 11. That's what's happened in the first half of the first precinct.
And the bottom line is, they will continue to go forward one way or other because they have to go through the process. There's no choice to it. We're living in a democracy. It's the finest system in the world. It may not be perfect, but everybody else's is worse. It's as simple as that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think it's a little bit odd, though, that whenever anyone does recounts anyplace, whether it's in the state of Florida or New Mexico or Wisconsin, I mean, that the numbers always change so? I mean, it doesn't give at least -- you know, in this day and age we put a man on the moon, we have aircraft carriers run by nuclear power with 5,000 people living on it, but every time we count ballots it changes a little.
BATTISTA: Different every time. It does shake the confidence, I think a little bit, in the voters. It's not a great system, and that, we hope, is what will be the changes that come out of this whole thing is a better system.
FRIEDKIN: The system -- the system is OK, it's the machines that are not OK. The machines don't work. That's the problem.
BATTISTA: The way we do it -- the way we do it.
Are you guys all disagreeing? You want the old machines from 1892? That's OK with you? Is that what you're saying?
FRIEDKIN: We need some better system.
BATTISTA: Well hold on. Let me get a microphone up there to you real quick.
She doesn't have a name tag. She's a Yankee.
KELLY: My name is Kelly.
You cannot decide to change the system just because your candidate did not get in. How many recounts are we going to do just to see that Al Gore gets in? You're going to keep doing recounts and recounts and recounts until your candidate gets in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election is not over. We've always elected the president by the electoral college, not by our popular vote. So the election's not over, the vote's have not been counted, and Bush has not been elected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also have to say, regarding Bush getting in, one, Bush is not in. And, two, if the shoe was on the other foot, don't think for a second Mr. Bush wouldn't be doing the same thing that the Gore camp is requesting.
LARRY: I think I have a new perspective here. I taught law 25 years ago in this state on the west coast, and I've been in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
I have a problem that Greta didn't talk about with irreparable harm in terms of in the last 48 hours, before the Bush campaign lodged its papers, I was digging through papers myself -- and I may in fact still join in that -- and I find that this last what I called assessment by individuals is fallible as opposed to the machine.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't think we have anything better, but we had two machine-run votes. If you have people looking at something and you have to assess, we now have a third -- I think, Bobbie, you gave us a term for that little chad...
VAN SUSTEREN: Can I ask you just a question, Larry?
VAN SUSTEREN: The fact that we do these manual votes, they differ significantly from the machines, does that mean that you think the machines are infallible and the people are the fallible ones, even though they have these checks and balances, they have several people looking? What gives you the confidence in the machine over the people?
LARRY: Well, Greta, it's not so much that I have confidence in people versus machinery, but in terms of looking at practicality of what we have to live with in running a country, a republic as big as we have.
There are problems in every single election I've ever seen in my life, whether I've been politically active in my life or not politically active.
Right now, if we don't follow the rules as set...
BATTISTA: Can I ask you something? Is it correct...
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, but see, there, the rules are being followed, because they have had a right to do that. I mean, the rules are being followed.
LARRY: But, Greta...
BATTISTA: Let me ask you this, because maybe -- in Texas law, isn't it -- wasn't -- didn't George Bush sign something a couple years ago -- in '97, right -- that said that hand counting was the best way to settle a voting dispute? So how do we -- I mean -- is that...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, according to the Texas law -- I mean, and according to what is being said by the Democratic Party is that two years ago or three years -- I guess my math is bad as it is down here, sorry. It's three years -- fuzzy math. I've got some fuzzy math myself. Oops -- is that George W. Bush signed some legislation which had a preference for manual recount.
And so, you know, it's a little bit of an issue that the Republican Party may have to deal with. But forget all that. I mean, forget the politics. I mean, the problem is that we've got to figure out what the votes are and what the people voted for.
BATTISTA: Frank, go ahead.
DEMARIO: This all started because someone said that they had difficulty punching the holes or trying to find the hole, OK? Which I find rather odd. And they're trying to say that all those votes that were cast were cast in error, that's why they were cast for Buchanan instead of Gore.
And I have -- I had my office, the director of my party, run some numbers for me to try to compare and see what the registration was for the precincts that voted so overwhelmingly, supposedly, for Buchanan. And the numbers are way below the registration for the Reform Party and all the other independents combined for those precincts and I'll go heavy Democrat, heavy Republican.
This all started from someone saying that I think I had trouble -- did you have any trouble when you went to the voting booth? Oh, yes, I think I did. You know, I might not have voted for Al Gore. I think I voted for Buchanan. And I heard people saying that here last night. And I find that, you have to be told by someone. And that's where this started.
And I can go even further and show you, well, I mean...
BATTISTA: I've got to...
DEMARIO: ... did they know the ballot? Did they know what they were doing? Here, punch No. 5. This is the Democratic club of Century Village. And I'll also say, Mr. Friedkin, you, as I, the memorandum that told us to look at the ballot.
FRIEDKIN: I've never seen this.
DEMARIO: Well, you should have. I got mine. Did you get yours?
FRIEDKIN: I didn't got one.
BATTISTA: I've got to...
DEMARIO: Oh, you didn't get one, right?
BATTISTA: I've got to go to break. I've got to go to break.
BATTISTA: But, Frank, Monte, thank you very much for joining us today. You guys have some hard work ahead of you, and we appreciate the work you're doing. And thanks very much for coming in tonight.
Greta Van Susteren, thank you once again for joining us.
We'll continue right here after the break.
Don't go away.
BATTISTA: Welcome back.
We are at Palm Beach Atlantic College for this special prime time edition of TALKBACK LIVE.
More e-mail: Brad in Kentucky says, "What I don't understand is how Bush does not want the votes manually recounted. Isn't this the man who said he trusts the people?"
Elle in Nevada says, "Gore wants to hold the country hostage, while he counts and recounts and recounts tries to steal this very close election. Hang in there, George, you have a right to defend your position."
All right, joining us now are two more special guests, Andre Fladell -- is that right? I said that correctly, right? You are suing...
ANDRE FLADELL, SUING PALM BEACH COUNTY: Fladell.
BATTISTA: Fladell -- you are suing the county of Palm Beach, demanding a revote there. And also with you is J. Reeve Bright, who is an attorney for the West Palm Beach Republican Party. And the interesting thing here is you guys have known each other for 20 years, you're good friends, and now you're not so good friends anymore.
J. REEVE BRIGHT, ATTORNEY, WEST PALM BEACH REPUBLICAN PARTY: No, we're still good friends...
BATTISTA: You're working on it.
BRIGHT: ... and we want to say hello to our friends in Boston.
BATTISTA: OK, Andre, tell me why you're suing the county?
FLADELL: Well, let me just do something relatively easy. This is a copy of a sample ballot -- I'm sure you've seen it.
BATTISTA: Yes, we have, many times.
FLADELL: This is a copy of these instructions given in the booklet by the supervisor of elections. All I want is one thing, and then I'll be pretty much done. This is voting instructions. Read step three as if this were your pen, and just -- I'm going to show you something. Read step three.
BATTISTA: All right. Step three says, "To vote, use the punching instrument attached by change to the vote-o-matic. Punch straight down through the hole to the right of the arrow by the candidate or issue of your choice. Do not use any other punching instruments.
FLADELL: Take this and please vote for Pat Buchanan according to the instructions.
BATTISTA: Well you can't do that because -- well, you can, but there's no arrow to the right, so you would have to...
FLADELL: Please just mark your vote according to the instructions.
BATTISTA: How did I get on trial here? How did I get on trial?
OK, I cannot -- I'm staying out of this. I'm staying out of this. All I'm saying is that I cannot put -- I cannot mark to the right of Pat Buchanan on this ballot.
FLADELL: Thank you, you've just lost your right to vote in Palm Beach County.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is that...
FLADELL: How does it feel to be called confused? You know, you must be confused, because you couldn't follow the instructions approved by both parties on the sample ballot approved.
Well, I agree. She doesn't have common sense apparently.
BATTISTA: But, you see, I would have looked to the arrow that's by the name.
FLADELL: OK, so put it by the arrow by the name, to the right of the arrow,
BATTISTA: OK, then the hole's right there.
FLADELL: That's left of the arrow, isn't it?
BATTISTA: Well, but I found it, didn't I? Right? I mean, if I wanted to vote, I think I could find it.
FLADELL: So on the second time, you finally figured by not following the instructions you could make a correction and vote where you wanted.
In the state of Florida, in this county, in 22 years, on every ballot, on every page I have ever voted, I have always gone to the name on the left of anyone who's ever run, looked across for the hole and marked it.
I went into the ballot, saw the person I wanted -- I didn't read all 10 presidential candidates, neither did the people for George Bush. But what they did was mark the hole across the first for Bush, the second for Gore and the third, and then you flipped the page.
BATTISTA: Let me get J. Reeve in here. Does he have a case?
BRIGHT: Of course he doesn't have a case.
Andre, you know as well as I do that you never read these instructions when you went in -- before you went to the voting booth. You know that you didn't read those instructions any more than your party chairman, Monte Friedkin, did when he got the letter from the registrar, supervisor of elections, telling her -- telling him what it was going to say a month before the election and didn't complain.
You know you didn't read those instructions any more than anybody who saw them in the "Palm Beach Post" and who never complained, and they went to every voter.
The issue is -- the issue is, was anybody confused? Could you possibly be confused if you'd come down here? Can you not just...
FLADELL: You need to look at it like this...
BRIGHT: There you go.
FLADELL: You see, you don't look -- you see how this looks standing straight up? Why don't you look at it like we see it? Why don't you look at it at the angle? Number one...
BATTISTA: Let me -- you know what? Do I have any folks in the audience who had problems with the ballot? Let me -- over here to Myrna, I think it was. Or I can go over there, Chris, because you're working the other side of the room here -- Myrna.
MYRNA: Well, first I'd like to say that when I went into the booth to vote I was in a big hurry, because I have a job and I had to get there. And I'm an American citizen and I wanted to vote. So that was No. 1. I was in a hurry. And I thought that in this election, even if the Republican was No. 1, the Democrat would be No. 2,, not No. 3. And second of all, I can't understand where on the sample, in every other page the arrows are on the right as the instruction says, but only on the page with the president -- and I also have one very big question: Why did the president start with No. 3? What happened to 1 and 2? The thing is that if Bush won...
BATTISTA: Let me ask you something, Myrna, did you vote for the right person? Do you think...
MYRNA: I don't know. I really and truly don't know.
BATTISTA: Oh, boy. J. Reeve, what about folks who are saying they don't know?
BRIGHT: You're asking me what about the folks who say they don't know?
BATTISTA: Yes, she -- Myrna says she doesn't know.
BRIGHT: Isn't that an interesting thing. I have yet to meet a voter who would say to me, I didn't vote for the right person. If you didn't vote...
FLADELL: I didn't vote for the right person.
BRIGHT: Here's the first one.
I've known Andre 20 years. It's the first time he's been confused. And I say to anybody who says, I didn't vote -- I know I didn't vote for the right person... FLADELL: I know I didn't vote for the right person.
BRIGHT: Why did you leave the voting booth?
BATTISTA: Andre, Andre, hold on, I've got to take a break. I'm pushing the commercial break so I'll let you answer that question when we come back.
We'll be back in a minute.
BATTISTA: It's getting wild here tonight.
We just had a question from the chat room that pretty much mirrored the one that J. Reeve had asked you, Andre, about how can somebody leave a voting booth and not know who they voted for and not be sure about it?
FLADELL: First of all, I have read these instructions. I read them six years ago, four years ago. I've read these more than once.
Secondly, in the state of Florida, whoever the governor is, their party always goes first. By statute, by law, the Democrat and Republican Party go first and second on the Florida ballot. It's the law. I'm sure you all know that. This violates that law. As you can see, it goes -- nobody -- the Democrat and Republican goes first and third.
Secondly, by statute in the state of Florida by law, the name on a manual punch ballot, a ballot that is not a machine ballot, by law on a manual ballot, hand punched, the name must be on the left and the punch hole must be on the right. Therefore, in the five minutes you are given to vote in Palm Beach County, you cannot go into the voting booth and start to figure out on one page for the first time in 22 years they have a new system where you have to read zig-zag, diagonal, descending. You go in, you find your second hole, you match it, and you leave.
BATTISTA: OK, let me go to my polling place person here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have something very important to say. I spent 6:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night working on the polls. I was a poll inspector. I had no one really come up to me and say they were confused. The few people that did ask me for help, everyone was treated very cordially.
And by the way, Dr. Tracy, you must know something. We had training. Every single inspector has to attend a class in order to be an inspector. And we are very thoroughly trained. We don't even touch -- excuse me. You had your turn.
FLADELL: If no one...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to tell you that -- I want to tell you something very important hasn't been brought out. On those 19,000 cards that they said were thrown out, do you realize that every voter that came to me and came to any one of the inspectors who made a mistake on their card was given another card? And they had up to -- OK. They had up to three cards they could get. And these were counted in the 19,000.
BATTISTA: Andre, did you ask for help from anybody at the polling place.
FLADELL: I had no idea that I didn't do what I always did and that it was wrong until an hour later. But...
BRIGHT: Come on. Give me...
BATTISTA: Let me let J. Reeve get in here quickly, because he -- I've got to go to commercial soon, and I want to be fair.
FLADELL: But if there was nothing wrong with the ballot...
BRIGHT: Can I just...
FLADELL: ... then why did this supervisor of elections issue a warning to all voters that there was a problem in the polls? If there was nothing wrong, why was the ballots issued a warning?
BATTISTA: Let me have J. Reeve answer that.
BRIGHT: The supervisor issued that advisory after people brought it to her attention on Election Day.
Let me tell you just one thing. It says No. 5 on the sample ballot that the Democratic clubs handed out, the No. 5. And it's the same number right where you punch it on the ballot. So there couldn't be much confusion.
My question is, if these people who got confused can't read and follow a simple arrow, are these the same citizens and constituents who don't want to be tested for their driver's license every year?
FLADELL: Maybe you can't read.. This is -- maybe -- my good friend may not be able to read. This is not handed out by the Democratic clubs. Read who put it out. Read on the bottom who put it out? Can you read? Read the bottom. Who put it out, Reeve? Can you read? Can you read? What were you saying? Go ahead, read it.
BATTISTA: What is it? Who put it out.
FLADELL: He says we can't read.
BRIGHT: It says United Democratic club of Century Village.
FLADELL: No, read the bottom. Who out it out? Who paid for that?
BRIGHT: I couldn't read that.
FLADELL: You couldn't read it, could you? BRIGHT: And I've got bifocals.
BATTISTA: Let me go to the audience here quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think before we talk about a revote, we have to realize how disingenuous it is for James Baker and the Bush camp to be talking about the precision of the mechanical ballots, when in essentially 50/50 election, the votes change from 1,850 in favor of Bush to 327 in favor of Bush. And I think that's why right now a recount is of the utmost importance.
BRIGHT: Can I just -- let me just say one thing to that. The problem with the recount, the manual recount, is that it becomes subjective. You go over there to the courthouse -- let me tell you, I've done three manual recounts, and I've been involved in this. I've been there all day, and I'm going back. It is a completely subjective decision by the canvassing board. It is -- nobody there can tell you what the clear intent of the voter was, and you are substituting three people's opinion for what the voter did, and they're trying to guess.
BATTISTA: I've got to jump in here...
BRIGHT: That's the problem.
BATTISTA: ... I've got to let that be the last word.
J. Reeves, thanks very much for joining us, and, Andre, you, too.
FLADELL: Thank you so much.
BATTISTA: We're out of time, and again I would just like to thank Paul Arcourts (ph) and all the staff here at Palm Beach Atlantic College for letting us use the facilities this weekend. You guys have been a great audience.
And we'll be back in Atlanta on Monday for more TALKBACK LIVE.
Stay tuned for an all-star cast on LARRY KING LIVE.
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