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Jennifer Auther on the Arizona electoral ceremony

Auther
Jennifer Auther  

CNN Correspondent Jennifer Auther reports from Phoenix on the electoral ceremony for the state of Arizona.

Q: How did the electoral process work?

AUTHER: The Arizona electors took their responsibility very seriously. Each of the eight was very happy to put his or her name toward George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. There were two certificates of votes and each elector had to sign both certificates (one for Bush and one for Cheney). They would sign, pass it to the next elector who signed it and passed it to the next elector. When that was all done, the document was signed by the secretary of state here in Arizona who fixed the seal of Arizona to the document. To finalize the whole process, an elector then had to seal the mail delivery that they are using to get these documents to Washington by a deadline of December 27.

Q: Did any of the electors talk about whether they received phone calls, letters or e-mails from Democrats urging them to switch sides and vote for Al Gore?

AUTHER: I know of three who received correspondence from Democratic activists, asking them to switch their electoral vote.

One of them in particular was Joe Arpaio, who is sheriff of Maricopa County, the fourth largest county in the nation. Sheriff Arpaio was in full uniform Monday. He said he has received close to 2,000 correspondences, including many who urged him to switch his vote to Al Gore. Thats something he said he would never do.

The sheriff is in the news media quite a bit. He's known for running the city jails. He's facing numerous lawsuits about the treatment of inmates. He makes inmates wear black- and-white uniforms and all of the inmates have to wear pink underwear. In fact, he has male and female chain gangs. The only female chain gangs in the nation are under his watch.

He's a very colorful character. At one point recently, Sheriff Arpaio said he expects to vote for George W. Bush. A couple of very high profile newspapers in the country took that word, expects, to mean that he might not vote for Bush. Then, it spun out of control. He had to later hold a news conference to say, Hey, Im in law enforcement; if Im alive on December 18, I expect to vote for George W. Bush.

So, on Monday, he did cast his vote for George W. Bush. He even expressed some anger and said he was a little insulted that he was approached and asked to change his vote. He has been a long-time party activist and is a darling of the Republican Party because of his tough stance on crime.

Q: Arizona is John McCain country. Was there any consideration at all by any of the electors not to vote for George W. Bush?

AUTHER: The Arizona Governor Jane D. Hull and the electors all supported George W. Bush, even during the primary. When John McCain was giving the Texas governor some worries during the primary, Bush had already won support from the Arizona governor.

Q: Were the electors compelled by law to vote for Bush?

AUTHER: These electors were not bound by law. Arizona is not one of the states that has anything on the books about the so-called faithless electors. They do take an oath of an office. There is somewhat of a debate in this state, because when you vote for your candidate on November 7, the elector slate is right beneath the name of your candidate. So, some people, especially in the secretary of states office, interpret that to say, If I vote for George Bush and Im in Arizona, then I'm voting for these eight people to cast their electoral votes to my candidate.

However, that's never been tested here and there is nothing on the books in Arizona that would speak to the penalty of a faithless elector. But the point is moot, because all eight electors voted for the Bush-Cheney ticket.


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Monday, December 18, 2000

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