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CNN Today

Election Day 2000: Lake County, Illinois Residents Discuss Their Votes

Aired November 7, 2000 - 2:31 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Nationally, voter turnout appears to be strong today. Some precincts in the key battleground states like Michigan report over 60 percent turnout. A half-hour wait is reported at polling stations in places like Detroit.

Interest in the election is running high as well in the tossup state of Florida. A similar turnout is reported there. Florida retirees are said to be one of the nation's most reliable voting blocs.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, with turnout so crucial in this race, we're trying to get a sense of how it's playing out across the country.

CNN's Jeff Flock is keeping an eye on things in Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb just north of Chicago -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CHICAGO BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Natalie. The turnout here -- all of these are election judges that you see, perhaps, in the foreground. They have been working hard all day and they, to a man and woman, say that they have never seen anything like this in terms of turnout.

I want to give you the very latest in terms of Lake County, Illinois in just a moment from the Lake County clerk. Turnout here has been just steady all day. They also report that they have had more requests for absentee ballots here in Lake Forest than ever before in history.

I've got the Lake County clerk here.

Put this in some perspective for me. How intense is the turnout today?

WILLARD HELANDER, LAKE COUNTY CLERK: The turnout is unbelievably high in Lake County.

FLOCK: Quantify it.

HELANDER: Quantify it? We had reports that more than 60 percent of the anticipated turnout in Lake County had already happened at 11:00 this morning.

FLOCK: By 11:00 you had 60 percent of the anticipated turnout. And what did you anticipate?

HELANDER: That's not my anticipation, that's political forecasters that are working with campaigns. But they've been...

FLOCK: What was the county's forecast?

HELANDER: We had expected about 75 percent turnout. We've had a high of 82 percent in our county's history before Motor Voter when you got extra people on the rolls that didn't necessarily participate.

FLOCK: You got a shot at that record?

HELANDER: Oh yes. We think in the 10th District we'll probably exceed the 80 percent turnout due to what we're seeing today.

FLOCK: OK, I want to talk to some of those people who have been turning out. This is a group -- we've reassembled a group of -- they kind of call them soccer moms, women from the suburbs. We talked to them earlier. They were kind of an undecided voting bloc.

And thank you all for coming back. By the way, this is what you get when you voted today. This is what they're handing out in there. And several people already with them on. And we talked earlier, some of you may want to change your ballot.

We've had people that were kind of on the Gore side, that were kind of leaning on the Bush side.

Now, you were leaning Gore before. What did you do today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ended up voting for Bush.

FLOCK: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I looked at everything the last couple weeks, couple months even, it just -- there was just more things in his favor. The biggest thing that changed things for me was the pro- choice thing. I feel that Bush would not have an agenda to change that, that he would go along with it, although he personally wasn't for choice.

FLOCK: Now, you were -- so you got comfortable with that position.

Gail, you were for Gore, you stayed for Gore.

GAIL KLOPFER, LAKE COUNTY RESIDENT: Yes, I did stay for Gore. I think that the candidates both put out Social Security as the main issue. I agree that Social Security should not be changed right not, although that wasn't my top priority. But since the candidates had made it so, I also felt I would like to leave it as is.

FLOCK: Now, Noreen, you were solidly undecided last time. How did you go today.

SARAH NOREEN, LAKE COUNTY RESIDENT: I went with Gore -- I'm sorry, I went with Bush. I've been doing...

FLOCK: I think you may still be undecided.

NOREEN: I've been doing that all along. I keep pulling up the wrong name. I voted for Bush.

FLOCK: Because?

NOREEN: What I was divided on for a long time was I kind of like Gore's social issues and Bush's economics. So it kind of got down to being, you know, vote heart or vote your pocketbook, and in the end decided to go with the economic policy I was more comfortable with.

FLOCK: Now, Sarah (ph), you were another undecided, although you were leaning Bush before. As we watch those people inside there make their mind up, was it hard for you to make your mind up? And what did you decide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it was difficult to make my mind up. Both candidates are very qualified. However, I did go with Bush and I felt that he had some very good tax policies and goals that he wanted to achieve while he was in the White House.

FLOCK: OK, well, I very much appreciate your time.

This was a group, as I said, we reassembled after -- we put these folks together after one of the debates. They were on undecided. So at least this small little focus group tended toward Bush. But of course we should point out that we are in Lake County, which is predominantly Republican. So that's one little slice of what's going on out there today. One thing we can be sure of, though, a lot of people are going to the polls.

I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, reporting live from Lake Forest, Illinois.

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