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Election 2000: New Mexico Has Special Method to Settle Political Disputes

Aired November 17, 2000 - 1:47 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: So what happens if it's time for the Electoral College to meet and there's still no decision on who won the election? Well, they have a special method to settle political disputes in New Mexico.

CNN's Greg LaMotte tells us all about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush might do well to play close attention to New Mexico. Not only is the vote extraordinary close here, but it seems the state's constitution may provide the candidates with a way to resolve their conflict, and it's straight out of the days of the Wild, Wild West. In the event of a tie:

JOHN DENDAHL, N.M. REPUBLICAN CHMN.: Our constitution provides for a game of chance, drawing straws, flipping a coin, drawing up a hand of cards. It doesn't have to necessarily be poker, a dice roll. All of those possibilities would probably fit within what the Constitution calls a game of chance.

LAMOTTE: Whatever game is decided upon:

ERNIE MILLS, POLITICAL REPORTER: It has to be done with the acquiescence of a judge, and the judge gets the final say. And if you look at the reasoning for it, it's simple enough. Some of these fellows would say, "Let's have a duel," and so they -- I'm sure they don't want that. They might want it at the national level, but night here.

LAMOTTE: Welcome to Eustancia, New Mexico. Population: 1,000. In 1998, the tiny town held a mayor's race. Jim Farrington, who owns a restaurant, and Joann Carlson, who is an emergency medical technician tied. The law books told the two to play a game of chance.

JIM FARRINGTON, FMR. EUSTANCIA, N.M. MAYOR: My opponent wanted to play dice, and I wanted to play five-card stud or showdown, and so we -- to decide what game to be played, we tossed a coin.

JOANN CARLSON, FMR. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I just thought, who in the heck put this law on the books. LAMOTTE: Farrington won the coin toss. A judge not only presided, he dealt the cards. Farrington won, and Carlson is still upset.

CARLSON: I still to this day feel I lost unfairly. So I don't know if I'm totally over it or not.

LAMOTTE: Numerous elections decided here by games of chance, because runoffs not allowed in New Mexico.

Carlson took her case to court, and then she lost again.

So what do you say Mr. Bush, Mr. Gore, about forgetting all this legal wrangling and cut to the chase, say, with a cut of the cards?

Greg LaMotte, CNN, Eustancia, New Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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