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Special Event

Trial for Seminole County Absentee Ballots

Aired December 6, 2000 - 10:57 a.m. ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And as we wait for the court to reconvene in Tallahassee, let's bring in our Gary Tuchman, who has been inside the courtroom of Judge Nikki Clark, while they try to figure out what to do about those absentee ballots in Seminole County -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, I am standing right now at a lot of bleary-eyed lawyers. This is a day that has probably never been seen in the history of American jurisprudence. Two major lawsuit contests taking place in the same day in courtrooms right next to each other, and many of the lawyers, particularly on the Bush side, have to participate in both cases.

So this morning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, we were in the courtroom of Judge Terry Clark, regarding the Martin County absentee ballot suit. Then that court took a break at about 8:20 a.m., and this case in Seminole County began. it was scheduled to begin at 8:30 Eastern time, actually began about 50 minutes late.

What we have noticed over the last week, Daryn, in this blizzard of hearings and trials that we have attended is the direct correlation between the fame of an attorney and how long he speaks. We found that the attorneys who are lesser known seem to have been speaking longer. And we really can't blame them. There is a lot of pressure on their shoulders.

Theoretically, a mistake by an attorney on the Bush side or on the Seminole County or on the Republican Party side, if it backfires with the judge, could result in the judge making a ruling that has George W. Bush lose enough votes to be behind in the election in Florida. So there is a lot of pressure on these attorneys, and it is hard not to blame them for speaking as long as they feel they have to. And that is what we have noticed with a lot of the attorneys who don't have the national fame of some of the other attorneys.

KAGAN: Well, Gary, given that, how long do you expect this one to go. This one in Judge Clark's court.

TUCHMAN: Daryn, this could conceivably going to 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00 in the morning, this particular case, it depends how long she wants to go, and then Judge Terry Clark -- excuse me, Judge Terry Lewis said, he will resume his case, the Martin County case, a half an hour after this one ends. So this could be an all-nighter, and this is something that has never been seen before, and perhaps we may not ever see again.

KAGAN: And explain to our viewers why, or maybe there was or was not the effort to get these two cases put together?

TUCHMAN: Well, there is two different sets of facts, even though they are very similar, involving absentee ballot applications that allegedly had I.D. numbers filled in by the Republican workers. There is two different places, Martin County and Seminole County, two different sets of facts, and therefore, it was felt by the judges that they should be heard separately. And that is why we should tell that you the Republicans wanted the Seminole County case to be lumped into the case in Judge N. Sanders Sauls' courtroom the other day. It was ruled that that would not happen because the suit in Judge N. Sanders Sauls courtroom was filed by Al Gore. These suits have been filed by individual citizens in each of these counties. And it was felt that they were different enough that they should be in different cases.

But certainly, the Republicans very much wanted the Seminole County case to be consolidated in Judge N. Sanders Sauls' courtroom. And obviously now, when you saw his ruling, that would have probably been a very good thing for the George W. Bush team.

KAGAN: Gary, as we watch live pictures, and actually how we can hear your voice get a little quieter, we can see the courtroom is filling up once again and we expect the action to begin. When it does, what is the first thing we are going to see?

TUCHMAN: Judge Nikki Clark will walk in and we will get the plaintiff's side to call the first witness to the stand. The plaintiffs have indicated they will have probably four witnesses, and then they just don't face one other side, they have faced witnesses from George W. Bush's attorneys, they will face witnesses for the Republican Party of Florida's attorney, and Seminole County's attorney. So three different sets of people will go up against this plaintiff, Harry Jacobs, the Democratic personal injury lawyer who has filed this lawsuit.

But theoretically, this case should come to an end sometime today. Obviously, everything is on a very fast track here, and as we speak, Judge Nikki Clark is coming into the court, so, Daryn, I'm going to have to hang up.

KAGAN: OK, we'll go ahead and listen in.

Gary Tuchman, thank you very much.

CLARK: Mr. Richman, call your first witness, please.

RICHMAN: I call Steven Hall, Your Honor.

CLARK: Mr. Hall?

RICHMAN: He was here in the courtroom.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: As we await the first witness here, we should remind you once again what Judge Clark said at the very outset of this case about -- almost two hours ago now -- she said number one, was the identification numbers added sufficient enough to throw them out? And were Republicans and Democrats treated differently? Apparently, those are two items which she will focus most intently upon.

YOUNG: ... this court's office in August 8, 2000, to ask what the policy was of her office with respect to absentee ballot request forms.

CLARK: I'm not understanding what the legal basis for your objection is.

YOUNG: The objection is already covered in the stipulation, paragraph 22 of stipulation says Goard's policy was that she would not process absentee ballot request forms when the office observed that a voter registration number was missing, that's the entire point of Mr. Hall's testimony.

CLARK: Well, if that's the entire point, at least it ought to be short.

Mr. Richman...

RICHMAN: Yes, Your Honor.

CLARK: ... is your witness going to testify as to anything more extensive than what's in paragraph 22?

RICHMAN: Yes, Your Honor, he'll testify basically as to how he was treated when he went in...

CLARK: That's more than what's in the stipulation.

RICHMAN: Yes.

CLARK: OK, are you Mr. Hall?

Objection over-ruled. Mr. Hall, come on up to the witness stand, please, and raise your right hand to be sworn in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you should give in this case will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God.

STEVEN HALL, WITNESS FOR PLAINTIFF: Yes, sir.

CLARK: Be seated.

RICHMAN: Tell us your full name please, sir.

HALL: Steven William Hall.

RICHMAN: And what is your occupation?

HALL: I'm a painter, by trade.

RICHMAN: And would you just tell us, again, very briefly, since time is of the essence here, how long have you been a painter?

HALL: Twenty-seven years.

RICHMAN: And who have you worked for as a painter?

HALL: I've worked construction for various employers and maintenance at Walt Disney World for 15 years.

RICHMAN: What did you do from the period of 1992-1998, approximately?

HALL: I don't recall at this moment.

RICHMAN: After Disney, what did you do?

HALL: After Disney, I worked at United Way.

RICHMAN: And what did you do there?

HALL: Community services.

RICHMAN: Have you been involved prior to the recent election in political campaigns?

HALL: Yes.

RICHMAN: Would you tell us briefly -- first of all, are you a registered Republican or registered Democrat?

HALL: I'm a registered Democrat.

RICHMAN: Have you ever worked in Republican campaigns?

HALL: Yes.

RICHMAN: Tell the court, if you would, what Republican campaigns you've worked in.

HALL: Kileen Fisher (ph), school board in Lake County, Mel Martinez.

RICHMAN: Who is Mel Martinez?

HALL: Mel Martinez is the commissioner chairman of the Orange County commission.

RICHMAN: And in what capacity did you work in those campaigns?

HALL: Various volunteer activities, telephone, banking, putting up signs.

RICHMAN: After you worked for United Way, what was the next job that you had?

HALL: I worked at the Florida Nurse's Association.

RICHMAN: And after the Florida Nurse's Association, did you have an illness at that time?

HALL: Yes, I did.

RICHMAN: What was that?

HALL: Triple bypass surgery.

RICHMAN: After your triple bypass surgery, did you get involved in any political campaigns?

HALL: Yes, I did.

KAGAN: We're going to break away from this trial for just a moment in Seminole -- in Leon County, Florida, on the Seminole County absentee ballots.

(INTERRUPTED BY COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)

KAGAN: We broke away from that trial taking place right now in Leon county, not too far away from where the reverend is speaking. This, once again, is dealing with the topic what should be done with the absentee ballots from Seminole county.

Let's go ahead and listen to the witness one again.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RICHMAN: How is it that you ended up filling out affidavit on the 15th?

STEVEN HALL, WITNESS FOR DEMOCRATIC PLAINTIFF: I spoke with Mr. Dempsey (ph), and he asked me to file an affidavit.

RICHMAN: You know when he asked you, what is -- it was marked that your deposition is exhibit number five and ask if that be our next number exhibit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Seventeen.

CLARK: Is it something the authority again stipulated to (ph)?

RICHMAN: I don't know that this one has, your honor.

CLARK: What is it?

RICHMAN: This is the absentee rules that you received from Sandra Goard, I believe.

CLARK: Is there objection?

RICHMAN: There is no testifiers to how he got it.

CLARK: Is there objection? Any objection?.

YOUNG: Yes, your honor, that's not my understanding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And counsel is correct in saying it's not from her, but he can explain where he got that and how it was made up.

YOUNG: Your honor, I would object. It's hearsay attempting to deal with the document, it's not Sandra Goard's given to him by a third party. If these are some third party rule, bring the third party in.

CLARK: Well, let me hear the questions.

RICHMAN: Let me hand the exhibit to you and just ask you what it is.

HALL: This is a list of absentee rules that I believe I got from Patty Sharp.

RICHMAN: In what -- who's Patty Sharp?

HALL: Patty Sharp worked for House victory and was working on a absentee ballot program.

RICHMAN: And is that the form that was given to you, in effect, on behalf of the Democratic Party?

HALL: Yes.

RICHMAN: I would move its introduction, your honor.

CLARK: What's objection?

YOUNG: Hearsay, your honor: information prepared by a third party being offered...

RICHMAN: Hand it up to the court, please.

YOUNG: In the matter asserted, there's no other reason to admit it.

CLARK: Counsel?

RICHMAN: Just offering it, your honor, to show that this is the form that he used, that was the standard form that was being given out by the party.

CLARK: Mr. Bristow?

BRISTOW: He's offering it for a limited purpose, and I don't have an objection.

CLARK: Objection overruled, that would be admitted as document 17.

RICHMAN: May I have just one moment, your honor?

CLARK: Of course.

RICHMAN: Did you, sir, at the time that you prepared this affidavit, have any connection whatsoever with a man by the name of Harry Jacobs?

HALL: No, I did not.

RICHMAN: Have you ever met or talked to Mr. Jacobs prior to the time you filed that?

HALL: No, I had not.

RICHMAN: I have no other questions, your honor.

CLARK: Cross examination?

YOUNG: Yes, your honor.

CLARK: State your name.

RICHMAN: Oh, I'm sorry, there is one thing I've left, if I may have leave of the court.

At time that you saw that card with regard to Mr. Lynch, did you have any idea the extent of it other than it was just on this one card?

HALL: No, I did not.

RICHMAN: And did you have any reason to believe, at the time you got that card, that there was anything important about it?

YOUNG: Objection to the form.

CLARK: Pardon?

YOUNG: Objection to the form of the question...

CLARK: Objection overruled.

You can answer, sir?

HALL: Could you restate the question, please?

RICHMAN: Yes, did you have any reason to believe that this was of any particular importance when you got that one card, the one that Mr. Lynch gave you?

HALL: No, I did not.

RICHMAN: And with regard to your testimony here today, have you come here voluntarily?

HALL: Yes, I have.

RICHMAN: And are you bearing your own expenses to have come here?

HALL: Yes, I am.

RICHMAN: Why did you come here?

HALL: I felt that it was important, and...

RICHMAN: I've got no other questions, your honor.

CLARK: Cross?

YOUNG: If I can first just collect all the exhibits to this witness.

RICHMAN: Before Mr. Young begins, your honor, I would move the introduction of the photographs that have been marked.

CLARK: Shown those to counsel?

YOUNG: Oh, yes. Does counsel examine them?

CLARK: Any objection to them?

YOUNG: The objection's been removed, your honor. We resolved it.

CLARK: And those are exhibits one to 14?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CLARK: Admitted.

YOUNG: Mr. Hall, you testified a few moments ago that you're currently a painter?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: When I took your deposition Saturday, you indicated you were -- I asked you what do you do for a living, you indicated you were unemployed. Are you still unemployed?

HALL: Yes, I am.

YOUNG: Now at time you met with Sandra Goard, you were actually working as the campaign manager for the Linda Connelly campaign?

HALL: Yes, I was.

YOUNG: And is Linda Connelly a Democrat?

HALL: Yes, she is.

YOUNG: Although you had worked in Republican campaigns at the time, at time you met with Sandra Goard you were working as the campaign manager on a Democratic campaign?

HALL: Correct.

YOUNG: Now you mentioned something about Florida House Victory, what was that? HALL: Florida House Victory was a campaign that worked to get House candidates elected, Democratic House candidates elected.

YOUNG: OK, I recall now. You said that is who you actually were paid by; is that correct?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: Let me show you -- may I approach, your honor?

CLARK: Certainly.

YOUNG: Let me show you an original and a true and correct copy that we might show. Do you recognize these as the Democratic cards that were mailed out in this past election?

CLARK: What exhibit are you showing?

YOUNG: They have not been marked yet, your honor.

CLARK: Let's mark it, then.

YOUNG: OK.

Mr. Hall, let me show you what's been marked as defendants' exhibit one, and ask if you recognize this as an absentee ballot request that was furnished as mailout by the Democratic Party during the last election?

HALL: Yes, I believe it is.

YOUNG: And does it show that the return address of that post card request form is to House Victory 2000, your employer at the time you worked for the Linda Connolly campaign?

HALL: The mailing address is, yes.

YOUNG: The return address, once the voter completes it, goes to House Victory 2000; correct?

HALL: Correct.

YOUNG: You were working for the same entity that was responsible for the mailout of these absentee ballot request forms; correct?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: Now, in addition to being a registered Democrat and working as a campaign manager for Democratic Party, you also volunteered in the Gore-Lieberman campaign, did you not?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: You worked phone bank, did you not?

HALL: Yes. YOUNG: And you prepared signs?

HALL: I erected some signs.

YOUNG: You erected signs.

And in addition to that, you voted absentee in Orange County; correct?

HALL: Yes, I did.

YOUNG: Other than conversations that you had with Sandra Goard's office that day you described to Mr. Richman, you didn't have any more detailed discussions with Sandra Goard, did you, sir?

HALL: No, I did not.

YOUNG: She didn't tell you whether -- she didn't tell you anything else about her policy with regards to the forms, did she?

HALL: I don't recall.

YOUNG: And at the time that you met with her and the trouble that you had in arranging an appointment was simply trying to juggle schedules?

HALL: Correct.

YOUNG: And when you met with her, she was social-like, was she not?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: And the information that you requested she provided you, did she not?

HALL: Not all of it.

YOUNG: When you asked her what the rules were for an absentee ballot campaign and she explained those to you, didn't she?

HALL: I didn't ask exactly the rules of an absentee ballot campaign, no.

YOUNG: You asked what was required for an absentee ballot request form; correct?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: And she told what you they were; correct?

HALL: Yes.

YOUNG: And, in fact, what she told you was the same as what Patty Sharp told that you had been marked into evidence?

HALL: Correct.

YOUNG: Now, with respect to these absentee rules that were marked into evidence, I believe, did you also receive from Patty Clark, in connection with the campaign that you worked on in -- in the absentee ballot campaign, this document that was previously marked in your deposition as Exhibit 4.

CLARK: What document?

YOUNG: Have it marked right now, if he says yes.

HALL: Well, first it was Patty Sharp, you said Clark.

YOUNG: Patty Sharp.

HALL: And can I review it?

CLARK: Sure.

HALL: OK.

HEMMER: Clearly, Terry Young trying to impeach the credibility of this witness here, David, is it effective? is it necessary?

DAVID CARDWELL, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: It's necessary certainly for the record. Just as with the case before Judge Sauls, this case will be appealed as well. So you want to get some things into the record.

Another thing I'm sensing, watching this trial, both in the opening statements, and now with the witnesses. This courtroom seems a lot more tense than Judge Sauls' courtroom on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, we said the judge livened things up a little bit, cracked a few jokes. Here, it seems like the tension is a little bearing down on everyone just a little bit more.

HEMMER: Not so much for the trial matter, but actually the judge and the decorum that is kept in the courtroom?

CARDWELL: Right. I think they now realize this is getting to the end, and a lot's at stake.

YOUNG: No objection, your honor. Let me show you what has now been marked as exhibit 2, which you identified as a document that you in fact received in the course of your responsibilities.

Let me direct your attention to the top of page five. The top of page 5 describe absentee ballot request form policies and procedures in Orange County et al.

RICHMAN: Objection, your honor, in that he's asking the witness to testify as to an exhibit that is not in evidence.

YOUNG: Your honor, I would move this document in evidence, it is a document to be used in the course of his official responsibilities in connection with the campaign in which he participated as an absentee ballot coordinator.

CLARK: Let me see the document while I'm considering the objection. What's the objection?

RICHMAN: The objection, your honor, is this document contains all kinds of hearsay, we have no objection to the document going in for the limited purpose of yes, he got that document, but in terms of the substance of the documents, and the statements that are made there by Patty Sharp, that is all hearsay.

YOUNG: Your honor, it is no different than the document that was admitted over our objection that they received from Patty Clark, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. It has to do with his official capacities in that position, and it's the document he used.

CLARK: I'm going to allow him to testify from it. Objection overruled.

YOUNG: Could you turn to the top of page five of that document? Top of page five, first paragraph, describe policies and procedures in Orange County with respect to absentee ballot request forms.

HALL: You want me to read it?

YOUNG: Does it?

HALL: Somewhat, yes.

YOUNG: Would you read that paragraph?

HALL: "Some of you are registering new voters and getting a completed absentee ballot request at the same time. The law requires a voter I.D. number on an AB request and, obviously, a newly registered voter does not have an I.D. number. In Orange County, it is our understanding that Bill Cowles (ph) will accept and AB request if it contains a date of birth in lieu of voter I.D. number. These are additional issues that must be clarified."

YOUNG: Thank you.

RICHMAN: My objection, your honor, is motion to strike, number one, it's irrelevant what was done in Orange County to the issues involved in this case. Number two, on the face of what he just quoted from, it's hearsay. You have a third party basically saying that this is my understanding, and I believe she further says on there, we need to check it further, this is an issue we need to deal with.

CLARK: It is being offered to prove the truth of the matter, or is it being offered to prove that that is what's on that document?

YOUNG: It is being moved into evidence to prove that is what's on this document. No different than what was testified to by Mr. Hall with to what Ms. Goard told.

CLARK: Objection overruled.

YOUNG: Move into evidence, your honor.

CLARK: Admitted.

RICHMAN: My understanding, your honor, is that it is nor being offered at all to the proof of falsity, just that it is on that document.

CLARK: Correct. That was representation.

RICHMAN: Thank you, your honor.

CLARK: That was representation.

YOUNG: Now, you also identify, and I believe, had...

KAGAN: We will continue to monitor this trial that is taking place in Leon County Circuit Court on what will happen with the absentee ballots in Seminole County.

But while we do that, want to bring in "The Washington Post"'s Bob Woodward joining us this morning.

Bob, good to see you.

BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to see you. How are you?

KAGAN: As you watch this trial take place and you listen to the arguments from the different sides, does it strike you that it seems like Democrats and Republicans have switched hats here? We now hear Republicans saying that every vote should count, and then we hear Democrats are suddenly not so worried about the right to vote.

WOODWARD: Which proves the theme line of all of this. Everyone is using any argument that they can possibly make that might be accepted by the court. But I think of all of the trials, this one is the most explosive, because it would in a sense put Gore ahead, if the judge decided on the requested remedy. At the same time, I don't think it would -- in fact, she probably isn't going to decide that way. And...

KAGAN: You don't think Judge Nikki Clark will decide that way?

WOODWARD: I just don't. It's too extreme, and remember the issue here is not the ballot, but the ballot application. Certainly, something went on that is highly inappropriate and maybe somebody should be slapped down for it. But there is no suggestion that the ballots themselves were tampered with in any way. But it's a -- it's part of the sticky nature of all of this, when you look into the process of voting in this country, in this wonderfully, close election, each part of it has some flaw or some inconsistency, and that's of course what the courts are rationally trying to sort out.

KAGAN: Well, of course, we are talking about what to do with these absentee ballots in Seminole County, also Martin County in a trial that's going on at the same time. Interesting piece in your paper this morning, in "The Washington Post," talking about the trend in remote voting in absentee balloting, how this is really the growth area of balloting and of elections.

WOODWARD: It is, and wasn't it in Oregon that you -- everyone could vote by absentee ballot before the election, I believe. And maybe it's going to go on the Internet at some point. But of course, the cautionary tale here is, is you shift the mechanism of voting in introducing new technology, the opportunities for screw-ups, the opportunities for fraud or somebody taking undue advantage are increased. The evidence in Florida, at least the evidence that's available, shows that the old use a pencil on the ballot technique worked best with optical scanners and the new voting machines and devices are the ones that caused trouble.

KAGAN: And your staff writers who put together the piece on absentee balloting and the growth of that, Susan Schmit (ph) and John Mins (ph), make the point that while it is more convenient for voters to be able to do that in places like California, you don't have to say why you want an absentee ballot, just that you want one, it's more convenient for voters and yet for election officials it's much harder to monitor, and I think we are seeing some results of that in the dispute that we are watching from Seminole County this morning.

WOODWARD: That's right. As somebody suggested with the federal surplus that allegedly is going to appear in the coming years, maybe some of it should not be spent on prescription drug benefits or tax relief, but on a new voting system that is really the best that money can buy. It certainly might avoid snags like we are now seeing.

KAGAN: We've heard that discussion, we also hear how many millions of dollars it would take even to bring a new system like that into a single county. Do you think we really will see election reform after this presidential election is finally wrapped up?

WOODWARD: You never know. But if this goes into phase two, three, and four, namely that it really gets ugly and goes to Congress, and there are all kinds of fights, if you follow the maze of where this might end up, at some point then, I think the Congress would say, now, wait a minute, we need to really examine it, investigate it, and find out what system would make sure of this principle that particularly Vice President Gore has underscored, let's make sure every vote counts. And now that we look at this, it kind of reminds us that when you examine anything in this detail, almost sometimes it's better not to look. As the old cliche about looking at...

KAGAN: About sausage.

WOODWARD: ... how sausage is made.

KAGAN: Won't push you for where you think this will end, but quickly, as we wrap up, when do you think it will end? When will we have, for sure, who our next president -- who our president-elect will be?

WOODWARD: No idea obviously, and it takes unexpected turns. The issue before the Florida Supreme Court, Judge Sauls' ruling, I think much is converging there. I guess tomorrow they are going to have oral arguments in that case, and that's going to be a very, very big deal, because you just have the simple problem -- in a room are these 14,000 disputed ballots and no one has really looked at them, no human beings, they have been machine counted, but they have not been examined in-depth, and surely there is some kind of answer if some neutral fact finders were going to do this.

And I think there is a big tradition in the law which is common- sense oriented and very much says, let's always get the best evidence. Nixon had to turn over his tapes, Clinton had to give blood, so they could examine his DNA in the Lewinsky investigation. They certainly had privacy claims here. No one has a privacy claim on these ballots. So it's quite likely -- I think again, there is a lot of law against this.

And there is some tradition, but it's quite likely that the Florida Supreme Court is going to take a very broad perspective on this and say, now, wait a minute, we're not going to look at those ballots. You -- somebody is, reporters, or historians, or the League of Women Voters, or the "Miami Herald," or "The Washington Post," or CNN, are going to get in there and count these ballots.

And suppose it's a very different answer than the courts have given us at this point, a lot of people are going to say, now, wait a minute, why didn't the judicial system deliver a better version of the truth?

KAGAN: Much of the story yet to be told. I know you'll be watching closely. Bob Woodward from "The Washington Post," thanks for joining us.

The next witness, the second witness in this case has taken the stand. So let's go ahead and listen in, find out who it is and hear what he has to say.

RICHMAN: Now, there come a time recently where you ended up running for the county commission?

DEAN RAY, WITNESS FOR PLAINTIFF: Yes, in the general election, November the 7th, 2000.

RICHMAN: I'd like to have this marked as the next number exhibit for the plaintiff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number 18.

RICHMAN: I understand, Your Honor, without objection.

CLARK: Proceed, admitted.

RICHMAN: Let me hand to you what we've marked as exhibit number 18, and ask if you can tell the court what that is please, sir.

RAY: That would be a candidate petition to get on the ballot in a county race, a partisan race in Seminole County, that you got to collect a number of signatures from the electors to pay a filing fee. RICHMAN: And how much is the filing fee?

RAY: Thirty-seven-hundred-eighty-eighty-dollars-and-eighty-eight cents.

RICHMAN: And did you go ahead and attempt to try to collect signatures using that card?

RAY: Yes, I did. I started out collecting the signatures from January of 2000, you had approximately five and a half months to collect those signatures.

RICHMAN: And how did you find out that you could go ahead and do it that way? In other words, be able to avoid paying the filing fee by collecting signatures.

RAY: I filed my intent to run as a candidate in June of '99, 1999, and from the information from the election division, stated that I would need approximately 2,000 petitions signed to be able to get the legal amount. They didn't -- at that time, didn't know the exact amount as based on the amount of registered voters at that time.

RICHMAN: Could you hand that up to Your Honor and just to show the court.

Now, did you go ahead and gather a number of those cards together with signatures and information on them?

RAY: I started together and then in January, I started to turn them in, everytime I get like a hundred at a time, one time I turned in 202 and I would turn them into the division of elections, which they requested and asked would I turn them in instead of waiting for 2,000 at one time to throw (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as I got them to turn them in and that's -- I proceeded to do that 100 or 200 at a time.

RICHMAN: Were you running as a Republican or a Democrat?

DEAN: Democrat, sir.

RICHMAN: And when you came into the office, did the people that you dealt with in the office know that you were running as a Democrat?

DEAN: Yes, it was a matter of record.

RICHMAN: And when you came in with these signatures, would you relate to the court any conversation that you had with Mrs. Sandra Goard as to what happened with those cards that you were presenting to avoid paying the filing fee as a Democrat running for the county commission?

DEAN: Yes, I -- like I said, I turned in the 100 or 200 at a time, I got up to around 400 to 500, somewhere in that area, and then I was bringing in more to turn in and I inquired about the validation of the ones I had turned in, and at that time, she took me back to her office and explained to me that hundred -- around 125 had been rejected, goes to 25-30 percent, and I inquired, you know, why they had been rejected.

RICHMAN: What did she tell you?

DEAN: There was a difference, four or five different reasons, one reason was there is so many as six or eight was duplicates, quite a few different reasons. Some of them were printed instead of -- they wrote in cursive. And -- but the majority was that she could not verify that they were registered voters in Seminole County. At that time, I requested could I take the petition back to the people, because I had a list of the names and addresses, I kept my own list to get -- to be able to get whatever missing information or to -- so they would be validated. And she stated to me that once they were turned into her office and became public record, they could not be altered or anything could be done.

And at that time, I requested could she give me the names, not give me the petition, just give me the names and the reason, and she said that with thousands of petitions coming in at that time, they would be very lengthy and would take some time to pull that up and advised me that once they were rejected, my best option would be to go ahead and try to get new signatures from different voters.

RICHMAN: In any way did she offer to go ahead and let you take them back to go ahead and get them corrected?

DEAN: That was stated plainly, that was against the laws. She could not allow that.

RICHMAN: Now, may I see that exhibit, please. It's right next to you. One of the things that I note that's on exhibit number 18 in the blank forms here is the signees' voter registration number. Was that one of the items that you had to have on the petition?

DEAN: You had to have that or the date of birth. And the -- most of the people that -- when I first started out, only gave me their birthdate, and she couldn't verify the birthdate, so the voter's identification number would have been more hopeful, which later on in the election, I did gather more and put the voter's I.D. number on out of the next 400 and probably only 50 was rejected from that point.

RICHMAN: With regard to the voter I.D. registration number, were some of the cards that you had specifically rejected by Sandra Goard, the supervisor of elections office, because they did not have the voter identification registration number?

DEAN: She did not specifically say that, but she just could not verify that was the person that signed it.

RICHMAN: But did some of those -- was that one of the items that was lacking on some of the cards?

DEAN: That was 90 percent of the item that was lacking.

RICHMAN: And because of these problems, what did you ultimately have to do with regard to your race for county commission?

DEAN: I ended up on July the 21st, I believe, paying $3,788.88 out of my own pocket.

RICHMAN: Your Honor, I have no other questions.

CLARK: Cross.

YOUNG: Good morning, Mr. Ray.

RAY: Good morning, sir.

Mr. Ray, a few questions. You indicated that you ran for mayor of Sanford, is that correct?

RAY: Yes, I have.

YOUNG: Did you run as a Democrat?

RAY: Nonpartisan, sir.

YOUNG: And what percentage of the vote did you receive?

RAY: Probably 1 percent, I think I got 56 votes.

YOUNG: Fifty-six votes.

RAY: I believe that was correct.

YOUNG: And you said you ran for city commission two times, was that a partisan race?

RAY: That's nonpartisan.

YOUNG: OK, so your status as Democrat didn't matter one way or another in either of those races, either as mayor or the two races you ran for city commission, is that correct?

RAY: That's correct.

YOUNG: And what percentage of the vote did you get the first time you ran for city commission?

RAY: I think it was 17 percent.

YOUNG: OK. How about the second time?

RAY: Possibly 15.

YOUNG: And then when you -- county commission -- you indicated you ran for county commission for Seminole County, was that a partisan?

RAY: That was a partisan race.

YOUNG: OK. And you ran as a Democrat?

RAY: Yes, sir.

YOUNG: OK. What percentage of the vote did you get that time?

RAY: I think the tally was 33.2, 41,555 votes.

YOUNG: Now, you indicated that you had filed in attempt to -- or that you were seeking a number of signatures, a certain percentage of the vote?

RAY: Yes.

YOUNG: A certain percentage of the electors, so you could avoid paying the filing fee, is that correct?

RAY: That's correct, sir.

YOUNG: You indicated that you had filed your notice of intent in June '99 to run, is that correct?

RAY: To my knowledge, that's when it was.

YOUNG: Let me show you what has been marked as plaintiff's exhibit number 4 for identification, Mr. Ray, do you recognize this as a letter from Sandra Goard as the chairman of the supervisor of elections office in Seminole County dated June 29, 2000, with respect to your letter of intent?

RAY: I -- most likely I don't know exactly everything in there, but I did get a letter from Sandra Goard.

YOUNG: OK. Do you see the first paragraph where it says, "please accept this letter as confirmation that we have received and verified 831 alternative method petitions for placement of your name on the primary/general election ballot as candidate of the Democratic Party for the office of county commission District 5"? Do you see that?

RAY: Yes, sir.

YOUNG: OK. Do you see in the second paragraph that it says "pursuant to Chapter 99.095 paren 3, comma, Florida statutes, you are required to obtain a minimum of 1,862 ballot signatures, parentheses, (a number of qualified electors of the county equal to at least 1 percent of the total number of registered votes of the county as of the proceeding general election)," end paren, period? Do you see that?

RAY: Yes, sir.

YOUNG: Was that your understanding?

RAY: Yes, it is.

YOUNG: OK. And is it fair to say that as of that date that this letter is accurate and that you had only obtained 831 verified alternative method petitions?

RAY: That's correct. YOUNG: OK. So Ms. Goard is correct in her statement that, that is all you had obtained, and she is correct in her statement as to the number required?

RAY: Now, my records showed 829, but Ms. Goard's was 831.

YOUNG: She actually had more than you had on your records?

RAY: Yes, sir.

YOUNG: And it goes on and says, chapter 99.095, paren 4, paren lower case b, end paren, Florida statutes provides that impertinent part -- quote -- "prior to the first day of qualifying, the supervisor shall determine whether the number required" -- number -- excuse me -- "the required number of signatures has been obtained for the name of the candidate replaced on the ballot and shall notify the candidate. Results of signature verification process reflect that 644 of the 831 petitions you submitted are valid petitions which does not meet the minimum number of signatures required by law," do you see that?

RAY: Yes, sir.

YOUNG: OK. So, as of the date of this letter, you were a thousand -- approximately a thousand signatures short in the first place, right?

RAY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

YOUNG: And you were also informed by Ms. Goard at that point in time that approximately -- in excess of 125 signatures failed for one reason or another. Is that correct?

RAY: That was in -- probably in the first 400 or so.

YOUNG: OK. Did she not tell you, sir, precisely that the reasons the signatures failed that you described to Mr. Richman was not because of a lack of voter identification number, but because the signatures of the persons that you had obtained were not in fact registered voters in Seminole County?

RAY: She said she could not verify the signatures or verify that there was a voter.

YOUNG: OK. She did not tell you it was because of lack of a voter identification number, did she, sir?

RAY: Not specifically.

YOUNG: OK. And you never asked her to sit in her office and add any voter identification number to those names, did you, sir?

RAY: No, sir, I didn't.

YOUNG: You didn't have voter identification numbers for those names, did you, sir?

RAY: No, sir, I didn't.

YOUNG: You never obtained voter identification numbers for those numbers, did you, sir?

RAY: No, I didn't.

YOUNG: As far as you know, those people didn't have voter identification numbers because they were not in fact registered to vote in Seminole County?

RAY: I -- yes, I did think they had a voter's identification number.

YOUNG: You don't know whether they were registered voters, because you never...

RAY: I asked the people that signed it, was they, and that was her requirement, is are you a registered voter in Seminole County, and yes, I did ask that question.

YOUNG: Other than that information that they provided you, you don't have any other knowledge whether they were or weren't?

RAY: True.

YOUNG: Did they also provide their address when they signed it?

RAY: Yes, they did.

YOUNG: So they had a signature and they had an address?

RAY: Yes.

YOUNG: Did they provide a Social Security number?

RAY: No, it wasn't required.

YOUNG: The letter also goes on and says, pursuant to 99.061, paren 2, end paren, Florida statutes, "you may qualify as a candidate by paying the appropriate qualifying fee. As a reminder, qualifying will begin at noon July 17, 2000, and at the end of noon on July 21, 2000." Do you see that?

RAY: Yes, sir.

YOUNG: It goes on and concludes, "If we may provide you with any additional matter regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us." Do you see that?

RAY: Yes.

YOUNG: Your Honor, I would like to move this into evidence.

CLARK: Any objection?

RICHMAN: No objection, Your Honor. CLARK: Admitted.

YOUNG: Now, Mr. Ray, do you recall that there was...

KAGAN: We're going to go ahead and continue to monitor the trial of what should happen to the absentee ballots in Seminole County.

Meanwhile, let's bring in Viveca Novak of allpolitics.com and "Time" magazine, she's standing by watching the trial along with us and helping us get some insight.

Viveca, good morning.

VIVECA NOVAK, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Good morning.

KAGAN: First of all, the judge in this case, Nikki Clark, Republicans had a big problem with her continuing to preside over this case. What are the objections that Republicans have to her continuing to preside?

NOVAK: Well, mainly that she is a Democrat. She used to work for Governor Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and was appointed to the bench and then was passed over by Jeb Bush for an appellate judgeship. Now, this is not that unusual, you have a few names that are up for appellate judgeships and one gets picked and others don't. They use this as grounds for a motion to disqualify her. She rejected it, and then they appealed and then it was rejected again. It's kind of a risky move, because you...

KAGAN: You could tick off the judge.

NOVAK: Well, yes. Yes, that can happen. Although, in this case, I think everyone knows that, you know, there are no holds barred here and I'm not sure she is really going to take offense of that.

KAGAN: And the other Democrat judges that were involved here, I am thinking of N. Sanders Sauls, who couldn't have given a more positive ruling to the Bush campaign, he is listed as a Democrat.

NOVAK: That's right. You can't always tell.

KAGAN: You can't tell a judge by its cover, political cover, I guess easy to say.

What about this case in general, also the one that we're -- been hearing from Martin County? Haven't heard a lot as these other trials and these other procedures have been going through the courts, but this really could be the sleeper, this could really be the one that upsets the apple cart.

NOVAK: Yes, I mean, both lawsuits -- Martin County isn't -- it got a late start, it hasn't been going on as long as the Seminole County one. Interesting facts there, where the ballot applications were actually permitted to be taken out of the election board and altered somewhere else and put back in. It's interesting in both these cases, the facts really aren't in dispute. KAGAN: Just the remedy, what do you do about it.

NOVAK: The remedy is the big deal, right. And asking someone -- asking a judge to throw out all 15,000 absentee ballots, it's a big deal.

KAGAN: A big deal in that, unlike the contest of the election that we saw, like in Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County, if this one goes by the way of the Democrats, this would take enough votes automatically away from George W. Bush to change the outcome of Florida and then the election?

NOVAK: It sure would. And even if they come up with some kind of alternative remedy, which I understand has been discussed, where your invalidating fewer votes, it still sounds like it would be enough to change the course of the election.

KAGAN: Help us look past this trial, past the day when we actually will have a president-elect into the next Congress, into the next presidential term, do you think from covering Washington for a long time, you are going to see election reform taken up by Congress?

NOVAK: Well, that's a good question. I've been covering the issue of campaign finance reform for so many years, I don't even care to count them now.

KAGAN: We won't press you for that.

NOVAK: It never really goes anywhere. If there were ever a reason to do election reform at this point, you know, this is it. But I think it's going to be very tough. I don't think you are going to be getting rid of the Electoral College, for instance. I think that's just too tough to do a constitutional amendment.

Will there be some sort of standardization? It's possible that something will happen. But I think what we're going to see is a commission to study it, and as the commission comes back, some of the air will have gone out of the balloon, and we'll see if anything really happens.

KAGAN: And it'll be your job to cover it. Viveca Novak with "Time" magazine, allpolitics.com, thanks for joining us.

NOVAK: Good to see you.

KAGAN: And to wrap things up for MORNING NEWS, going to send it back down to Tallahassee and my partner Bill Hemmer -- Bill.

HEMMER: Hey, Daryn, thank you.

Again, keeping an eye on this trial inside of Judge Nikki Clark's courtroom. Let's bring in Dave Cardwell once again.

Voter I.D. numbers, you used to run the election shop here in Florida, this is paint drying on the wall for most of the morning. CARDWELL: Yes, but it's information they need to get in. Again, there has to be a record, because this will go up on appeal. This whole issue, though, of the voter I.D. number -- this was something that was added to the statutes in 1998, did not become effective until 1999. This is our first election cycle with these more stringent absentee balloting rules, and we seem to go in cycles. We loosen the rules for absentee balloting and then there is a problem like there was in the '97 Miami election, they tighten it up again. So now we're seeing the results of tightening it up.

HEMMER: Perhaps the most interesting that's happening in Tallahassee actually is right behind us, right over your left shoulder here. We do believe that at least one side has dropped off their most recent brief with the state Supreme Court, and in these briefs is the heart of the argument for what the Gore team believes should be overturning Judge Sauls' ruling from earlier this week.

CARDWELL: Right. And what they're really going to be hammering in their briefs, the Gore team will be, is that those 9,000 ballots that came up here from Miami-Dade County, which were introduced into evidence, that the court should order someone to look at those ballots and try to count them.

HEMMER: For the justices, certainly these briefs are important. But that is the meat of the argument and that's what they'll go through today and carry into oral arguments tomorrow, and that's where they will formulate their questions, when we hear, again, oral arguments live on television tomorrow morning.

CARDWELL: Correct. Now, keep in mind, the court first has to decide if it's even going to take the case, even though they have ordered briefs and oral argument, it technically is still up to them to decide if they'll accept it from the 1st District Court of Appeals. So they have to get past that one first, but I am sure they are going to take the case.

HEMMER: Quickly, back to Nikki Clark's courtroom before we go here, did they wrap it up today or does that trail into tomorrow?

CARDWELL: Well, it seems to have gotten bogged down a little bit with these two witnesses. The plaintiff said they would only have two more live witnesses, but there seems to be some depositions that may be read, perhaps some video depositions, and then it remains to be seen how many witnesses were put on by the other side. I think it's going to go late today.

HEMMER: David, thanks -- David Cardwell.

Again, we -- to our viewers, we will not leave Judge Clark's courtroom. We'll bring you the very latest as it happens inside the circuit court.

And again, Daryn, coming up just about three minutes away from that noon deadline for briefs to be filed. Oral arguments tomorrow, 10:00 a.m., at the state Supreme Court here in Tallahassee.

Back to you now in Atlanta.

KAGAN: Right, very good. So I know where to find you and David Cardwell for the next 24 hours. Thank you very much, Bill Hemmer in Tallahassee, Florida.

Once again, those written briefs due at the Florida Supreme Court at the top of the hour, as Bill just mentioned. A lot more on the Supreme Court, on the trial taking place right now in Nikki Clark's courtroom in Tallahassee, and a lot more on what is happening in the world in general.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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