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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Votes 2002: Polling Problems

Aired November 5, 2002 - 09:21   ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: But in the meantime, let's talk about election officials here in the Sunshine State. They hope they finally got it right this time. Voters heading out to the polls about two hours and 20 minutes ago.
Two years ago, the Bush-Gore presidential race hung in the balance for 36 days partly because of hanging chad. Broward County spent at least $2.5 million to upgrade equipment. The state spent $32 million after the problems that it experienced not only two years ago but also again after the primary runoff between Bill McBride, the Democrat, and Janet Reno, the former attorney general.

Let's talk about whether or not things can go smoothly today with Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst here. But the other thing we want to focus in on right now, and I apologize if I interrupt you for the president, the other thing I want to talk about, though, is the thousands of attorneys that we have heard for both Democrats and Republicans that have essentially gone out across the country waiting to pounce if indeed there is a problem. You're a lawyer, what do you make of that?

JEFFRY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well I think what we've seen since 2000 is real change in the culture of elections is that there used to be kind of a stigma associated with any kind of court action in connection with an election, you seem like a sore loser if you protest. Now I think all bets are off. I think you have all these thousands of lawyers there because people recognize there are real legal problems with how our elections go.

HEMMER: I apologized initially. I'm going to put you on hold.

TOOBIN: You know what, he's the president.

HEMMER: Here's the president in Crawford. Yes. This is taping a short time ago. And the president walked in. Then after he emerged and cast his ballot, he met with reporters. And we will hear those comments, about 45 seconds in length. And once they come out, you'll hear them.

But in the meantime, Jeff, I interrupted you. Let's talk over this a second. I think what Florida showed, it showed political attorneys that they can decipher and they can go in and dissect elections, maybe not for the chance of success, but maybe to delay it and buffer their argument in the long term.

TOOBIN: And maybe for success. You know my experience is if you send 4,000 lawyers out to find a problem, they're going to find a problem. And so tonight, I expect that there will be people in court much more than we've seen in the past. An early clue on that is look at whether there's litigation over closing times. In St. Louis in 2000 there was a big controversy because lawyers went in and got extended voting hours. A lot of lawyers will be looking to do that today if there are any problems at all and that'll be a clue about whether this election will wind up in court in a big way.

HEMMER: You and I first met two years ago in Tallahassee.

TOOBIN: We sure did.

HEMMER: It was my impression at the time, I was not sure what it was going to do to voters in America. Does November of 2000 push people away, does it draw more people in or is it a wash? That's one thing I'm curious to find out.

The other thing I'm curious to find out is there a backlash if there are further legal fights after today when essentially American voters say come on, you can't be doing this, guys, we need to move on?

TOOBIN: Well you know that's what -- that's what the Gore team thought and that's why they were so worried about going into court at all. They thought sore loser would be the stigma that was attached to them forever. You know I think for all of Al Gore's problems, I don't think that's it. I don't think the backlash was to the legal fight. And I think lawyers, being lawyers, are less worried about sort of public reaction than they are about winning their cases in court.

And there are arguments you can make in a lot of areas of election law. That's another thing we learned in Florida, these laws are not as clear as we thought there were. So in state after state there could be chances for, you know, more litigation.

HEMMER: And hold on one second again, here's the president as promised.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning -- Kyra (ph).

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: You're so cute, Kyra.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not telling what I gave the first lady for our 25th anniversary.

L. BUSH: I'm telling.

G. BUSH: Huh?

QUESTION: What about for her birthday?

G. BUSH: Not telling.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you think you're getting...

G. BUSH: But I was -- I was -- but I was -- let me just say that I remembered.

L. BUSH: He did remember.

G. BUSH: Hey there. Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys OK -- Vince (ph).

G. BUSH: There you go. Thanks for voting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

G. BUSH: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you could you sign...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sign that too?

G. BUSH: Sure.

Huh?

KYRA: Would you come to my birthday?

G. BUSH: I'm supposed to go to your birthday party? Well I forgot about it, to be honest with you. I think the invitation got lost in the mail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

G. BUSH: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sir, what do you think you make (ph) the Senate today, does it got a chance?

HEMMER: It was brief, but that was the scene in Crawford, Texas. The first lady turning 56 yesterday on November 4.

Jeffrey Toobin, want to thank you for stopping by. You've been taking the pulse in Broward, what are you hearing, any promises yet?

TOOBIN: So far -- so far so good. The election is going smoothly. I just got off the phone with someone who voted in 10 minutes.

HEMMER: Ten minutes,...

TOOBIN: Who knew, right?

HEMMER: ... which is half the time that we were told for the average voter would take today.

TOOBIN: Exactly. That's right. So there you go.

HEMMER: Thank you much -- Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: All right.

HEMMER: See you again soon. 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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