CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America Votes 2002: Real Votes Are Way to Go
Aired November 5, 2002 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: AMERICA VOTES 2002, from CNN election headquarters with Aaron Brown, Judy Woodruff, Paula Zahn, and Jeff Greenfield.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening, and welcome to AMERICA VOTES 2002. This is the last act of the greatest of Democratic dramas, and this night in this year begins with drama indeed because something has happened today that affects how all of us in the news business, all of the networks, how we report, what we report, and when we report it. And that's where we'll begin our coverage on this election night. We turn to our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, to explain what went wrong.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, as we were saying two years ago, sometimes things can happen. And here is what happened today. Voter News Service is a joint effort with the five networks and Associated Press that gathers and analyzes exit poll data.
It's how the networks project races just at poll closing time, if the spread is big enough, and it's how we try to figure out how different groups voted. Well, this afternoon, Voter News Service said that they simply lack confidence in the accuracy of the analysis. They collected exit poll data, and when they put it through the computer, something went wrong.
So Voter News Service has said they will not be in a position to provide exit poll data on either state races or national voting trends. And what that means is, we will be projecting races off sample precincts. Those are real votes. And, fortunately, CNN set up this real vote system of our own, where we are gathering thousands of votes from hundreds of sample precincts in ten states with their close races. So we may be projecting, but not off exit polls.
BROWN: We'll talk about that -- that part, the real vote part a little bit more. But essentially, this is what a lot of people have wanted for a long time. You go back to 1980, and the presidential election of 1980, which was called, those of us who lived in the West, really early. This time, it's going to be based on votes, actual votes, as we go. More on real vote in a second.
We're here with Jeff, obviously, you've already seen. And Paula Zahn and Judy's here -- Judy, here we go. You've been through a bunch of these.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I have. And you know, I think you're right, Aaron. I think there are going to be people out there tonight watching us saying, well, it's about time you guys waited until the votes were counted, and we will be doing a little more of that tonight than we usually do.
But we're trying to be just as up front and straight with you as we possibly can be, because we want you to understand it as we understand what's going on. As Aaron was saying, this announcement from the Voter News Service is just one of the many twists that have been the hallmark of these midterm elections.
We've seen a tragedy in Minnesota. We had a scandal in the state of New Jersey. Both of them bringing two politicians out of retirement with a combined career in politics that spans something like more than a century. We won't get any more specific than that.
Mondale, Lautenberg, hardly the only prominent names to watch for this evening. There is a Dole running in North Carolina. There is a Kennedy in Maryland, not to mention a Bush in Florida -- Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And of course, there's the legacy of Florida, that none of us sitting up here tonight will ever forget. And that, of course, hangs over us this evening, and the lessons learned that we hope will guide us through the results pouring in from all over the country. We are going to attempt to approach each call we make in a deliberate, careful way with the help of new tools that we hope will smooth out the kinks in the system that plagued us back in 2000, which of course brings us to the subject of real vote.
BROWN: One of the things you learn in the election business, don't get smug, OK, about any of this, and we enter this without being smug about the projection tools we have available to us, and so a while back, CNN set up a system, as Jeff alluded to a little bit ago, that is essentially a backup system, a redundancy that will look at those races that we believe are going to be especially close today, especially close races.
We've identified ten states, ten races, and Candy Crowley is up in New York manning the decision desk there, and she can explain, and we'll do this kind of slowly because it's complicated stuff. How the real vote system, as we'll call it, works -- Candy, good evening to you.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Aaron. I'm up here in your home base of New York. We've brought along Joe Lenski, who is one of CNN's analysts. I mean, basically, the people you see around here looking into their computers are already looking at numbers, already putting them into computer models that include a lot of statistical analysis, trying to figure out what's happening where.
Joe, sort of be a little more specific for people without getting wonky on us...
JOE LENSKI, CNN ANALYST: OK.
CROWLEY: ... and tell us what they're doing. What information do they have right now, that we didn't have yesterday?
LENSKI: Well, we have the ten states that CNN has specified as real vote states, and we have hired reporters to go to the precincts and get the vote, the actual vote data, the real vote, as it is reported at those precincts, and call it directly to our computer system. So we have our own independent second source of data for projections in those critical states.
CROWLEY: Now, how does that differ from the information, the real vote information, that we'll be getting from selected precincts, from the Voter News Service, the consortium that the networks all use?
LENSKI: Well, Voter News Service does something very similar, and they will have similar sample precincts with real votes in their system, and we will compare the two, and when we're confident that the two agree, we will make a projection on the air.
In addition, VNS has exit poll data, which we have been looking at during the day and found some questionable data. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn't make sense, and until we have real votes that confirm what we see in that data, we won't make a projection.
CROWLEY: So how does it affect us -- how does it affect how you call races, and when you call races to not have the exit polls, and I guess maybe we should explain that exit polls are done, again, in selected precincts, thousands of people are sent out to those precincts, and are asked, you know, every third person, every fifth person, every tenth person, to fill out a form and say who did you vote for, why did you vote. And that's usually the first information you get and you start to analyze. Now that you think that might be unreliable, or you're worried about it...
LENSKI: Well, it may be reliable. We just need to check it before we say anything. And what you've normally seen on the air is right at the poll closing times, any wide margin states will be called at that point based on the exit poll. We're going to hold off on those states until we see some real vote in those states before we make a projection. So you may see calls made 15, 30, 45 minutes later than you would have seen in the past.
CROWLEY: So we're looking at later but, maybe, calls that you're more sure of, then?
LENSKI: Well, we are going to be confident of anything we put on the air tonight.
CROWLEY: So if you have a race, say, John Kerry, a Democrat running in the most Democratic state in the nation, and he doesn't even have a Republican, you're still going to wait to get actual votes from there?
CROWLEY: OK. All right. So Aaron, that's a little bit of what we're doing up here. Again, I'm surrounded by all the smart guys. And so, you know, they're going to tell us when they can call things, and when they can't, in those ten races and in some others.
BROWN: It's easy to be a smart guy at 6:07 Eastern. It gets a lot harder to be a smart guy at midnight. Candy...
CROWLEY: Yes, we'll test them.
BROWN: ... thank you. We will test them indeed. Part of the problem here is -- look, there's no sin in waiting for the votes to be counted. It's going to make the night that much more dramatic in many ways, but there are a lot of things the exit polls provide us Jeff, that we're not going to have. The kinds of -- the why's, in some cases, of the election.
GREENFIELD: That's true. But we are going to try to do is, even based on the results, when someone wins or loses, we think we can be able to answer it, at least intuitively, if you will, certain questions about what happened tonight.
For instance, one of the questions we want to answer is, how did the defense and national security issue play? And we've been talking about this. Did Iraq, did national security affect votes? While we won't have exit poll data, we know that there are races, races in Georgia, for instance, South Dakota, where it was a big issue. And so we will at least attempt to surmise, based on who won or lost, whether it did. Obviously, was the economy a factor? That's another issue. Obviously. Democrats complain that didn't cut (ph). And finally, believe it or not, an old chestnut, did the social issues cut? There are races where abortion, where gun control, where school prayer, where even the environment played out.
BROWN: Family values.
BROWN: You think of the Arkansas Senate race.
GREENFIELD: So as these results come in, even again, without exit polls, we think we can be able to say, We think something interesting happened in these and other areas there. That's what we're going to be doing.
BROWN: That's why it's nice to be surrounded by the smart guys.
ZAHN: As long as they stay awake until the wee hours of the morning.
BROWN: Thank you, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Or the not so smart guys, the way it can work out.
WOODRUFF: Well, while we're all watching the process of how they count the votes and tell us who's winning and who's losing, our own Wolf Blitzer, who is in Washington, is in touch with those places around the country where they may be reporting problems at the polling places -- Wolf, I know you've already been talking to folks. What are you hearing at this point, even though it's just a little after 6:00 in the East?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we've been spoking (ph) to -- speaking to officials all day, Judy. So far election officials are holding their breath across the country, with Florida, of course, very much on their minds. So far, the voting process has gone pretty smoothly, we're told. No sign of the widespread problems that caused such a disaster in Florida two years ago. But of course, the night is still young.
High-tech voting machines are making their debut in more than 200 counties across America. Georgia's using, for example, only those touch-screen voting machines, mostly, so far, to good reviews. But there have been a few glitches.
In Florida, for example, reports that a dozen precincts in Miami- Dade and Broward Counties had problems when voters pushed icons for the gubernatorial candidates, when some voters pushed the icon for the Democratic candidate, Bill McBride, it actually showed up as a vote for the Republican incumbent, Jeb Bush. Florida state officials insist they are not aware of a serious problem.
Similar glitch, of course, as we are now hearing, has cropped up in some of those touch-screen machines in Georgia. But once again, we're told, not a very serious problem.
In Tarrant County, Texas, which includes Fort Worth, those optical scan machines did not record straight ticket votes. Those votes will have to be counted by hand, which could postpone election results in that county.
As expected, there are also chargers of voter intimidation and fraud in Baltimore, Maryland for example. There were some bogus pamphlets that were found in minority neighborhoods warning people they wouldn't be allowed to vote if their traffic tickets and their rent weren't paid up.
In Massachusetts the campaign of the Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney complained that labor union supporters of Romney's opponent, the Democrat, Shannon O'Brien, were escorting Hispanic citizens into the voting booth at a Boston polling station. The Massachusetts secretary of state says his office is investigating.
Judy, let me just wrap it up by saying there are thousands of Democratic and Republican lawyers. They're ready, they're ready to pounce if there are serious problems. We'll be watching this story all night -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, I think a lot of people will be glad to know that traffic tickets aren't going to count when it comes to going to the polls. All right, Wolf. And you know, we'll be checking back with you.
And I'll just add that we talked to the chairs of the two political parties a couple of hours ago and at least at that point they weren't willing to point the fingers at each other. But we'll see if that lasts through the night.
All right we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, our colleagues from "CROSSFIRE" will join us. And a look at the hottest races on the East Coast.
This is "AMERICA VOTES 2002."
WOODRUFF: CNN has a big newsroom in Atlanta, and we have reserved -- we've locked off one entire corner of it because we want to show you none other than the "CROSSFIRE" four. Now, each of you, as I understand it, has picked out a few races that you're going to be watching very closely. And we want to tell our viewers before I turn it over to you that they can all go to cnn.com tonight, check in on your races, they can ask about other races. And now it's yours, guys.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": And you can hold us accountable, which is the scary part of all this.
WOODRUFF: You better believe it.
BEGALA: All right, let me start. There's three races I'm looking at, Judy. I'd start with Colorado. Wayne Allard very vulnerable incumbent Republican senator being taken on by Tom Strickland who ran against him the last time around. And I think, you know, it's going to be a tough race, toss up race. We'll see how that one works out.
Second, Minnesota, the whole country's been watching that since Paul Wellstone's tragic death and Walter Mondale carrying the Democratic banner against Norm Coleman, former Clinton Democrat, now a Bush Republican.
My third hot race to take a look at is my home state of Texas, which I just can't let go. There's some chance, and I think it's a real chance, that you can see a Democrat, the only Democrat in Texas to win in years could be Ron Kirk, the popular Dallas mayor is giving a run for the money to John Cornyn, who's attorney general, hand picked by President Bush. The Bush folks have done everything they can to prop him up but it's a tight race down in my home state -- Bob.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": My favorite race is Georgia because we have Max Cleland, the Democratic senator. Nobody thought he could possibly lose. Nicest guy in the world. He was -- he's a triple amputee veteran from the Vietnam War, nice man. Not very effective in the Senate. But the interesting thing is he's out of touch with Georgia and he's running against Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is the chairman of the House Terrorism Committee, a very smart guy, frequent guest on "CROSSFIRE," unlike Max Cleland, who will never come on. If Saxby Chambliss wins that race, it's a bad night for the Democrats.
Secondly is Maryland, a great Democratic state. And we have Bob Ehrlich, who is leading in the polls against Bobby Kennedy's oldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Another race that would be very embarrassing for the Democrats to lose.
And third is Florida. The great chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the blowhard Terry McAuliffe, said, We're going to go down there and smash Jeb Bush. Bill Clinton went down and campaigned. As soon as they did, what had been a close race with trial lawyer Bill McBride running against Jeb Bush, turned into a Jeb Bush landslide. I think he's going to win big -- James.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": The three I'm looking at are Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. If the Democrats get any one of these, it would be good news. If they get two, it would be spectacular news. I think that we're in the hunt in all three.
I'll be honest with you, it's possible we could lose all three. More possible we could lose all three than it is that we win all three, but any one of those would be -- would indicate a pretty good night for the Democrats, two of them would indicate a very good night.
So I mean, those are the three that I think we're sort of slight underdogs in all three, let's see what happens there.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Boy, you're bucking me up here, James. I'm interested in the Missouri Senate race, where Congressman Jim Talent faces off against appointed Senator Jean Carnahan, if she loses, and I think it's possible she will, I think it will be at least partly because she voted against John Ashcroft as attorney general right after getting in the Senate people saw it as a spiteful vote. It was. She may be punished.
I'm also interested in Maryland 8, where 71-year-old Connie Morella running against Chris Van Hollen. The question here, I think, is can you run as a Democrat if you're a Republican and win? Connie Morella certainly run as a Democrat. But will the voters reward her in a mostly Democratic district? We'll find out.
And finally, Ohio 17, Tim Ryan, only 29 years old, ordinarily wouldn't have a shot to win, however, his opponent, Jim Traficant, now an independent, is in prison. And also probably more significant, he wears a wig, voters know that now. Since he's behind bars. Will they bring him back to the House of Representatives though he's behind bars? We'll find out. It's going to be a terrific race to watch -- Paula.
ZAHN: We'll be watching it right alongside you. Thanks, Tucker.
We explained to you a little bit earlier on the challenge of trying to bring you the results as soon as we have them, and because of that problem with the VNS system it's going to take a little longer than it has in previous elections.
We just wanted to remind you that you could check our Web site cnn.com, throughout the night. Enough information there to make even Jeff Greenfield's head spin. I don't know how you catalog the stuff you do, but somehow you're able to do that. You can get the latest results and set up your own personal election scorecards to phenomenon the races you're most interested in -- Aaron.
BROWN: All right. Quickly on to "The Whip," as we say each night at 10. We'll take a quick read from correspondents around the country, at least in the East Coast. Starting out in the state of New Hampshire, this is a terrific Senate race up in New Hampshire. Bill Delaney has been covering it for us, and Bill is there now.
Bill, give us a quick headline on what to look for tonight.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, there's not a closer political race in the country than the Senate race here in New Hampshire.
BROWN: Doesn't get quicker than that, Bill. Thank you very much. You learned your lessons well.
On to New Jersey. As Judy mentioned a bit ago, this one took a great turn, the Senate race in New Jersey, when Bob Torricelli dropped out, Frank Lautenberg came in. Deborah Feyerick is in New Jersey tonight.
Deborah, a quick headline, but perhaps not that quick.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well, Aaron, two months ago the Republicans considered the New Jersey Senate race one of the most important in the nation. Their candidate, Doug Forrester, was leading in the polls. Bob Torricelli, the Democrat, seemed beatable. He just couldn't shake an ethics scandal.
But then everything changed. Bob Torricelli dropped out, Frank Lautenberg swept in, and as one political analyst said, the wheels of the Forrester bus simply came off. They just not could get it back on track. Even the White House, sending the signal that New Jersey no longer important, President Bush bypassing the state on his five-day, 15-state campaign tour across the nation -- Aaron.
BROWN: Deborah, thank you very much. Think how hard that is. You plan a campaign for a certain match-up, and then all of a sudden, when everything seems to be going your way, the match-up changes. The problem for Doug Forrester in New Jersey.
North Carolina. A long time ago a lot of people thought this would be a slam dunk, Elizabeth Dole and a former Clinton chief of staff, Erskine Bowles down there. Jeanne serve has been covering North Carolina. Jeanne, a headline from you tonight.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, first some reaction to the news about VNS. One party official here in North Carolina telling me get the coffee brewing, it's going to be a long night.
But in fact, it may not be that long. The state board of elections telling me that they will have first results soon after the polls close at 7:30 Eastern, and we may get a pretty good picture of this race, they say, as early as 9:30, almost certainly by 11:00, although those results will not be official and certified.
Now, the Dole campaign believes those results will favor them. They believe they have enough of a lead to hang on. But the Bowles campaign says they think they have the momentum to overtake her -- Aaron. BROWN: Jeanne, thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve in North Carolina tonight. And the Dole-Bowles Senate race down there.
And finally, to Florida. There are so many things to talk about in the state of Florida. There are voting procedure questions, been there, done that. And there are -- there is a terrific gubernatorial race as well.
Bill Hemmer is back in the state of Florida. Bill, a headline from you tonight.
BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, three headlines from Florida at this point. The polls are open for about another 30 minutes. But we're here at Bush headquarters in Miami. Some Bush officials indicating they are very optimistic right now, one official saying they should win this race by 3 to 4 points. If that plays out, that would be less than what some of the earlier polling indicated, anywhere from a 3 to 8-point lead for the Republican governor Jeb Bush, the younger brother to the president.
A couple of things on turnout, which may or may not portend anything in the end here. Broward county, South Florida, heavily Democratic. A lower than expected turnout today. They expected 60%, they got 45. Meanwhile, the Bush folks are telling us up in the panhandle, which tends to go heavily toward the Republican candidate, they're talking about a presidential-level turnout today, which may indicate strong support for the Republican governor up there.
Meanwhile, on the voting problems that we all witnessed for 36 very long days two years ago, right now no significant snafoos to talk about. It looks like two years later, Florida may have gotten it right.
With regard to the VNS voting right now, early indication from the Democratic front -- Bill McBride, he's the Tampa attorney taking on Jeb Bush for the governor's race here, an official with his campaign saying they are getting ready for a long night based on this news in the past hour. Aren't we all? Again in 2002.
More in a moment from Miami, Aaron.
BROWN: Bill, thank you very much.
Bill, Jeanne, Bill, and Deborah, thank you all for setting the stage in this first wave of races in the East. We have a long way to go tonight. We take a quick break.
And AMERICA VOTES 2002 continues.
ZAHN: And welcome back.
We don't want to overlook the battles going on for governorships across the country. While they may be -- seem to be races that only affect individual states, it's important to keep in mind how key the results will be in 2004 and the race for the presidency.
Some governors saying that it gives a presidential candidate a 3 to 4-point advantage if the governor from that state matches their party. Now, there are 36 races going on across the country. The Republicans have the advantage now with 27 governors to the Democrats' 21. Two are independent. And each and every race is important, but there are still a handful of standouts.
Florida comes to mind. You just heard Bill Hemmer's reporting that the Bush camp is saying that at this point they think they're 3 to 4 points ahead. But it's hardly the only one that we're going to keep our eyes on this evening. We should also mention, Jeff, that this is probably the Democrats' best chance to gain some power this evening, with these governorships.
GREENFIELD: There is this belt from New York westward to the Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, up to Michigan, Wisconsin, where Democrats haven't governed between eight and 12 years. They have big expectations of taking back a lot of those big industrial states. We'll see how that plays out.
But given the tightness in the Senate, the pessimism about the House, here's where their biggest hopes are.
ZAHN: Let's also mention the women's factor tonight. Ten women are running.
GREENFIELD: Women are -- that's right. And it is very possible that Jennifer Granholm will become the first woman governor of a major industrial state. That has never happened before.
ZAHN: And we should also make it clear she will not be one of those ones that can dream about becoming president one day because she was born in Canada. That usually starts the speculation when these governors win. The -- so many presidents have been former governors along the way.
BROWN: She's out in Michigan. And I'm almost certain she's the only candidate to ever appear on "The Dating Game." Almost certain. But not positive
ZAHN: When she was 20 years old, right?
BROWN: You know, and how bad is it to have all the things you did when you were 20 brought up on national television?
ZAHN: In her defense, what she said, I think, yesterday was, Well, at least it shows that I have a sense of humor.
GREENFIELD: And we should also, I think, very quickly mention Roy Barnes, governor of Georgia. There are some who think he may have notions of emulating another former governor of Georgia and moving up, since governors tend to be elected president more than senators, and we'll see how well he does tonight on that one.
WOODRUFF: Well, we're going to talk about governors a lot tonight. And once again, we're going to talk about Congress.
Before we talk about some of the more interesting races, let's step back for just a second and look at where we are now in terms of a balance of power. The Senate right now is split exactly, 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, one independent, and one we know seat vacant after the death of Minnesota Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone.
Now, there are 34 races total that are going on where people are going to the polls and deciding whether or not to either reelect the person there or put somebody new in.
Among the 34, 20 Republican and 14 Democratic. And you can see why even one race could be decisive.
Now, over in the House of Representatives every two years, as it always is the case, all 435 seats are up. There are 223 Republicans. There are 208 Democrats. One independent. And then there are three vacant seats as well. And those are all Democratic seats right now. And we don't know whether they'll stay that way.
BROWN: So that's what's in play. That's the -- that is everything that is in play. The Senate, the House, the gubernatorial seats across the country.
Congressional correspondent Kate Snow joins us now with more on that battle for Congress.
Kate, good evening to you.
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Aaron.
Taking a look at the House of Representatives, which maybe isn't getting quite as much attention as the Senate these days. That's because for the most part people here in Washington saying it's a bit of a foregone conclusion.
It doesn't look likely that Democrats are going to retake the House. So say analysts and also some Democrats privately will tell you now that they don't think their chances are very good.
That said, let's take another look at the numbers that Judy just went over. The balance of power in the House, as it stands right now, 211 Democrats, 223 Republicans. There is one independent. His name is Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He votes with the Democrats. All 435 seats in the House up for grabs tonight. But really, it's going to a down to about a dozen seats that could make all the difference.
SNOW (voice-over): Control of the House comes down to places like Augusta, Georgia.
South Bend, Indiana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larger geographic. SNOW: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. No one region, no one unifying national theme. In fact, if there's any trend this year, it's that there's no trend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty years of traffic, 30 years of talk about new bridges. Then Anne Northup fought time and again to take action.
SNOW: Along the river in Louisville, Kentucky, the big issue was bridges. Out in South Dakota, drought relief for farmers. In suburban Maryland, commuter gridlock.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you really have is a trench-like warfare, where voters in one district are voting for something that voters in another district have absolutely no concern for, and so instead, you just have a very fractured election for Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Long Islanders know America is at war against terrorists. Does Tim Bishop?
SNOW: Ads will matter. Money matters, but in some districts more than others. Of the 435 House seats, only a dozen or so are tossups. State legislatures redrew the Congressional maps this year, often making districts even safer for incumbents.
SNOW: And across the country, lawmakers created 18 brand new House districts. Some of them are in play. For example, Colorado's 7th District. That's one that we're watching. It's in the suburbs of Denver. Bob Beauprez, a banker, a former state GOP chair, is up against Mike Feeley, a Democratic attorney, and a former state senate minority leader.
Some of the other races to watch in the House tonight, northern Indiana, attorney Chris Chocola running even though he doesn't live in that district, he says the Indiana Democrats drew him out of that district. His opponent, Jill Long Thompson, who served in the House already once before, 1989 to 1995, and was an agriculture undersecretary under President Clinton. In Minnesota, Democrat representative Bill Luther fighting off John Kline for the third time now. He is one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
In southern New Mexico, a tight race for an open seat there between Republican Steve Pearce, who's an oil man, and John Arthur Smith, a conservative Democrat who favors gun rights. South Dakota's gotten a lot of attention in this election on its one lone House seat. The governor of that state of South Dakota, Bill Janklow, looking to change jobs and come to Washington as a freshman congressman, but he's having a hard time against a woman half his age, she is Stephanie (ph) Herseth. And finally, Maryland's eighth district in the suburbs of Washington, Connie Morella, very well known Republican, she is a moderate, she is seen as one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans. Everyone thought that her opponent, Aaron, would be a Kennedy, Mark Shriver, but he actually lost in the primary. Her opponent now Chris Van Hollen, and that's another one of those races to watch, it's going to be very tight -- Aaron, back to you.
BROWN: Kate, thank you very much. Kate Snow in Washington tonight. If you want job security in your life, run for office and win, Jeff, because it seems to me, one lesson of this year, and perhaps every year, is that it is not impossible to beat an incumbent, but it's really hard -- 435 races in a redistricting year, and maybe a page of races, we think, are competitive.
GREENFIELD: I think the incumbency rate over the last several elections is roughly 98 percent, which exceeds the Soviet Politburo. You're right. You get free frank (ph) mail, you get on television for free, people give you money because you cast votes in committee, and therefore you can outspend your opponent. It's tough to lose.
ZAHN: How about the notion that these candidates played it very safe this year?
GREENFIELD: Well, what -- who really played it right were the parties we talked about this hour. This was a redistricting year, and normally, redistricting years throw the system open, because they have to redraw ballots. In state after state, the Republicans and Democrats sat down and said, all right, we'll protect ours, you protect yours, and maybe it will be one or two people who will fight.
WOODRUFF: And there are some egregious examples -- I mean, the entire state of California, something like 54, 55 seats, there is one seat that's competitive, that's in play, and that happens to be, hello, the Gary Condit seat.
BROWN: Yes. I think of 53 seats in the state of California...
WOODRUFF: It's a stunner. And New York, I don't think there's a single seat that's considered in play.
GREENFIELD: Just the first, in Long Island.
WOODRUFF: That's right. There is Long Island.
GREENFIELD: Felix Grucci, the fireworks guy is in trouble.
WOODRUFF: The fireworks man. Right.
BROWN: So that is a thought, being a professional baseball player or something was great job security. I'm telling you, politics is the way to go. Once you win, you start adding up your pension.
WOODRUFF: All right. Ordinarily, by this time of the evening, what are we now, it's about 6:35 in the East, we would maybe have some numbers that would be coming back to us from those exit polls. But Bill Schneider, as we've been saying and explaining to all of our viewers and to ourselves, for the last hour or so, that isn't going to come in. So what information are you going to have, are we going to have to have people understand what's going on?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm tempted to quote Admiral Stockdale, who famously said, Who am I, why am I here? Well, to shift quotes a little bit, in the words of the late great Rosanne -- Rosanna Danna (ph), It's always something.
In 2000, it was Florida, now it's Voter News Service. We will not be able to explain in detail tonight what groups voted for what candidate and why they did that, but we'll have plenty to analyze. We can talk about the economic issue, and the national security issue. We know what races they played big in, and we have a lot of preelection polling that will give us some important clues about what role they played in the election. We'll look at the gun control issue tonight, and how that played, particularly in the wake of the sniper episode. We have some information on Hispanic voters, a crucial bloc in several big states. We will look at President Bush's coattails, the states where he raised money for candidates, how did they do. We'll look at the most expensive races around the country, how much did they spend, what difference did it make, and we'll be able to look at how Democrats did in the Bush states from 2000, and how Republicans did in the Gore states. So Judy, we'll have plenty to look at.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill. Talk for just a moment, though, about the order. What are the first pieces of information that you are looking for tonight to help us understand what's developing here?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we're going to look at some of the key races that were supposed to be close, and see if they're trending in any one direction. We're going to take a look at turnout and, you know, we heard from Florida, there were indications that turnout was heavy in Republican areas, lighter in South Florida, in Democratic areas. That could be an indication that President Bush's last-minute campaign to rally the Republican base is paying off. We'll be looking for indications like that of what could happen as the night goes on.
WOODRUFF: Well, we know, Bill, in the last few days the polls that they do before election day. There have been some discrepancies. We've had one set of polls showing maybe a little bit of a surge for the Republicans here as we get closer to the election, maybe because of the president's campaigning, and others showing perhaps not.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. Well, you know, the president is going out to campaign, and there are indications that the president does help, but only for a few days, and then the effect wears off. But you know what? He's been out there for the last couple of days. The last- minute campaign swing is clearly motivated, perhaps it will only last a couple of days, but that's all he needs to put these Republicans over. He's trying to drive up enthusiasm among the Republican base, to make this an election about support for President Bush. And if that pays off, it will be a good night for Republicans.
WOODRUFF: All right. The only other question I have for you right now is, are you going through a little bit of exit poll withdrawal?
SCHNEIDER: Oh, there's not a lot to withdraw from. We're going to have a lot of information tonight. Exit polls are one source of information. We're going to be able to look at a lot of other things, including some real votes.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, we'll be seeing his smiling face throughout this evening.
Well, we've been talking throughout, not only this day, but several days about the kinds of machines and devices that people are using to cast their ballots all over the country.
Paula has a little bit more about that.
ZAHN: And as you know, Judy, there is unprecedented scrutiny of this whole process of voting. You all probably remember that Congress earmarked some $4 billion worth of funding, or authorized that kind of expense to apply towards new technology for voters, to make sure Florida didn't happen again.
Joining me right now is Daniel Sieberg, who is our technology expert, who's going to run us through some of what American voters were exposed to today. Now, we are already hearing reports of problems in Georgia, and problems in Florida with this very state-of- the-art equipment.
Why don't we start at the left here...
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's this touch-screen technology. In fact, Georgia is the machine we're going to start with first, Georgia being the first and only state to adopt this uniform touch-screen technology. We see an example of it here. The machine is made by DieBold. There are 22,000 of these machines in 159 counties in Georgia. They are reporting some problems, and partly what we're hearing is if you can see here, I've got a smart card.
When you go into a polling booth, you're given this smart card in order to bring in the ballot into the machine. What we're hearing is reports of people trying to slide the card into the wrong slot, that it wasn't possible for them to slide it into the slot here. DieBold actually makes ATM machines, they tried to make it like an ATM machine, when people would slide this card in, it then pulls the ballot into the machine, and loads it up.
Then you would use this touch-screen...
ZAHN: There's no suggestion that cost anybody their vote today, because they would figure out the card was not being eaten by the machine.
SIEBERG: Right, exactly, that is right. In fact -- and this card cannot be used again. Once you leave the polling booth, you return that card, and nobody else can use it. It is actually deactivated. Once you come to this screen, you have a menu of instructions that you would need to use. The machine works in much the same way -- a touch-screen device. This is obviously a sample ballot, not an actual ballot.
ZAHN: Oh, yes? Burt Reynolds isn't running?
SIEBERG: Burt Reynolds -- it might come as a surprise to some people. We've also got these famous leaders, and famous Georgians and famous athletes. If you touch the screen, you can see part of the reason they adopted this technology was to eliminate overvoting. People remembered this from a couple of years ago, so that if you touch anywhere else on the screen, you can't actually cast another ballot. You would have to go in and make a change, and then change your ballot to something else. And if you wanted to write in, you could do that as well, and again, you'd have to use this touch-screen technology, and then go back. And once you've gone through all of these choices and preferences -- of course, there's also the issues, if you wanted to make those choices. Finally, at the end...
ZAHN: You still have the ability to change your vote, don't you?
SIEBERG: You still have the ability to change your vote. And that's what's interesting here, because you get a review page, you can look at all the choices you've made, if you decide to go back and make any changes you can simply by clicking on the one you wanted to change. And you can go cast your vote, go to the review page again. That's something that, you know, maybe people weren't familiar with when they were going into the polling booth, they could have this chance to review everything.
And then finally you would cast your ballot. Now, that is similar to dropping the ballot into the box. And once you've done that, the card pops out and it's gone. You can't go back and make any more changes. But that's how they design it, in order to be sort of foolproof in a sense when you're using the machine.
ZAHN: And if all the states we're talking about tonight, Georgia really had the most uniform system today, the only uniform system?
SIEBERG: That's right they did have the most uniform. The only one, actually. They have a $54 million contract as we understand for them to use it.
ZAHN: Let's quickly move through the rest of the machines.
SIEBERG: Yes, let's move through the rest of them. This one is a little bit different, this one being used in Houston and Charlottesville, Virginia. This is from Hart InterCivic, a little bit different because it's not a touch-screen machine. This is something that may have confused voters when they go in. Instead it has this dial wheel here.
And when you go into the voting booth instead of getting a Smart Card you get an access code. You have to type this code in using the enter key here. Once you've done, that then the ballot comes up and you use this wheel to scroll through and select your choices like that. Again, you can still go back through and make any changes you that wanted to do, but it has slightly different technology than with the machine we saw previously.
ZAHN: But nothing terribly complicated about this?
SIEBERG: Not exactly complicated. If you were confused and thought it was a touch-screen, maybe you'd realize you need to touch the wheel. Little bit different machine there. Now this one is being used in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. This is the iVotronic machine. And -- we haven't nailed down exactly what the reported problems were with this machine. However...
ZAHN: Although those reports have been confirmed.
SIEBERG: They have been confirmed. We have seen them come in.
ZAHN: Key precincts in Broward County.
SIEBERG: Right, exactly. And part of the concerns or problems might have been related to the training. Of course, there's a human element to all of these machines. Even with the automation and technology behind them, people still need to be trained on them and they have to pass that information on to people using the machine.
So there could have been a breakdown there as well. As with some of the other machines there's a chance to choose the language that you want. Once you've done that, touch-screen manner much the same with the other machine that we saw. Again, it loads the ballot into the machine and it also prevents you from overvoting. A little bit different interface, as we say in technology, where it looks a little bit different.
ZAHN: But, visually it's very easy.
SIEBERG: Visually very similar and at the end you would cast your vote by touching the top of the screen. A little bit different. And they all come with braille, I should mention, by the way, and headphones and audio instructions for the blind, this one being one of the ones that has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you can see the buttons down here.
ZAHN: At first flush this looks like a fairly traditional setup, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and it is not.
SIEBERG: Yes, it does. And this one in particular, this is similar to the one we saw with a Smart Card. Again, you've got the Smart Card for the voter when they come in it is actually activated for the voter, then you would slide it in much the same way he way you would for an ATM machine, just in the front of it here, and it would load the ballot.
This is also being used in Florida, there are four counties we know of, actually more than, that but four I can tell you about, Palm Beach, Indian River, Pinellas County, and I'm trying to remember the other one off the top of my head, but I can't remember. It's some of the key counties in Florida.
Once again, would you use the touch-screen to make your selections, choose your language, go through and make all of your choices. Again, you notice it tries to prevent you from you overvoting. If you want to go back in, you can, but you need to choose the one you that you just chose. It's trying to prevent that from happening. They try to make it as easy and accessible for people as possible. ZAHN: So there seems to be a safety net with each one of these systems, if you made a vote that's incorrect at the beginning you have the option. Before the final vote goes in of changing it.
SIEBERG: Right. And what's interesting about all these machines is once the polls close what's actually being done with all of this information, there are memory cards in all of these machines that need to either physically be taken to the county courthouse or wherever the central location is to be counted, or they can send the information over a modem and do it that way.
Now, some of the counties we've talked to, they're going to be doing it in the traditional way where you actually get in your car with that memory card and drop it off and then they would take the information out that way. They're meant to be more efficient and faster, but you know, there's still that human element and that human breakdown.
And the last machine over here is a New York state machine. This one is a little bit different. It's much bigger. This one, because in places like New York, you actually have to see the entire ballot. So if you can see here, it's much larger than the other ones and it's a touch pad. There are sensors in the back here that register that. A little bit different than the other machines we've seen. But again, you know, there's -- technology, high-tech isn't problem-free.
ZAHN: You attempt to move us into this century. I know about you, Aaron, I voted the old-fashioned way, paper ballot, absentee.
SIEBERG: And I'm a Canadian. So I don't even have to worry about that.
ZAHN: We won't hold that against you. Daniel Sieberg, thank you very much for your time tonight -- Aaron.
BROWN: Show you how smart I was, I actually had the punchcard ballot, we'll see if it counts.
In about 15 minutes, polls will start to close in some states in the east and votes will start coming in. And our coverage of AMERICA VOTES 2002 continues after this break.
BROWN: Over in the "CROSSFIRE" corner of the room here. Gentlemen, you've been patiently sitting and thinking. What have you been thinking about, Mr. Novak?
NOVAK: I've been thinking about the Georgia race, which fascinates me because I think there's a very good possibility that Max Cleland, who is unbeatable, is going to get defeated and he's going to get defeated because he does not vote like a Georgian. He's a nice man who bucked the president and went along with the labor union bosses on the homeland security bill. That was pointed out by Saxby Chambliss and some of my colleagues here excoriate Mr. Chambliss for telling the truth. BEGALA: Well, in fact, they're calling him here in Georgia Saxby Shameless because he ran an ad against Max Cleland -- who left three limbs on the field of honor -- and said that Max is wrong when he says he has the courage to lead.
Now, to impugn a man's courage because he has a bureaucratic disagreement about which bureaucracy is best to organize homeland security is shameless and it's outrageous and I certainly think people here are going to reject that.
Polls close here, by the way, in about 12 minutes. So Georgians who are watching have 12 more minutes to go out and vote.
CARLSON: Look, I agree with you that it's not a question necessarily of honor, but I think Bob's point is an excellent one. It is a question of Georgia politics, and Max Cleland does not vote like a Georgia senator. He was endorsed by Zell Miller and he seemed to think that was going to be enough, but the difference is telling, Zell Miller votes like a Republican, which is why he's still in office.
CARVILLE: I think that Senator Miller, former Marine, is outraged. And he's been on television outraged that this is the most despicable odious ad I've ever heard of. And it's sort of typical of this thing.
I'll say this. If the Democrats lose Georgia, that makes it necessary for them to either pick North Carolina or Texas. I think it's an important race for those out there. No sense in arguing about it because it's 12 minutes to go. But it would be a big win for the Republicans.
NOVAK: Can I ask you a question, James?
CARVILLE: You can ask me any question you want, bob.
NOVAK: You asked Senator Miller to return a $1,000 contribution you made to him because he voted for a tax cut and he acted as an independent.
CARVILLE: You know what, Bob?
NOVAK: Let me ask my question. Please. And the question is...
CARLSON: Go get him, Bob!
NOVAK: ... that since -- please -- that since he now is supporting Max Cleland, are you going to give him his $1,000 back?
CARVILLE: I'll tell what you going to do. I'm going to do is ask people not to vote for me because James Carville doesn't have one damn thing -- I'm not getting -- we're having an election, and you're asking me about a campaign contribution. How irrelevant can we make this show? I'm making -- I'm saying there's a decorated Vietnam War veteran who left three limbs in Vietnam, and you have an odious ad comparing him to Saddam Hussein. It's despicable. CARLSON: Gentlemen, unfortunately, we're going to get into some more of your campaign contributions when we come back, but for the moment we're going to go back to Aaron Brown -- Aaron?
BROWN: Thanks a lot. Ten minutes to 7:00, polls will be closing shortly in a number of states around the east. Also joining us as part of our coverage, our friend and colleague, we mean them both -- Larry King joins us -- Larry.
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