Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Jocelyn Benson, (D), Michigan Secretary of State, Discusses Presidential Race, Ballot Count; Trump Leads Narrow in Pennsylvania & Georgia; Kathy Boockvar, (D), Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Discusses Ballot Count, When a Winner Is Expected to be Decided; Democrat Challenger Sara Gideon Concedes Maine Senate Race to Susan Collins. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 4, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much.
I'm joined by someone who hasn't got much sleep lately, Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson.
Madam Secretary, thanks so much for being with us.
You addressed the public earlier today. Where does the ballot counting in Michigan stand now? A short time ago, you said there were tens of thousands of ballots still to be counted.
JOCELYN BENSON, (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: That's exactly right. And we've got a lot of absentee ballots, ballots submitted on time, by 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday and still being counted.
Those are particularly concentrated in parts of Detroit as well as Flint, which we believe will see some results out of Flint quite soon and Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids as well.
I think Grand Rapids will probably come in a little bit later. They are still working through a lot of tabulation there.
We have eyes on the ground all through the state and working to diligently count every vote.
COOPER: You said Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is in Kent County. Are the votes you're expecting from there from Grand Rapids itself or the larger county.
BENSON: From the city. The Absentee Counting Board for Grand Rapids city, that's still working.
And what we saw there, they have been working through the night and now starting to replenish staff and making sure people aren't overly tired because that can lead to human error.
Truly this story here is we're being very meticulous. We understand what's at stake in all the counts happening. That's why we're going above and beyond to dot every "I," cross every "T."
Even when a tabulation is done, we go back and make sure everything is set.
We realize and we're already starting to see the potential challenges or things that could come next.
We want to make sure we're doing everything by the books so people can trust integrity of our results.
COOPER: Just to be clear, when you say Detroit, do you mean Wayne County as a whole or just Detroit is where you think most --
BENSON: City of Detroit.
COOPER: The city of Detroit, OK.
BENSON: Yes. The city of Detroit has its own Absentee Counting Board.
COOPER: John King is standing by. I know he has questions for you -- John?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Madam secretary, good to see you and appreciate your hard work.
BENSON: You, too.
KING: I want to ask, in the context, you just said Wayne County and you said just the city of Detroit.
I want to go through the math for our viewers.
We've looked at numbers. We look where he's down. Joe Biden needs, in the ballpark, about 45 percent to overcome. If the president can get 52 percent of what's left, that's what he needs to come back. The president needs 52 percent or 54 percent of what comes back.
You just mentioned Detroit. You mentioned, it's not Kent County, but Grand Rapids city itself. That's a Democratic area. You mentioned Flint, which is up here. We move up here in Genesee County, which is where Flint is.
I'm using my map and the history to tell us most of these votes are in Democratic areas.
We already know the Trump campaign has said it will ask for a recount in Wisconsin. We'll see if that goes on.
Because of political pressure, I know you want to be methodical and go through carefully, will you have these votes by the end of the day? Have you heard from the Trump campaign directly?
BENSON: No. To my knowledge we have not heard from either campaign for any candidate on the ballot, including at the highest level.
In addition to that, I also want to emphasize that we also still have smaller jurisdictions outstanding that have, you know, here and there some absentee ballots to still work through.
The jurisdictions I mentioned, city of Detroit, Flint, city of Grand Rapids, city of Kalamazoo, those are our largest jurisdictions that are still outstanding but we also have smaller jurisdictions as well.
We expect the tabulations, the vote counting happening right now in all those jurisdictions, that we will have a significant if not full update by the end of today. That's our hope.
A lot of things can still happen because, again, we're being methodical. If we have to go into tomorrow, we will.
Our hope is, and we've said this consistently since this morning, that we can get through the vast majority of these counts and jurisdictions by the end of today.
KING: Anderson, if I can speak quickly.
Secretary Benson, I want to go through your history. Right now, Joe Biden, shy of 45,000, 44,916. We go back to 2016, the president won the state by 10,704.
In your experience and based on history, how likely is it, if you have a balance -- that one four years ago was 10,000. If we have something in the ballpark of 45,000 votes, how likely is it, in your history, that if there's a recount, that result will change?
BENSON: Well, we still -- let's wait and see as we get to that.
I hear what you're saying and I want to be able to give you as much data as we have and can. But I also know the data can change. The process -- the first count, that first tabulation is still happening right now.
I actually want to step back, like we're asking everyone to do, and let that count happen. And then once we're through that process, we can kind of go back and, you know, evaluate what comes next.
We know what definitely will come next is the official canvassing, on which the county and state Board of Canvassers will check, and again check every process. A recount may or may not come for various races at that point. We'll be ready for anything.
But right now, in this moment, we're just focusing on tabulating every outstanding absentee ballot that was in by 8:00 yesterday to make sure that first tabulation, that first unofficial result is as accurate as possible.
COOPER: Madam Secretary, you heard the president overnight basically declaring victory, claiming that fraud was being committed and making false statements on Twitter, essentially saying that votes for Joe Biden were magically appearing overnight or things were being dumped.
Just to be clear, on what you are counting right now, these are all votes that have taken place in the correct time frame that they had to take place.
You are simply just counting the votes that exist. Is that correct?
BENSON: Correct. And meticulously making sure every ballot is valid. Everyone got it in on time. Every one was signed by a registered voter.
We've got lots of checks in place to make sure we're only counting valid votes, that we're counting one vote per voter, all the different things we need to do to protect the integrity of the process are playing out.
That's why it's taking time. That's a good thing. That's the process working.
We've known -- and we've all been talking about this for weeks. We've known, at this point, the misinformation that we've seen percolate throughout the cycle was going to potentially escalate if we found ourselves in a moment like this.
We have to recognize all of that. I know we are. It's occurring and playing out, as many predicted.
Here in Michigan, my role, and the role of clerks across the state, we're going to keep counting, keep doing our jobs, reporting out the totals, following the data.
And as lots of other folks kind of, with the knowledge of history look into the data and make other types of predictions of what's going to come next, I'm just staying very focused on the present, counting every vote and making sure every vote counts.
COOPER: Jocelyn Benson, we appreciate all your hard work. Thanks very much.
BENSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead, another top election official, this time from Pennsylvania. We'll talk about the outstanding ballots there and when we expect to hear who won that critical battleground when our special live coverage continues.
COOPER: And we have a key race alert. Let's look at vote totals in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
In Pennsylvania, President Trump ahead with 463,710 votes. That is a slight drop of just about 10,000 votes. So a gain for Joe Biden as more votes have been counted of about 10,000 votes. But President Trump still ahead by 463,710.
And in the state of Georgia, President Trump ahead by 82,987 votes. That is 5,000 votes less than he was just a short time ago.
Again, more votes are coming in. And more still. And 93 percent of the vote estimated in Georgia has been counted. In Pennsylvania, 80 percent as well.
Let's go to John King, standing by.
Let's take a look at Georgia.
KING: Anderson, you see the president's lead shrinking a little bit, right, because they are counting the votes. The question is: Are there enough votes out there for Joe Biden to overcome this?
You look, 82,987 is where we are right now. We do know that the bulk of the votes still being counted, some absentee ballots in Fulton County here to be counted, DeKalb County you move over here.
What is unique about these counties? Number one, Joe Biden 83 percent of the votes here, 86 percent in. A lot of ballots.
More as you move into Fulton County. The former vice president getting 72 percent of the vote there.
You know, just in those two counties, Joe Biden has been doing very well. And the votes come in. You have to wait to count them.
As we pull out to, one of the metrics we're trying to do as we watch this -- this is an estimate -- but if you look at Georgia now and see where the president's lead is, Joe Biden is getting 48.5 or 49 percent if you want to roll it up.
He'll have to get somewhere in the ballpark of 69 percent to catch up. Can he do that?
You look at that number and say probably not. That's not what he's getting so far.
But then you go back into the votes -- we know the bulk of them -- not all -- the bulk in strongholds, like Fulton County and DeKalb County, where the former vice president is doing very well. That's why we leave open the possibility.
Joe Biden has to win a very high percentage of the votes still out. But the bulk of them are in strong Democratic places so we'll wait the day out.
COOPER: What was the margin President Trump won Georgia in 2016?
KING: No question it's closer this time. You see right there and you come back in.
Five points there, as you round up that 51-46. Again, this is why the Clinton campaign got close last time. It's why the Biden campaign looks at changing demographics, suburban vote, getting it closer.
Also, let's remember two million votes and change four years ago, 2.3 million votes now. Another place - the is one of the refreshing parts, even as we go through these tense hours, potentially days ahead, turnout up in many places, 53.3 to 48.5. It's a little tighter.
We're not done. We need to count votes.
COOPER: Let's look at Pennsylvania.
KING: Let's move up to Pennsylvania. Bigger state, 20 electoral votes. This one a must-win for the Trump campaign.
There's the president, 463,000. Again, it was 600,000 last night when I left here. So it is coming down some. Will it come down more? You have to look where the votes are out.
Come down here, Montgomery, 88 percent. Suburbs about Philadelphia. Straight to Delaware County, more of the suburbs around Philadelphia, 74 percent.
Coming to the largest county of all, Philadelphia itself, we have it right here, about 60 percent of the vote counted there. We know a lot is in inner city Philadelphia.
Again, you pull it out and look at the size of the lead and think: Is that insurmountable?
I'm checking the notes to see if it's right. By our math, our estimate, the former vice president would have to get two-thirds of the ballots.
You look, he's getting 45 percent right now. Can he get 65, 66 percent? You look at the number, you think probably not.
Same thing in Georgia. Where are these votes, number one. We know a lot of them, not all, but a lot in Democratic places like Allegheny County. We know that number one.
We know from our data that people who mailed it in, disproportionately Democrats. Disproportionate enough to get back in the hunt? That's what we found out in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
COOPER: Big picture on the path to 270, where are we?
KING: I just want to show you. Look at this map right now. You look, you see it's filled in red and blue.
I want to make an important point. We have not called these states. You see the ones that went gray. When I show you this map, we're showing you who is leading. We have not called a lot of these states because they are close.
This is where we have it right now. And 227 called for Joe Biden, projected by us, 213 for President Trump.
Again, to emphasize this point about how important the count is today, let's go through this.
I'll do it from the president's perspective first. His lead is shrinking a little bit. Sorry about that. Lead is shrinking a little bit. Let me turn that off. Lead is shrinking a little bit but the president is leading in Georgia.
The president is leading in North Carolina. When we count the votes in Alaska, we're fairly certain that goes that way. You get that point up there.
Look at Maine's second congressional district. He's not going to get them all. That's my mistake.
Let me come back in here. Joe Biden is going to get these. President may get one of those. There gets the president up to 248.
Let's flip the table. This is why Biden leads today, do they hold up today. Critical.
Biden leading in Arizona. Biden leading in Nevada. That gets him to 244. He's leading in Wisconsin, 254. There's Michigan, your finish line, 270, even without the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
So the president not only needs to hold that. He needs to flip something else. He needs to flip something where he is right now trailing, or else Donald Trump is a one-time president.
But, but this is where we are now. We're not done.
COOPER: Not by a long shot.
John, thanks very much.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Pennsylvania crucial. The counting wraps up in Michigan. All eyes starting to turn to Pennsylvania, including those eyes that come with election-law attorneys attached to them.
Both sides gearing up for battle over Keystone state ballots. It could get rough. There's so much we don't know, as you heard John King lay out.
Let's go to the secretary of the commonwealth, Democrat Kathy Boockvar..
Good to have you back with me, Madam Secretary.
Let's just start with where we are earlier today. When you were speaking, you said there are millions of ballots left to count in Pennsylvania.
Tell us where you are right now.
KATHY BOOCKVAR, (D), PENNSYLVANIA SECRETARY OF STATE: So there's still over a million votes left to count. You can go to pa.com and track it yourself.
We have lots of data broken down by county, party, not only what has been counted and what remains broken down by county.
Counties are furiously at work today counting every vote, making sure every eligible voter does not have the opportunity to express their vote and get their vote counted.
BURNETT: You're saying still over a million left to count. But obviously, that number has moved significantly over the past few hours as we've been talking today.
When do you expect we're going to know a winner, Secretary?
BOOCKVAR: So, you know, as you know, the closer the race, the longer it takes for a winner.
But as we've been saying, an overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted by Friday. Actually, at this point, it's looking like significantly sooner than that.
BURNETT: Significantly sooner. So possibly tomorrow or even earlier?
BOOCKVAR: Check back with me later on today.
BURNETT: All right.
Let me bring in John King.
BOOCKVAR: The Web site is tracking it.
BURNETT: Moment by moment.
BURNETT: I'm sorry. There's a little bit of a delay here.
John King, let me bring you in because I know you have specific questions to ask of the secretary as well.
KING: Number one, completely respect that this process takes time, Madam Secretary, and grateful for your time because we know you're busy double-checking.
I don't mean offense to any people in the commonwealth but some of these outstanding counties matter more than others just because there are more votes.
When you say it could be a day or so, you're hoping by the end of the day. What about Philadelphia City? I ask in the context of -- we still have it, maybe it's a different number now, please correct me if I'm wrong -- at 61 percent in.
And so you're the Trump campaign, you say we have a big lead, we wish Pennsylvania would stop counting. That's not the way it works.
But if you're the Biden campaign, you very much want to know what is left in Philadelphia. Because when if you look here, he's getting 78 percent of the vote. You have about 40 percent of the vote to count. If that number is still correct.
And when you pull it out and look statewide, that's a big jump Joe Biden would have to make to catch up. We look at it and see he has to win about two thirds of the outstanding votes in Pennsylvania.
We'll be able to answer that question when we see Philadelphia and the suburbs around it.
Is there a priority on getting the bigger pool of votes, the bigger counties, including Philadelphia, done quicker?
BOOCKVAR: So, as you know, Pennsylvania is a commonwealth. Each county is running these elections and running them incredibly well.
Philadelphia, like every other county in the state, has staffed up, has gotten equipment, has best practices in place, and are working furiously to get the votes done.
Obviously, a county that has hundreds of thousands of ballots is going to have more staffing equipment than a county with a couple thousand ballots.
But I want every single voter, every single qualified voter's voice to be heard and ballots to be counted, I don't care where they live in the commonwealth.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you, Secretary, the Trump campaign says they're requesting a recount in Wisconsin.
Obviously, you're doing you're still country. You're still doing your first count. You said you have over a million ballots left to go.
Are you preparing for a recount? Do you think it's inevitable for you as well?
BOOCKVAR: I don't. I don't think it's inevitable. We are definitely tracking it.
In Pennsylvania, there's an automatic recount if the race is within 0.5 percent difference between the winner and the person in second.
So in 2016, I believe the final results were 0.7 percent. So there was no automatic recount. Today remains to be seen.
I think we'll know more by the end of the day where we see where we are.
So you don't think it's inevitable.
As you know, as the numbers are coming in, there's so much we don't.
I want to give you a chance to respond to one other thing, Secretary Boockvar. That is, the president today tweeting, and I quote him, they're "working hard to make up 500,00 vote advantage disappear ASAP, likewise Michigan and others."
I guess referring to people like you. They are making -- trying to take those votes away.
What is your response to that?
BOOCKVAR: My response is we've been saying all along -- and you all know this, and thank you for all your repeating of this, which I think the voters all know.
That elections are never called on Election Day. They've never been. The votes, every vote, every qualified voter gets to have their voice heard.
As you know, military voters and overseas voters have a full week after Election Day to cast their ballot.
I know that I will never, ever want to disenfranchise the men and women who bravely serve our country, nor any other eligible voter across the commonwealth.
We are counting every vote. The counties are doing it as incredibly diligently and accurately, and as quickly as they can.
BURNETT: Madam Secretary, I appreciate your time. Thank you for sharing some of it with us, with everything that you have going on today. Thank you.
COOPER: Erin, thanks.
Another potential development in the fight for the Senate.
Brianna Keilar is back with that -- Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hi, there, Anderson.
We're keeping our eye on Maine at this point in time where the Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon, the House speaker there in Maine, has called Susan Collins, the incumbent Republican, to congratulate her on winning this election. We are still waiting to project this at this point in time. You can
see the breakdown, 49.8 percent for Susan Collins, 43.4 percent for Sara Gideon.
Maine has a unique ranked choice process that they go through, which is why we're waiting more results with 75 percent of the estimated vote in.
At this point, Susan Collins is more than 40,000 votes ahead, Anderson. And the Democratic challenger has called her to congratulate her on winning this race.
Of course, Anderson, this was a seat that Democrats had hoped to pick up, which is showing you how difficult this has been compared to what they thought it would be.
Look here at the balance of power in the Senate. They needed 51 seats to flip the Senate. Here they have 47 -- Republicans have 47, Democrats have 46. They each have a pickup, so far, calling each other out.
But at this point in time, seven seats are remaining unprojected and not much has changed in the Senate where Democrats were hoping that we would be able to affect some change there.
COOPER: Brianna, thanks.
The ballot counting continues in the key remaining states. And the numbers are slowly changing. The latest on the road to 270, with John King, is next.