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Text: Bush Surrogates on Fla. Recount
Saturday, November 25, 2000

Following is the transcript of a news conference by Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, and U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), GOP observers of the hand recount in Broward County.


RACICOT: We've been trying to watch and figure out how it is that people are divining in some mystical way the intent of a voter they don't know voting at some point in time. And we've become familiar with the standards that they've utilized in that process.

And now we come to the point to where we're going to talk about absentee ballots, where none of the reasons that they've utilized in the past--this board, that is--to justify a vote exist, because there are no machines involved in absentee voting.

There's absolutely no mystery about it whatsoever. A voter takes a ballot that they receive, and they have a styrofoam pad behind it, and they have a stylus, and they poke through the ballot, and they poke out the chad. So there's no way--it's not physically impossible (sic)--for anyone to vote for someone they did not intend to with an absentee ballot.

So all of these excuses, or all of these reasons given for trying to discern in some borderline mystical way whether or not someone voted, are not available and not present with these absentee ballots.

Now we asked the board not to consider any of these absentee ballots, because it runs directly contrary to what they have been doing in the past, virtually all of the reasons that they have given us in the past, for carrying on with this process of trying to count ballots.

So this is a very, very disappointing set of circumstances. We presented our arguments now, because it was appropriate and timely. We couldn't even get the opportunity to present them in a fair and thoughtful way. We asked for permission, after we'd been sitting through this process all of these days, for a brief amount of time to give what we thought was a thoughtful and reasoned presentation, and we were denied even that opportunity.

Now with me today is the governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating. He also is new to this process, but has had the chance to observe what's going on.


KEATING: Thank you, Marc.

Let me just postscript what Governor Racicot said with this. In a few days, all of us are going to be Americans, not Republican Americans or Democrat Americans, but Americans, who want finality and a new president.

But we also want fairness. It is astonishing to me, someone who comes from an overwhelmingly Democrat state, to see that we've had a count in Florida, and Governor Bush won. We had a recount in Florida, and Governor Bush won. Now we have a re-recount, solely in now two heavily Democrat counties, with Democrat officials determining whether or not a ballot goes for Mr. Gore or Mr. Bush.

That is supremely unfair. And the American public, the public from my state, I think the public from all of the states around this room, would agree that is supremely unfair.

This ballot, as Governor Racicot pointed out--to suggest just bumping it is a vote, just touching it is a vote, is a manifest injustice. It is wrong to count these ballots. They have been counted once by a machine and rejected because the vote never was made.

So when you have a ballot clearly voting other candidacies, and yet the presidential candidacy is not punched, that's wrong.

RACICOT: What's being done here is, this board is casting votes. They're not looking for votes, they're not discerning votes; they're making votes. They are casting a ballot, based upon what they think, in some way that is unpredictable and indiscernible to me, someone they don't know might have made. That just seems to be an impossible way to think it is appropriate to pick a president of the United States of America.

BUYER: The only comment I'd like to make is, I vote with these ballots in Monticello, Indiana, and I have used this type of absentee ballot. You have your--this is much different. When a voter goes in and he puts it actually in the machine, they don't see the ballot. They take the stylus and put it through a hole, so they actually never see the actual punch taking place. This is much different. It's actually in front of them with the styrofoam backing, with the stylus, and they actually touch the ballot themselves.

So upstairs, they're trying to determine this intent of the voter, using a reasonable-certainty-type test. Well, when you do that, you can't do it absent common sense. So the argument that was made here was--you made a great effort, and hopefully they'll give you a second opportunity--but America wants a fair process. So hopefully we can get that, and the judges will listen to arguments this afternoon.

QUESTION: Are you saying they decided at the last minute--we heard the number five, like, 500 absentee ballots (OFF-MIKE) last minute thing?

RACICOT: Well, we believe that there's probably between 600 and 650, from our best ability to determine. Well, you have been there. You have watched. We cannot make presentations. We are not afforded a reasonable opportunity to argue or to talk about what it is that we think might be of assistance to them.

It's just unbelievable to me that here we are, picking a president of the United States of America, and we can't even offer some insights into what we think is a reasonable approach to this issue.

It certainly appears to me that when nobody wants to hear anything, that their minds are already predisposed and made up, and I think that that's a sad, sad day for America.

QUESTION: Governor Keating, could you could please address this issue: We understand now the Republicans have withdrawn their lawsuit here in the state Supreme Court concerning the military absentee ballots. Could you talk to us about that, why that happened?

RACICOT: I'll address that question.

That is not in the Supreme Court. And quite honestly--you've been advised to that effect?


RACICOT: Well, I do know that there was some discussion about venue yesterday in front of the Leon County court. And the Leon County court was concerned about whether or not each of the cases from all of the various counties were properly filed in Leon County.

So I know that that discussion is ongoing, and I don't believe that there's any resolution of that issue at this point in time.

KEATING: Thank you.

RACICOT: Thank you.

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