Text: Gore Campaign Chairman William
Thursday, November 9, 2000
Following is the transcript of a news conference with Gore campaign chairman
William Daley and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, a Gore campaign
DALEY: Good afternoon to all of you.
Secretary Christopher and I have been in Florida now for over 20 hours, and
I'm here to report that what we have learned has left us deeply troubled.
Most notably, it appears that more than 20,000 voters in Palm Beach County,
who in all likelihood thought they were voting for Al Gore, had their votes
counted for Pat Buchanan or not counted at all.
Because this disenfranchisement of these Floridians is so much larger than
the reported gap between Governor Bush and Vice President Gore, we believe this
requires the full attention of the courts in Florida and concerned citizens
all around our country.
More than 100 million Americans voted on Tuesday and more voted for Al Gore
than Governor Bush. Here in Florida, it also seems very likely that more voters
when to the polls believing that they were voting for Al Gore than for George
If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory
in Florida and be our next president.
Let me focus on the problem of Palm Beach County. There, due to the confusing
ballot, many voters who believe they were voting for Al Gore had their votes
counted for Pat Buchanan. No other explanation for his 3,400 vote total, a sum
three times larger than what he did in any other county, and 10 times the number
of registered Reform voters as listed. This seems implausible. I am told that
even Mr. Buchanan recognizes as much.
Based on the totals from other counties, there seems every reason to believe
that well over 2,000 of these votes were votes for Vice President Al Gore, more
than enough to make him the winner here in Florida.
In addition, there were more than 19,000 ballots cast in Palm Beach County
that were not tabulated at all because voters, faced with this confusing ballot,
apparently punched two holes instead of one.
These logical conclusions are reinforced by the phone calls, faxes and other
reports from over 1,000 residents of Palm Beach County that have poured into
us saying that they believe they were victims of this ballot confusion.
In response to this clear injustice, what does the Bush campaign say? They
blithely dismiss the disenfranchise of thousands of Floridians as being the
usual sort of mistake made in elections; they cite legal provisions about published
ballots and technical notice; they put a demand for finality ahead of the pursuit
As for the substance of these responses, let me say that they are in doubt.
It remains unclear if the sample ballot published really contained all the elements,
including the alignment of the punch-holes, that the actual ballot reflected.
More importantly, let me be clear at what is at stake here. Technicalities
should not determine the presidency of the United States; the will of the people
should. Demanding an end to this election is not the same as demanding that
the person who the people want as president takes office.
Here's what we intend to do about this. Today, the appropriate Florida Democratic
officials will be requesting a hand-count of ballots in Palm Beach County as
well as three other counties: Volusia, Dade and Broward.
In addition, today I'm announcing that we will be working with voters from
Florida in support of legal actions to demand some redress for the disenfranchisement
of more than 20,000 voters in Palm Beach County.
We believe that with so much at stake, steps should be taken to make sure
that the people's choice becomes our president.
In addition, we are still collecting accounts of other irregularities, voter
intimidation and other oddities in other parts of the state. And if substantiated
and appropriate, they, too, will become part of legal actions.
Now let me address the concerns of those who say that these actions will delay
the conclusion of this election or somehow we are seeking to drag this out.
All we are seeking is this: that the candidate who the voters preferred become
our president. That is what our constitutional principles demand. That is what
true fidelity to our Constitution suggests. That is what the American people
Moreover, we will move this matter ahead as quickly as is possible. We do
not want delay. What we want, however, is democracy fulfilled.
Finally, let me address some remarks to the Bush campaign. I believe that
their actions to try to presumptively crown themselves the victors, to try to
put in place a transition, run the risk of dividing the American people and
creating a sense of confusion.
Let the legal system run its course. Let the true and accurate rule of the
people prevail. And if at the end of the process, George Bush is the victor,
we will honor and, obviously, respect those results. But we would expect the
same adherence to the rule of law and democratic process from their campaign
Bold claims not based on the rule of the people endanger the orderly transition
of power. Taking the time to ensure that the people's choice is our president
is the best way to respect our democratic values and honor our Constitution.
At this time, let me ask former Secretary of State Warren Christopher to make
a few brief remarks.
CHRISTOPHER: Thank you, Bill.
To shorten this up and to enable you to get to your questions, let me just
associate myself with Chairman Daley's comments.
If I could put it in a single sentence, we've come to believe that there are
serious and substantial irregularities resulting from the ballot used only in
one county, that that ballot was confusing and illegal, and that rising out
of this is the need for redress in order to make sure that the will of the people
can be properly honored in this situation.
Now, I think Secretary Daley and I, as well as Mr. Coffey, will be glad to
take your questions.
DALEY: I think that's to be determined as we move forward. There are possible
several different options that lawyers and others will be looking at, so we
wouldn't want to presume today to determine what that redress should be.
DALEY: Well, if you look at the results of the about 19,000--over 19,000 people
voted twice and their votes were uncounted. Those are official statistics that
I've been given.
DALEY: We believe, based on the vote in that county, if you were just to take,
I mean simply speaking, if you were take a percent that Al Gore got on the votes
that were counted, and put that into the 19,000 that were--that punched two
holes, that he would clearly have the votes.
Right now, as I understand it, it's under 800, the spread between the two at
this point in the recount.
DALEY: First of all, Secretary Baker may be a Floridian election law expert.
I'm not. I'll ask Mr. Coffey if he wants to make a comment on it. The fact is,
the argument that somehow a political official--his decision or nondecision
should somehow negate the vote of a citizen just doesn't make any sense.
COFFEY: Florida election law is very clear. In fact, I think, as all of you
know, this was apparently the only county in Florida that chose to use a confusing
butterfly ballot. And the consequences, unfortunately, are apparent to all of
Florida law requires a specific sequencing and a specific structure on the
ballot, precisely to avoid this sort of extraordinary confusion that resulted
in the disenfranchisement of thousands and thousands of voters.
QUESTION: If I could just follow that up, because they're suggesting that
if you say 2,000 of the Buchanan votes--which I think the total was a little
more than 3,000 from that particular county--should have gone for Al Gore instead
of Pat Buchanan. What number is that based upon?
DALEY: That is based upon the percent of voters that went for Al Gore in that
county, as opposed to George Bush, and if you took that percent of those votes
for Pat Buchanan, they would amount to 2,000 or a little more.
DALEY: I have no opinion as to whether it--it was obviously deliberately confusing
to the people who went in there. I don't whether the person who designed it
deliberately did that to confuse people. We're not making that allegation. That
doesn't matter at this point.
COFFEY: There are a number of different remedies. We're not prepared to, at
this point, limit the selection. Obviously, one of them could be an election;
there are other remedies as well. Based upon a sufficiently conclusive showing,
the judge might have different options. We're not going to comment more specifically
on remedies, but it's important to emphasize there are more than one. And one
of those possibilities is a new election in Palm Beach County.
QUESTION: How many lawsuits filed so far? How many are federal, how many are
state? Who are the plaintiffs?
DALEY: I have no idea what suits have been filed.
No, we have not--the campaign has not filed anything. As I said in my statement,
we are going to support legal actions. I've seen reported by some of your colleagues
in other publications that some suits have been filed, but I don't know if they're
in state or federal court.
QUESTION: Will Vice President Gore concede this election if the results--the
recount results--still show he's losing, or is he going to wait for the end
of the legal process...
DALEY: I think we will wait until the end of the process that shows who clearly
won the election in Florida. And that will show that Al Gore did, if it's based
upon a real count.
DALEY: A hand-count of the ballot, I'm not quite sure how long it takes. My
impression from people is that it's fairly quick. Maybe Mr. Coffey can comment,
based on past experience. But I don't think it's a great delay. We're trying
to expedite this process.
QUESTION: Why do you want a hand-count in south Florida?
DALEY: The official in the two counties--or, the four counties that remain,
they thought there was enough evidence of reason for a hand-count to make sure
that the most accurate count is given to the public. And therefore this election,
which is the closest election in this state--I would assume, one of the closest--plus
DALEY: Well, there are different remedies for different irregularities that
may have taken place. That's one issue, on the 20,000, then there are issues
in these specific counties beyond those 20,000 that should not be ignored.
DALEY: Pardon me?
QUESTION: Does that build your case for calling...
DALEY: Well, I think that another election, as Mr. Coffey has stated, are
remedies that will be looked at by the courts further down the road.
QUESTION: Mr. Daley, but you said that you're going to wait until the end
of the process. Does that mean that you're going to be asking the state of Florida
not to announce the recount today, or that you encourage them to wait until
the legal battle plays out?
DALEY: Well, obviously it would be a--if someone was to announce an official
vote when the process isn't over--there are still, as I understand it, again
not an expert in Florida, absentee--overseas absentee ballots that can be received
up until next Friday. And with a vote that's now within 800 votes, a spread
of 800 votes or less between the two candidates, it would seem hard to me that--anybody
can call something a certification when it's not obviously a finality in the
DALEY: I have no idea. I have no idea how many are out there.
QUESTION: How do you respond to the contention of Florida Governor Bush and
other Republicans that there was plenty of time to say something about these
Palm Beach County ballots the way they were constructed? They were approved
by Democrats and Republicans.
DALEY: Yes, but as was stated, that should not negate the right of the voters
when they go to the poll. A party official of either party doesn't have the
right to disenfranchise thousands and thousands of voters in a county in Florida.
I don't think anyone would believe that.
And there is some question as to the exact comparison between the sample ballot
that was published and the actual ballot and the look of the actual ballot that
people went into the polling place and used.
QUESTION: Isn't the role of election judges or poll workers to help people
if they're confused or have a question about a ballot? And have you looked into
whether or not people were being helped to fill these out correctly? How did
this get to be so widespread?
DALEY: Well, even the county officials in the middle of the day had realized
that there was terrible confusion going on and had to put out a statement to
the election workers because of this confusion.
Obviously, election workers are well-taxed and strained on Election Day, especially
with the tremendous turnout that was going on.
But there's no question, looking at the numbers of the results, that the confusion
was massive in Palm Beach County.
QUESTION: Will you be meeting with the Bush people? Do you think there's such
a possibility? When will that occur?
DALEY: Yes. Sometime today. Where you can't find out, hopefully.
QUESTION: Are you saying the results of the recount should not be announced
by state officials today? And that the campaign is going to be taking legal
action to prevent...
DALEY: Secretary Christopher and I will meet with the secretary of state today.
But what we're saying is that any thought that a number that someone could come
up with today is the final number is probably not realistic.
DALEY: Well, first of all, it's not going to be a final count, because you've
got absentee ballots, as I understand it, overseas absentee ballots that can
be accepted up until next Thursday.
DALEY: We're not talking about the integrity of this recount or the accuracy
of this number that may be put out, but that's not the final number, and that
surely does not reflect the will of the people in Florida when they went to
the polls on Tuesday.
DALEY: No. I was watching CNN and sometimes I believe them and sometimes I
DALEY: Am I confident of what?
QUESTION: The recount process?
DALEY: Yes, well this count that's going on right now, we're confident that
it's moving along. And I guess will be finished sometime today.
DALEY: I guess that remains to be seen as we move forward.
DALEY: My understanding and if I speak--if I'm not accurate, Mr. Coffey will
correct me. My understanding is the recount is the actual putting the ballots
back through the machine and counting them again. And that is what will be brought
to completion today.
COFFEY: What has happened in a number of places, the machine recount in some
counties where we've had absolutely disastrous statistical aberrations, such
as Volusia, without a hand--without a manual recount, the voters of Florida
are not going to know what the truth is. So obviously, there is a necessity
for a manual recount. That has not been done so far. They have done, in effect,
a machine recount.
QUESTION: Who decides if there is a manual recount? What is the process of
deciding if there's a manual recount?
COFFEY: Typically, that decision is made by the canvassing board in the specific
Now today, even though it had been requested from the beginning that a very
thorough, meticulous process that included manual recounts be done, the guidance
that the supervisors have received from the secretary of state's office has
been to specify only machine counts. But ultimately, that decision is supposed
to be made by the individual canvassing board in each of Florida's 67 counties.
COFFEY: That ballot was completely illegal. It confused voters. It led to
an unprecedented number of voters, many of whom are elderly, who waited for
hours, who had their votes disqualified because it was very hard looking at
it to figure out exactly what to do. The law requires, not that you mix and
match and overlap different candidates on either side, which was done with a
butterfly ballot; what the law requires is a simple linear listing so that the
boxes are punched in the same order and you don't have this massive confusion.
You had 3,400 votes for Buchanan in Palm Beach. In Dade County, which is much
bigger, 561. In Broward, 789. Those numbers cry out for justice and for getting
to the bottom and getting to the truth.
COFFEY: Well, first of all, typically, supervisors of elections follow the
law, as they did in 66 other counties. And, frankly, the reality of this kind
of mistake resulting in, as the secretary said, 20,000 voters being disenfranchised
in an election where right now there is an 800-vote difference, has simply not
arisen before. Obviously, nothing about this matter is precedented.
CHRISTOPHER: Well, he asked for the meeting and so we'll hear him out and
try to see if there's some way we that we can cooperate with them, but I must
say the cooperation cannot extend to the point of our giving up justified legal
challenges that are absolutely necessary to ensure the fairness of the process.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) What kind of timeframe do you give this? And what number
DALEY: Oh, it's not what number is acceptable. The process has got to be completed.
As I stated, and as Governor Jeb Bush said, this is the first step, this recount,
and then there's the absentee ballots that will come in. And we're raising some
very serious questions and legal actions will be taken. We do not want any delay
either, but we want the American people's will, and that is the election of
a president who has the most votes in our country, to take place, and the majority
of the Electoral College, obviously.
DALEY: I try not to do hypotheticals.
DALEY: Let's wait and see what happens with all the votes today and the absentees
QUESTION: Can you give us a sense as to what the vice president is doing to
keep track of this? What are his plans for the next couple of days, if it's
clear the legal process is going to stretch out for a while?
DALEY: I believe he and Tipper are still in Nashville, taking it easy with
their family. He is obviously following this development. He has a day job also
as vice president that he's doing. And so he's very busy, as he always is.
QUESTION: You're centering on Florida because it's the key right now. But
have you received reports from other states? And would you consider looking
at other states, in terms of irregularities in the election process?
DALEY: I personally have not heard of any as egregious as seems to have occurred
on Election Day here. Yes, sir?
QUESTION: Mr. Baker has said that the presidency is on hold, and because of
that, it's affecting the interests of America, especially internationally. I
wonder if Mr. Christopher can...
DALEY: Let me, and then I will ask Chris.
I think that's unfortunate to be said. The presidency is not on hold. Our
system obviously has an election on the first Tuesday after the second Monday,
our electors do not meet until sometime late in December, and the inauguration
is not until January. So the transition of power of our government is over three
months, and that will take place.
And so any implication that somehow there is a crisis or some difficulty,
I think is unfortunate and is clearly a disservice to the American people.
CHRISTOPHER: That's really a very self-serving myth. I've had the ill-fortune
to serve in administrations after losing an election, as well as after winning
an election. Let me assure you that the presidency goes on until January 20
in a vigorous way, and none of our allies are in any doubt as to who's in charge
of the government until January 20. There will be a new president then, but
STAFF: Thank you.