The latest chapter in the battle for Florida's 25 electoral votes saw a Florida judge's rejection on Tuesday of efforts to extend the 5 p.m. ET deadline for counties to turn in their vote tallies.
Florida's secretary of state, Katherine Harris, now has the power to accept or ignore any vote counts turned in late. Harris has indicated that all election results — aside from overseas ballots — would be final as of Tuesday night.
Also: If George W. Bush ends up defeating Al Gore, will people accept the electoral vote over the popular vote to decide the presidency? And how will members of the Electoral College respond to the chaos of the presidential election when they gather? Former Senator David Pryor joined us today in an online chat to discuss the ongoing Florida vote battle and this year's election. The chat transcript is below.
Moderator at 8:13pm ET
Read more about the role Congress may play in picking the president.
Moderator at 3:05pm ET
Welcome David Pryor!
David Pryor at 3:07pm ET
Moderator at 3:07pm ET
Mr. Pryor let's start our discussion with the latest news in the ongoing vote battle for Florida. A deadline has passed for counties to justify recounts. A judge has decided to hold a hearing to determine whether a re-vote should be permitted in Palm Beach County and in Broward County, officials have decided to conduct a full manual recount. In regard to recounts, Judy asks:
Judy at 3:08pm ET
Since the Palm Beach County ballot has already been determined to be "legal", how can that still be an issue brought before a judge?
David Pryor at 3:10pm ET
To tell you the truth, the ground is moving beneath us so rapidly, it's hard to know. I don't know right now if this is a state or federal case. As we all know after this eight day civics lesson, this is historically a state issue; it's rare for the federal courts to become involved in a matter like this. I don't know whether state or federal courts are making any determinations at this point.
If there's one thing that has come from all this, it is that we have all had a good civics lesson in our country, and for the first time we're talking about the electoral college, federal versus state in jurisdiction, the basic foundation of the voting apparatus and procedure. There may be a lot of ugly parts about the aftermath of this election, but that's one part that's going to serve us well.
Andrew Davis at 3:12pm ET
Senator Pryor, why is it that America's voting system is such that all citizens are not automatically registered to vote?
David Pryor at 3:16pm ET
Our system has never automatically registered people. This may be because if we registered everyone, at birth, or at the age of eighteen, we wouldn't know their residence nor their mental capacities, nor their capacities as a citizen, whether or not they were convicted felons. I just don't think we're quite ready to automatically register all citizens to vote. I have heard an interesting concept recently; a sort of a three strikes and you're out scenario. If you don't vote at least once for three elections in a row, you're disqualified from voting for a period or time, say five years, or perhaps even permanently. "Use it or lose it!" Something like that might make people angry enough to say "I'll show 'em, I'll just go out and vote."