Chat Transcript: Former Senator David Pryor (Nov. 15, 2000)

Also consider the amendment that lowered the voting age to 18. I've heard the 18-21 year olds don't vote — threatening to take their votes away might get them out to vote. I certainly don't advocate these kinds of Draconian measures. But there are some who feel that even to discuss these things will increase interest in our voting procedures. Those are just two ideas I've heard. Another thing may come out of this; people may see that at long last their vote does indeed count. This may be a positive that comes out of all this.

Brady Owens from emich.edu at 3:17pm ET

Given that the Palm Beach "butterfly" ballot was designed by a Democrat, approved by both parties, and sent to the homes of area voters, how is there any legal leg to stand on?

David Pryor at 3:20pm ET

Oh, I don't think the butterfly ballot right now is in the area of legality, I think it's in the area of does it work or does it not. It doesn't work, obviously, because too many people were confused by it. I saw a better one that was printed Saturday or Sunday in the Times that two young women in an advertising firm had drawn up; it was clear and concise. It made me wish there was a standardized ballot.

If we can put a man on the moon, and do all we can do with computers, it appears to me that we could have a national computer system that would gather votes. There's no reason that a vote could not be fed into a computer and be announced when the polls close.

We're looking at a major overhaul of the electoral system. I think you're going to see Congressional hearings on not only the type of ballot that was used on this election day, but also the role that the tv networks played on election night in announcing winners and losers in certain states prematurely.

You saw some of the television stations across America, because the fairness doctrine has been repealed, openly endorsing particular candidates; as happened in Pittsburgh. Our ABC affiliate did it in Little Rock. They not only made a statement, they repeated it over the course of two or three days.

Navin Itwaru at 3:22pm ET

Do all of these recounts really matter? I thought it was the electoral votes that determined who becomes President, not the popular votes.

David Pryor at 3:23pm ET

The popular vote determines, in Florida, where the electors will vote, so that's why they're fighting over 300 votes in Florida, because whoever wins that, that determines who's going to be our next President.

John P at 3:24pm ET

Mr. Pryor, wouldn't the country be better off if both candidates agreed to recount the entire state of Florida and then add the electoral votes? I am a Gore supporter, but it would be illegitimate and unfair for him to win Florida by having only Democratic counties manually recounted.

David Pryor at 3:26pm ET

I don't know who would get the best count. There are a lot of people that ought to be saying they don't know right now; no one really does know. I think we ought to look into abolishing the Electoral College. When I was in the Senate, I introduced just such a proposal 1989, but I didn't get very far.

B.J. from proxy.aol.com at 3:26pm ET

Do you feel that voters have any responsibility to know and understand what they are doing prior to going to vote?

David Pryor at 3:28pm ET

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