This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Ms. Gunzberger opens her interview by recounting her Election Day from 2000 on page 1, and
talks about the Broward County election supervisor, Jane Carroll, on page 2. On page 3, she
discusses the issues of hand-recounts, touchscreen voting equipment, and overvotes with
reference to her experience in the 2000 election.
Starting on page 4, Ms. Gunzberger details the process of the hand-recount that Broward County
was ordered to undergo. This continues through page 9, with specific reference to undervotes
(page 5), the butterfly ballot (page 6), partisanship (page 7) and anomalies in the ballots (page 9).
On page 9-11, Ms. Gunzberger relates her interaction with the Republican and Democratic
parties during the recount. Pages 12-13 also contain some details on this issue with regard to the
replacing of election supervisor mid-way through the recounting process. Page 14 treats how the
Broward office worked on Thanksgiving to meet a court-mandated deadline for resubmitting
Ms. Gunzberger discusses the personal harassment she suffered on pages 11-12, and talks about
more generally the experience of being under public scrutiny on page 15. She also shares her
thoughts on media coverage and voting discrimination (page 16), felons and absentee ballots
(page 17), overseas ballots (page 18), Gore's strategy (page 19). Pages 19-20 contain her
opinion of the conduct of Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush during the days when the election was
Pages 20-25 treat Ms. Gunzberger's impressions as the election outcome see-sawed on the basis
of various court decisions leading up to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision (see page 24 in
particular). She speaks briefly on the proposed Florida Election Reform Act on page 25, the
importance of voting (page 26) and concludes her interview on page 27.
Interviewee: Sue Gunzburger
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: December 19, 2001
P: This is Julian Pleasants and I am in Broward County. It is December 19, 2001,
and I am with Commissioner Sue Gunzburger. Give me some idea of what
Election Day was like for you.
G: It was the longest day of my life, because I was on the canvassing board. I
started with a commission meeting at 10:00 [a.m.] and by 7:00 [p.m.] I had to be
at the warehouse to start supervising the counting of all the ballots. Usually on
an election that large, it is finished by 2:00 in the morning. We finished at around
7:00 in the morning, knew that there was less than [a] one percent margin of
difference and that we would have to have a recount. We had to be back at the
warehouse by about 1:00 p.m., I believe.
P: Did you have any idea at that point what an extraordinary event this was going to
G: No, I just thought it would be a routine recount and that would be the end of it.
P: If you would, for the record, state your political affiliation and how long you have
been a commissioner.
G: I am a Democrat. I have been a county commissioner now for nine years, at that
time it was eight years. Prior to that, I had been a Hollywood city commissioner
for ten years.
P: Once you get the notification that the statewide election is one-half of one
percent, which triggers an automatic recount, what did you do, precisely, under
G: We sent all the ballots through the machines again and had a recount, as the law
P: I am sure you are aware that something like forty-two counties did not recount
the ballots, merely tallied the totals of each machine, which by my understanding,
is not what the law requires.
G: We did what the law required.
P: At this point, there was some talk about missing ballots.
G: That was fallacious. There were never any missing ballots. There were ballots
that came in later because of some transportation problem, but the ballots that
were so-called missing never were.
P: They just showed up a little bit later.
P: Do you think that Jane Carroll, who is the election supervisor for Broward
County, was prepared for the tremendous number of voters that turned out?
G: I do not think that certain precincts were adequately staffed and in that [respect]
she was not prepared. Especially in the southwest where they had hundreds of
thousands of voters in a precinct that people were in line for two and three and
P: The argument was that she should have divided up those precincts.
G: Prior to the election, yes. They will be [for the next election]. At that time we had
six hundred precincts, we are now going to have eight hundred precincts. This is
in less than two years, which tells you that [we] needed at least seven hundred
P: What do you think about her leaving the canvassing board? Would you explain
to me what happened and when she did that? She was out of town during part of
G: The election was on Tuesday, the recount was on Wednesday. On Thursday
she had left town and gone to her home in North Carolina, which is a second
home, not her primary residence. [She] had anticipated this. I believe it was not
because of [the problems], but she figured she had worked hard and she wanted
to take a long weekend off or a week off. As a constitutional officer, she can take
off whatever time she wants whenever she wants.
P: Plus, she was retiring, I believe.
G: She did retire, she was not running again. Her term was up in January. When all
of the ensuing events happened, especially the hearing on whether to hold a
hand-recount, she had to participate by telephone from North Carolina on Friday
P: Was that a problem?
P: At what point did she return?
G: Well, we set the hand recount based on how fast she could get back to Broward
from North Carolina. Therefore, we did not start the hand recount, after we had
voted to do so, until Monday afternoon at around 2:00 [p.m.], I think.
P: One of the issues always is the law itself. The argument was that you could not
have a hand recount unless there was an error in vote tabulation.
G: Between the original vote and the automatic recount, they were not the same, so
we already knew there was an error in tabulation. We had met the legal
definition of the reason to have a hand recount.
P: You had approximately 588,000 votes that had to be counted, is that correct?
G: I guess. It is a year later. It is a real possible number.
P: You have in the past, as I understand, always favored hand recounts as a more
accurate way of determining the correct vote.
G: Yes, and I am disturbed now that we are going to touchscreen voting. At this
point it has not been certified that the voters will be given a printed ballot of what
they voted for on the touchscreen that would then be deposited in the ballot box,
so that if we needed a recount, we could have an accurate hand recount again.
Instead, we will have to rely on mechanisms within the touchscreen system itself,
which I think are not [dependable in] that they are able to be tampered with.
P: Did you favor the touchscreen system?
G: I favored touchscreen over Opti-Scan because it was more ADA-[Americans with
Disabilities Act]-compatible. Those were my two choices.
P: Is there is a fail-safe mechanism, so that if someone casts an over-vote, the
machine will notify them of that?
G: They cannot and we sure had a lot of over-votes.
P: Yes, that is why I brought that up. Now, when you are going to determine a hand
count, the challenger Al Gore [unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate,
2000; U.S. Vice-President, 1993-2001] selects one percent of the precincts to be
counted. The precincts he selected as you know, were Precinct 6-C, which is
Sanders Park Elementary School, which was a strong African-American precinct
and the other two were very strong Jewish precincts; each of these three gave
Gore huge majorities. That was the basis of the choice. They have the right to
choose any three precincts. You did not have to add to that. Those precincts
made one percent, right?
G: Yes. We did not add, we only took the precincts that the challengers presented
to us. We had three different people asking to have hand recounts. The vote
was only to do it in the Gore-Bush [George W. Bush, U.S. President, 2001-
present; Texas governor, 1995-2001] race. It was turned down in the
congressional race and it was turned down in the property appraiser's race.
P: When you went through these votes, as I recall, the difference was about six
votes, is that correct?
G: Six and one the other way, so it made it a five-vote difference.
P: The question was, is that enough for a hand recount?
G: If you extrapolate it through to the entire county and the number of precincts, it
certainly could have been. Ultimately, we found 587 votes more for Gore than he
had previously. The margin of victory for Bush was under 1,000, so it was a
significant difference by doing the hand recount.
P: In the initial vote, was Judge Robert W. Lee [Judge, Broward County Circuit
Court; member, Broward County canvassing board] opposed?
G: Judge Lee voted against the recount initially, after the five votes came forward.
That was on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, I am trying to remember the days,
whether it was Tuesday, I believe we went to court. There was a court challenge
from the Democratic party. Judge [John] Miller [Broward County Circuit judge]
ruled that we should proceed with the hand recount. We then had another
meeting Wednesday morning and a second vote was taken. This time Judge
Lee voted for the hand recount. It was a 2-1 vote this time in favor of it. The first
time it was 2-1 against it. I was the only one consistently for it. It was not the
first time I had voted in favor of a hand recount. Approximately five years before,
there had been a very close race in the city of Lauderhill or Lauderdale Lakes. It
was a three-vote victory. I had voted for a hand recount at that time. I lost 2-1
on that one. It is a consistent position of mine that I always like to give someone
the benefit of the doubt so that they feel comfortable either winning or losing.
P: Did Jane Carroll indicate why she opposed the hand recount?
G: She has never been for hand recounts. At least, I have never seen her vote for a
P: Even under these circumstances?
P: How well do you think your voting machines operated? How much error would
there have been due to machine failure?
G: I would say that there was one precinct [where] it was very evident that there was
machine failure, because most of the ballots from that precinct looked like a
Braille card on the reverse side.
P: They had been miscalibrated somehow?
G: Yes. None of them got into the proper hole, so that we knew that that precinct
had a problem, so their votes were never counted on the first go-around.
P: Could you count them at all?
G: It was real easy because they were right by. There is a big enough square that
you could see who they were voting for. They never got through the hole to
dislodge a chad. They were on top, they may have been on the bottom, but you
knew who the votes were for.
P: Those eventually were counted.
G: Yes, with the hand recount.
P: How many voters would you say voted incorrectly in terms of voter error as
opposed to machine error?
G: I wish I could give you a number. The number of people who voted for more than
one presidential candidate were in the hundreds.
P: You had a large number of under-votes as well.
G: Yes, under-votes. I had ballots that never made sense to me because I never
got to examine a presidential race where people went to the polls and voted for
no one. [They did] not just not [vote for] a president, because they could have
been disgusted in the [presidential] race, but they did not vote for anyone on the
entire ballot. Well, why bother showing up and standing in line? I came up with
theories, like the spouse says, you have got to vote. No, I do not want to. You
can take me there, but you will never know I am not voting. Or people in a
condominium, [who] go around with the "I voted" [stickers], so this person felt,
due to pressure among their peers, they had to. I do not know. I have no idea
why people would bother showing up and not voting for anyone.
P: Were you aware of what was going on in Palm Beach during this time?
G: At which point, are you asking?
P: At this point as you take the 2-1 vote to do a hand recount.
G: I was aware of the problems of the butterfly ballot. We all knew about that right
P: You had no such problem with your ballot design.
G: No, I just had a problem with voters that could not understand that you vote for
one person. I mean, I had people who voted for eight out of nine in the
P: In regard to these over-votes, and obviously you are going to be looking at a lot
of them, what would determine a correct vote? Let us just say somebody circled
Gore's name or wrote Gore's name in.
G: We had an absentee ballot where they circled, it was not Gore, it happened to
have been Bush, and wrote the word Bush. It was never counted by the
machine, but we counted it.
P: You did count that.
G: Absolutely. Voter intent is what the law said. In that case, it sure was evident
what voter intent was.
P: When you start your counting, how do you organize the process?
G: I was thinking from Tuesday night until Wednesday morning [about] where we
could [find] space [to] set up enough tables. We, as the canvassing board, only
got the ballots that were questionable. Those that were definitely Gore, definitely
Bush, we never saw those. Some were definitely third- and fourth-party
candidates. We never saw those ballots. They never came to the canvassing
P: You did have teams counting ballots.
G: We needed a place large enough with teams and all sorts of other stuff. We
ended up going to the emergency operations center that we use for hurricanes,
because it was a secure facility, it was huge, we had tables set up. I got there
early because we decided Wednesday morning [to set up there] and I rushed to
make sure there would be enough tables set up and there would be teams ready.
I did not have anything to do with the teams, but I was myself setting up tables,
because I saw it was an enormous undertaking and we thought we would have to
meet the original deadline, which we never did.
P: Is the elections supervisor responsible for that sort of thing?
G: Yes, but the county helped her and the county used its resources.
P: Who did the counting?
G: There were teams of people from the Democratic and Republican Part[ies] who
were observers. The counting was [done by] a whole bunch of employees and
all sorts of other such people.
P: Were there some volunteers in addition to regular employees?
G: An enormous amount of volunteers.
P: As you get started, they take all of the disputed ballots and give them to the
canvassing board. Then how did you determine the standard that you were
going to use?
G: We came up with a standard, which was [if] three corners [were disconnected,
we counted it] absolutely, and two corners if it was a swinging door we
considered it. We also looked at whether or not the top part of the entire ballot
had a problem. Now, I told you about a precinct where the entire ballot was a
problem, but there were several precincts where it looked like, and then I found
out later when I was watching TV after we were done, because of the rubber that
was used and overused, sometimes on the entire top of the ballot, and I did not
know what was causing it, none of them came through well.
P: There were punch-throughs on the bottom part. Would you look at the pattern of
votes as a factor?
G: We also did that too, although I felt it was unfair, because the other two members
would consider if they voted for Gore not real hard or Bush not real hard, then
they would look at the Senate choice to see if it was the Republican or Democrat
to match. But a lot of people do not vote straight-ticket. I did not feel that was a
fair standard, but that was what used by others, [but] not by myself.
P: Did you use the sunlight standard at all?
G: I would hold it up and look, but not everyone agreed. I did not win every vote.
P: It seems to me that from the statistics I have read, that you all actually agreed
something like eighty-three percent of the time, does that sound right?
P: Which is highly unusual, is it not?
G: Especially because one of us was always a Republican.
P: That shows, at least from the point of view of an outside observer, that you were
objectively trying to determine the intent of the voter.
G: We were trying to keep our standards and we were trying to be consistent. We
were trying to be as fair as possible and not to be partisan in making our
P: Of course, both sides are trying to persuade you to follow their standards The
Gore crowd wants a much more lenient standard. I remember Bush's
spokesman Ari Fleischer [White House spokesman, 2001-present, George W.
Bush campaign spokesman] said, the officials involved in the recount in Broward
County are succumbing to political pressure.
G: I never was approached by anyone from my party. I have a reputation for
integrity and I tried to maintain it throughout the process. For example, when I
told you about the one I remember being so patently clearly a Bush vote, that is
how we voted when it was absolutely clear what the voter intent was. The one
place where I think we failed some of the voters was that the Republicans made
an argument, when we were considering absentee ballots, that, because you
could do it in your home, etc., that they should all be punched through. I said
well, some of the people who were doing it from their home were quite frail and
maybe had a problem seeing or punching all the way through. I remembered I
had voted absentee, because [on] Election Day I did not know if I would get to
the polls. I voted on a machine like everyone else, so that the same standard
should have been there. I argued for it after we had done about one-fourth of the
absentees. You cannot change the standards for absentees because the
situations are sometimes absolutely the same.
P: So you did keep the same standard?
P: Were you in favor of counting dimples?
G: Not usually, no, unless it was a real push. We had some strange things. The
strangest thing of all was that we had some that the machine never would have
gotten. Unless you really knew what you were looking for, you would have never
know that the machine had a punched-out chad. It blew it back into the hole.
How did we know that? Because when you punched it to vote, it had a black
circle in the very middle. Only when it was blown back in this way because it
could have happened other times as well, the black circle was on the other side.
P: So you knew it had been punched out.
G: Punched out. So then we found those. Those that the machine kept in the right
order, and [how] it happened, we will never know. Those at least, we caught
because that is what we figured had to have happened.
P: Was that a considerable number of votes?
G: No, but it was probably twenty votes. That is a real anomaly.
P: In this election, twenty votes could have made a difference.
G: I am sure nobody else told you about [that].
P: No, that is the first I have heard of it. What was the general strategy of the
Republicans during all of this counting?
G: The Republicans brought in an awful lot of people from very far away. They tried
to intimidate us. Each of us had a Republican and a Democrat [observing] each
member of the canvassing board. The three Republicans sat on one side and
the three Democrats sat on the other. They looked at each one of our ballots
and wrote down what we did and how we voted. The Republicans leased a hotel
near where we were canvassing. The Sunrise Hilton. They had a little bus that
ran back and forth. They had several sets of teams so that their teams never got
tired. We started at 8:00 in the morning, we went until 11:00 at night each and
every single day except for Thanksgiving. Which we worked, unlike Palm Beach,
until 5:30 [p.m.]. They would rotate their teams every five to six hours so that you
always had a well-rested team. I also found that the Republicans and Democrats
each had a special team that knew about military and overseas ballots. There
are people in this country whose specialty is that. I do not know if you knew that.
P: I do now.
G: It is something I learned. [They] came in to try to challenge ones that we were not
counting, especially the Republicans, because the military ballots generally are
Republican rather than Democrat.
P: There were, at least in the press and from the Democratic attorneys that I talked
to, Republican attorneys whose job was to do nothing more than delay the
process. Were you aware of that?
G: Yes. They came in a couple of times, they dragged us into court once during the
process and then we were going back and we were told to turn around. Judge
Lee found a way to keep the counting going while we were dragged into court
one time. He got so mad at Bill Scherer that he threw him out and told him he
could not come back in. We got it done, no matter how much they tried to delay,
we just pushed forward. We never stopped. We had a resolve to get the job
done and get it done within the time.
P: As you were counting, were they making comments? Were they threatening in
anyway? How did they respond? Let us just say you counted a disputed ballot
for Gore, would the Republicans protest?
G: They did not protest, they wrote it down. They did not delay us that way. They
talked to themselves. Look, we had all of the big Republicans sit at the table
while we were counting, pretending that they were interested. The ones that
ended up in the cabinet and those who hoped to end up in the cabinet, like Mark
Racicot [Montana governor, 1993-2001], Christine Todd Whitman [administrator
of the Environmental Protection Agency, 2001-present, New Jersey governor,
2994-2001], Bob Dole [unsuccessful Republican Presidential candidate, 1996;
U.S. Senator from Kansas, 1969-1996].
P: Frank Keating [Oklahoma governor, 1995-present].
G: I do not remember if he was there, but the governor of Michigan, John Engler
[1990-present]. A whole bunch of them. They would come up there and frankly
they were very sweet and nice to us. Then they would go down and then they
trashed us on TV when they were agreeing with everything we said.
P: I do remember one case that Engler was showed a vote and agreed with a vote,
went outside and said, they are miscounting.
G: So did Dole, Dole did the same darn thing. You know what? It meant nothing to
us. We discounted all the publicity. I think the hardest thing was getting used to
being in a fishbowl. When we were at the EOC [emergency operations center]
there was a huge plate-glass window about ten feet away from us where
everything we did was observed by the press and TV. We did not have one
minute of solitude. When we would eat our supper, take a twenty-minute break,
the TV cameras would be on us then. Talk about reality TV. One day I was so
tired of never seeing fresh air, I started to sneak out the back door to go out and
feel what daylight feels like and the darn press starts following me and peppering
me with questions, at which time I fled right back in, because we only let a certain
amount of press into the room where we were doing our canvassing.
P: Speaking of eating, there were charges that people were eating chads, that there
were chads all over the floor.
G: So what? Chads that fell off, if they had, meant that they should have been
counted anyhow. It meant that they had three corners loose and by picking them
up the forth corner came loose. [That] meant that it was a real vote. And who
says it was a presidential chad? Who says it was not for any other race? There
were like thirty races on the ballot, so chads could have come off from any race.
P: The Democrats also had people there as well.
P: Jerry Nadler [U.S. Representative from New York, 1992-present] of New York
and some others.
G: There were a few.
P: Not as many.
P: Was Jesse Jackson [civil rights leader; activist; unsuccessful candidate for
Democratic presidential nomination, 1984, 1988] ever in Broward County?
P: I think you referred to some of these people as spin-meisters at one point.
G: Yes, that is what they were.
P: What was your reaction to the fact that they were there? Were you aware of how
much impact all of these negative comments were having on the entire race?
G: I was not aware of the impact. I was aware of what was going on.
P: You knew they were making those statements.
G: I have a spouse, I have a son, both of whom kept me informed what was going
on in the outside world. In fact, I have a son who is very politically astute. When
I started getting death threats on the Internet, he was the one who called the FBI
[Federal Bureau of Investigation] even because of some stuff that went up on
Lucy Goldberg's [New York literary agent, involved in Bill Clinton-Monica
Lewinsky scandal] [web]site.
P: Who is that?
G: Do you remember Monica Lewinsky [White House intern who had affair with
President Bill Clinton, causing scandal]? [Goldberg] is the one who got her friend
to spill all, Linda Tripp [Pentagon employee who secretly recorded conversations
with Monica Lewinsky during scandal]. She had suggested that I should be
taken out. Or one of the people wrote into her [web]site that I should be taken
out. My son made sure that came down right away. Matt Drudge [administrator
of Internet news site] made me the villain of the week for a whole week. When it
was all over, it was not funny, because it is okay to go after me, I know that is
part of the territory, but they listed the last name of my married daughter and
where she lived and that there were grandchildren.
P: This was Matt Drudge who listed that information?
G: Yes, and that upset me more than anything else during the entire counting, if you
want to know what upset me. Attack me, do not attack my family. Thank God he
just said Long Island and it is a common name. But that was very, very
upsetting. When it was over, I had 45,000 hateful e-mails at my office. I asked
my administrative assistant to erase them before I came in. I did not want to see
them. I had gone through enough. It had gotten so bad that both judges and
myself ended up with 24 [hour a day]-7 [days a week] police protection.
P: That is the next thing I was going to ask you. Everywhere you went, you had
G: I had two sheriff's deputies with me from the day before Thanksgiving until it
ended. It had gotten very bad in terms of threats.
P: Did other people get similar threats? Did Judge Lee receive threats?
G: Yes. I do not think Judge Robert Rosenberg [Circuit Court judge, appointed
during recount to take Jane Carroll's place on the Broward County canvassing
board] did, but I do not know.
P: Let me ask you about that. At some point, Jane Carroll quits the canvassing
board. I do not know what the correct term would be.
G: She had a vacation planned. She was taking a cruise with her family. She
claimed for health reasons she could not stay. That was on Monday prior to
Thanksgiving, I think. I know on Tuesday we had a new chair. I was appointed
to continue and finish the canvassing board. On Monday I was looking for
another commissioner to come on and take Jane's place.
P: They were all Democrats.
G: Yes. They also, for various reasons, could not or would not. Then I had to ask
the chief [circuit court] judge Dale Ross to appoint someone instead and he
appointed Judge Rosenberg.
P: Rosenberg was not appointed by Judge Lee?
G: No, by Chief Judge Dale Ross.
P: Okay, and he is a Republican.
G: As is Judge Rosenberg.
P: How did you respond to election supervisor Carroll leaving? Some people in the
press said that she had abandoned her post.
G: I do not think it was my place to respond or to make a judgement. That was her
decision. I would have preferred Jane to stay. I much would have preferred
Jane to stay. She did not delay things at all. Judge Rosenberg had a tendency
to delay the proceedings as we went through it. He was very slow, very
deliberate. I thought [he was] exceedingly slow, hoping not to finish the job on
time. At lunchtime, all of us would sit together and have lunch and he would go
off with operatives from the Republican party.
P: [He] would not talk to the other members of the canvassing board?
G: He did during other times, but at lunch, when we would socialize, he would go off
with someone else.
P: I would like to clarify something. Do you have the sense that he was deliberately
holding up the process so that you would not complete the count on time?
G: I had the feeling that he was trying to slow the process down, perhaps so we
would not finish it on time.
P: When you were trying to determine the hand recount, as I understand it, there
was a request by the election supervisor to the Secretary of State's office as to
whether or not you could proceed. Then you get an opinion from Clay Roberts
[director, Florida Division of Elections] that says you cannot and an opinion from
Bob Butterworth [Attorney General of Florida, 1986-present] saying that you can.
G: That is part of what helped us on Wednesday morning. I think that letter from
Attorney General Butterworth helped turned Judge Lee's feelings around. I think
that made a significant difference.
P: My understanding, having talked with the people from Palm Beach, when they
applied for an advisory opinion, it was the chairman who applied, Judge Charles
Burton [Judge, County Court, Palm Beach County; chairman, Palm Beach
County canvassing board]. [Since] that was the case, the opinion is binding.
They were forced to accept that opinion, not Butterworth's opinion. Whereas, in
[your] case, since it was applied for by the election supervisor, you were not
bound by Robert's opinion. By law, and this was even on Attorney General
Butterworth's website, the decision should be made by the Secretary of State,
who supervises elections, not the Attorney General.
G: Well, we did what we did. Ultimately, as I have said before, the election was
decided by one vote, 5-4 on the [U.S.] Supreme Court.
P: As you go through this process, you are going to make a very different decision
than Palm Beach does, you decide you are going to work on Thanksgiving.
G: We worked even before we had a decision from the state Supreme Court. We
kept working through then. We never stopped for one day. We started
Wednesday afternoon and we continued through until we finished, which was
Saturday night at around 1:00 in the morning.
P: That would have been November 25, is that right?
G: It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We did two things to make sure our
results would be there by Sunday. We flew it up and we faxed it up.
P: You also had some accountants to help make certain that your numbers were
correct. In Palm Beach, they literally had two different sets of numbers.
G: The Republicans had accountants and the Democrats had accountants. There
were three accountants working on the whole thing.
P: You were aware, at this point, that the court had ruled that the Secretary of State
could certify the votes either 5:00 p.m. on Sunday or 9:00 a.m. on Monday.
G: We did not trust her to take it to Monday, we were getting ours there on Sunday.
P: So you knew that was a distinct possibility.
G: Yes, and we were going to have our results there on time.
P: Do you think that working Thanksgiving extra time made the difference? Palm
Beach missed the deadline by two hours.
G: Yes, absolutely it did. We were able to have Thanksgiving dinner anyhow. We
quit at 5:00 or 5:30 and my family and I ate dinner. Every one of us had a
Thanksgiving dinner with our family that evening. There is not one of us that
missed out on Thanksgiving.
P: My impression is that you all were much better organized than Palm Beach
G: Could be. I cannot speak for Palm Beach County. I can speak for Broward and I
think we did an excellent job. Every one of us were diligent.
P: Talk about the physical and mental strain of being in the public eye and working
extremely long hours in the middle of a fishbowl.
G: That is what I said was the hardest, knowing that everything you did was under
the public eye, public scrutiny. You had to be very careful. I think I was in a
better position maybe than the judges. I am on TV every time we have a
commission meeting, I am used to that. I had been under public eye for eighteen
years. I am used to it to some degree. One thing I remembered was the fatigue.
I was exhausted. I found it very, very tiring. I also think because I had a feeling
that it was something so important, the most important service I could give to my
country, at least I thought so at the time. There were extra juices that flow in and
there is an energy there that you do not realize is untapped that is available when
you need it. That is what happened. I did not crack under the strain. The only
time I remembered cracking was when I was talking to my attorney who drove
me there every day and drove me home. He lives a few blocks from my house. I
remember saying, you know, you can go after me I remember crying that one
time in the car away from the public eye but you cannot attack my children.
You cannot attack my grandchildren.
P: Were you aware of what is going on, for example, in Miami-Dade, that they had
halted their count?
P: The argument has been that they were to some degree intimidated.
G: I felt they were intimidated. They had people banging on their doors.
P: You had none of that.
G: We were on the second floor of a building, the first time, where access was very
limited. You had to have credentials to get into the building to begin with.
P: Security was good.
G: Security was excellent. [The] sheriff's department was fabulous. When we
moved to a courthouse, again, we had excellent security. We were in a very
secure setting. There was never any intimidation at the counting site.
P: Were you aware of all the demonstrators carrying these "Sore Loserman"
[punning on "Gore-Lieberman"] kinds of signs?
G: Some of them came and sat and watched us toward the end because they
allowed fifty people in from the public to watch us at the end of the canvassing.
They had those shirts on. By that time, we were inured to what was going on.
We just felt we had a mission and we did it. Or at least I did. I could not care
what they had on. They could have come in in any form.
P: I was curious if you have read any of the books on the election, such as Jeffrey
Toobin's book Too Close to Call or any of those.
G: I have not read Jeffrey Toobin's. That is the latest one that came out. I had one
earlier but I cannot remember. It is sitting at home. I have sort of looked at it and
have not had the time to read it.
P: Do you think you were treated fairly by the press, both local and the national
G: I think they saw me differently than I see myself. Some of them saw me as very
partisan. I did not see myself that way. I thought I was being very fair in my
P: Obviously, in the very emotional political climate, every partisan will see the
opposition as partisan.
G: Right. I felt that besides the Internet sites I told you about, Fox TV was very
negative when it came to me as well and I felt it was unfair.
P: They are a more conservative network.
G: It is run by a cousin of Bush.
P: Did you know of specifically any discrimination against minorities or African-
Americans in Broward County?
P: What was your reaction to the Civil Rights Commission report where they
indicated, for example, in Leon County, there was a traffic stop by the Highway
G: That was beyond our area of expertise or anything that we had [anything] to do
with. The highest rate of voter error, even in Broward County, was in African-
American precincts. Whether their machines were worse than in others, I do not
know. Certainly with our new supervisor of elections they certainly will not be,
since she is African-American. Whether they had not been taught properly how
to vote, I do not know. Whether they just paid little attention to what they were
doing, I do not know.
P: There was a huge influx of first-time voters. It has been demonstrated in studies
that they often are not as efficient in voting as people who have voted before.
G: Right, I can get in and out very quickly, because I know what I am going to do.
P: In Broward County, there were 850 illegal ballots cast and a large portion of
these were cast by felons. Why do you think that was the case?
G: From what I learned when I went to the Civil Rights [Commission] hearing, the
lists that were purged were not accurately done. If you do not have an accurate
list to know who should not be voting, how do you know who should not and who
should be voting? I understand the firm that the Secretary of State hired was not
one that did a decent job. I think that is where the problem is.
P: Should felons be allowed to vote?
G: Not while they are in jail, not until their civil rights are restored, no.
P: But once their civil rights are restored, that is fine?
G: Yes, if you are supposed to be a producing citizen of this country, if you have
paid your debt to society, yes.
P: It is very difficult in the state, once you have paid your debt, to get your civil rights
restored. It is not as easy process.
G: I think it is something that should be corrected. What worries me is how many
non-citizens may have voted, which I will never know. I imagine the numbers of
non-citizens voting statewide is much greater than felons and nobody made a
study of that.
P: With maybe this exception, there was apparently not a lot of fraud in this state.
Would you agree with that?
G: Yes. I do not think there was fraud.
P: Did you have many absentee ballots?
G: Oh, yes. We had over 50,000.
P: When you look at those, are they any different from what you would see in a
G: Well, the appearance is the same in that it was the punch card. They had a
stylus that they had to use, which for some of the elderly is difficult. It is a small
thing to get through this little hole and it was a difficult thing. Next time they are
going to be using Opti-Scan, because with the absentees we cannot get voting
P: That is right. What about overseas ballots? Did you have a lot of those?
G: We had a few hundred, yes.
P: How did they count out? Were they mainly votes for Bush?
G: No. Surprisingly, there were a lot of overseas [votes] for Gore. It was the military
that was probably more for Bush. For the most part, our overseas ballots went to
Gore rather than to Bush, except for the military. We have a lot all over. There
are surprisingly a lot from Israel.
P: I knew that, yes. When you deal with these overseas ballots, they have to be
G: Yes and that is what drove me nuts. They were trying to say [that], even if the
postmark is after the fact, if they are the military, they should be counted. I
disagree. I feel that people who voted after the election ended wanted to change
the results and they had the benefit of knowing how it had been voted upon and
they should never be counted and we did not count them. There were some that
did not have a witness, there is no excuse for that. The are reasons [for] ignoring
[those rules] were crazy and we did not accept them.
[End of side Al]
G: Military ballots should be correct. One of the things you learn in the military is to
follow directions. There is no excuse for not having it postmarked on time. You
get the ballots long in advance. There is no excuse for not having a witness,
there are American citizens all over the place when you are in the military. There
is no excuse for not signing it. We had some we threw out because they did not
sign the ballot.
P: I thought it was very interesting that the Republicans, when talking of
certification, said, we had to have strict adherence to the law, the law says seven
days after the election. Secretary of State Katherine Harris [Florida Secretary of
State, 1998-present] is correct. However, when it came to military ballots, they
said, these are our soldiers, they must be allowed to vote. A good study both by
The Miami Herald and the New York Times indicated that in Okaloosa County
and other counties, those with high numbers of military personnel, that probably
over five hundred votes which were technically illegal were counted. Some
canvassing boards went back a second time after they had not counted them and
then counted them.
G: These were votes that were counted and should not [have been] and there were
votes that were not counted and should have been. I think this was the worst
election that I have ever seen.
P: Were you disturbed at all about the Gore strategy? They kept saying count every
vote, but then they were initially opposed to the military ballots.
G: Frankly, I think they should have originally asked [to] count [in] every county.
P: I talked to Dexter Douglass, who was one of the attorneys for Gore, and he
advised Gore to go directly from the protest to the contest where a judge would
have theoretically counted all the votes. Do you think their strategy was
mistaken at that point?
G: I felt that if you counted every county he would have won. I guess I am wrong
because, from what I heard, he lost. It depends they have ten different
outcomes, some he wins, most he loses. [If] you are telling me there are five
hundred military ballots that shouldn't have been counted, then he definitely won.
There is nothing we can do at this point. We have to live with Bush for the next
P: Would you assess the Secretary of State? Did you see her as being objective
G: Not at all. Not at all.
P: Could you give me some examples?
G: When she wanted to stop the count. When she did not want to extend the count.
She tried every which way to not have the rest of the votes counted. She
wanted Bush to be declared the winner. We had heard that she had been
promised an ambassadorship somewhere. That never materialized. She was
going to do everything [she could]. She was chair of the Bush campaign for the
state of Florida. There was nothing nonpartisan about Katherine Harris.
P: Of course, so was Bob Butterworth.
G: Yes, I understand.
P: What is the influence of Governor Jeb Bush [Florida governor, 1999-present] in
all of this? How do you assess his performance?
G: Jeb, I certainly think was in consultation with Katherine Harris and if it were my
brother, I would be too.
P: In his duties as governor, he did recuse himself from the elections board.
G: I do not think that there was anything that he did particularly wrong that we could
see. Overtly, there was nothing done not by the books.
P: One criticism of Katherine Harris was that she had Mac Stipanovich [chief of staff
for former Governor Bob Martinez] in her office. Stipanovich is a take-no-
prisoners, hardline-Republican strategist. A lot of people thought that that was
bad judgment. It made it appear as though she was being programmed by the
G: And? I mean, there was no doubt that they were telling her what her to do just as
when I saw Judge Rosenberg go off with Georgette Sosa Douglas [Broward
County registered voter, plaintiff in 2000 election lawsuit] every day for lunch.
P: When you look at the process, do you think it would be an improvement to have
all of these individuals be nonpartisan, such as election supervisors and the
Secretary of State? Of course, the office of Secretary of State will be gone in the
future. Particularly election supervisors, would it help if they were nonpartisan?
G: It would if they would be truly nonpartisan. I ran nonpartisan for ten years in the
city of Hollywood. Let me tell you, everyone knew that I was a Democrat and
everyone knew if there was a Republican on the ballot whether it said so or not. I
think it is very hard to get away from a partisan position, even if it is called
nonpartisan. It does not pay in this state to be an NPA, nonpartisan, because
you lose out if your county is primarily one party or the other, you do not get to
choose your party's candidate, ultimately the victor.
P: Let me ask you about a couple of court decisions. The first Florida Supreme
Court, 7-0 decision stated that Palm Beach and Broward County could continue
the hand count. They came up with the date of Sunday, November 26. That was
the new deadline.
G: That was the one we met.
P: Do you knew why that date was picked?
P: The argument from the Democrat lawyers is that they stated that Katherine
Harris had held up the process and they figured she had held it up for five days,
so they added five days to the count. The problem was they never explained
that, so ultimately the United States Supreme Court is going to look at the
change of that date as a change of law. Did you see it that way or did you see
them as merely interpreting the statutes?
G: I saw them as interpreting the statute. I remember it happened during our supper
hour. I remember how relieved I was because we had been counting past the
deadline and I did not want it to be for nothing. I remember my attorney had very
mixed feelings because he was supposed to go and spend Thanksgiving with his
family in Kansas City. When it happened, I was thrilled and he said, oh heck.
P: There were a lot of people who had very strong reactions, I guess.
G: He stayed through the whole thing.
P: Let me ask your opinion on something that does not directly affect Broward
County. There were two circumstances, one in Seminole, one in Martin County
where the elections supervisors allowed Republicans to come in and put in voter
G: Yes, I thought that was absolutely wrong. Republicans did all sorts of illegal
maneuvers and they got away with it. Democrats did none and we lost.
P: There has been the argument that Gore was too concerned with public relations,
too concerned with how he was perceived in Washington. The Republicans were
playing hardball, their objective was to win the election.
G: And they did. We did not.
P: Also, the argument is that the Republicans won the public-relations battle and
that they were better organized.
G: They sure were. I never saw so much money. When I told you that they got a
hotel, they had people fly in from all over at their own expense to stay there and
work the campaign, and they were so programmed. It was unbelievable. You
looked at these people, you saw how well-dressed they were. You understood
what was behind them, and then you looked at the Democrats. What was it that
Will Rogers [humorist, actor] said?
P: I am not a member of an organized party, I am a Democrat.
G: That is right and it made me think of Will Rogers. I mean, they were not as well-
dressed, they were not organized. We had guys sitting there from 8:00 in the
morning to 11:00 at night with us. Not well-rested people changing every [few
P: It is also interesting to note that immediately after the election, the next day, they
had people organized. They were already starting to prepare themselves,
whereas the Democrats took three or four days to realize the seriousness of all of
these issues and get involved. There is one other issue that did not affect you
directly, but I would like to get your reaction. The Florida House of
Representatives, as the vote goes on, fears that the Florida electoral vote will not
be counted. They vote 79-41 in the House along party lines to seat the Bush
electors. What was your reaction to Tom Feeney [Florida state representative,
1990-1994, 1996-present; speaker of Florida House of Representatives, 2001-
G: Sheer disgust.
P: Why do you think they did that?
G: Because they are Republicans, because they wanted to win at any cost, because
this is what the party suggested that they do in case they lost.
P: It was a little bit premature because the Florida Senate never voted. I can
remember John McKay [Florida state senator, 1990-present] saying, we will set a
very dangerous precedent if we do this.
G: John McKay has been the most temperate of leaders, even to this day. There is
such a contrast between him and Tom Feeney.
P: Let's talk about Judge Sanders Sauls. Judge Sauls is going to have all the votes
brought up to Tallahassee. What was your reaction to that when all of a sudden
all of these votes had to go? Were you encouraged because you thought he
might count them?
G: I was very wary, I did not know what he was going to do.
P: Ultimately he rules that Gore has no appeal because number one, he did not
create a probability that the votes would change and secondly, that the elections
canvassing boards did not violate their discretion. Did you agree with Judge
G: No, I thought we had the discretion. I thought we were following the law as it
came down from the Florida Supreme Court.
P: You did not abuse that discretion at all. He now sends it back to the Florida
Supreme Court. Florida Supreme Court at this point votes 4-3.
G: To reaffirm their decision.
P: Yes, and the vote-counting now will continue. Your reaction to that?
P: Did you think at that point, as did some Democrats, that now Gore was going to
G: I hoped that Gore was going to win.
P: Were you surprised at the closeness of the vote? There was this argument that
the Florida Supreme Court was a Democrat court.
G: I already was getting nervous. The time that I knew it was over, it was not the
second vote of the U.S. Supreme Court, it was the first vote, when they stopped
the counting. I knew it was over. I sat there and I was just beside myself. I
could feel the tears coming down my eyes. I thought all this work, all this effort,
all this time, all for nothing.
P: Did you feel at that point that the U.S. Supreme Court had denied the voters their
rights as citizens?
G: I felt that every vote did not count. Only some votes counted.
P: When Justice Antonin Scalia [U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1986-present] literally
stopped the count and remanded it back to the Florida Supreme Court, you knew
at that point that it was over?
P: Of course, you all had already completed your count.
G: Our counts counted anyhow, but it was the rest of the state.
P: Do you have any idea why in the 4-3 decision the Florida Supreme Court just
asked for under-votes? Why would they not ask for all the votes to be counted?
G: Because the under-votes were where the extra votes were, under-votes would
have been the dimples, the chads, the two corners hanging. Over-votes, you
were not going to get. I never gave an over-vote. Not one.
P: Not a single one?
G: No, none of us would. When you vote for more than one person for president,
how would I know which one is your choice?
P: In other counties it might be different.
G: There were several who voted for whoever was number three and number four.
It was not [Pat] Buchanan [unsuccessful presidential candidate, 1992, 1996,
2000]. It was either Gore or Bush and some other name that sounded so
American that they may have thought they were voting for a president and vice-
president. That was my feeling, but I could not make that assumption. We did
not count one over-vote.
P: There were a lot of weird combinations. Some people voted for Bush and Ralph
Nader [Green Party Presidential Candidate, 2000]. There was no way to tell.
G: There was Gore and a name like Lewinsky or something, that they were being
funny. There were a lot of weird votes. Nonetheless, we never counted an over-
vote. Not one.
P: In some counties, such as Union County, which has paper ballots, sometimes
people would actually circle the name and write Gore in or write Bush in.
G: That we would count. That is not an over-vote. An over-vote is if you vote for
more than one candidate.
P: Technically, they did over-vote, by writing in a name, although it was the same
G: There were probably over-votes that we counted. We had some absentee
ballots where they scotch-taped in a chad and punched out another one. That
was technically an over-vote, but the machine had already counted it anyhow
because the machine did not see the scotch tape, it only saw the one hole. That
was one that was sent to us.
P: I think I know where you stand, but I would like to get a little bit more commentary
on the 5-4 decision.
G: It was strictly along partisan lines.
P: Some people were very upset about it. Vincent Bugliosi [attorney; author] said
the justices were criminals. Alan Dershowitz [lawyer; professor; author] said it
was the most egregious error in Supreme Court history.
G: Supreme Courts, I think all of us had held [the Supreme Courts] in a special
place of honor in this country. I really looked at them, because they were lifetime
appointments, as a place above politics. My opinion, along with I think many
people in this country, changed with their votes on this issue.
P: Is that still true?
G: Yes. I am terribly disturbed that they are not truly nonpartisan. You talked about
nonpartisan supervisors. They do not look at what is really, truly proper. What I
had hoped the Supreme Court would have done, rather than stop the vote or the
count, was to send it back to the states. This was a states' rights issue. Once
they did that and once they showed their colors, I will never, ever look at the
Supreme Court the same way again. I think there were many of us that were
involved in this election that feel as I do and are deeply disturbed and troubled
that they do not have the same opinion of this court as the highest court of the
land, that it should be above politics.
P: You think they should not have intervened at all.
P: I'll read you Justice John Paul Stevens's [U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1975-
present] dissent. He said, we may never know with complete certainty the
identity of the winner of this year's election, but the identity of the loser is
perfectly clear, it is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian
of the rule of the law.
G: Absolutely. Judge Stevens says it more eloquently than I, but I concur.
P: Justice Stephen Breyer [U.S. Supreme Court, 1994-present] proposed that it be
sent back to the state for recount and that they set a standard. Do you think that
the Florida Supreme Court made a mistake when they did not set a standard?
G: There should have been a uniform standard for the state, yes.
P: David Boies [attorney for Al Gore in 2000 election] argues that if the Florida
Supreme Court had set a standard, they would have been making law and they
would have lost and if they didn't set a standard, the Supreme Court said they
violated the Fourteenth Amendment. He says that they were going to lose either
G: That's right.
P: I wanted to ask you a little bit about the Florida Election Reform Act. Do you
think that the provisional ballot is a good idea?
G: Yes, and one of the things that I've had to ask about the voting machines is how
will they separate the provisional ballots and there is a system in place. [Those
ballots] will have a number and they'll be set aside and then they'll check whether
or not the voter is truly a voter. This way every vote can count, ultimately.
P: As part of that reform act, the legislature did away with the second primary.
G: For one election only and then we'll see.
P: Is that obviously partisan on the part of the Republican party?
G: I don't know. There are certain wonderful people that we got because of the
second primary in Florida politics that we never would have had as governor and
P: Bob Graham [U.S. Senator, 1987-present; Florida governor, 1979-1987], Lawton
Chiles [ Florida governor 1991-1998 (died in office); U.S. Senator, 1971-1989],
Reubin Askew [Florida governor 1971-1979].
G: Right, exactly. On the other hand, it has also afforded minorities an equal
opportunity, sometimes it has taken away their equal opportunity [such as]
when there is one black and several whites on a ballot. Usually the African-
American loses and doesn't even make it to the second primary. I was in a
second primary when I ran for the county, the first time that I ran. I came in first
in the first primary, came in first obviously in the run-off and won the general.
The turnout is less than ten percent in Broward County, so it means that you
have people being elected, especially if you're a Democratic county, by five to six
percent of the votes and you now are the standard-bearer. I don't think that's
right. Of course, I don't think it's right that people don't vote.
P: Do you think this election has in some way enabled people to understand how
important the process is and also to understand the importance of each vote?
G: I would hope so, but it could have also done the flip side, it could have disgusted
people, turned them off from voting.
P: Why do you think people don't vote?
G: I think until September 11, people took the U.S. for granted and our liberty for
granted and our freedom for granted and our safety for granted. It was too easy.
Maybe not because of this election, but unfortunately because of September 11,
if people will remember it long enough [they will vote]. In this TV and computer
age, I have my doubts. They'll realize how lucky we are to be a free country and
to be able to vote for the candidate of our choice. Since I was old enough to
vote, I have missed one run-off primary. That is the only election I haven't voted
in, in my entire life. I would never not vote if I could help it.
P: Let me get back to one of the questions about the United States Supreme Court.
Some people have argued there was in fact a constitutional crisis and they
intervened in effect to avoid that and to put a stop to what they considered to be
standard-less voting. Is there any validity in that?
G: I don't think so.
P: How has this election affected you overall a year later?
G: I'm back to being just a regular person. I'm happy not to be recognized
everywhere I go. I can live my life a little calmer. I've gotten my sense of
serenity back. It changed me somewhat. I felt I had some small place in history
which I don't think I ever had before.
P: Are you glad you went through the experience?
P: How do you think it's going to ultimately impact Florida? You remember all these
Florida jokes, Flori-duh and all of that.
G: I think it's over, long over. There [are] too many world events that have moved
and changed the country from a year ago.
P: Also, it's clear that, for example, Georgia had more over-votes and under-votes
G: The country doesn't know that, they don't care. The election is a year ago,
people's memories are very short.
P: Historians all want to find out what really happened.
G: You find out what happened and unfortunately too much of this becomes esoteric
instead of general.
P: Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to discuss or
bring up? Are there any specific events or incidents?
G: Nope, I think I've gotten through them all.
P: On that note, I want to thank you very much for your time.
G: Thank you, Julian.
[End of the interview.]