More Election Irregularities Ahead?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Oct. 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In an "Unresolved Problem" segment, it's almost beyond annoying, but some Americans are still running around saying that President Bush (search) stole the election in the year 2000 even though the Supreme Court, as you know, made the final call.

Now some left wing Web sites. Jesse Jackson (search) and other staunch Democrats are setting up a scenario by which the election will be challenged if John Kerry happens to lose.

With us now is Dr. Nate Persily, an election law expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Is it true that there are already 30 lawsuits about this election?

NATE PERSILY, ELECTION LAW EXPERT: That's probably a low estimate.

O'REILLY: What are they suing about?

PERSILY: There's all types of issues. A lot of it is over the law that was passed in order to solve some of the problems that happened in the 2000 election. And it turns out that law has caused more problems than it solved.

O'REILLY: All right, well, explain it to us. What was passed and what are the problems?

PERSILY: The help America vote act was passed to solve some of the problems from last time. And it was said by its proponents that it was going to make it easier to vote but harder to cheat.

And one of the main problems with that act is it gave people the right to cast a provisional ballot. And a provisional ballot is what you cast when you show up on Election Day and the precinct person says you know, you're not on the rolls. And so now you have to write to cast a provisional ballot which is segregated until they can verify whether you're actually registered to vote or not.

O'REILLY: All right, so you go to a different place and you do it differently until they can figure out whether you're legit?


O'REILLY: So what's wrong with that?

PERSILY: The problem is that it gives you the right to cast a provisional ballot, but doesn't tell you if you have the right to have it counted.

O'REILLY: So you don't know?

PERSILY: You don't know.

O'REILLY: If you're legit, then it's counted, right?

PERSILY: Well, actually, that's what the people are suing about right now. The Democrats have gone to court in about four states, maybe more now, saying that one of the problems is that the state laws are saying that if you show up at the wrong precinct, your provisional ballot won't be counted.

O'REILLY: OK, well so what? If you're at the wrong precinct, you're at the wrong precinct?

PERSILY: Well, part of the difficulty is that a lot -- let's take Florida, for example. A lot of these precincts have been blown away because of the hurricanes and a lot of people are going to be going into the wrong precinct. And they're still registered voters in the state. So what they're saying is that they should be counted.

O'REILLY: Yes, well look, this is just insane. No election is ever going to be perfect. And you can't be saying well, you know, there's a hurricane two months ago and I don't know where the precinct place is we can't have a vote. Come on.

PERSILY: No, no. Sure that's not...

O'REILLY: Isn't it the responsibility of the citizen to figure out where they are, to figure out if they're registered, to go in, cast a vote so the ballot is quick. Isn't that the responsibility of the citizen, doctor? So what is all this?

PERSILY: Certainly the citizen should get...

O'REILLY: So what is all this?

PERSILY: Well, no, that's one small part of the whole story here. And everyone is trying to obviously create a situation where as many of their supporters end up getting into the polling place.

O'REILLY: All right. So you think this is just a big scam?

PERSILY: Well some of it is -- that's certainly part of it, politically motivated. But it's on both sides. The Republicans have come in with their own lawsuits.

O'REILLY: So Jackson's running around saying that millions of blacks were disenfranchised to vote last time. Do you believe that?

PERSILY: They might have been. I don't really...

O'REILLY: You don't know?

PERSILY: Certainly the case with respect to the felon disenfranchisement list...

O'REILLY: So if you're a felon, you might have been...

PERSILY: No, no, no. They were over inclusive. There were some people who were not felons who were then on rolls. But then again, you know, there are other places where...

O'REILLY: Yes, because they did a study in Florida. And they said no black people were disenfranchised. I don't know. If it's a very, very close race, you expect to hear next morning chads and this and that. You expect it, right?

PERSILY: All kinds of problems. I mean, new theories, things that are different from the last time.

O'REILLY: Right. Aliens kidnapped me and I couldn't -- I was disenfranchised by the aliens. Now do the Republicans do this too?

PERSILY: Sure, sure.

O'REILLY: They do?

PERSILY: Republicans...

O'REILLY: Are they just as guilty as the Democrats?

PERSILY: Well...

O'REILLY: All we hear about is Jackson and the boys.

PERSILY: Well, part of the difficulty is that you have -- people who are controlling the state legislatures and also the state administration are also going into court to try and clarify the law. So that one of the problems -- one of the benefits I should say of having all these lawyers getting involved right now is at least maybe we'll have the court decisions before the election as opposed to after so we can be operating under neutral rules.

O'REILLY: But what have the Republicans done? I mean, we were hammering the Democrats. Are the Republicans trying to get people off the rolls? Stop people from -- what are they trying to do?

PERSILY: Well, certainly, there's issue with the felon disenfranchisement list in Florida and elsewhere. There -- the voter integrity and access initiative with the Department of Justice, some are charging are saying is sort of enforcing the law in a biased way. Jesse Jackson comments you mentioned before are sort of the staple of much of the criticism of the DIJ, which is that it's discriminatory.

O'REILLY: So, would this be accurate before we leave? Democrats want as many people as possible to get in there, even if they're felons or ax murderers, it doesn't matter. And Republicans are saying, you know, we would like to have some regulation. Is that accurate?

PERSILY: That's one part, but that's only one-tenth of the number of lawsuits that are out there.

O'REILLY: All right. We'd have to have a telethon to go over all of it. All right, doctor, thanks very much. We know and we will predict after the election there will be this chaos.

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