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From: "Nightline"
To: "Nightline Mailing List"
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 9:33 AM
Subject: Florida's Civil Rights Report

TONIGHT’S SUBJECT: The Civil Rights Commission report on the Florida election has been leaked to the press. The conclusions, African-Americans were disenfranchised at a rate far higher than other groups, but there was no conspiracy to do so.

We have an expressions at Nightline, “all heat, no light.” We use that to refer to those stories, and those discussions, where there is a great deal of anger and emotion, but it is unlikely that any sort of agreement or insight will result. This may be one of those stories. The gulf between partisans of both sides seems as wide today as it was in the days immediately after the election. Has the anger dissipated? Some maybe, but certainly not all. A lot of people were watching the Civil Rights Commission hearings on the election in Florida, waiting for their conclusions. Their report is scheduled to be released this Friday, but it has been leaked to the press already, appearing in a number of papers this morning.

And the heat has already begun. The two Republican members of the Commission are furious, saying that they didn’t even get to see the report before it was leaked. Others are charging that the Commission, which has four Democratic members, is a partisan body. And the Chair of the Commission has already been attacked politically. And that’s before you even get into what the report says.

A lot of what’s in there will not come as a surprise. African-Americans were disenfranchised at a much higher rate. The report is scathing in its criticism of Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris. It goes on to criticize the state’s effort to purge the voting rolls of felons and others who might be ineligible to vote, a process that also disenfranchised many people who should not have been. And there’s plenty in there about punch-card ballot technology as well. In other words, there’s something in the report for everyone, whether it is to fuel or re-ignite their anger over what happened, or to cause others to say “Get over it.” Heat. Lots of heat.

We’ll be looking at the report tonight, both at what it says, and how it came about. And we’ll be hearing from the Chair of the Commission, a Democrat, and the Co-Chair, a Republican. Will this be the end of the Florida election? We all know better than that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Leroy Sievers Executive Producer Nightline Offices Washington, D.C.


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