Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 13, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Jon Meacham


  • A conversation with Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham, author of “American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation,” about the role of politics and religion.
Guests:
  • Helen Purcell - Maricopa County Recorder
  • Jon Meacham - Editor, Newsweek magazine


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, it's nearly a week since the election. All the votes have yet to be counted. We will update you on the current status. And we'll talk with the editor of Newsweek about the dance between religion and politics during the founding of our nation as well as today. That's coming up on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possibly by contributions from the friends of Eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. In the news tonight newly re-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne says he's going to propose to the Legislature that funding be equalized between Arizona district schools and charter schools. That would mean an increase in funding for charter schools of over $78 million. Horne is going to make the announcement tomorrow in Tucson at the Arizona Charter Schools Association annual conference. After several small daily gains by Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth, Democratic Challenger Harry Mitchell increased the gap between the two candidates today. The sixth day of counting early votes and provisional ballots in Maricopa County. The latest numbers show Mitchell with a 50\% to 46.7\% lead in the races 5. Libertarian Warren Severin has a 3.2\%. Mitchell has 88,302 votes. Hayworth has 82,485 votes. Severin has 5,578 votes. Mitchell increased his lead by 291 votes in today's counting. 26,841 votes counted today, about 103,000 remain to be counted. Originally there were 258,000 ballots that had to be verified and counted after the election. Counting is expected to be finished by the end of the week or by early next week with about 25,000 ballots being counted per day. Here now to talk about the counting is Maricopa County recorder Helen Purcell. I'm sorry. I got something caught. How are you, Helen?

Helen Purcell: I'm good.

Michael Grant: Are you guys kind of exhausted?

Helen Purcell: It's getting a little tiring. But we knew it was going to be a long process.

Michael Grant: Obviously J.D. Hayworth lost ground today basically in the counting process. He had to pick up about 1,000 votes a day because of the spread started at about 6 grand, right?

Helen Purcell: Yes. About 6,000. So in order to make that gap up in the length of time that we were counting in the earliest, then you're going to have to make up about 1,000 a day.

Michael Grant: Let's walk through the process here because one of the questions that I get -- and I'm sure you get it a lot more than me -- is why does it take so long on these early ballots and the provisional ballots? Why don't we break them into the two categories? Why does it take so long to count the early ballots?

Helen Purcell:
Well, let's talk about what we're counting at the present time, which is the early ballots. We started counting about a week before the election after we did our logic and accuracy test. And then-- but the returns from the earliest were coming in very slow. So by Election Day we still had a number on hand that came in on Election Day in the mail or another 63,000 that were dropped off at the polling places. So that's a big amount that we had, almost 225,000 earliest that we had left to count after Election Day was over. You add to that 37,000 plus provisional ballots, and of that we only had 1300 conditional provisionals.

Michael Grant:
And the conditional provisionals are the ones that most attention has been focused on? They're the ones where you showed up and you didn't have a valid Arizona driver's license or two other forms of I.D., right?

Helen Purcell:
Yeah. I think it really shows that we have, between our office and the Secretary of State; we have done a pretty good job of telling the people what they needed to bring to the polls with them. If you only have 1300 out of the number of people who voted in this election who didn't brick the proper I.D. with them.

Michael Grant:
Any indication at all, Helen, of that 1300 universe on the conditional provisionals how many people have showed up? Because I think their time is growing Nye if it's not already exhausted with identification.

Helen Purcell:
We just have a few that have come insofar. They have until 5:00 on Wednesday to present themselves with the proper I.D. And we've had a holiday and a weekend. So possibly in the next three days, because we have partnered with all the city clerks around the valley so that they can accept the I.D. when the people bring it in.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Let's go back to the process, though. You've got this universe of 220,000 or so earliest that came in late or the day of. You have to open those. You have to check the signatures. I mean, it's not just a function of dumping them into the machine?

Helen Purcell:
If we could open them and put them in the machine that would be wonderful. But that wouldn't show us anything. We must verify those signatures after we open each one of them. And then we must process them in batches. So all of that has to be done by -- we have about 200 people right now that are doing our processing of both the earliest and the provisionals.

Michael Grant:
Now, let's go to the remainder, what, it's about I guess about 39,000 provisionals. And these are not the conditional provisionals, the I.D. related. What are the reasons why someone votes a conditional provisional?

Helen Purcell:
A conditional provisional in is the I.D.

Michael Grant:
Right. I'm sorry.

Helen Purcell:
The rest of the provisionals is you're updating your address. We didn't have your new address on record so you went to your new polling place and can update your address. You could have ordered an early ballot and not gotten it, which we think most everybody did, had not voted it. So we showed you had already voted or at least ordered an early ballot. Then you have to vote a provisional. Or that you mailed your early ballot in, you weren't really sure if that got to us by Election Day so you wanted to make doubly sure and you went to the polling place and voted a provisional.

Michael Grant:
So basically on a lot of these categories you're checking to make sure they didn't vote early and vote often.

Helen Purcell:
That's right. And that's why we have to do the early ballots first to make sure before we start processing the provisional ballots. So that we make sure that that person who did order an early ballot or who had voiced a provisional didn't in fact vote their early ballot.

Michael Grant:
When this situation occurs, and C.D. 5, I guess either is a good example or a bad example, but you can't look at that universe of 260,000 uncounted ballots and really tell, okay, well, x number of them are from congressional district 5 which is a completely Maricopa County district, right?

Helen Purcell:
No, Michael I can tell you they're different from Maricopa County. That's not all I can tell looking at the universe.

Michael Grant:
And the other thing that I guess I hadn't locked in on is in terms of if someone is dropping off day of at a precinct, they aren't necessarily dropping off at what their precinct is.

Helen Purcell:
No. As we talked about early, you might be living in Scottsdale and dropped your early ballot off at a polling place downtown in Phoenix, which you can do.

Michael Grant:
Okay. What's the estimate in terms of wrapping -- our remaining universe is about 103,000?

Helen Purcell:
Just right at 100,000 or a little bit over. We should be finished I think by the end of this weekend. I certainly hope so.

Michael Grant:
This thought has to have crossed your and a whole lot of other people's minds. Is there something we can do to this process to try to head this off in future years?

Helen Purcell:
We have already started discussing it as we do after each election to try to improve it. We will certainly take a very close look at that and see what we can think of outside the box to try and speed the process, if we possibly can. Usually it means that we make a trip to the legislature on certain issues that we might be able to do, and we will certainly be willing to do that. But until we analyze what we can do that is different from what we're doing now and what the public wants to do. We know the public loves early voting. As over 50\% of our electorate that is the way they choose to vote.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, though, why not say to the public, hey, you can't drop them off anymore on the day of voting. That would help, wouldn't it?

Helen Purcell:
That might help some, yes. I think it would.

Michael Grant:
But it's got to --

Helen Purcell:
A few things that we might --

Michael Grant:
It's got its own set of access problems.

Helen Purcell:
Pluses or minuses.

Michael Grant:
That's right.

Helen Purcell:
We're going to try to weigh that.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Let me go to the one thing that was new with this election cycle is the requirement that you have a hand recount on a certain number of precincts, the purpose of which being to attempt to verify whether or not the computers were working okay.

Helen Purcell:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
Has that process proceeded as well?

Helen Purcell:
That process was started the day after the election and went very well. It only took them about a day and a half to complete that process. In Maricopa County we have to do 24 precincts. And everything was checked. It's really a hand audit. And it was checked back against those machines or against the earlier ballots that were checked in batches. And everything worked out beautifully. Everything was within the variance that was prescribed by law. So we feel very good about it.

Michael Grant:
I mentioned -- so this process here is you first randomly select as I understand it what you think will be representative precincts in the Maricopa County mix. And then of those 24 you walk through and you literally look at the lines and stuff and try to verify --

Helen Purcell:
We had certain criteria that we had to do. We had to pick 24 precincts. But it had -- part of them had to be six out of a congressional district, six out of a state race, six out of a state race and six were issues. We had prescribed things that we had to pull. The county party chairmen from the republican and Democratic Party pulled those precincts at random throughout the county. So that's the way we came to the figure of what we had to check. Then we had to literally get those ballots and take them to a secure facility at the sheriff's training facility. And we went ballot by ballot through all of those. And verified the amounts with the team of republicans and democrats. The party supplied us with the people that we had to do those. So everything was checked and double-checked.

Michael Grant:
All right. Well, it's good to hear every so often that something went right with computers. [Laughter] Helen Purcell, thank you very much for the information. And hope you get wrapped up by the end of the week.

Helen Purcell:
So do I.

Michael Grant:
Okay. "Newsweek" magazine's editor Jon Meacham spoke at ASU recently as part of the Jonathan and Maxine Marshall distinguished lecture series. Meacham is a prolific author. His latest book "American Gospel, God the Founding Fathers" was the topic of his lecture at the university. Larry Lemmons spoke with him about the role religion has played in the founding of our nation until today.

Larry Lemmons:
In your book, "American Gospel, God the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation" you had mentioned a term "public religion." could you explain what that is?

Jon Meacham:
Sure. The phrase goes back to 1749. Benjamin Franklin used it when he was laying out a syllabus for what became the University of Pennsylvania. He said that the maintenance of a public religion had always been as well as a sense of history had always been key to the maintenance of morality of a people. And I think what he meant by the phrase was a religion of the people godly held that was more unifying than divisive. And he recognized with homer that all men need a god, that religion cannot be banished entirely from politics or the public square. Politics is about people and people are largely religious beings even if negatively so. Atheists are actually nonbelievers. They define themselves that way. So the idea of the American public religion has been one in which there is a broad deference to as generic a figure of a deity as possible. The promulgation and internalization in many ways of the values that we associate with the Judeo-Christian tradition of individual rights of individual worth, the idea we're all created in god's image and therefore entitled to equal dignity and respect, the rule of law, all those things that come out of the tradition of the old testament and new testament have informed a great deal of the western system and western way of life. Not exclusively, but a great bit of it. So the American public religion is one which draws on the best of that tradition, while I think pretty successfully avoiding the pitfalls of theocracies or the idea we have to wage war in the name of god.

Larry Lemmons:
You said a number of the founding fathers were Deists. But considering the religious milieu of the time, all those who had come to America, why were they Deists rather than Anglican or Presbyterian or whatever?

Jon Meacham:
The founders were part of an intellectual ferment that was largely French but also English and Scottish, Scottish enlightenment. Count Bolingbrook. Algers and Sydney. They were philosophers who were interested in the idea of what they call nature's god. They were confronting a religious universe and they were thinking, there has to be something to this, but I don't believe in the authority of the church or of the ecclesiastical traditions from the medieval catholic thinkers. So what can we make of this? And so where reason led them was to this idea of a creator, providential god, unsullied by the corruptions and conventions of the church, in which they believed that there was as part of the intelligent design debate today, they believed there was an intelligent designer. The creator that Jefferson mentioned. The world is so complex that it had to come from someone who -- or some force who had been intentional about it. To use a theological term. So what they were looking for was a way of talking about religion, of being religious without being divisive. A very difficult thing.

Larry Lemmons:
How difficult do you think it was for the founders to take all of these various faiths and encompass them into something that was workable?

Jon Meacham:
Oh, I think that was at the heart of the enterprise, at the heart of the enterprise. Washington in his first year as president wrote a letter to the Hebrew congregation at Newport, Rhode Island in which he said that government of the United States shall give no bigotry to sanction no persecution. We passed a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli in the 1790's in which said that government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. During the ratification debates for the constitution, there were newspaper ads placed in European papers saying, come to our fertile fields, to our new world. You can practice your faith and pursue your destiny. Which was really a plea for a brain drain from Europe. Let's get all the Quakers, all the dissident Protestants and get them over here. So religious liberty was critical. In a way, you know, in the first year of the 21st century, we still tend in a way, as religious as we are and as much as we talk about these things, we do tend to separate religion in our minds a little bit from our daily work, sports, our family, church. Now, we all may be religious in all those spheres, but I think a lot of folks think of church as the religious part of their lives. We have to remember for the founders, your religious liberty, your civil liberty, the jobs you could hold, the military offices you could hold, the oaths you could take, your right for custody of children, was all linked to your religious expression. One of the reasons Jefferson was such a fierce advocate or religious liberty is Virginia stripped Quakers of the rights of custody of children because they were not part of the Anglican establishment. So in the 18th century, still so much of your daily life was linked to outward expressions of piety that breaking that and setting loose those bonds was very much at the center of what they were trying to do.

Larry Lemmons:
Today there is a move towards fundamentalism in the rest of the world and a move towards it here as well, perhaps a reaction to that. What should a leader do today to deal with that?

Jon Meacham:
I think that the best American leaders will be people who respect religion but don't automatically bow down before the demands of religious people. We are a religious nation. We're not a Christian nation. But we are a religious nation. And the people who would lead us have to respect that. Not just tolerate it but respect it. And treat religion in the same way that we treat economics or geography or partisan questions. Within the republican, lower case r contract that Madison laid out in federalist 10, it's going to be one force among many struggling against each other as we try to get to the right result. And so the wise president will be someone who is respectful but who understands that religion is one force among many in the life of the nation.

Larry Lemmons:
How would that leader deal with people, very powerful people, people who have been elected, in fact, who insist that this is a Christian nation?

Jon Meacham:
I think you do what President Bush has done pretty well, which is you don't pay much attention to them. You know, president Bush gets kicked around on this a lot. And that's okay. You know, he ran for the job. We didn't recruit him. So to whom much is given much is expected. But James Dobson is not happy with George Bush. They feel broadly put the religious right feels used in some way. Their central claims have been a pro-life amendment to the constitution, a school prayer amendment to the constitution, and more recently a ban on same sex marriage in the constitution. They're 0 for 3. And I think in some ways they're tired of being taken for granted. And so the republican nominee next time around is going to have to find a way to turn those people out to vote without becoming too indebted to them in a way that would make him -- because it will be a him on the republican side -- to beholden to those interests in a way they have to deliver. George Bush and Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. have been very comfortable not delivering to the evangelical right.

Larry Lemmons:
Of course John McCain who is a potential presidential candidate. . .

Jon Meacham:
Strike potential. Say presidential candidate.

Larry Lemmons:
Has been perceived as courting the religious right, because I think the Republican Party realizes they're a large part of their base.

Jon Meacham:
Sure. In the Republican Party right now is an odd fusion of fiscal conservatives, foreign policy hawks and evangelical Christians. My view of senator McCain's trip to liberty, to Jerry Falwell's University, is a lot of us, a lot of people in the press criticized George Herbert walker Bush for doing the same sorts of things in '86 and '87. Going around, talking about being born again. My joke about this is George Bush Sr. Thinks being born again is having a mulligan on the golf course. It's not really part of his vocabulary. But you have to think, he went around, he talked to these groups. He was seen in some ways as pandering to them. Let's weigh that against what he accomplished in history by winning in 1988. He threw Sadam Hussein out of Kuwait. He did not go to Baghdad. He kept an internationalist coalition together. He did the 1990 budget deal which set up prosperity of the Clinton years. He was a good president. And so in the end, managed the end of the cold war. In the end would you not have had him be president because he wouldn't give a speech or signal some solidarity with people again to whom he gave nothing in terms of policy? And trade that and say, no, well, we shouldn't have that man as a maker of our history and a leader of our fortunes. I don't think so. I think that politics is about compromise, obviously. And it's about how do you get the 51\%, and sometimes the less than 51\%? But we need to get beyond that, too. I think that it will be a very interesting campaign. Because Senator Kerry, I think, regrets not being more forceful about his own Catholicism, his own religious beliefs. Senator Clinton is a strong social Methodist in an old tradition. Senator McCain is an interesting case. He's an Episcopalian who I think is more active now in another denomination. Rudy Giuliani is an interesting catholic for gay rights and abortion rights. So you wonder how that will all play out. But religion has always been part of this conversation. Dwight Eisenhower was baptized early on in his administration. He made sure he was seen with Billy Graham during the '52 campaign. This is not a new thing under the sun. And so to people who would worry about it and become anxious about the idea that there's some American theocracy taking shape, I would just point to deeds, not words, as saints James says in another context. What have these presidents actually done? If you're on the right you become disappointed. If you're on the left you also become disappointed. Because to speak about god and the gospel if you're a Christian is to help the poor, to preserve -- be a steward of the environment. There's a whole movement now for a liberal Christianity in applying the politics of Jesus to American life. And that, too, has its complications. Because if the answer to what would Jesus do is what you would do, and therefore Jesus would do it of course, naturally, because Jesus would of course agree with me, then you're in trouble. Because then you get -- then you get into an issue of extremes clashing. And that way disaster lies.

Larry Lemmons:
Thank you, Mr. Meacham, for being here today.

Jon Meacham:
Thank you.

Merry Lucero:
Jim Lehrer has anchored PBS's news hour since 1975. He is one of the most respected journalists in the country and has been nicknamed the dean of moderators. Jim Lehrer talks about his latest novel "The Phony Marine" the last election and the effects on journalism. That's on Tuesday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Wednesday a conversation with the CEO of the AARP about the aging boomer population. Thursday the Arizona town hall is taking a look at growth issues. We'll talk about that. And Friday, please join us for the Journalists' Roundtable as we wrap up the week's news events. Thank you very much for joining us on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

Vote Count


  • Maricopa County elections officials are about half way through counting 258,000 ballots that were either early ballots or provisional ballots. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell will explain why the count takes as long as it does and how the new results are affecting one congressional race and two propositions.
Guests:
  • Helen Purcell - Maricopa County Recorder
  • Jon Meacham - Editor, Newsweek magazine
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: Helen Purcell,

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, it's nearly a week since the election. All the votes have yet to be counted. We will update you on the current status. And we'll talk with the editor of Newsweek about the dance between religion and politics during the founding of our nation as well as today. That's coming up on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possibly by contributions from the friends of Eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. In the news tonight newly re-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne says he's going to propose to the Legislature that funding be equalized between Arizona district schools and charter schools. That would mean an increase in funding for charter schools of over $78 million. Horne is going to make the announcement tomorrow in Tucson at the Arizona Charter Schools Association annual conference. After several small daily gains by Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth, Democratic Challenger Harry Mitchell increased the gap between the two candidates today. The sixth day of counting early votes and provisional ballots in Maricopa County. The latest numbers show Mitchell with a 50\% to 46.7\% lead in the races 5. Libertarian Warren Severin has a 3.2\%. Mitchell has 88,302 votes. Hayworth has 82,485 votes. Severin has 5,578 votes. Mitchell increased his lead by 291 votes in today's counting. 26,841 votes counted today, about 103,000 remain to be counted. Originally there were 258,000 ballots that had to be verified and counted after the election. Counting is expected to be finished by the end of the week or by early next week with about 25,000 ballots being counted per day. Here now to talk about the counting is Maricopa County recorder Helen Purcell. I'm sorry. I got something caught. How are you, Helen?

Helen Purcell: I'm good.

Michael Grant: Are you guys kind of exhausted?

Helen Purcell: It's getting a little tiring. But we knew it was going to be a long process.

Michael Grant: Obviously J.D. Hayworth lost ground today basically in the counting process. He had to pick up about 1,000 votes a day because of the spread started at about 6 grand, right?

Helen Purcell: Yes. About 6,000. So in order to make that gap up in the length of time that we were counting in the earliest, then you're going to have to make up about 1,000 a day.

Michael Grant: Let's walk through the process here because one of the questions that I get -- and I'm sure you get it a lot more than me -- is why does it take so long on these early ballots and the provisional ballots? Why don't we break them into the two categories? Why does it take so long to count the early ballots?

Helen Purcell:
Well, let's talk about what we're counting at the present time, which is the early ballots. We started counting about a week before the election after we did our logic and accuracy test. And then-- but the returns from the earliest were coming in very slow. So by Election Day we still had a number on hand that came in on Election Day in the mail or another 63,000 that were dropped off at the polling places. So that's a big amount that we had, almost 225,000 earliest that we had left to count after Election Day was over. You add to that 37,000 plus provisional ballots, and of that we only had 1300 conditional provisionals.

Michael Grant:
And the conditional provisionals are the ones that most attention has been focused on? They're the ones where you showed up and you didn't have a valid Arizona driver's license or two other forms of I.D., right?

Helen Purcell:
Yeah. I think it really shows that we have, between our office and the Secretary of State; we have done a pretty good job of telling the people what they needed to bring to the polls with them. If you only have 1300 out of the number of people who voted in this election who didn't brick the proper I.D. with them.

Michael Grant:
Any indication at all, Helen, of that 1300 universe on the conditional provisionals how many people have showed up? Because I think their time is growing Nye if it's not already exhausted with identification.

Helen Purcell:
We just have a few that have come insofar. They have until 5:00 on Wednesday to present themselves with the proper I.D. And we've had a holiday and a weekend. So possibly in the next three days, because we have partnered with all the city clerks around the valley so that they can accept the I.D. when the people bring it in.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Let's go back to the process, though. You've got this universe of 220,000 or so earliest that came in late or the day of. You have to open those. You have to check the signatures. I mean, it's not just a function of dumping them into the machine?

Helen Purcell:
If we could open them and put them in the machine that would be wonderful. But that wouldn't show us anything. We must verify those signatures after we open each one of them. And then we must process them in batches. So all of that has to be done by -- we have about 200 people right now that are doing our processing of both the earliest and the provisionals.

Michael Grant:
Now, let's go to the remainder, what, it's about I guess about 39,000 provisionals. And these are not the conditional provisionals, the I.D. related. What are the reasons why someone votes a conditional provisional?

Helen Purcell:
A conditional provisional in is the I.D.

Michael Grant:
Right. I'm sorry.

Helen Purcell:
The rest of the provisionals is you're updating your address. We didn't have your new address on record so you went to your new polling place and can update your address. You could have ordered an early ballot and not gotten it, which we think most everybody did, had not voted it. So we showed you had already voted or at least ordered an early ballot. Then you have to vote a provisional. Or that you mailed your early ballot in, you weren't really sure if that got to us by Election Day so you wanted to make doubly sure and you went to the polling place and voted a provisional.

Michael Grant:
So basically on a lot of these categories you're checking to make sure they didn't vote early and vote often.

Helen Purcell:
That's right. And that's why we have to do the early ballots first to make sure before we start processing the provisional ballots. So that we make sure that that person who did order an early ballot or who had voiced a provisional didn't in fact vote their early ballot.

Michael Grant:
When this situation occurs, and C.D. 5, I guess either is a good example or a bad example, but you can't look at that universe of 260,000 uncounted ballots and really tell, okay, well, x number of them are from congressional district 5 which is a completely Maricopa County district, right?

Helen Purcell:
No, Michael I can tell you they're different from Maricopa County. That's not all I can tell looking at the universe.

Michael Grant:
And the other thing that I guess I hadn't locked in on is in terms of if someone is dropping off day of at a precinct, they aren't necessarily dropping off at what their precinct is.

Helen Purcell:
No. As we talked about early, you might be living in Scottsdale and dropped your early ballot off at a polling place downtown in Phoenix, which you can do.

Michael Grant:
Okay. What's the estimate in terms of wrapping -- our remaining universe is about 103,000?

Helen Purcell:
Just right at 100,000 or a little bit over. We should be finished I think by the end of this weekend. I certainly hope so.

Michael Grant:
This thought has to have crossed your and a whole lot of other people's minds. Is there something we can do to this process to try to head this off in future years?

Helen Purcell:
We have already started discussing it as we do after each election to try to improve it. We will certainly take a very close look at that and see what we can think of outside the box to try and speed the process, if we possibly can. Usually it means that we make a trip to the legislature on certain issues that we might be able to do, and we will certainly be willing to do that. But until we analyze what we can do that is different from what we're doing now and what the public wants to do. We know the public loves early voting. As over 50\% of our electorate that is the way they choose to vote.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, though, why not say to the public, hey, you can't drop them off anymore on the day of voting. That would help, wouldn't it?

Helen Purcell:
That might help some, yes. I think it would.

Michael Grant:
But it's got to --

Helen Purcell:
A few things that we might --

Michael Grant:
It's got its own set of access problems.

Helen Purcell:
Pluses or minuses.

Michael Grant:
That's right.

Helen Purcell:
We're going to try to weigh that.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Let me go to the one thing that was new with this election cycle is the requirement that you have a hand recount on a certain number of precincts, the purpose of which being to attempt to verify whether or not the computers were working okay.

Helen Purcell:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
Has that process proceeded as well?

Helen Purcell:
That process was started the day after the election and went very well. It only took them about a day and a half to complete that process. In Maricopa County we have to do 24 precincts. And everything was checked. It's really a hand audit. And it was checked back against those machines or against the earlier ballots that were checked in batches. And everything worked out beautifully. Everything was within the variance that was prescribed by law. So we feel very good about it.

Michael Grant:
I mentioned -- so this process here is you first randomly select as I understand it what you think will be representative precincts in the Maricopa County mix. And then of those 24 you walk through and you literally look at the lines and stuff and try to verify --

Helen Purcell:
We had certain criteria that we had to do. We had to pick 24 precincts. But it had -- part of them had to be six out of a congressional district, six out of a state race, six out of a state race and six were issues. We had prescribed things that we had to pull. The county party chairmen from the republican and Democratic Party pulled those precincts at random throughout the county. So that's the way we came to the figure of what we had to check. Then we had to literally get those ballots and take them to a secure facility at the sheriff's training facility. And we went ballot by ballot through all of those. And verified the amounts with the team of republicans and democrats. The party supplied us with the people that we had to do those. So everything was checked and double-checked.

Michael Grant:
All right. Well, it's good to hear every so often that something went right with computers. [Laughter] Helen Purcell, thank you very much for the information. And hope you get wrapped up by the end of the week.

Helen Purcell:
So do I.

Michael Grant:
Okay. "Newsweek" magazine's editor Jon Meacham spoke at ASU recently as part of the Jonathan and Maxine Marshall distinguished lecture series. Meacham is a prolific author. His latest book "American Gospel, God the Founding Fathers" was the topic of his lecture at the university. Larry Lemmons spoke with him about the role religion has played in the founding of our nation until today.

Larry Lemmons:
In your book, "American Gospel, God the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation" you had mentioned a term "public religion." could you explain what that is?

Jon Meacham:
Sure. The phrase goes back to 1749. Benjamin Franklin used it when he was laying out a syllabus for what became the University of Pennsylvania. He said that the maintenance of a public religion had always been as well as a sense of history had always been key to the maintenance of morality of a people. And I think what he meant by the phrase was a religion of the people godly held that was more unifying than divisive. And he recognized with homer that all men need a god, that religion cannot be banished entirely from politics or the public square. Politics is about people and people are largely religious beings even if negatively so. Atheists are actually nonbelievers. They define themselves that way. So the idea of the American public religion has been one in which there is a broad deference to as generic a figure of a deity as possible. The promulgation and internalization in many ways of the values that we associate with the Judeo-Christian tradition of individual rights of individual worth, the idea we're all created in god's image and therefore entitled to equal dignity and respect, the rule of law, all those things that come out of the tradition of the old testament and new testament have informed a great deal of the western system and western way of life. Not exclusively, but a great bit of it. So the American public religion is one which draws on the best of that tradition, while I think pretty successfully avoiding the pitfalls of theocracies or the idea we have to wage war in the name of god.

Larry Lemmons:
You said a number of the founding fathers were Deists. But considering the religious milieu of the time, all those who had come to America, why were they Deists rather than Anglican or Presbyterian or whatever?

Jon Meacham:
The founders were part of an intellectual ferment that was largely French but also English and Scottish, Scottish enlightenment. Count Bolingbrook. Algers and Sydney. They were philosophers who were interested in the idea of what they call nature's god. They were confronting a religious universe and they were thinking, there has to be something to this, but I don't believe in the authority of the church or of the ecclesiastical traditions from the medieval catholic thinkers. So what can we make of this? And so where reason led them was to this idea of a creator, providential god, unsullied by the corruptions and conventions of the church, in which they believed that there was as part of the intelligent design debate today, they believed there was an intelligent designer. The creator that Jefferson mentioned. The world is so complex that it had to come from someone who -- or some force who had been intentional about it. To use a theological term. So what they were looking for was a way of talking about religion, of being religious without being divisive. A very difficult thing.

Larry Lemmons:
How difficult do you think it was for the founders to take all of these various faiths and encompass them into something that was workable?

Jon Meacham:
Oh, I think that was at the heart of the enterprise, at the heart of the enterprise. Washington in his first year as president wrote a letter to the Hebrew congregation at Newport, Rhode Island in which he said that government of the United States shall give no bigotry to sanction no persecution. We passed a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli in the 1790's in which said that government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. During the ratification debates for the constitution, there were newspaper ads placed in European papers saying, come to our fertile fields, to our new world. You can practice your faith and pursue your destiny. Which was really a plea for a brain drain from Europe. Let's get all the Quakers, all the dissident Protestants and get them over here. So religious liberty was critical. In a way, you know, in the first year of the 21st century, we still tend in a way, as religious as we are and as much as we talk about these things, we do tend to separate religion in our minds a little bit from our daily work, sports, our family, church. Now, we all may be religious in all those spheres, but I think a lot of folks think of church as the religious part of their lives. We have to remember for the founders, your religious liberty, your civil liberty, the jobs you could hold, the military offices you could hold, the oaths you could take, your right for custody of children, was all linked to your religious expression. One of the reasons Jefferson was such a fierce advocate or religious liberty is Virginia stripped Quakers of the rights of custody of children because they were not part of the Anglican establishment. So in the 18th century, still so much of your daily life was linked to outward expressions of piety that breaking that and setting loose those bonds was very much at the center of what they were trying to do.

Larry Lemmons:
Today there is a move towards fundamentalism in the rest of the world and a move towards it here as well, perhaps a reaction to that. What should a leader do today to deal with that?

Jon Meacham:
I think that the best American leaders will be people who respect religion but don't automatically bow down before the demands of religious people. We are a religious nation. We're not a Christian nation. But we are a religious nation. And the people who would lead us have to respect that. Not just tolerate it but respect it. And treat religion in the same way that we treat economics or geography or partisan questions. Within the republican, lower case r contract that Madison laid out in federalist 10, it's going to be one force among many struggling against each other as we try to get to the right result. And so the wise president will be someone who is respectful but who understands that religion is one force among many in the life of the nation.

Larry Lemmons:
How would that leader deal with people, very powerful people, people who have been elected, in fact, who insist that this is a Christian nation?

Jon Meacham:
I think you do what President Bush has done pretty well, which is you don't pay much attention to them. You know, president Bush gets kicked around on this a lot. And that's okay. You know, he ran for the job. We didn't recruit him. So to whom much is given much is expected. But James Dobson is not happy with George Bush. They feel broadly put the religious right feels used in some way. Their central claims have been a pro-life amendment to the constitution, a school prayer amendment to the constitution, and more recently a ban on same sex marriage in the constitution. They're 0 for 3. And I think in some ways they're tired of being taken for granted. And so the republican nominee next time around is going to have to find a way to turn those people out to vote without becoming too indebted to them in a way that would make him -- because it will be a him on the republican side -- to beholden to those interests in a way they have to deliver. George Bush and Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. have been very comfortable not delivering to the evangelical right.

Larry Lemmons:
Of course John McCain who is a potential presidential candidate. . .

Jon Meacham:
Strike potential. Say presidential candidate.

Larry Lemmons:
Has been perceived as courting the religious right, because I think the Republican Party realizes they're a large part of their base.

Jon Meacham:
Sure. In the Republican Party right now is an odd fusion of fiscal conservatives, foreign policy hawks and evangelical Christians. My view of senator McCain's trip to liberty, to Jerry Falwell's University, is a lot of us, a lot of people in the press criticized George Herbert walker Bush for doing the same sorts of things in '86 and '87. Going around, talking about being born again. My joke about this is George Bush Sr. Thinks being born again is having a mulligan on the golf course. It's not really part of his vocabulary. But you have to think, he went around, he talked to these groups. He was seen in some ways as pandering to them. Let's weigh that against what he accomplished in history by winning in 1988. He threw Sadam Hussein out of Kuwait. He did not go to Baghdad. He kept an internationalist coalition together. He did the 1990 budget deal which set up prosperity of the Clinton years. He was a good president. And so in the end, managed the end of the cold war. In the end would you not have had him be president because he wouldn't give a speech or signal some solidarity with people again to whom he gave nothing in terms of policy? And trade that and say, no, well, we shouldn't have that man as a maker of our history and a leader of our fortunes. I don't think so. I think that politics is about compromise, obviously. And it's about how do you get the 51\%, and sometimes the less than 51\%? But we need to get beyond that, too. I think that it will be a very interesting campaign. Because Senator Kerry, I think, regrets not being more forceful about his own Catholicism, his own religious beliefs. Senator Clinton is a strong social Methodist in an old tradition. Senator McCain is an interesting case. He's an Episcopalian who I think is more active now in another denomination. Rudy Giuliani is an interesting catholic for gay rights and abortion rights. So you wonder how that will all play out. But religion has always been part of this conversation. Dwight Eisenhower was baptized early on in his administration. He made sure he was seen with Billy Graham during the '52 campaign. This is not a new thing under the sun. And so to people who would worry about it and become anxious about the idea that there's some American theocracy taking shape, I would just point to deeds, not words, as saints James says in another context. What have these presidents actually done? If you're on the right you become disappointed. If you're on the left you also become disappointed. Because to speak about god and the gospel if you're a Christian is to help the poor, to preserve -- be a steward of the environment. There's a whole movement now for a liberal Christianity in applying the politics of Jesus to American life. And that, too, has its complications. Because if the answer to what would Jesus do is what you would do, and therefore Jesus would do it of course, naturally, because Jesus would of course agree with me, then you're in trouble. Because then you get -- then you get into an issue of extremes clashing. And that way disaster lies.

Larry Lemmons:
Thank you, Mr. Meacham, for being here today.

Jon Meacham:
Thank you.

Merry Lucero:
Jim Lehrer has anchored PBS's news hour since 1975. He is one of the most respected journalists in the country and has been nicknamed the dean of moderators. Jim Lehrer talks about his latest novel "The Phony Marine" the last election and the effects on journalism. That's on Tuesday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Wednesday a conversation with the CEO of the AARP about the aging boomer population. Thursday the Arizona town hall is taking a look at growth issues. We'll talk about that. And Friday, please join us for the Journalists' Roundtable as we wrap up the week's news events. Thank you very much for joining us on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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