ITVS Presents Globalvision’s COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY
(San Francisco, CA) The story of what happened in Florida in the 2000 Bush-Gore presidential race is a complex, murky, sordid tale
filled with closed-door dealings, long-standing racial tensions, Byzantine bureaucracy, and a cast of cagey and cynical political
operatives straight out of a John Grisham thriller. It has not been covered by a nonpartisan investigative documentary until now.
From election night, when all three networks bungled by calling the state before the polls closed, to 36 days later when the Supreme Court made the highly controversial decision to halt the recount and call the election for George Bush, Americans were stunned – and disgusted – by
what they saw. As the confusing stories piled up – of voter fraud, “dimpled, pregnant and hanging chads,” African-Americans whose names were purged from the rolls, Jewish Palm Beach retirees who were horrified to learn they had voted for Pat Buchanan – both candidates swiped at each other, each seeming less Presidential as the days dragged on. But concern, outrage and continued investigation of the debacle became a casualty of September 11th. As The New York Times wrote, “The Florida debate shifted from ‘who won’ to ‘who cares.'”
Directed and produced by Globalvision’s Danny Schechter and written and produced by Faye M. Anderson, former national vice chairman of
the Republican National Committee’s New Majority Council, COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY is the first program to offer an independent examination of
why 175,000 votes went uncounted, and why Florida still matters.
Narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY will air nationally on public television stations in October 2002.
Before the fiasco in Florida, most Americans assumed that the votes they cast would be counted in accordance with one of the fundamental
principles of American democracy. Yet, as we learned in Florida, that is just not always the case. 175,000 votes cast in that state,
largely by the working poor and people of color, were uncounted and COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY explores how this happened. What they discovered was a systematic pattern of behavior on the part of the state’s various election boards, overseen by a compromised elections department, that resulted in a myriad of lost votes. Thousands of African-American voters were purged from the voter rolls and, in some counties, African-Americans were required to present three forms of I.D.; in other counties, none. In communities with large
Spanish-speaking populations, translators and bilingual ballots were unexplainably absent. In communities with large Jewish populations,
confusing ballots made what looked like a vote for Gore / Lieberman actually a vote for Pat Buchanan. The film also shows how both sides responded to the situation – with schoolyard bullying and taunts of “sore loser,” by sending busloads of protesters (actually the party faithful) to disrupt the recounts, by each candidate calling for recounts only in precincts they expected to win, and by fighting against recounts in precincts they thought they would lose.
What emerges is a shocking but very clear picture of political interests cynically ignoring and overriding the will of voters. As 1960’s Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis says in the film, “People struggled, people died for the right to vote. And there are people saying we should forget about it, we shouldn’t make too much of it.
How can you sweep it under the rug like it didn’t happen? It did happen.” Unlike the news coverage of the election debacle, which was often as fractured, confusing and annoying as many of the ballots, COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY provides the context, analysis and voices that were missing from most media accounts. It looks back at the problems and ahead to the future, highlighting ongoing efforts – resulting largely from the experience in Florida – to bring about meaningful electoral reform nationwide. In perhaps the most haunting moment of the film, Roger Stone, a Republican operative brought in to Florida to represent the Bush interests, admits that he has “no question that if everybody who intended to vote for Al Gore in Florida actually cast a legal ballot for him, an intelligible legal ballot, he’d have won.”
COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY reminds us that it is still the voters, not the political party with the most savvy election consultants, who are supposed to choose America’s leaders.
About the Filmmakers
Danny Schechter (Director / Producer) is a television producer and independent filmmaker who also writes and speaks about media issues.
He is the author of Media Wars: News at a Time of Terror (Dissecting Media After 9/11), Falun Gong’s Challenge to China (Akashic Press), The More You Watch, The Less You Know (Seven Stories Press) and News Dissector: Passions, Pieces and Polemics (Electron Press). He co-edited Mediaocracy, a book about press coverage of the 2000 election. He is the executive editor of Mediachannel.org , the world’s largest online media issues network. He has produced and
directed many TV specials and films, including Falun Gon’s Challenge To China (2000); A Hero For All: Nelson Mandela (l999); Beyond Life:
Timothy Leary Lives (1997); Sowing Seeds / Reaping Peace: The World of Seeds of Peaces (1996); Prisoners of Hope (1995, co-directed by Barbara Kopple); and many others. He is also co-founder and executive producer of Globalvision, a New York-based television and film production company now in its 16th year, where he produced 156 editions of the award-winning series South Africa Now and co-produced Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television with Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
Schechter has reported from 47 countries, lectured at many schools and universities, and his writing has appeared in leading newspapers
and magazines including the The Nation, Newsday, Boston Globe, Columbia Journalism Review, Media Studies Journal, Detroit Free Press, Village Voice, Tikkun, Z, and many others.
A noted political analyst, Faye M. Anderson (Writer / Producer) is the former national correspondent for PoliticallyBlack.com. During the first Bush administration, Anderson was a political appointee with the Employment Standards Administration of the Department of Labor. Her writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and she was a frequent guest on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Anderson is a member of
the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Election Reform Task Force. She served on the steering committee of African-American Unity 2000, a national coalition of 80 grassroots organizations that was responsible for the higher than expected black voter turnout in the 2000 elections. Previously, Anderson was a national vice chairman of the Republican National Committee’s New Majority Council and a member of the boards of the Ripon Society and the Ripon Educational Fund. She formerly served as executive director of the Council of 100, a national network of African-American Republicans.
Unique in American public broadcasting, the Independent Television Service (ITVS) presents award-winning documentaries, dramas and series on public television, and innovative new media projects on the Web. ITVS was established by Congress to fund and present programs that “involve creative risks and address the needs of underserved audiences,” while granting artistic control to independent producers.
In 2003, ITVS will present Independent Lens, a 29-week non-fiction series airing on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have transformed and revitalized the relationship between the public and public television. From ground-breaking series like THE FARMER’S WIFE and FOTO-NOVELAS to specials including Academy Award nominated PROMISES, Sundance Award winner DAUGHTER FROM DANANG, Emmy Award winners BLINK; SING FASTER: THE STAGEHANDS’ RING CYCLE and NOBODY’S BUSINESS, and Peabody Award winners STILL LIFE WITH ANIMATED DOGS, TRAVIS and THE GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE, ITVS productions bring TV audiences face-to-face with
the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded
by the American people. Contact ITVS at 501 York Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visitwww.itvs.orgfor
companion websites and more information.
(212/246-0202 ext. 3006
(415/356-8383 ext. 231