- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Jahmal Wilkins sat before a TV set in Howard University's lounge yesterday, shaking his head at the proceedings he could only call "frustrating."
"It should have been over a week ago," said Mr. Wilkins, a junior studying computer information systems, catching a moment of the Florida Supreme Court hearings over lunch. "It's getting old. A lot of people have stopped paying attention."
That seemed to be the case all over the city yesterday. Television sets at restaurants, sports bars and universities broadcast the hearings, in which the state's seven Supreme Court justices heard arguments about whether ballot recounts should be applied to Florida's final vote tally.
Yet only a handful of people seemed interested enough to tune in to the proceedings.
At Howard, freshman Christeen Marshall, 18, purposely turned her face away from the television and expressed her disgust to her two friends.
"This is my first time voting, and I was really excited at first," she said between bites of her french fries. "But it's gone so far, I think it's discouraging to young voters. It makes us feel our vote doesn't really count."
Sophomore Joshua Mercer, 19, disagreed.
"I think it's good that it happened this way," said Mr. Mercer, a business/marketing major sitting at a nearby table. "It's going to encourage better voter turnout for other things."
Many of the students didn't understand exactly what the hearings were all about, but they were very well-versed in the media foibles, campaign rhetoric and ballot mishaps that have shaped this election.
Political science student Danyalle Atkins said she doesn't trust the recounts in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. She would handle things differently if she were secretary of state, she said.
"I think this hearing and the whole thing are crazy," she said. "The best thing would be to have a nationwide re-vote."
Across town at the Pizzeria Uno on M Street in Georgetown, waiter Noel Cruz had the hearings playing at a downstairs bar early in the afternoon but soon changed the channel.
"People haven't really been watching it," he said. "If they're sitting at the bar, drinking, they sometimes start arguing about the election, but they don't seem to be into this part too much."
Upstairs, three young persons ate pasta, glancing now and again at a TV set above their table, as Andrew Meyers of the Broward County Canvassing Board told Chief Justice Charles Wells that, no, his county's final recounts would not be completed yesterday as planned.
"The important thing is that the vote is right at the end," Mr. Meyers said.
"In the end, no matter who wins, half the nation didn't want them there anyway," said Aria Cohen, 22, an American University student majoring in economics and international studies. "I've lost enough sleep over it. I just want to know."
On the restaurant's third floor, Thomas A. Giles of the District stood within inches of a large-screen TV set, absorbed in the courtroom scene.
He was, by far, the most engrossed person of the day.
"Everyone is trying to interpret the laws to suit themselves," he said, adding that he believes in the Electoral College and the laws in place to protect it. "If they just followed the laws and let the chips fall where they may, the best person would get the job.
"As it is, the court is going to end up deciding who is president."

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