Casting Ballots Of Beans: Restaurant's Poll Has Track Record

With just a day before the real decision is made by voters, jars of beans at a Tyler restaurant may predict the winner -- at least the winner here in East Texas. Sweet Sue's Restaurant has been running their unscientific bean poll for the past four presidential elections. Every time, the winner there has won the Smith County vote.

Employee Chris Jones will count the hundreds, if not thousands, of beans: "I think this is the biggest response we've ever had."

The beans have it, so far. Starting with Clinton and Bush -- the other Bush -- Sweet Sue's fiber rich bean poll has picked every president to win the East Texas vote.

Manager Nathan Priest: "It's just something fun for the customers to get involved with, and we have a lot of fun with it."

But whether it's a ballot or a bean, they take every vote seriously.

Customer Danny Pinckney cast a bean for President Bush: "In a way, I don't think we ought to change horses in the middle of the stream."

Robert Williams disagrees: "The way I feel is that Bush is a good president, but the other one needs to win it."

Customer Don Etheredge: "I really question how Senator Kerry is running such a close race with our great president George W. Bush."

Close? How Close? The president is running a good three to one over Kerry. With more beans cast than ever, it's not an enviable job to count them.

Chris Jones: "There's a lot of pressure to it." She will count them by hand "two at a time."

Voters say with no hanging or dimpled chads, just the dimpled beans, it's a good way to take a vote. But could there still be shenanigans?

Reporter: "Is there any stuffing of the beans?" Manager Priest: "I caught a couple of people."

Diner Steve Ashby says he found a bean, "laying on the floor over there and we called it a 'hanging chad.' A 'Florida vote.'"

For now, the populace has spoken until the real Election Day.

Sweet Sue's has had bean polls not only for presidential races, but also for governor.

And that's the only time it's been wrong. Two years ago, gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez won the bean poll, only to be defeated by Governor Rick Perry in the Smith County vote.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.