Friday, January 07, 2005

Republicans Misrepresent Electoral College Challenge

When Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) raised an objection to the Ohio electoral votes yesterday, they were only trying to call attention to the integrity (or lack thereof) of our voting process. I heard Boxer's press conference, and she said explicitly that she did not believe that Bush had lost Ohio (as far as I know, no Democrat in Congress claimed otherwise), but she was concerned about the many voting irregularities there. Since we are supposedly "bringing democracy" to the Middle East, it is crucial for our own elections to be run with the utmost integrity. For this reason, Bush should welcome the inquiry, but instead the Republicans have predictably miscast this as a challenge to Bush's legitimacy:

"Their intention in this whole process is merely to sow doubt and undermine public confidence in the electoral process itself," said Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio). The challenge is "no more than another exercise in their party's primary strategy to obstruct, to divide and to destroy," she said.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called the protest "a shame," while a White House spokesman said it was time for the country to move on not to "engage in conspiracy theories or partisan politics of this nature."

This was not about conspiracy theories at all. While the voting problems in Ohio probably didn't add up to the 118,000 votes that Kerry needed to defeat Bush, there were plenty of documented problems. To my disappointment, the Chicago Tribune's article did not bother to include any information about the irregularities in its story, preferring to talk about the politicians who opposed the challenge. Electionline.org reached the same conclusion that Boxer and Tubbs Jones noted yesterday: the irregularites weren't widespread enough to change the results, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore them. Check out their report (PDF) for more details.

Better yet, look at the report (PDF) from Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan) of the House Judiciary Committee. As a co-author of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, Conyers has a special interest in making sure elections are fair. The Republicans chose to ignore this report (as did much of the media), preferring to blast the Democrats for partisanship. The fact that they also were disrespecting a longtime colleague (Conyers has been in the House since 1964) didn't seem to matter much to them, either. Just imagine the outcry from the GOP propaganda machine if Democrats had treated a senior Republican similarly.

In a democracy, a citizen shouldn't have any reason to doubt whether his/her vote was counted. That's what this was really about, and any attempt to cast it as partisanship is disgraceful.

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