- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2000

House Democrats yesterday tried to deflect criticism that their party is to blame for the dismissal of thousands of military ballots in the Florida election by calling for congressional hearings to examine the military balloting process.
Republicans are highlighting the disqualification of 40 percent of overseas military ballots in Florida, which benefits Vice President Al Gore's campaign, in the hopes of making it a 2002 campaign issue.
"I am greatly disturbed by the perception the Democratic Party is trying to keep the military from voting," said Rep. Gene Taylor, Mississippi Democrat, during a Capitol Hill press conference.
Florida Democrats not directly connected to Mr. Gore's campaign continued their cases yesterday in front of a federal judge to reject overseas ballots, most from military personnel.
Some canvassing boards dismissed numerous ballot lacking postmarks or dates, while other counties accepted ballots with the same omissions.
The congressional hearings would guide future drafting of legislation to address the postmarking issue and ensure the integrity of the election process.
"If a federal absentee ballot is otherwise properly executed, it should be counted, even if the postmark is in question," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Democrat. "Every absentee voter is entitled to the same treatment."
Mr. Abercrombie said military men, women and families are being used as "pawns in a partisan battle."
"Attempts to make it so risks politicizing the military in a manner antithetical to democracy," Mr. Abercrombie said.
Rep. Ronnie Shows, Mississippi Democrat, said hearings will find solutions, not lay blame.
"We're not going after a party, a person, of whose fault this is," Mr. Shows said.

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