- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2000

”Every vote counts this is America” read the placards held by Democratic supporters of the Gore-Lieberman ticket. But some Democrats are working sedulously to prevent certain votes military votes from being counted. Or at least making it as difficult as possible for those serving in the military to vote and to have those votes expeditiously counted.

As reported by this newspaper’s Rowan Scarborough this week, Democratic lawmakers are apparently maneuvering to kill a measure that would allow polling places to be set up on domestic military bases which would make it easier for military personnel to vote and at least partially ameliorate the problem of collecting and tabulating absentee ballots. If the measure sponsored by California Rep. Bill Thomas does not come up for a vote in the Senate before the congressional session ends in two weeks, it dies on the vine. Angry citizens have been phoning the office of Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, seeking to learn why the Democrats have been dragging their heels effectively keeping the matter from being voted on.

Mr. Daschle and other leading Democrats strenuously deny any intent to hamper members of the armed services from exercising their franchise but that’s clearly how it appears. Somehow, one cannot help imagining that if the same zeal Democrats have shown when it comes to registering and otherwise aiding their constituencies, such as recent immigrants, minority voters and even the homeless, were directed toward the military ballot issue, we’d see action.

Daschle spokeswoman Ranit Schmelzer claimed Mr. Daschle “has not attempted to block the bill. He has not blocked it. He would never block it.” But when Republican staffers attempted to expedite the bill and bring it to the floor for a vote, “cloakroom aides representing Mr. Daschle” told them the bill was being “held,” according to Mr. Scarborough’s report. “Our committee has been told by the Senate leadership that there is a hold on the bill from Senator Daschle’s office,” said Mr. Thomas’ spokesman, Jason Poblete.

Mr. Thomas promised to revive the legislation in a broader election bill he plans to introduce next year, in the event Democrats succeed in their attempt to block the measure this year.

Given the appalling effort to disqualify overseas military ballots in the presidential election on the fear that military personnel might tend to be more supportive of the Republican ticket it appears that Democrats are working to hedge their bets for the next go-around. While those serving in the armed forces may of course exercise their franchise via absentee ballots, having polling places on base would make it significantly easier for them to vote and for their votes to be counted in a timely manner. But for Mr. Daschle and his Democratic legions, “every vote counts” may just be a convenient political slogan applicable to times, places and people favorable to Democratic candidates for office.

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