So much for Sen. John Kerry’s humble return to politics. On Monday at a breakfast in Boston honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Kerry took the stage to denounce what he considers wide-spread suppression of voters in Ohio — a state Mr. Kerry lost by a 118,000 votes. “Thousands of people were suppressed in their efforts to vote,” he alleged. “Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways … In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans [went] through in 10 minutes. Same voting machines, same process, our America,” Mr. Kerry continued, in a speech the Boston Globe said “exhibited a passion that many of his critics found him to be lacking on the campaign trail.” Oh, lest we forget, the senator also confessed that his legal team had found no evidence to prove any of this.
So why the whine? The simplest answer is that at a heavily Democratic gathering, Mr. Kerry was merely giving his audience what it wanted to hear. Out in the fever swamps of the Democratic base, the general assumption is that their candidate did not lose — the Republicans just cheated. The Globe’s account of it, however, suggests something different: “Without offering details, Kerry aides said yesterday that the senator plans to file legislation to correct some of the election problems that occurred in 2000 and 2004.” All of which sounds to us like a noble undertaking. The country’s voting process should be subject to constant scrutiny and review, both on the state and federal level. Should Mr. Kerry provide the details, including the appropriations for his legislation, then it could be a worthwhile endeavor, forgetting of course that in Ohio none of the allegations of systematic voter fraud have held up.
At the same time, it’s curious that Mr. Kerry should use Ohio as an example to trumpet his forthcoming legislation. Apparently, Mr. Kerry sees no evil in Wisconsin, where his margin of victory was 11,000 votes, and where the watchful bloggers at Captainsquartersblog.com have noticed some disturbing irregularities. Milwaukee County, which broke for Mr. Kerry 62 percent to 37 percent, saw voter turnout increase by just under 49,000 votes, or 10 percent, from 2000. For comparison, the national voter increase was 6.4 percent. A portion of that increase can be attributed to the 83,000 people who completed a same-day registration, which is more than 20 percent of all voting-age residents in the county. Blogger Captain Ed is rightly suspicious: “Now, Wisconsinites may procrastinate a bit, but in order to believe that number, you’d have to expect that 20% of the county had moved or became newly eligible within the past two years (after the previous election cycle).” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reports that now 10,000 of those registrations cannot be verified, or just under the number of votes that clinched the state for Mr. Kerry.
So, we look forward to reviewing Mr. Kerry’s legislation, though with a warning that in the future he choose his examples more wisely.