Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Congress tomorrow is set to certify the Electoral College vote confirming the re-election of President Bush, but some say the election results are invalid and plan to disrupt the process.

Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, will formally object to the Ohio count. Other House Democrats are putting pressure on senators to force a floor debate.

“We’re not going to roll over and surrender when we know there have been countless voting irregularities in Ohio,” Mr. Conyers told BlackAmericaWeb.com Monday. “This is the second time that George W. Bush had a one-state victory that is hugely controversial. We are asking for careful consideration by the House and Senate.”

It takes one House member plus one senator to force a two-hour debate before a full vote is taken to validate the election. Such debate would “enable members of Congress to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio — which are very prevalent virtually everywhere else in the country as well — that disenfranchised innumerable Ohio voters,” said Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat.

Mr. Conyers, Mr. Jackson and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Democrat, are leading the House charge and say that three senators are considering joining forces to contest the results, Roll Call reported this week.

The lawmakers declined to say which senators are being courted, but called on failed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to help block the results.

“On Thursday we need a senator to stand up. Either Dick Durbin [Illinois Democrat], Harry Reid [Nevada Democrat] or John Kerry himself as the candidate should stand up and support an investigation into Ohio’s voting process,” Mr. Jackson said.

A spokesman for Mr. Kerry said the senator supports examining voting irregularities, which is “crucial to our democracy, not because it would change the outcome of the election.”

Mr. Jackson called on newly sworn-in Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, to support them. Mr. Obama said his staff is reviewing the Ohio resolution, but said he has not decided whether he will sign it.

“The election is over and President Bush won fair and square, so I don’t think we need to challenge the election, but we continue to have chronic problems in our voting system,” he said. “Some of the practices in Ohio were clearly illegal and disenfranchised voters and, let’s be real about this, some Republicans were denied their rights to vote as well.”

Mr. Bush won Ohio by 119,000 votes, two percentage points ahead of Mr. Kerry. Nearly 40 voters are challenging the victory in the Ohio Supreme Court, citing voting irregularities, but Chief Justice Thomas Moyer has yet to rule.

Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell says the election should not be prolonged.

“Jesse Jackson can complain, grandstand, whine, stamp his feet all he wants,” said Carlo LoParo, Mr. Blackwell’s spokesman. “It’s not going to change the results of Ohio’s election or how voters cast their ballots on November 2.”

Meanwhile, protesters from the Committee to ReDefeat the President plan to rally outside the Capitol tomorrow at noon. The political action committee was formed in August 2003 by David Lytel, who served in the White House Office of Science and Technology policy in the Clinton administration and is a co-founder of Democrats.com.

According to the most recent financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission Dec. 16, the organization had just more than $2,500 cash on hand.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is scheduled to speak at the rally, along with “Granny D.,” who walked cross-country to promote campaign finance reform.

“Who from the greater [city] will come to witness and support the constitutional challenge to Bush in Washington on January 6th?” the Web site says. As of Monday, fewer than 10 persons had indicated they planned to attend the rally.

The committee applied for and received a permit to protest near the Russell Senate Office Building, but a spokesman for the Capitol Police refused to say how many protesters the committee said in its application planned to participate.

• Brian DeBose contributed to this report.

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