Let Every Vote Count: A Tale of Two Cities
By Horace Cooper
January 17, 2005
"Not only do we have a winner. We have a duty to uphold the Constitution and laws," the Senate majority leader said in a floor speech overruling objections to the November elections. "We don't have a compelling reason to delay."
Was this Tennessee Republican Bill Frist slamming the door on Democrat complaints about George Bush's 100,000-plus margin of victory in Ohio? No, Washington State Democrat Sen. Lisa Brown dismissing a challenge to Democrat Christine Gregoire's 129-vote victory gleaned after two recounts.
It is a tale of two cities that shows political posturing at its worst. Democrats in Washington, D.C., protest irregularities in the November presidential election while remaining silent about problems in Washington State where, by most accounts, a real travesty has occurred.
Where is the provocative and inflammatory rhetoric from Democrats concerned about voter intent or insuring that "every vote count?" Apparently what Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-CA) called a "matter of electoral justice" when it involved President Bush's decisive 100,000-vote plus win over Sen. John F. Kerry in Ohio is irrelevant in the other Washington, when Gregoire's current margin of victory is less than 130 votes out of 2.9 million cast.
Rather than seek an inquiry, state and national Democratic Party leaders have put up a stonewall that would embarrass Richard Nixon. Since Election Day the Washington State
Democrat Party has raised more than $1.5 million in donations including $250,000 each from John Kerry's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and Moveon.org. Even Howard Dean's online fundraiser, Democracy for America, has jumped on board with $200,000.
Yet according to published reports, the irregularities overwhelm any comparison to the Ohio presidential election and even the Florida presidential election debacle of 2000. Even the payment for the recount has now come under scrutiny. The local media are reporting that the lion share of the recount fee was paid for by "powerful interest groups, including labor unions, tribes and trial lawyers" all of whom gave substantially more than they would have been allowed to give to the campaign.
Amazingly neither Boxer nor the Congressional Black Caucus has seen fit to weigh in. In fact, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his cohort of minority demagogues have chosen to eschew any rhyming protests about disenfranchised voters whatsoever. Apparently King County and Washington State just don't lend themselves to any artistically sonorous uses.
Alas, since the "court of rhythmic appeals" has denied his arguments, Republican Dino Rossi and his legal team are pursuing a court case in Chelan County, Wash., Superior
Court. Rossi's main argument is that the number of votes cast illegally greatly outnumbers the 129-vote margin of victory. With the extensive vote handling errors in King County--which Democrats helpfully documented after they came up short in the first two counts--voters are uncertain as to who really won. A new election is in order.
Nearly 200,000 people have signed an online petition urging a runoff between Gregoire and Rossi. A recent Survey USA polls showed 62 percent of state residents said there should be a new election, including a whopping 45 percent of Democrats surveyed.
In King County, which tilted the result to Gregoire in the second recount, there were more votes counted than there are registrants in a precinct. And, even after reducing
the number of so-called ghost votes from 3,500 to just more than 1,200 last week, county officials still had to announce the actual number could be as much as 1,800. And, if that were not bad enough, nearly 400 provisional ballots--which were supposed to be set aside until they could be verified as legitimate--were placed straight into the counting machines after being voted. And, in the coup de grace, Rossi supporters say there is evidence that convicted felons who were banned from voting cast ballots in at least two counties.
Who didn't get their votes counted in all that mess? U.S. military personnel serving overseas, that's who.
Though it seems practically every mortician and parole officer in King County was a certified voter registrar, published reports in the state media established this week that the U.S. Department of Justice had to threaten a lawsuit in October to force the state to mail out its military ballots--which hit the post with less than 30 days to go before the election. At the time the Justice Department made the threat, Washington State was the only state to have not yet put its overseas ballots in the mail.
In the midst of all of this in one Washington, the silence of prominent Democrats asking for an investigation into voter irregularities in the other Washington is deafening. It's hypocrisy, pure and simple. Maybe that's the real reason for Boxer's tears after the presidential votes were counted.
Syndicated columnist Horace Cooper is a senior fellow with the Centre for New Black Leadership.