Monday, January 08, 2007

Pelosi bungles opening of Congress

The 110th session of Congress opened last week and Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the mistake of not challenging the integrity of the voting process.

Unlike the previous Congress when House Democrats voiced concern of the election process, this time the Democratic Party leadership was remarkably silent.

Let’s roll back in time to one of the first assignments of the 109th Congress which was to certify the vote of the Electoral College. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Senator Barbara Boxer spoke eloquently about the problems that voters had in Ohio. George Bush had won Ohio by over 118,000 votes and John Kerry had conceded that whatever irregularities existed may have not been to affect the overall outcome. In the end, the Senate voted 74-1 and the House 267-31 to reject an objection to the certification of Ohio's 20 Electoral College votes and select Bush as President. The point was that Democrats saw problems and voiced their concerns.

This past November had a number of close elections. But at the start of the 110th Congress, Democrats were notably silent on the issue of voting irregularity. The lone exception was Representative Rush Holt who made a Parliamentary Inquiry by stating that “there are nonpartisan and partisan lawsuits under way with regard to Florida's 13th Congressional District and that the votes of 18,000 voters were not recorded on the paperless electronic voting machines in an election decided by only 369 votes.” Aside from this Parliamentary Inquiry, there was no other comments ... just let's get the session started.

That’s correct -- Congress has given the Oath of Office to Vernon Buchanan despite the questionable election results. Meanwhile, Democrat challenger, Christine Jennings has filed suite asking a judge to order a new election because of problems in Sarasota County, where more than 18,000 voters who cast ballots in other races Nov. 7 failed to vote in the congressional contest. That rate is nearly six times higher than in the other counties in the congressional district.

Democrats need to lead to ensure the integrity of the election process. The Help America Vote Act gave States monies to update their election equipment and Congress has the responsibility to review the processes to insure that every vote is counted. Under the Federal Contested Elections Act, the House Administration Committee should hold hearings on the Florida selection … err election.

Why should you care? Think about it, if 18,000 votes were not recorded in Minnesota’s First District, Gil Gutknecht could still be the Congressman. In fact, there were a number of close elections with 15 Republicans and 2 Democrats winning by less than 3% -- well within the margin where voting irregularity could create an undeserving winner.

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