Bulletin 168

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9 January 2005

Grenoble, France


Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,


The confrontations which occurred in two special sessions of Congress last Tuesday (6 January) ended with a defeat for democracy, despite heoric resistance on the part of a few elected representatives. The alternative press in America continues to offer information and analysis of the consequences of this grim defeat.


In the U.S. Senate the final vote to ratify Ohio's 20 Electoral College votes for the Bush/Cheney ticket was 74 to 1;  while the House of Representatives voted 267-31 in favor of certifying the Ohio outcome. California Senator Barbara Boxer was the only dissenting vote at the special sesson of the U.S. Senate, and Oakland, California Representative Barbara Lee was among the 31 who voted no at the special session in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Below, in item A., we have from San Diego community organizer Monty Kroopkin a series of sources offering important insights into on this historic congressional confrontation.


Item B. is an account published in The New Standard in which investigative reporters, from Brian Dominick and Ariella Cohen, give a blow-by-blow account of the violent debate which took place at the special sessions in both houses of Congress last Thursday.


Item C. Linda Burnham writes of the challenge that the 2004 elections present to American feminists, who have for too long ignored the social class divisions within women's groups, and who have not effectively addressed issues of racism and other social prejudices which have divided women as a group.




Francis McCollum Feeley

Professor of American Studies

Director of Research

Université Stendhal-Grenoble3






from Monty Kroopkin

San Diego, California

9 January 2005

Subject: my comment on Electoral College vote & links to reports


Dear friends and family,

As you may have already heard, Senator Barbara Boxer joined with House members on January 6 to object to certification of the Electoral College vote for Ohio so the Senate and House would be forced to discuss for two hours the election irregularities, which disproportionately disenfranchised African-American and minority voters, women, and students. I am sending you links to several news reports I've read. I especially recommend the ones from Democracy Now, The Columbus (Ohio) Free Press, and The Washington Post, along with the background pieces I pulled together. These links follow my short cover note.


I have received more than one appeal for letters of support to be sent to Senator Boxer, Senator Reid, and the members of the House voting for the objection. I am not passing those appeals on in the form they were written.


I do not share the enthusiasm of those that think their stand was courageous. Had they really wanted to be courageous, they might have objected to the Electoral College vote in every state where problems were reported, especially those with paperless electronic voting machines, thereby delaying the final Republican majority rubber stamp of the results by days, not just hours.  They could have bluntly declared they/we cannot accept the validity of the results unless and until the raw data from the exit polls is released and all other investigations of "irregularities" have been truly concluded. Or they could bolt the corrupt One Party "2 Party" sham and join the Green Party or the I.W.W. or do countless other things that might warrant the word "courageous".


The investigations continue, including the one in the House, and we really do not yet know who won this election, or if it was won by illegal means, worthy of prosecution or even impeachment. But raising at least some objection was simply the moral thing to do, and, in an arena of rampant immorality like Congress, that alone may deserve some comments of support.


Therefore, I have put the contact information at the bottom of this letter. I plan to send them a copy of this letter.


--Monty Kroopkin




Links to Articles and broadcast transcripts on January 6, 2005 objection to congressional certification of the electoral college vote:


Democracy Now (Pacifica Network TV news):



CSPAN complete coverage of house and senate debate on the objection:



The Columbus Free Press:



Washington Post:



PLUS a few related background articles:

The senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan says Congress should challenge the Electoral College vote:



The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee has asked The Associated Press

and five broadcast networks to turn over raw exit poll data:



TV Networks Officially Refuse to Release Exit Poll Raw Data



The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy  t r u t h o u t | Report





New York Times:



Los Angeles Times:



San Diego Union-Tribune:



San Francisco Chronicle:





Email Senator Boxer at: http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm



Contact information from MoveOn:

"Sen. Boxer and Sen. Reid need to hear a big thank you from all of us now

that we've begun this public debate. Please let them know that you support them

by signing our thank you letter at the link below.



"Thousands of us called our Senators to encourage them to step forward and open this debate. We know that that support was important in making this leadership possible.


"Unfortunately Sen. Boxer is already under attack from the conservative forces who approve, through their inaction, the voting problems that shut out large numbers of voters -- disproportionately minority voters. After you sign the thank you letter we need you to help get the word out through the media by writing letters of support for Sen. Boxer to the editors of your local newspaper. Please click below to get started.



"As we've written before, the winners of these tainted elections assert that their outcomes didn't depend on the fraud. But even in sports, referees call penalties and enforce the rules, whether or not the game is at stake. Nowhere in the Constitution does it describe some acceptable level of denying Americans their votes. That's why Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Stephanie Tubbs

Jones (D-OH) and other Democrats have been working so hard to investigate what happened.


"Hundreds of thousands of concerned Americans have been speaking out for weeks about the voting problems. Today Democratic representatives and senators listened and stood up for voting rights.


"Thanks for everything you do.


"--The MoveOn PAC Team

  January 7th, 2005"




from Brian Dominick and Ariella Cohen

The NewStandard

8 January 2005


            Electoral Vote Challenge Meets Venomous Response in Congress      

            by Brian Dominick and Ariella Cohen



In special sessions of both chambers of Congress Thursday, Republican lawmakers met a handful of Democratic colleagues with vitriolic diatribes when the latter raised concerns about electoral irregularities that took place during Ohio's controversial November 2 election process. The Democrats' challenge came on the heals of a congressional report detailing numerous allegations of disenfranchisement in Ohio.


In a departure from traditional procedure, the joint session of Congress convened to certify the electoral vote count and officially recognize George W. Bush as president elect broke up for two hours of separate debate among senators and representatives. The special session was activated when Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) joined Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and other House members in challenging the certification of Ohio's 20 crucial electoral votes.


Rather than an attempt to overturn the outcome of the 2004 election, Democratic legislators said they wished to use their protest as a means of highlighting what they consider ongoing election problems that stand little chance of correction unless the status quo is confronted.


"This objection," Tubbs Jones said on the House floor, "does not have at its root the hope or even the hint of overturning the victory of the president but it is a necessary, timely and appropriate opportunity to review and remedy the most precious process in our democracy. I raise this objection neither to put the nation in the turmoil of a proposed overturned election nor to provide cannon fodder or partisan demagoguery for my fellow members of Congress."


Speaking to the press Thursday morning, Boxer announced her decision to co-sign Tubbs Jones' objection. "Every citizen of this country who is registered to vote should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted and that in the voting booth," Boxer said, "their vote has as much weight as any senator, any congressperson, any president, any cabinet member, or any CEO of any Fortune 500 corporation."


The chief concerns raised by dissenting politicians were mostly straightforward, like the alleged misallocation of voting machines that affected primarily Democratic districts.


Voters waited "hours and hours and hours in the rain to vote," Boxer said. "Why did an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 voters leave polling places in frustration without having voted? How many more never even bothered to vote after they heard about this?"


Boxer also asked, "Why did Franklin County officials reduce the number of electronic voting machines in downtown precincts while adding them in the suburbs?"


To punctuate the urgency of her appeal, Boxer said the time has come to "cast the light of truth on a flawed system which must be fixed now. Not in years from now, but now."


The fiercest debate took place in the House, where visibly frustrated Republicans unleashed verbal attacks on their Democratic colleagues. Representative Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) said she regretted that so early in the 2005 session, Congress was "bogged down" in "frivolous debate." She warned the American public not to be deceived by dissenters, whom she called "aspiring fantasy authors" of "wild conspiracy theories," possessing "no credible agenda for America" and bent on "baseless and meritless tactics."


Florida Republican Ric Keller distilled his message down to three simple words: "Get over it," he told Democratic detractors. Rep. David Hobson, an Ohio Republican, called the proceedings "outrageous."


House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) said questions about Ohio's electoral process should be dealt with in Ohio, not in the United States Congress. "Every time we attack the process, we cast that doubt on that fabric of democracy that is so important."


In an apparent attempt to argue against the Democratic challenges, Blunt continued: "People do have to have confidence that the process works in a proper way. They don't need to believe that it is absolutely perfect because after all it's the greatest democracy in the history of the world. And it's run by people who step forward and make a system work in ways that nobody would believe until they see it, to produce the result of what people want to have happen on election day."


Calling the proceeding "an assault against the institutions of our representative democracy" and "a threat to the very ideals it ostensibly defends," Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) denied that any voter disenfranchisement took place anywhere in 2004 or 2000. He accused Democrats of crying wolf, and wondered "what will happen" when a future election is actually stolen.


Rep. Tubbs Jones, one of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, that spearheaded the challenge, preempted Republican attacks by setting the tone of the admittedly symbolic protest. "It is on behalf of those millions of Americans who believe in and value our democratic process and the right to vote that I put forth this objection today," she said. "If they are willing to stand at polls for countless hours in the rain, as many did in Ohio, then I should surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress."


North Carolina Democrat Mel Watt couched his objection in terms of the US agenda abroad. "The United States cannot continue to claim that it stands for and is willing to fight for democracy and the rights of people to vote in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world while not being willing to do whatever is necessary to guarantee the vote of our citizens here at home," Watt said.


The handful of Democrats who acknowledged the voter disenfranchisement made clear that while Ohio may have been under the most scrutiny and may have seen some of the worst election irregularities, the state was but an example of voting problems throughout the nation.


In the end, each house had to vote on whether to accept Ohio's 20 electoral votes for the Bush/Cheney ticket. The Senate voted 74-1, with Sen. Boxer maintaining her objection, while in the House, the vote was 267-31 in favor of certifying the Ohio outcome.



Staff Report Details Voter Disenfranchisement


Thursday's challenge was bolstered by a report on Ohio's electoral irregularities put together by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee and released on Wednesday.


Entitled Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio, the report recommends that Congress challenge results of the electoral tally, charging that the electors from the state of Ohio were unlawfully appointed by embattled Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth J. Blackwell.


The report also recommends immediate appointment of a joint committee to investigate election irregularities.


"Votes weren't counted and there was possible machine tampering," Judiciary Committee staffer Dena Graziano told The NewStandard Thursday. "Clearly, election law wasn't carried out the way it was supposed to be in Ohio."


Even the third party-sponsored recount in Ohio fell prey to procedural gaffe, the report contends. According to its final analysis, "numerous specific irregularities in the recount are inconsistent with several aspects of Ohio's recount law."


Problems found in the investigation of the recount included insecure storage of ballots and machinery, the counting of irregularly marked ballots, and a failure of counties to allow witnesses for candidates to observe the recount -- a right guaranteed in Ohio law. In some counties, results were not rechecked after it was found that hand counts did not match machine counts.


The report concludes that the Ohio Secretary of State's failure to set specific standards for the recount yielded a lack of uniformity that may violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Process Clause of the Constitution.


Federal law states that all controversies regarding the appointment of electors must be resolved at least six days prior to the seating of the electors on December 13. The judiciary report points out that the official recount of the Ohio vote had not been completed by that December 7 deadline. According to Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee, Secretary of State Blackwell, who formerly chaired the state's


Bush/Chaney 2000 Campaign may have intentionally delayed the certification of the electors in order to make a complete recount impossible before the December 13 seating.


Today on Capital Hill, protesters rallied in support of the election challenge taking place in Congress and calling for further investigation into the election.


"The hope is that we can create some new legislation to fix the problems we saw this election," Graziano said, adding that members of Congress plan to create laws to fix problems that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) did not address.


Following the 2000 election, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan), drafted the Help America Vote Act. Since last November, the Michigan civil rights advocate has spearheaded investigation into the 2004 election. The Preserving Democracy report came out of research done by House Democrats, as well as testimonials given by Ohio voters and legal observers at two public forums, including one judiciary briefing moderated by Conyers last month on Capitol Hill. Although invited to attend by House Democrats, no Republicans attended last month's briefing.


The Judiciary Committee Democrats cited sources ranging from New York Times articles to Board of Elections records and voter testimonies in their report. The 102-page document relies on experiential and statistical data, as well as extensive legislative foregrounding, to prove that the misallocation of voting machines in minority and low-income precincts resulted in mass, illegal disenfranchisement.


The long poll lines in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Gambier, and Toledo, the report argues, demonstrate that Blackwell did not act in compliance with Title III of HAVA, a provision which establishes funding for states to provide uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration.


According to state funding records contained in the report, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) processed $32,562,331 for the fiscal year 2003 and $58,430,186 for 2004 election costs. A lack of public information on how Ohio spent its HAVA funds prevented Judiciary Committee staffers from further reporting on why these funds did not appear to allay resource shortages in the state's Democratic precincts. Yet, the report does say that it was a statewide Board of Elections policy that instituted disproportionate allocations.


Under election policy, voter history and past turn-out statistics decide how many machines will go out to each polling location, a deployment strategy that discriminates against voters in areas with a shorter or less steady history of electoral participation.


Last month, the Washington Post reported that "in Franklin County, '27 of the 30 wards with the most [voting] machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush...[while] six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.'" Quoting this data, House Democrats say that patterns of machine deployment in the state violate legal codes.


"A conscious failure to provide sufficient voting machinery violates the Ohio Revised Code which requires the Board of Elections 'to provide adequate facilities at each polling place for conducting the election,'" the report states.


Committee investigation also found the process surrounding the casting and counting of provisional ballots deeply problematic.


In the report's analysis, Blackwell's decision to restrict the use of provisional ballots was "critical in the election," and the restriction may have resulted in the "disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters." The report mentions that one polling place in Hamilton County could not count more than 1,100 votes because of Blackwell's choice to interpret federal election law narrowly and only count provisional ballots cast at the right precinct, even in cases where poll workers gave voters incorrect information and instructions.


"In our judgment, Mr. Blackwell's restrictive interpretation violates the spirit, if not the letter of HAVA," the report says.


According to their investigation, other states with broader readings of the federal code did not report the "chaos and confusion that Mr. Blackwell claimed to be the rationale for his decision."




from Linda Burnham

Z Magazine

8 January 2005


No Mandate from Women of Color  

     by Linda Burnham 



Millions of people worked as hard as they possibly could to turn the country onto a different path and still the village idiot was elected.


What to make of such an outcome? What do we know about the participation of women of color at the polls? Did women of color and White women move in the same political direction? And how do the results inform women's rights and racial justice activists about the critical tasks ahead?


It's an exceptionally bitter pill, but we must swallow it whole. The November balloting, a referendum on an aggressively militaristic foreign policy, defiant of the most basic human rights norms, was a stunning setback for peace and progress. No real alternative course of action was offered by a cowed and strategically bankrupt opposition party. But it is still the case that, given the choice between delusional, reckless empire building and the faint possibility of a more measured approach to world affairs a majority of the electorate chose the former. They also chose to reinstate an administration that promotes massive disinvestment from communities of color, a bold assertion of patriarchal values in public policy, and privatization of every last scrap of social capital.


There are nearly as many theories about how we arrived at this outcome as there are voters. But we can be clear about at least one thing. Had it been up to women-of-color voters, the current resident of the White House would be packing his bags and heading back to Texas.


According to CNN exit polls based on over 13,000 respondents, Bush received 62 percent and Kerry 37 percent of the vote from White men. Fifty-five percent of White women voted for Bush, while 44 percent voted for Kerry. Only thirty percent of men of color voted for Bush, while 67 percent of them voted for Kerry. Most significantly, 75 percent of women of color voted for Kerry, which means less than one-quarter of women of color supported the current administration's policies.


The voting patterns of women of color led the trends in our communities, which voted heavily Democratic. Bush received only 11 percent of Black votes. Unsettled controversies remain regarding the Asian American and Latina/o vote, but Bush received a decided minority of votes in these communities as well. An estimated 24- 34 percent of Asian American voters and 33 percent - 40 percent of Latina/o voters supported Bush.* A substantial majority of Arab American voters also cast their ballots for change. Native American figures are not available.


Much has been made of the gender gap in US elections. Organizations stake their political strategies and their income streams on the margins between male and female voters. The gender gap refers to the difference in the percentage of women and men who vote for a given candidate, and to the tendency of women to vote more heavily Democratic than men. On November 2, 48 percent of women versus 55 percent of men voted to re-elect Bush. However, despite the administration's record, Bush gained 5 percentage points among women from 2000 to 2004. The Republican victory can be attributed, in no small part, to an increase in women's support. Where did this support come from?


While some statistics talk to us, others virtually scream out for interpretation. Let's contemplate, for a moment, the Mississippi vote, where White women and non-White** women voted in an exact mirror image of each other. A jaw-dropping 89 percent of White women in the state voted for Dubya, while 89 percent of Black women voted for Kerry. This margin of difference along racial lines was widest in Mississippi, but gaps of 50-60 percentage points were common in the Southern states, and the national divergence between White women and women of color settled in at 31 percentage points: 55 percent of White women voted for Bush while 24 percent of women of color did. A single-minded focus on the gender gap sidesteps this troubling reality.


Does it make sense for feminists to give their entire attention on the 5-10 percent electoral gap between women and men and none to the 30-80 percent gap between women of color and white women? What are the strategic consequences of that focus?


If we are striving for reality-based politics, and we certainly cannot afford to do otherwise at this moment in history, we will conduct a deep inquiry into why and how women's political thinking diverges so profoundly along the colorline. What motivated a majority of White women, especially in the South, to identify their interests so thoroughly with those of the Republican Party? How we can begin to bridge the racial chasm in US politics to further a progressive agenda?


There are no ready answers to these lines of inquiry. But perhaps pursuing them honestly will jog us out of denial for long enough to think creatively about how to approach the bleak four years ahead.




* Figures for Black vote from CNN exit polls. Latina/o vote from the Willie C. Velasquez Institute and NBC. Asian American vote from Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and APIAVote. Arab American vote from Arab American Institute.


**Census figures categorize 61% of Mississippi women as White and 37% as Black. http://www.census.gov/popest/states/asrh/tables/SC-EST2003-03/SC-EST2003-03-28.pdf


Web Resources


Women's Voices, Women Vote: http://www.wvwv.org/

Votes for Women 2004: http://www.votesforwomen2004.org/

Center for American Women and Politics: http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/

Willie C. Velasquez Institute: www.wcvi.org

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: www.aaldef.org

Arab American Institute: www.aaiusa.org

APIAVote: www.apiavote.org



 * Linda Burnham is the Executive Director of the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland, CA. She helped coordinate the Count Every Vote initiative in the South.