Jesse Jackson: 2004 Election 'Ain't Over' -- 12/08/2004

Jesse Jackson: 2004 Election 'Ain't Over'
By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer
December 08, 2004

(Correction: Following the certification of Ohio's election results, Bush defeated Kerry in the state by nearly 119,000 votes.)

Capitol Hill ( - The 2004 presidential election was plagued by fraud and voter suppression, according to some Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, liberal special interest groups and big-name private citizens, who used the formal surroundings of a congressional office building Wednesday to present their evidence.

Many of those present declared the election of 2004 not yet over. "It ain't over," Rainbow PUSH Coalition founder Jesse Jackson declared. "This race is not over until it is certified -- every vote is counted and honored."

The event, called "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio," was chaired by U.S. Rep. John Conyers from Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. It was held at the Rayburn House Office Building, across the street from the U.S. Capitol, and focused on results in the Buckeye State. President Bush won Ohio by nearly 119,000 votes over Democrat John Kerry.

Jackson said Americans "must not adjust to tyranny" and told Judiciary Committee Democrats that he was on hand "to make a moral appeal" for a "thorough investigation" of the election. Jackson is apparently dissatisfied with the early conclusions of the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which sent dozens of its staff to observe this year's U.S. election. According to the group's preliminary findings, available on its website, the 2004 election "was generally marked by professionalism and dedication." The OSCE does acknowledge some of the problems Jackson mentioned on Wednesday.

The "Electoral College should be abolished," Jackson asserted, referring to the 538 votes that when cast determine the actual winner of a presidential election, but do not always match the results of the popular vote. While President Bush won both a majority of electoral votes and the popular vote this year, he managed only to secure the Electoral College majority in 2000 over Democratic candidate Al Gore.

In 2004, Jackson and others said the Election Day problems included malfunctioning electronic voting machines, manipulated exit polls, misinformation and long lines at polling places servicing large numbers of poor people and minorities. These problems amounted to election fraud in Ohio, he said.

Jackson threatened to recruit left wing filmmaker Michael Moore for the election fraud debate if a formal congressional investigation is not launched. "I urge Congress to act before Michael Moore comes and exposes the violation and the capitulation again," Jackson said to applause. Moore directed "Fahrenheit 9/11," the Bush-bashing film that electrified liberals and enraged conservative backers of the president during this year's campaign.

"I urge Congress to come to Ohio immediately to conduct a hearing and you will see the classic legacy of a states' rights election at work," Jackson said, adding that in his judgment, Kerry conceded the race to Bush much too soon.

"When Mr. Kerry left, he took the media scrutiny with him. So it's repeated that it's over. It ain't over," Jackson said. "The election is not over until all votes are counted."

Although Wednesday's event was not an official Judiciary Committee hearing and included no contrasting viewpoints from committee members or witnesses, Conyers' role allowed it to have the appearance of being official. Sponsors conceded that the event, billed as a "hearing," was really a just "forum."

Many in the crowd did not shield their distaste for the Bush administration or Ohio's Republican secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell, the man in charge of certifying the results of that state's election.

Shouts of "prosecute them" and 'put 'em in jail' were shouted from the occasionally rowdy audience in the packed committee room.

Ralph Neas, the president of the liberal group People for the American Way, said he had come to the meeting with "anger and sadness at the travesty, the injustice, the hypocrisy that we have seen, especially in Ohio."

Neas also indicated that Blackwell should face criminal charges for his role in voter fraud. "I think that prosecution is something that should be considered," Neas said of Blackwell.

Following his remarks at the forum, Jesse Jackson told that he is unsure whether a recount and investigations will change the outcome of the presidential election.

"I do not know (if a recount will change the outcome) because we should start the investigation inductively -- it doesn't start with the conclusion," Jackson explained.

Hilary Shelton, the director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, described what he called deception techniques targeting minorities on Election Day. Flyers were sent to black voters telling them the election was two days after the actual date, Shelton charged.

"We were told that if you were for one party, you would vote on one day, on November 2, but if you were the member of another party -- a party that over 88 percent of African Americans supported in this last election -- your day to vote was two days later," Shelton said.

"And indeed people came out to vote two days later and found out they could not cast that vote because of the kind of trickery that [they] were still experiencing," he added. "The trickery has become much more insidious than ever before."

Other participants at the meeting compared the American election system to the recent disputed elections in the Ukraine, the now defunct apartheid system of South Africa and the attempts for free elections in Iraq.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas called for nationalizing federal voting. "We cannot declare that the election of 2004 was free, transparent and real for all those who attempted to vote," Lee said to applause. "The system of voting broke down November 2, 2004," she added.

David Cobb, the Green Party's 2004 presidential candidate, said "ballot access is easier in most states of the former Soviet Union than in many states in this country."

Other participants spoke of how there was a dearth of voting machines in poor minority communities in Ohio, creating huge lines while the machines appeared to be plentiful in richer Republican-leaning precincts.

One speaker charged that the Nov. 2 election results were evidence that American democracy was being threatened. "The very American institution of democracy, as Lincoln put forward, that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish, is at stake here today," said Bob Fitrakis, editor of The Free Press, to loud applause.

John Kerry was not present at Wednesday's forum, but did issue a statement Tuesday, stating that it was "critical" for an investigation to be conducted into the "voting irregularity."

"I want every vote counted in this election, but I also want to make sure there are no questions or doubts in future elections," Kerry said.

Outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe sent out an e-mail to his supporters on Tuesday, promising to "make sure that every vote in Ohio is counted."

" ... the Democratic National Committee has decided to conduct a thorough investigation of key election issues arising from the conduct of the 2004 general election in Ohio," McAuliffe wrote.

"This project seeks to answer such questions as: Why did so many people have to wait in line in certain Ohio precincts and not others? Why weren't there enough machines in some counties and not others? Why were so many Ohioans forced to cast provisional ballots? We will find answers to help implement and advocate reforms in the future," he added.

McAuliffe did acknowledge that "we do not expect either the recount in Ohio or our investigation to overturn the results of this election. But both are vital to protecting every American's voting rights in future elections," he added.

See Earlier Story:
Zogby Polling Seeks Damage Control After Election Day Flub

E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.

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