David Cobb, the Green Party presidential candidate who has devoted the past two months to the arduous task of pressing for a full review of the mess that Ohio officials made of the election in that state, called on Friday afternoon to proclaim a sort of victory. “I think we’ve finally got a movement going for election reform in this country,” Cobb said.
To an extent, he’s right.
At the grassroots level, there appears to be growing support for a count-every-vote, eliminate-every-opportunity-for-fraud standard that would radically alter the way in which the United States runs elections.
And, to some small extent, this enthusiasm for election reform has been communicated to those members of Congress who are still interested in what their constituents say — as was evidenced by Thursday’s decision on the part of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, to support the objection by members of the House to the certification of Ohio’s electoral votes. The objection, and the Congressional debates that followed, were decried by the usual suspects — White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who has the distinction of having never told the truth in his official capacity, dismissed evidence of disenfranchisement of minority voters as “conspiracy theories” — but they also drew enough thoughtful coverage and editorial comment from mainstream media to suggest that the fight was worth it.
A lot more Americans know about our flawed voting systems now. And a few more Democrats in Congress seem to have gotten the point that it is not appropriate to casually certify the results of an election that has been tainted by evidence of disenfranchisement, voter suppression and official misdeeds.
While critics tried to remake the Congressional challenge as an attempt to reverse the result of the 2004 election in Ohio, and by extension nationally, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, explained that, “This objection does not have at its root the hope or even the hint of overturning or challenging the victory of the president.” The point, said Tubbs Jones, was to expose the fundamental flaws in the current system and to highlight the need for reform.
It was, added Boxer, a matter of “electoral justice.”
Unfortunately, that point was lost on every Republican member of the House and Senate and on the vast majority of Democrats. When all was said and done, only one member of the Senate (Boxer) took a stand for electoral justice by refusing to back certification of the Ohio results. There was more support in the House, from 31 members: Florida’s Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings, Indiana’s Julia Carson, Missouri’s William Clay Jr., South Carolina’s James Clyburn, Michigan’s John Conyers and Carolyn Kilpatrick, Illinois’ Danny Davis, Lane Evans, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jan Schakowsky, California’s Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey, Arizona’s Raul Grijalva, New York’s Maurice Hinchey and Major Owens, Texas’s Sheila Jackson-Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ohio’s Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Dennis Kucinich, Georgia’s John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney, Massachusetts’ Ed Markey and John Olver, New Jersey’s Frank Pallone and Donald Payne, and Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson.