As US Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, chaired Tuesday’s hearing on irregularities in the presidential voting in Ohio on November 2, the Rev. Jesse Jackson warned that the session must be more than merely an opportunity to “vent.”
“We cannot vent and then have Congress not act. If these reports are not investigated, we have all wasted our time,” the two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination declared. “This cannot simply be an academic venting session. Take this struggle to the streets and legitimize it there, as they did in Selma.”
Jackson is right. There is no question that the voting and ballot counting processes in Ohio–and a number of other states–were deeply flawed. Those flaws are well outlined in the letter that Conyers and eleven other Democratic representatives sent earlier this month to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. (Click here to read the letter and other recent communications from Conyers to state and federal officials regarding the electoral troubles in Ohio.)
The letter, as well as testimony at today’s hearing in Washington, makes a convincing case for continuing the examination of the mess that Blackwell, a Bush partisan, and his team made of the voting in Ohio on November 2. Necessarily, that examination must include the full recount requested by Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and others.
But it is important to recognize that the sort of election problems that were discussed at Tuesday’s hearing are not isolated to Ohio–just as the problems that came to light during the Florida recount fight of 2000 were not isolated to the Sunshine State.
The United States lacks a coherent and consistent set of standards for registering to vote, voting, counting ballots or recounting them. Thus, every election cycle brings new instances of disenfranchisement and doubts about the validity of the process.
On the eve of the Conyers hearing, the new group Progressive Democrats of America released a well-reasoned list of electoral reforms which can and should become central to the activism of everyone who is dissatisfied with the process–and the result–of the November 2 election. PDA argues that America needs:
* A Constitutional amendment confirming the right to vote.
* A required paper record for all electronic and electronically tabulated voting systems.