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  2005-01-07-Barbara Boxer-Ohio Election 

Harrison Weblog

2005 blog


Keeping up with Jewish officeholders

Barbara Boxer joins Stephanie Tubbs Jones
in symbolic objection to certifying Ohio's 
presidential vote, citing voting irregularities
,  Jan. 7, 2005

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the new deputy Democratic whip in the Senate, made a symbolic protest of the presidential election results in Ohio, forcing a two-hour debate in the Senate before that body voted 74-1 yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 6) to certify President George W. Bush's re-election victory over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Boxer's objection echoed one made in the House of Representatives by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Democrat representing the Cleveland area.  The House voted 267-31 to certify President Bush's victory.

Before objecting to the certification of the results in their respective chambers, the congresswoman and the senator held a news conference explaining that while they did not challenge President Bush's re-election, they wanted to focus attention on voting irregularities that had occurred in the Ohio election in order to build support for election reform legislation.

Tubbs Jones, who had persuaded Boxer to join her in the protest, said in her district, "poor and minority communities had disproportionately long waits—4 to 5 hour waits were widespread. ... Cuyahoga County had an overall provisional ballot rejection rate of 32 percent.  Rejection rates for provisional ballots in African American precincts/ wards in Cleveland, Ohio, averaged 37 percent and ranged as high as 51 percent."

Tubbs Jones, an African-American, added that "thousands of partisan challengers—concentrated in Cuyahoga County's minority and Democratic communities—effectively served to intimidate voters and confuse poll workers. There were both inconsistent and illegal requests for photo identification."

Boxer, in her statement, asked a series of questions:

"Why did voters in Ohio wait hours in the rain to vote?  Why were voters at Kenyan College, for example, made to wait in line until nearly 4 a.m. to vote because there were only two machines for 1300 voters?  Why did poor and predominantly African-American communities have disproportionately long waits?

"Why in Franklin County did election officials only use 2,798 machines when they said they needed 5,000?  Why did they hold back 68 machines in warehouses?  Why were 42 of those machines in predominantly African-American districts.  Why did, in the Columbus area alone, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 voters leave polling places, out of frustration, without having voted?  How many more never bothered to vote after they heard about this?"

Boxer paid tribute to Tubbs Jones for initiating the protest.  She noted that the congresswoman previously had served as a judge for 10 years, and before that was a prosecutor for 8 years.  In 2002 Tubbs Jones was an inductee into the Women's Hall of Fame, and "I am proud to stand with her in filing this objection."

Tubbs Jones said the Congress should enact legislation that would:

•"Allow all voters to vote early—so that obligations of employment and family will not interfere with the ability to cast a vote.

•"Establish a national holiday—Election Day—to bring attention to the importance of the vote.

•"Require those who work in the voting booth to be fairly compensated, adequately educated and sufficiently supported such that the job importance will be elevated...

•"Provide equipment—whether it is the traditional punch card or the more modern electronic machines that are property calibrated, fully tested for accuracy, and provide a paper trail to ensure a verifiable audit of every vote."                                    Donald H. Harrison