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News :: Human Rights
We need Congress to go to Ohio Now
11 Dec 2004
We must not adjust to tyranny and gloat that imperfection in voting irregularities and suppression tactics are reasonable expectations. They are not. Too many world changing events have hinged on one vote for us to be cavalier when thousands are systematically disenfranchised.
We must not adjust to tyranny and gloat that imperfection in voting irregularities and suppression tactics are reasonable expectations. They are not. Too many world changing events have hinged on one vote for us to be cavalier when thousands are systematically disenfranchised.

I am here today to make a moral appeal for a thorough investigation - including forensic computer analysis of the machines - in Ohio.

(This is an abridged version of Rev. Jackson’s statement and comments at the end of the forum)

To recount the vote in the face of so many irregularities and inconsistencies. And for those in charge to recluse themselves inasmuch as the judge or the referee in a battle must have a detached objectivity with the appearance of fairness. We must further change the law.

I am here today to speak up for the poor, for too long denied the right to vote. For women whose right to vote was extended in the 1920’s, for whites who could not pay poll taxes, and Latinos who are English language challenged. For African Americans, this has been a 346 year journey, a long road of bloody battles, denials, unjust laws, lynchings, work without wages, and through it all, served honorably in our nation s military to create and defend democracy around the world. This right has been too slow coming, survived by too much violence, for our leadership to be so cavalier and with a shrug of a shoulder, to let it go.

In Ohio I stood in the rain for 2 hours, for 4 hours, for 8 hours, just to cast a vote that might or might not be counted. Some were told they were in the wrong line, sometimes with more than one precinct in the room, told to go to the back of the line, in line 2. For the poor, illiterate, the old and sick, this was classic voter suppression.

I am here today to speak up for Latinos in Nevada, who were falsely registered to vote by thugs who then tore up their voter registration forms, throwing them in the trash. I am here today to speak up for Native Americans, who continue to be mistreated and ripped off by powerful public officials in so many states, who ask only to be allowed to go cast their votes in a land that was taken from them by force.

We must not betray dreams of those that paid such a high price by silence, impatience or surrender. I am here today to speak up for students and young people, who turned out in force despite county officials who often tried to deter and deny them polling places on campus.

Therefore, a legal complaint should be filed asserting a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act - that the voting procedures in Ohio resulted in disparate impact on minority voters.

Far too many are being far too silent and passive in the face of this challenge to democracy. Silence is betrayal.

Why 92,000 unprocessed ballots, mostly among the poor, under-counts and over-counts, often a result of a breakdown in machinery?

Why in Warren County did election officials issue a homeland security threat, then lock out the press and independent observers while they secretly counted the vote?

Who is accountable? The integrity of the voting machines, and the machine tabulation, is an issue. We need a forensic computer analysis of the voter machines, and the machines left in the warehouses must be impounded.

The whole idea that partisans with a vested interest in the outcome can be in charge of the election is unreasonable.

I urge Congress to come to Ohio to conduct a hearing and you will see the classic calamity of a state’s rights election at work, with different standards at work in every state and county. The richer counties have first class machinery, the poorer counties get poorer machinery. People in rural areas are yet another victim of the uneven playing field.

Do not take lightly the exit poll gaps, the most superior of polls. Don’t take lightly the vote disparity between Kerry and Democratic Supreme Court candidate Ellen Connally - in Cuyahoga County where she is best known, Kerry got 120,000 more votes than Connally; but in 15 other Ohio counties, Connally’s margin over her opponent was 190,000 votes GREATER than Kerry’s margin over Bush. This abnormal and inexplicable vote disparity demands investigation.

In conclusion, this race is not over until it is certified that every vote is counted and honored and until a full investigation shows that every vote was honored. And for the future credibility of the process we must end the practice and precedent of voter suppression and disenfranchisement schemes.

The unfinished business of this drive for an open, fair and transparent democracy is our focus today. Before we go any further debating amending the Constitution for immigrant access to the White House, though a noble cause, it will only help some, we should implement a one person, one vote democracy - the direct election of the President - that will motivate a 51-state campaign inclusive of the entire nation, not just 20 battleground states. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s (D-IL) bill, which calls for a Constitutional amendment on the right to vote for all U.S. citizens - Presidential elections with one set of rules where the individual right to vote is protected by the U.S. Constitution - will go a long way toward achieving this goal.

This is an abridged version of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Statement to the Congressional Forum on Ohio Voting Irregularities, 12/8/04.


video at c-span

Unscripted remarks from Rev. Jackson at the end of the forum.

I’m in a great degree of pain. I do not want to be allowed to vent, and Congress not act. It’s like a subtle form of disrespect. This election is not over, until we are guaranteed a transparent, free and fair election.

We need Congress to go to Ohio Now. We need some action...

We need to go back to our streets with your new found power and declare our protests to be legitimate. We need some legitimacy in this struggle. When Mr. Kerry left he took the media scrutiny with him. So it’s repeated that it’s over- it ain’t over. The machines have not been checked.

Why did take 34 days? Because 88 counties had 88 different schemes and system of dis-counting people- most whose children are in Iraq. No member of Congress has lost a child in Iraq.

Let’s express ourselves like they’ve done in the Ukraine.

This work is in the public domain
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