Democrats to Force Debate on Ohio Results
A group of Democrats on Thursday planned to interrupt Congress' ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that gave President Bush his re-election victory and force the House and Senate to debate Election Day problems in Ohio.
The challenge does not jeopardize Bush's November win over Sen. John Kerry. But it does legally compel lawmakers to interrupt their formal count of the Electoral College vote — only the second time since 1877 that the House and Senate were forced into separate meetings to consider electoral votes.
The joint session began as required by law at 1 p.m. EST, with Vice President Dick Cheney presiding as the Senate's president and about 100 lawmakers present. One by one and in alphabetical order, each state's electoral votes were read aloud.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.
"I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.
The action seems certain to leave Bush's victory intact because both Republican-controlled chambers would have to uphold the objection for Ohio's votes to be invalidated. Supporters of the drive said that rather than changing the election outcome, their hope was to shine a national spotlight on the Ohio voting problems.
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