House Dems to Contest Electoral Vote Count
A handful of House Democrats plan a long-shot effort to snarl President Bush's formal re-election by preventing Congress from counting Ohio's pivotal votes when lawmakers tally the electoral vote on Thursday.
No one expects the action to undo Bush's victory. Instead, it seems likely to do little more than call attention to Election Day voting irregularities, a growing frustration for Democrats who blamed similar problems in Florida for Bush's 2000 defeat of Democrat Al Gore.
In a measure of the dispute's political delicacy, proponents are considered unlikely to find a senator who will co-sign the objection, which is required to force Congress to act on the challenge. Most Democrats are reluctant to launch a serious effort to undo the election, in which Bush outpolled Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by more than 3 million votes nationally.
Even so, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has sent letters to senators seeking their support for his plan to object to the counting of Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which gave Bush his November victory over Kerry. Some Ohio voters have complained of Election Day fraud, citing a shortage of voting machines at precincts with minority voters, unusually long lines and computer problems.
"I am hoping that you will consider joining us in this important effort to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio which disenfranchised innumerable voters," wrote Conyers, top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
The House Democrats' chief hope of finding a supportive senator may be Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Her spokesman, David Sandretti, said Tuesday that she has been asked to sign the complaint "and she is considering it."
Bush won the 2004 election by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 required for victory. By law, the House and Senate will meet Thursday in joint session to tally the states' electoral votes.
Should a senator and House member formally challenge a state's results, the two chambers must meet separately and consider the objection. That scenario would still ensure Bush's re-election because both bodies are controlled by Republicans.
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