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Worried about the fairness of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, several House members have asked the United Nations to “deploy election observers” across the country.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Recalling the contentious Florida vote count in 2000, the lawmakers urged the international body to “ensure free and fair elections in America,” said a statement by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, who spearheaded the effort, Agence France-Presse reported.
The letter was signed by nine members of Congress.
“As lawmakers, we must assure the people of America that our nation will not experience the nightmare of the 2000 presidential election,” Johnson said in the letter, according to AFP.
“This is the first step in making sure that history does not repeat itself,” she added.
The Congress members, including four blacks and one Hispanic, pointed to a controversial report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights which “found that the electoral process in Florida resulted in the denial of the right to vote for countless persons.”
The bipartisan commission, they said, determined “that the ‘disenfranchisement of Florida’s voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters’ and in poor counties.”
The letter said the commission also determined that “despite promised nationwide reforms [of the voting system] … adequate steps have not been taken to ensure that a similar situation will not arise in 2004 that arose in 2000.”
The Nov. 7, 2000, election was decided 36 days later when the U.S. Supreme Court made two rulings that stopped Democratic challenger Al Gore’s attempt to recount the Florida votes. A number of independent investigations confirmed President Bush won the state’s 25 electoral votes, giving him a total of 271 to Gore’s 267.
Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance, a group dedicated to protecting American sovereignty, admonished Johnson and her colleagues.
“Your appeal to the secretary general is alarming and embarrassing,” he said. “As a Member of Congress sworn to uphold the Constitution and represent the people of the United States, it is disturbing, to say the least, that you would entrust the most sacred act of American democracy – our presidential election – to an international institution, which is unaccountable to the American people and mired by scandal and corruption.”
Kilgannon said the request “undermines U.S. sovereignty, demoralizes American servicemen who are fighting to build democratic governments abroad and sends the message worldwide that the United States is nothing more than a Third World nation unable to police itself.”