WASHINGTON – Undaunted by Kofi Annan’s rejection of a plan for United Nations monitoring of the U.S. presidential elections this fall, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, is taking her case to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Johnson has urgently asked Powell to make an official request that the U.N. provide observers for the Nov. 2 elections in the United States to “ensure free and fair elections.”

Thirteen Democratic congressmen, led by Johnson, sent a letter July 8 to the U.N. general secretary requesting the presence of U.N. representatives in every county of the country during the voting process and any vote recount afterwards.

The U.N. immediately responded that such a request could not be accepted unless it came from the U.S. government. Otherwise, a spokesman said, it could be considered “intervention in a country’s sovereignty.”

“As legislators, we should guarantee the American people that our country will not experience another nightmare like the 2000 presidential elections,” the members of Congress said in their letter to Annan.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

In her letter to Powell, Johnson expressed grave concerns regarding electoral system reforms that were not undertaken after the 2000 election.

Recalling the contentious Florida vote count in 2000, the lawmakers urged the U.N. to “ensure free and fair elections in America.”

“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. “This is the first step in making sure that history does not repeat itself.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Corrine Brown, a Florida Democrat, announced that the Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has confirmed that it will be present in the United States – specifically, in Florida – on Election Day.

However, state election authorities in Florida have already announced that such observers are not to be allowed access to the voting process and, in any case, they would have to remain at a distance of more than 50 feet from the polls.

Besides Johnson, the congressional signers to the original U.N. letters included Julia Carson of Indiana, Jerrold Nadler, Edolphus Towns, Joseph Crowley and Carolyn B. Maloney, all of New York, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Corrine Brown of Florida, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Danny K. Davis of Illinois, and Michael M. Honda and Barbara Lee of California.

Earlier stories:

The congressmen who want U.N. observers in U.S. vote

U.N. observers requested for U.S. election

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