Statement of Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Voting Irregularities in Ohio

Jan 5, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today issued the following statement during debate on the House Floor regarding the objection to the Ohio Electoral College Ballot:

“Mr. Speaker, normally the process of counting electoral votes is a purely ceremonial event.  Normally it is a celebration of our democratic institutions.  Normally it is a celebration of the rule of law and equal protection of all Americans under the law.

But we do not live in normal times.  The right to vote has been stolen from qualified voters – stolen through corruption, through political cynicism, through incompetence, and through technical malfunction.  Regardless of the reason, the denial of the fundamental right to vote is a crime against our democracy, against our way of life, and against the most fundamental rights of every American.

Despite the fact that the widespread and documented irregularities in the Ohio election have not been proven to have changed the outcome of the presidential election, the loss of the right to vote by so many is still unacceptable.  Elections must not only be fair and honest, they must also be seen to be fair and honest in order to maintain the legitimacy of our democratically elected government.

This year, we have dodged a bullet.  The disgraceful events in Ohio may not have changed the outcome of the election, but a closer vote could well have made this belief impossible.  If the apparent margin of victory in Ohio were 30,000 or 40,000 instead of 118,000, we would now be embroiled in a dispute that would make Florida in 2000 look like a picnic.

What is at stake is our democracy.  This is not about conspiracies, or phantoms.  It is about the failure to count valid votes for invalid reasons.  It is about disenfranchising thousands of voters by forcing them to wait on line 10 hours to cast their votes.  It is about the co-chair of the President’s reelect committee serving as the chief election officer for the state, and doing everything possible to prevent voters from voting.  It is about voting machines that invalidate valid votes.

We are told to get over it.  How do you get over having your vote stolen?  How do you get over widespread disenfranchisement?

This Congress must fully investigate these allegations, and we must act to prevent these outrages from happening again.  If these outrages were criminal violations of our laws, those responsible must be brought to justice.  If they were not violations of the law, they ought to be.  Our next election must not again steal people’s votes.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle should not let partisan politics stand in the way of an honest assessment of this election.  They should not ignore what happened.  However they vote today, they should commit themselves to a full and fair investigation.  Anything less would suggest that they think there is something to hide.  It would suggest that there is a partisan cover-up.

We can do better. We must do better.”