boxer bending bush over a barrel

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    Sen. Boxer may challenge results of presidential election

    By Geoff Earle
    "The Hill"
    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is considering launching a challenge to Ohio’s electoral votes when the Senate meets tomorrow to certify the votes of the Electoral College.

    The challenge -- should Boxer decide to offer it -- would force a debate in the House and Senate over whether President Bush’s electoral victory will stand. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is planning to issue a challenge in the House. Conyers and 23 other House members today outlined their reasons for opposing the certification of Ohio’s electors, claiming there were “numerous, serious election irregularities” in Ohio.

    Bush carried Ohio by more than 100,000 votes. The state handed him an Electoral College victory over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass).

    Meanwhile, Rev. Jesse Jackson made an 11th hour appeal today to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), urging him to object to the Ohio vote.

    “The anomalies in Ohio are greater than the anomalies in Florida” in 2000, Jackson told The Hill. Jackson pointed to problems with new voting machines, and noted that many black voters stood in line for several hours in some precincts. He said the Senate had an “obligation” to debate problems that occurred in Ohio voting.

    Jackson said that when he requested his meeting with Reid, the senator told him he wanted to hear more information about his concerns with the election.

    David Sandretti, a Boxer spokesman, confirmed that Boxer was considering launching a protest. But he said he didn’t know whether she would vote not to certify Ohio’s electors. He said he didn’t know if Boxer had consulted with Reid about her concerns, or how Democratic leaders felt about it.

    A spokesman for Reid did not comment by comment for this article.

    It is a virtual certainty that both the Republican-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate will certify Bush’s victory tomorrow. Nevertheless, a debate would provide a forum for Democrats upset by Bush’s reelection, on the heels of Bush’s disputed victory in 2000, to talk about problems in the electoral system in both elections.

    In a House Judiciary Committee report issued today, Democratic committee staff pointed to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s placement of voting machines by precinct and rulings on the use of provisional ballots, as well as treatment of spoiled ballots and claims of voter intimidation, as grounds for challenging the Ohio vote.

    A debate during tomorrow’s certification could prove politically difficult for congressional Democrats and could split the caucus. No Senate Democrat agreed to protest Bush’s 2000 victory in Florida, despite multiple recounts and widespread bitterness among House Democrats with the Supreme Court’s decision to stop a recount. Filmmaker Michael Moore harshly portrayed Senate Democrats for their passivity in his film "Fahrenheit 9/11."

    Most congressional Democrats worked hard to defeat Bush, but have accepted the results of the election as legitimate.

    Under the Constitution and federal election laws, an objection must be presented when the House and Senate meet to certify the election. Any objection must be raised in writing and must be signed by one senator and one representative.

    After an objection is raised, each house meets separately to consider it. Under procedures described in a recent Congressional Research Service report, debate is limited to two hours in each chamber, and each member may speak once for only five minutes. A member may object to a state’s electoral vote on the grounds that the vote was not “regularly given” by an elector or the elector was not “lawfully certified.”

    There has been intense grassroots lobbying of Capitol Hill offices today by opponents of the president. Majority Leader Frist’s (R-Tenn.) Capitol office was inundated by calls from Bush opponents.

    Dena Graziano, a Conyers spokeswoman, said “tons” of groups had been mobilizing opposition.

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