CLEVELAND—Republicans have been trying to suppress voting in states where the presidential race is too close to call, Democratic nominee John Kerry said Sunday at one of the city’s largest predominantly black churches.
“In battleground states across the country, we’re hearing stories of how people are trying to make it harder to file for additional time, or how they’re making it harder to even register,” Kerry told an enthusiastic congregation at East Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
“We’re not going to let that happen because the memories of 2000 are too strong. We’re not going to allow 1 million African Americans to be disenfranchised.”
At a stop in Ohio earlier Sunday, Kerry told a voter concerned about ballots cast by military personnel overseas that Democrats are aware of voting problems and are concerned.
“We’re seeing efforts by the Republicans, unfortunately, in various parts of the country to suppress votes and intimidate people, to do things that bring back memories that are pretty bitter in the American mind from the year 2000.”
With just a month left in the presidential campaign, Kerry said the campaign would take steps nationally to ensure voters access to the ballot box.
The Bush-Cheney campaign said the charges of voter suppression “have no basis in reality.”
“Like so much of his campaign, John Kerry’s false charges of voter intimidation are baseless,” said spokesman Steve Schmidt. He said Democrats rejected a GOP offer to put a lawyer from each party in every voting district across the nation on Election Day.
Kerry said he has his own team of lawyers “of all color and all mix” examining possible voting problems to try to prevent a repeat of the 2000 election disputes. He also has said he has thousands of lawyers around the country prepared to monitor the polls on Nov. 2.
The Massachusetts senator has been fighting hard to win a number of closely divided states with enough Electoral College votes at stake to swing the election, leading both campaigns to put legal teams in place ready to challenge voting irregularities.
To prevent Ohio from becoming this election’s Florida, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones gave the churchgoers some advice.
“When you go to the ballot box, if you make a mistake you can get another ballot,” she said. She also urged voters with punch card ballots to hold them up for examination before turning them in.
“No hanging chads will mess with this election,” she said.