Conyers Overlooks Detroit’s Election Problems

Thomas Bray, The Detroit News, Dec. 22

John Conyers, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, is demanding an investigation into Ohio’s voting. “We’re talking . . . about thousands of complaints about failure of process, coercion, suppression of the vote,” Conyers asserted on public radio last week.

On its face, it’s the effort of a bitter-ender to deny the obvious. Ohio’s voting, like the voting in most states in every election, wasn’t perfect. Local election officials failed to plan adequately for the increased turnout—some 900,000 more voters than in 2000, creating long lines in many precincts. But nothing has surfaced to suggest systematic fraud. George Bush won Ohio by more than 118,000 votes, a comfortable margin as these things go.

If Conyers was so concerned about voting problems, where was he in 1998 when election officials in his hometown of Detroit took a disgraceful two weeks to count ballots due to lost poll books and miscounting of precinct totals?

Where was he in 2001 when the counting of absentee ballots in Detroit had to be halted in midstream by state officials after it was discovered that the city clerk was simply ignoring state requirements for the use of software that would eject ballots that couldn’t be read by machine?

And where was he when a memo allegedly drafted by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s aides in 2002 claimed that Detroit’s voter rolls were overstated by about 150,000 people—a strong hint that something may be seriously amiss in the Detroit election process, threatening the value of the ballot for people who are genuinely qualified to vote?

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