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Objection to Counting of Ohio Electoral Votes

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, 204 years ago, Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office as President of the United States in this very Capitol. He was the first President ever to do so. As he walked from a boardinghouse on Pennsylvania Avenue toward this building on the morning of his inauguration, he must have marveled at what was about to take place.

For the first time in American history, power was changing hands from one party--the Federalists--to the other, the Democratic-Republicans. John Adams willingly left office. No shots were fired, and no monarchs were hanged. Unlike their brethren in Europe, Americans, under our glorious Constitution, had mastered the peaceful transfer of authority from one faction to another. Jefferson called his election the ``revolution of 1800,'' brought about ``by the rational and peaceful instruments of reform, the suffrage of the people.''

But America's tradition of this peaceful transfer of power is now being challenged.

The obstruction of the counting of the electoral vote undermines the tradition that Jefferson and Adams established. By blocking this vote when there is no possibility whatsoever of overturning the result, the legitimacy of our republican form of government is questioned. I am sure that is not the intention of my colleagues who have forced us to debate this. Yet it is undoubtedly the result.

I understand that a minority of a minority protests the presidential vote in the State of Ohio. But President Bush has indisputably won that State by over 118,000 votes, and the votes have been counted twice.

Some of my colleagues have claimed that, even though they agree that President Bush has won Ohio, they must take this opportunity to speak about the need for electoral reform. I submit that hijacking a presidential election to use as a personal soapbox is shameful.

Electoral reform may very well be desirable--for as long as people administer elections, elections will be imperfect. There will always be some irregularities, most due to innocent mistake, some to outright fraud. We should absolutely do everything possible to combat this.

But if electoral reform is needed, Senators should introduce legislation. They should not obstruct a legitimate count of the electoral votes where there is an unequivocal victor. They should not trample on the proud republican government our Founding Fathers bequeathed us. They should not mock the beautiful concept that sovereignty lies with the people, while our troops are fighting and dying to plant that concept in the soil of Iraq.

Even the junior senator from Massachusetts has not endorsed the radical scheme that a minority of a minority has unleashed on us today. In an e-mail to supporters yesterday, Senator KERRY said that he would not participate in this petulant protest but, rather, will propose legislation to address perceived deficiencies in our electoral system. This is the only proper route to take, and history will applaud Senator KERRY for disavowing what is happening here today.

This is an ignominious beginning to the 109th Congress. Last month I spoke about the desire on this side of the aisle to work with our colleagues in the other party to get things done for the American people in a spirit of bipartisanship. I'm still holding onto that hope. I appeal to cooler heads on the other side of the aisle: Don't let a fraction of your number march you down a dead end.

The words that we say here today amount to little against the fact that in 2004, the President won an overwhelming victory in Ohio and 30 other States, and received 286 electoral votes. Years from now, that fact will still be obvious. I hope that the damage done from this assault on our traditions is not.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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