News Release

Presidential Race: Unresolved Issues

MANNING MARABLE
Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, Marable said today: “The election in Florida represented a gross abrogation of voting rights for African Americans. There were widespread examples of local police harassing African Americans going to the polls, of polling machinery that didn’t work in largely African-American precincts. Gore played to the right wing by avoiding putting forward the issues of racial disenfranchisement.”
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ALEXANDER KEYSSAR
Author of The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States and professor of history and public policy at Duke University, Keyssar said today: “The invocation of the equal protection clause by the Supreme Court was astonishing given the enormous disparities among voting practices across the country. If the variations in hand counting in Florida are unconstitutional, so are hundreds of variations. One could point very easily to the disparities of reliability of the count in Florida between counties using optical scanners and counties using punch-card machines. And those disparities seem to partially coincide with race — a crucial fact given that the equal protection clause was itself precisely designed to overcome race discrimination.”

TERRY BOURICIUS
The New England regional director for the Center for Voting and Democracy, Bouricius is a specialist in voting machines. He said today: “The Supreme Court claims to be concerned about disparate treatment and equal protection, but officials have known for years that there is an undercount in poorer and largely African-American districts because of older voting machines and have done nothing. In the recent Canadian election, they hand counted virtually all the votes in about three hours.”
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MIKE GRAVEL
A former two-term senator, whose case as a litigant, Gravel vs. U.S. Government, in the Pentagon Papers issue precipitated a landmark decision by the Supreme Court on the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, Gravel said today: “We must bear in mind that the judiciary does not render the justice of our grade-school lessons. It renders a detailed interpretation or a parsing of the law’s words aided by the attorneys of the contesting parties. If the laws are unclear or bad, then the courts’ judgments are equally bad and made more so by partisanship. The laws that underlie our presidential electoral system are archaic, outmoded, and unfair, and violate the equal protection rights of all American voters under the Constitution.”
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MARK LEVINE
An attorney, Levine has written an informative and caustic Q and A on the Supreme Court decision.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167