Thursday, October 26, 2006

Congress Watch for 10/26: Severe Election Problems Possible in 10 States; Stem Cell Debate heats up; Green Party candidate drops out

Congress Watch for 10/26: Severe Election Problems Possible in 10 States; Stem Cell Debate heats up; Green Party candidate drops out

It wouldn’t be Congress without elections, and it wouldn’t be a U.S. election without electoral problems, now would it? It seems that we’ve had nothing but voter problems since 2000, and now a new report is stating that 10 states are at risk for disputed and damaged elections which will directly impact the outcome and credibility of the next Congress.

Two weeks before the midterm elections, at least 10 states, including Maryland, remain ripe for voting problems, according to a study released yesterday by a nonpartisan clearinghouse that tracks electoral reforms across the United States.

The report by says those states, and possibly others, could encounter trouble on Election Day because they have a combustible mix of fledgling voting-machine technology, confusion over voting procedures or recent litigation over election rules -- and close races.

The report cautions that the Nov. 7 elections, which will determine which political party controls the House and Senate, promise "to bring more of what voters have come to expect since the 2000 elections -- a divided body politic, an election system in flux and the possibility -- if not certainty -- of problems at polls nationwide."

In a state-by-state canvass, the 75-page report singles out places, such as Indiana and Arizona, where courts have upheld stringent new laws requiring voters to show poll workers specific forms of identification. It cites states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, which have switched to electronic voting machines whose accuracy has been challenged. And it points to states such as Colorado and Washington, which have departed from the tradition of polling sites in neighborhood precincts.

Here’s something I didn’t expect. When Jessica from Cellar Door sent me a message a few days ago with the Michael J. Fox stem cell ad, I admit I was clueless about just what was going on, but it didn’t take me long to learn about what had happened and what was about to happen. It took very little time for the dialog of the election to shift gears, and now it seems to be splitting the Republican party right down the middle. I don’t think that was the intended effect, but it’s very, very interesting to watch.
Michael J. Fox, staring straight into the camera, boldly shows the effects of 15 years spent battling Parkinson's disease. He wants people to see what the illness has done to his body so they will support research that involves the use of human embryonic stem cells.

What Rush Limbaugh, the outspoken conservative radio show host, saw as Fox "acting" or not "taking his medicine," as he said publicly, was ignorance, say Parkinson's experts.

"It was ignorant and inappropriate," said Dr. Michele Tagliati, director of the Parkinson's Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan. "This movement is a side effect of years spent on these medicines. But patients with Parkinson's can't afford not to take their medicines."

The movement disorder causes tremors, rigidity and balance problems. Half a million Americans suffer from Parkinson's. Fox was diagnosed in 1991 and went public about his illness in 1998. He started a foundation that has raised millions.

Christopher Reeve, who also started a research foundation soon after the riding accident that left him paralyzed, appealed to the public with an ad that had him standing on two legs, a feat of the cameras and not science. At the time, he said he did it to be provocative and interest people in supporting the science.

Now this is interesting…don’t hear much information on Green party candidates these days, but I just learned that the Connecticut Green Party candidate Richard Duffee decided to withdraw from the race, with the Party stepping forward and supporting Democratic nominee Diane Farrell.

Farrell, according to a poll this week, is running neck and neck with the Republican incumbant, Christopher Shays, who has been in Congress 19 years. Libertarian candidate Phil Maymin is also on the ballot.

Although Duffeee's withdrawal comes just two weeks before the Nov. 7 election, officials in the Westport Town Clerk's office said they will not have to reprint the absentee ballots that are to be sent out soon. Instead, officials will cross out Duffee's name on the ballot.

Duffee said this week, "Republican threats to the future and to our form of government are so serious that it is more important to bring the House of Representatives under the control of the Democrats than to run a Green candidate for Congress in the Fourth District.

"Our decision is a vote of confidence in Diane Farrell's seriousness about putting some brakes on Bush's imperial presidency and at least returning us to the rule of law." said Duffee, a former law professor.

By Connecticut law, Duffee alone has the right to take his name off the ballot. He chose in July to allow the Fairfield Greens to make that decision in caucus as the campaign developed.

"I would like to thank the Green Party and Richard Duffee for their decision today," said Farrell. "I would also like to mention the valuable voice brought to the table by Richard Duffee in this year's debates, especially on topics such as human rights, the War in Iraq and socio-economic issues affecting our country, and I believe that the Green Party should be included in future debates here in Connecticut's Fourth district."

"We share a common belief that the Bush administration has led us astray, especially as it pertains to the War in Iraq, energy policy, education and environmental issues," Farrell said.

Farrell met with members of the Fairfield County chapter of the Green Party on Saturday and explained her position on issues of concern to the Greens.

Duffee said that the Greens decided to back Farrell because she appeals to a larger audience than the Greens at the present time and she can be most effective in reversing the current war policies on Iraq.

"Our decision to back Diane Farrell is not a decision to become Democrats," Duffee said. "Nearly all of us became Greens because we believed that the Democratic Party does not adequately serve the public interest because it is not sufficiently committed to resist corporate pressure."

Posted by crimnos @ 11:09 AM