Election Protests Go 'Round

Jesse Jackson Kweisi Mfume Rabbi Steven Jacobs
Supporters of Al Gore and George W. Bush held more than 100 rallies were held across the country over the weekend, criticizing alleged election irregularities and vote recount in Florida.

In Miami on Sunday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told a group of African-Americans and Jews that they share the danger of being disenfranchised - and that they have a duty to keep that from happening.

"Once again, sons and daughters of slavery and Holocaust survivors are bound together with a shared agenda, bound by their hopes and their fears about national policy," Jackson told hundreds packed into a Miami synagogue.

Jackson said the United States would lose credibility as a world leader if the election were not settled. And he said the United States would not tolerate such a situation outside its borders.

"We cease to be the shining light on the hill if the integrity of our democracy is in question," he said. "Unless elections around the world are open and free and fair and credible and transparent, the international community will not certify them, and these nations lose aid and resources."

To those who have criticized Gore for challenging votes in Florida, Jackson suggested that the vice president had no other choice.

"To surrender to injustice is unpatriotic, ... immoral, even treasonous," he said. "Mr. Gore has no surrender on the principle of a fair count."

In Tampa, a group of Republicans protested against the recount.

Heather Layden, president of the Young Republicans, said she wanted to help Bush "get rid of Gore, get rid of his antics, his counting votes three, four, and five times. We need one vote, one voice, one count, and get the next president in office. I would like to see the second count ... be considered official and stop this hand counting throughout all of the different counties. It's ridiculous."

In Madison, Wisconsin, Gore supporters lashed out at Bush for asking a federal judge to stop Florida election officials from recounting ballots there by hand.

About 200 Gore supporters listened to speeches by former Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey and former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

"Win or lose, people have the right to have their vote counted and counted accurately," Garvey said, a Democrat.

Gore narrowly won Wisconsin, but the national outcome remains stalled because of the close results in Florida, where recounts began last week amid allegations of voting irregularities.

Garvey said Florida election officials shouldn't declare a winner until the courts decide the result is valid.

Bush backers staged a rally of their own in Madison on Saturday to support their candidate.

"What the Gore administration is doing is unconscionable," said Jake Jacobs, a high school history teacher in Winneconne. "We know that George Bush has won."

In Milwaukee, about 50 people rallied on Saturday to protest the confusion over the election.
Arlene Renner, one of the event's organizers, said she wants Florida recount workers to take as much time as needed to ensure a fair and accurate tally.