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House Legislation

press statement

January 6, 2001

Congresswoman McKinney moved for the House of Representatives to withdraw from the Joint Session of both houses in order to allow for consideration of the facts surrounding the slate of electors from Florida.

Congresswoman McKinney today moved for the Vice President, sitting as the Chairman of the Joint Session, to permit a motion for the House to withdraw from the joint session. Title 3, Section 18 provides for a question to be put to either House on a motion to withdraw.

Congresswoman McKinney noted that the Florida elections were marred by violations of the Voting Rights Act and demanded that the House of Representatives be given the opportunity to examine the full circumstances surrounding the suppression of the minority vote in Florida before the certification of the state electors.

Congresswoman McKinney said, "It's not the act of voting that is democracy, instead it's the counting of those votes that measures the value of our democracy. Similarly, it's not the attendance of elected officials in Washington, D.C. to rubber stamp corrupt election results that is democracy in action. Rather it's the unquestioned ability of elected officials to represent fellow citizens in the House and Senate chambers with open and free debate, debate which includes spirited dissent; only that kind of representation is democracy in action."

The Florida elections were notable because of the large number of African American men who were unable to vote. While the Florida Secretary of State's Office and the combined legal teams of Governor Bush and Vice President Gore poured over hanging chads and dimpled ballots in just a few thousand voting cards, an estimated one-third of the State's African American male population were unable to vote because of the felony conviction rule. In fact, one in every 13 African American males in Florida are permanently disenfranchised. Nationally that number is estimated to be as high as one in seven African American men. The Florida elections were also marred by allegations of police harassment of African American and Latino voters.

Other egregious allegations of acts in Florida committed against voters included:

  • voters who had never been to jail being listed as felons and therefore prevented from voting;
  • a second ID was requested of immigrants even though it was not required;
  • voters who needed translation assistance were not provided it;
  • minorities being stopped frivolously by the police to impede efforts to ensure a full turnout of black voters
Congresswoman McKinney noted that "We all thought that the Voting Rights Act and other civil rights legislation would end discrimination in this country and set black America on a firm and equal road to recovery. Yet while we make up fully ten percent of this nation, our communities have been systematically destroyed by drugs, violence, and poverty. Our African American men are overrepresented in prison, on death row and among the homeless sleeping men on our streets. Our children suffer disproportionately higher infant mortality rates and drug abuse. Our families continue to suffer from higher levels of poverty and unemployment."

"Today, democracy was trampled upon in this Joint Session of the United States Congress. The Florida election results are representative of far more serious voting irregularities for black and Latino voters across this nation that must be addressed. Unless people of color in this nation can be assured that their votes count then there is a risk that the pressure valve may become the streets of America and not the House and Senate Chambers, as it should be," said McKinney.

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