Tags: Cohen | Angered | Tossed | Military | Ballots

Cohen Angered by Tossed Military Ballots

Sunday, 19 November 2000 12:00 AM

"I think this is very unfortunate. The last thing we want to do is make it harder for those who are wearing our uniform and serving overseas to be able to cast a ballot," Cohen said at a press conference in Kuwait. "I will look into the matter and see what can be done, but I am not sure that anything legally can be done at this point given the rules that are in effect."

Cohen told reporters traveling with him through his eight-day tour of the Middle East he thought it was tragic the votes are not being counted.

Cohen said he is checking with his general counsel to see what options are open to the Defense Department.

Florida law requires that overseas military ballots cast in presidential elections be postmarked on or before Election Day – Nov. 7 – and arrive by midnight 10 days later. The measure is needed to prevent votes being cast after the election in an attempt to change its outcome.

In this election, overseas absentee ballots could determine the presidency: Prior to the ballots being counted, George W. Bush led Al Gore by a mere 300 votes. After absentee ballots were counted, Bush led by 930.

The military is believed to vote largely Republican, at least in the officer corps. The enlisted force has a larger share of ethnic and racial minorities and is believed to be more Democratic but still have a majority of Republican voters.

Some 1,420 overseas ballots were thrown out because of late or missing postmarks, while 2,206 were counted in Florida.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John Warner, R-Va., wrote Cohen to complain that the military ballots were ignored, amid Republican charges that disenfranchisement of the largely Republican military was a Democrat-engineered plot.

"I would like to see them counted ... regardless of the way they break," Cohen said before ducking into his private cabin.

Cohen is a former Republican senator who has been serving in a Democratic presidential Cabinet for the last four years.

Cohen has been fielding numerous questions from Gulf leaders about the American electoral process and his predictions for how and when it will finish, according to Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. Cohen has taken pains to emphasize that this is "not a constitutional crisis but a constitutional process," said Bacon, and to assure the leaders that the United States commitment to the region will remain unchanged no matter who is elected.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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I think this is very unfortunate. The last thing we want to do is make it harder for those who are wearing our uniform and serving overseas to be able to cast a ballot, Cohen said at a press conference in Kuwait. I will look into the matter and see what can be done, but I...
Cohen,Angered,Tossed,Military,Ballots
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2000-00-19
Sunday, 19 November 2000 12:00 AM
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