Pax Christi USA
MARCH 9, 2004
 10:57 AM
CONTACT:  Pax Christi USA
Johnny Zokovitch 352-219-8419

Michael Jones 814-453-4955 ext. 228

Pax Christi USA Coordinator Rebuffs Governor Bush’s Criticism on Election Monitors

TALLAHASSEE, FL - March 9 - Following criticism from Governor Jeb Bush, the national coordinator of Pax Christi USA said that “assuring the integrity of the election process” is the reason that his organization will be inviting international election monitors to Florida to oversee the 2004 presidential election.

“What I hope that Governor Bush understands is that the sanctity of every vote and the dignity of every voter is at the heart of our effort to make sure that the 2004 elections are conducted with the utmost integrity,” said Dave Robinson, national coordinator of Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic peace and justice organization.

After a press conference outside the Florida Supreme Court in which Pax Christi USA announced its plans to bring international election monitors to Florida, Governor Bush told members of the media that Pax Christi USA’s plans are “an organized effort to try to create doubt about our election system.”

“This is all part of some politically motivated thing that tries to scare people to somehow think their vote is not going to count,” said Governor Bush. “That’s hogwash, hogwash.”

“It was our great hope that Governor Bush would welcome the monitoring of the elections,” said Carol Ann Breyer, state coordinator for Pax Christi Florida. “This is an excellent opportunity to show that the mistakes of the past have been corrected and that this great state can conduct a fair and transparent election, an ‘election in the sunshine,’ so to speak.”

On Monday morning, Robinson and Breyer had announced Pax Christi USA’s intention to bring international election monitors to oversee the process in four of the counties which were at the heart of the 2000 presidential election controversy: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Duval. Pax Christi USA, which has sent delegations to observe elections in countries like El Salvador and Haiti in the past, also issued an invitation to other religious and civic organizations to join them in monitoring throughout the United States.

“Assuring each citizen’s right to vote is not hogwash,” Robinson said. “Having non-partisan election monitors from the international community is an essential component to assuring the integrity of the election process in Florida.”