TALLAHASSEE, FL - March 8 - Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement (www.paxchristiusa.org), announced that it will bring international election monitors to Florida to monitor the upcoming Presidential elections in November.
At a press conference across from the Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee on Monday, March 8, Pax Christi USA Executive Director Dave Robinson said that the purpose of the election monitors is to ensure that every vote and every voter is counted in 2004.
As the 2004 presidential election season swings into full gear, we believe it is imperative that non-partisan organizations commit resources to ensuring that this election does not result in controversy similar to what we witnessed in 2000, Robinson said. We want to make sure that the sanctity of every vote and the dignity of every voter is respected and upheld, especially for those who experienced such a high degree of disenfranchisement in the previous presidential election.
Florida resident Carol Ann Breyer, coordinator of Pax Christi Florida, said she never again wants to see citizens of her state denied the right to vote.
As a citizen of Florida and speaking I believe for hundreds of thousands of citizens in this state, we want transparent and honest elections in 2004, free of even a hint of scandal, Breyer said. The citizens of Florida must be assured that the elections in November will be fair and just.
While a number of Florida counties were cited for improprieties by the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights and the subjects of a lawsuit filed by the NAACP in the wake of the 2000 elections, Pax Christi USA plans to target four counties and deploy election monitoring teams to precincts in those counties. Those counties are Miami/Dade, Palm Beach, Broward and Duval. The election monitoring teams will be composed of both international observers and local/regional volunteers. Together, they will document any abuses they witness at the polls, conduct exit interviews among voters, and file a final report with the Supervisor of Elections for Florida, Governor Jeb Bush, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The report will also be made available to the public.
Pax Christi USA also issued an invitation to other civic and religious organizations to mobilize teams of election monitors throughout the country. In the coming days, Pax Christi USA will compile a list of organizations endorsing this effort and/or organizing similar efforts, and post them at their Web site, www.paxchristiusa.org.
The U.S. Bishops have stated that responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation, Robinson said. For citizens to practice this virtue and engage in the political process, it is essential that they trust that process and believe in it.