NEW YORK - July 22 - MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, calls on United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to support the request made by members of the US Congress for United Nations observers to monitor the US presidential election on November 2, 2004.
MADRE recognizes that the UN must tread carefully when it comes to issues of national sovereignty of any Member State. However, the Executive Branch of the US government and national electoral agencies have minimized the seriousness of pervasive problems in the electoral process which resulted in the denial of the right to vote for countless persons, raising disturbing questions about our electoral system. MADRE, in association with the Women of Color Resource Center and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, has therefore mobilized 34 US-based organizations to appeal to the United Nations for monitors in order to prevent the widespread voter disenfranchisement that plagued the 2000 election.
Unfortunately, members of the majority party in Congress have sought to thwart such an effort by introducing legislation that would prohibit all requests for UN monitors. The legislation was introduced at the last minute and passed with little opportunity for debate, with one opponent of the amendment being censured and her remarks stricken from the record because they were deemed too inflammatory by the majority party.
MADRE Executive Director Vivian Stromberg commented that, "The right to vote in free and fair elections is a non-partisan issue. The effect of efforts to prohibit UN monitors is to deny US citizens' access to the UN as an instrument for the protection and promotion of their human rights."
MADRE reiterates the support for the request by members of Congress as expressed by the signatories to the attached letter. We believe it is a good-faith effort motivated by deeply felt and legitimate concerns about the dangers posed to our democratic system of governance.
MADRE is an international women's human rights organization that works in partnership with women's community-based groups in conflict areas worldwide. Our programs address issues of sustainable development, community improvement and women's health; violence and war; discrimination and racism; self-determination and collective rights; women's leadership development; and human rights education.
Letter in Support for US Congress Members' Request for UN Monitors During the 2004 US Elections
July 22, 2004
The Honorable Kofi Annan, Secretary-General
New York, NY
Honorable Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
We the undersigned organizations are writing to express our support for the request made by members of the U.S. Congress for United Nations observers to monitor the U.S. presidential election on November 2, 2004.
The 2000 presidential election was plagued by allegations of widespread voter disenfranchisement, particularly in the state of Florida. The allegations included irregular and wrongful purging of voter registration lists and questionable practices and policies relating to balloting, counting and certification procedures. These allegations have been largely confirmed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a bi-partisan federal agency. The Commission also found that the disenfranchisement "fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters."
In a race with the narrowest of margins, every single vote that was counted, or not counted, had a clear and profound impact on the election. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision which halted the re-counts in Florida and which suggests that post-election relief will be very difficult to obtain.
Recently, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued another report which found that adequate steps have not been taken at the state and federal levels to ensure that similar concerns do not arise in the 2004 presidential election.
We are also very concerned about both the old methods as well as the new electronic technology to be used in some states and precincts. They present different but urgent problems which are not being adequately addressed domestically and which threaten the right of every person to vote and have his or her vote counted in free and fair elections.
We urge you to give serious consideration to the request by our Congress members and offer the necessary electoral assistance to the United States in advance of and during the presidential election.
Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director, MADRE
Linda Burnham, Executive Director, Women of Color Resource Center
Mary Day Kent, National Executive Director, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - U.S. section
Caribbean and Latin America Support Project
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Women's Global Leadership
Elders for Peace, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Farmworker Health and Safety Institute
Food and Farming Forum, California
Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart
Green-Rainbow Town Committee, Amherst, Massachusetts
Holding the Vision
National Action Network, Kansas
National Organization for Women
New Jersey Peace and Justice Coalition
Older Women's League, Overland Park, Kansas
Pax Christi - North Carolina
Pax Christi - USA
Peace Center, Nevada
Peace Fresno, California
Fresno Center for Nonviolence, California
Society of American Law Teachers
Thomas Merton Center
United for Peace and Justice, (National Coalition representing more than 700 organizations)
Unitarian Universalist Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries
United Methodist Church
Veterans for Peace
WILPF-Santa Cruz, California
Women's Congress for Peace
Women's Environment and Development Organization
YMCA of Delaware