Democrats challenge electoral vote count
Objections did not derail the certification of Bush and Cheney as election victors.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress certified President Bush's re-election Thursday but only after Democrats forced a challenge to the quadrennial count of electoral votes for just the second time since 1877.
Bush's Election Day triumph over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was never in doubt. After a near four-hour delay to consider and reject a dispute over voting in Ohio, lawmakers in joint session affirmed Bush's 286-251 electoral vote victory -- plus a single vote that a "faithless" Kerry elector cast for his running mate, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. A total of 270 votes are needed for victory.
"This announcement shall be a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States for the term beginning Jan. 20, 2005," Vice President Dick Cheney, who presided over the session, read without emotion when the final votes were tabulated.
In a drama that was historic if not suspenseful, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., formally protested that the Ohio votes "were not, under all known circumstances, regularly given." That, by law, required the House and Senate to convene separately and debate the Ohio irregularities.
Boxer, Tubbs Jones and several other Democrats, including many black lawmakers, hoped the showdown would underscore the problems such as missing voting machines and unusually long lines that plagued some Ohio districts, many in minority neighborhoods, on Nov. 2.
"If they were willing to stand in polls for countless hours in the rain, as many did in Ohio, than I can surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress," Tubbs Jones said.
Democratic leaders distanced themselves from the effort, which many in the party worried would make them look like sore losers. Bush won Ohio by 118,000 votes and carried the national contest by 3.3 million votes. Kerry himself -- meeting with troops in the Middle East -- did not support the challenge.
The debates were tinged by memories of the 2000 election, when Bush edged Al Gore after six weeks of recounts and turmoil in Florida.