US Rep Censored for Using the Word 'Coup'

In mid-July, when Congresswoman Corinne Brown referred to a Republican "coup d'etat" in the 2000 election, she was promptly gaveled out of order and her words were ordered stricken from the Congressional Record.

This authoritarian action brings to mind the following passage from George Orwell's novel, 1984:

"If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that event never happened . . . And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -- if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future -- who controls the present controls the past.’... In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record."

Congresswoman Brown subsequently issued the following statement:

Statement on the House Floor
Florida Congresswoman Corinne Brown

Striking my words from the House floor is just one more example of the Republican Party's attempt to try and cover up what happened during the 2000 election and of their activities this year in the state of Florida in preparation for stealing this year1s election as well. What is the Republican Party so afraid of? Let me tell you what I'm afraid of: another stolen election and four more years of the Bush administration. When the words of Corrine Brown are stricken from the floor, so is the voice of her 600,000 constituents in Florida's third congressional district.

Let me refresh your memories of what occurred during the 2000 elections, in my district alone (Duval County) there were approximately 27,000 ballots that were spit out by faulty machines. A disproportionately large percentage of these votes came from City Council Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10, primarily African American residential areas. Even more disturbing to me was that the Supervisor of Elections1 office didn1t release these figures to local officials until after the 72 hour deadline had passed. As a result, there were no legal avenues to demand a recount.

Moreover, it often goes unpublished that Florida Governor Jeb Bush spent $4 million of taxpayer money to purge a list of suspected felons from the rolls across the state: but whether or not this list was accurate was of little importance to Governor Bush. Apparently, it was the responsibility of the accused citizen to correct his or her status.

Only later did we learn that the reason many of the people were incorrectly purged (estimates go as high as 50-57,000) was merely because their name was the same as, or similar to, one of the purged felons. For this reason, during the 2000 elections, some of the local election supervisors went so far as to refuse to purge names from the list of their voter rolls because, they argued, 'they did not have faith in how the state compiled its list of disqualified voters.'

Moreover, as part of a grassroots effort to encourage voters, particularly minorities, to get out to the polls, I organize motor voter drives. Yet during the last election, many voters, especially African Americans, were wrongly purged from registration lists, and many who had signed up at state motor voter vehicle offices never had their voter registration fully processed. As a result, these voters were disenfranchised as well. It is for this reason that provisional balloting is so important (wherein if a voter has not re-registered after moving within the same county, he or she may cast a provisional ballot at the polling place of their current residence).

Unfortunately, to this day, the state of Florida STILL does not completely follow through with provisional balloting because, in Florida, if one casts a provisional ballot in a voter precinct which is not their own, their vote will be discarded.

After the stolen elections of 2000, the American public was assured that we would never see a repeat of the 2000 election. But now, the state of Florida has a system in place that records electronic votes without a paper trail (that once again could possibly lead to altering or tampering with the election results), and the Florida Secretary of State's office began yet another questionable purge of felons. And as reported in the press, Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood had to scrap the controversial and error riddled list of 48,000 potential felons from the Central Florida database citing multiple errors. Yet they still have not reinstated the thousands of innocent people knocked off the rolls, and are allowing the local elections supervisors to use 3other methods2 to determine who is qualified to vote.

I saw what happened in my district during the 2000 presidential election, and there remains a dangerous possibility that we may see a repeat of the flagrant violations of civil rights in the upcoming 2004 election. In the last election, there were unquestionable conflicts of interest that adversely affected the election results.

Many of the problems that were caused in the last election were caused by the unfairness of the people that were in charge of ensuring a fair election in the state of Florida. For example, not only did Governor Bush support his brother1s election, but the Secretary of State (the very agent responsible for ensuring a fair election) served as the top campaign official in the state of Florida for the George W. Bush presidential campaign.

What I believe is needed is a neutral party (like the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who has incidentally, said they will send preliminary observers in September) to oversee and monitor our elections in an unbiased manner, just as they monitor other elections throughout the world, often at the urging of The United States.

I will continue to do everything within my power to ensure that not one voter is denied the right to vote, and our nation does not witness a repeat of the 2000 elections!



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