Monday, July 12, 2004

Ask Abe 


President Lincoln, we are a nation at war. Shouldn't we postpone the election of 1864 until this awful crisis has passed, and we know that decent Yankee voters can go to the polls without fear of reprisal from Southron rebel terrorists?

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence in great emergencies.

On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralized (sic), by a political war among themselves?

But the election was a necessity.

We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human-nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human-nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows that, even among candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the people's votes. It shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now, than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.
(Link courtesy of Zemblan patriots J.M. & J.D.)

UPDATE: From USA Today:
Federal officials said Monday that they have taken no steps toward changing the date for the Nov. 2 presidential election if a terrorist attack should occur around that time.
The issue of how to deal with terrorism aimed at disrupting the nation's elections was raised in a June 25 letter from DeForest Soaries, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission.

Soaries asked Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge whether procedures were being devised to guide local election officials and offered his agency's help. He noted that New York City had rescheduled its mayoral primary because of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"Unlike New York, the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election," he wrote. The date for federal elections is set by law and would have to be changed by Congress.
Which, we believe, is what Mr. Soaries is asking Congress to do. Coincidentally, it transpires that Mr. Soaries is also an opponent of paper ballots.

UPDATE II: From tomorrow's Washington Post:
A Democratic congressman who receives classified briefings on the threat of terrorist attacks said yesterday that top U.S. government officials' repeated statements that international terrorists want to disrupt the American electoral process this year "appear to have no basis."

Rep. Jim Turner (Tex.), ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, said that after several recent briefings by U.S. intelligence officials about perceived terrorist threats this summer and fall, "I don't have any information that al Qaeda" plans to attack the election process. "Nobody knows anything about timing" or the exact nature of any possible attack, although U.S. officials say al Qaeda wants to mount an attack this year, Turner said.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse declined to respond to Turner's remarks. Roehrkasse said the agency stands by comments by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge at a news conference last week . . . .

[Rep. Christopher] Cox [R-CA] and Turner discounted the likelihood of the country canceling Election Day, pointing out that it could require a constitutional amendment and emergency action by Congress and state legislatures. "Were we to postpone elections, it would be a victory for the terrorists," Cox said. Added Turner: "The last thing we want to do is suppress [voter] turnout because people think Election Day is a dangerous day."

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration is not considering postponing the elections. "We've had elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time. That's the view of the president, that's the view of the administration," Rice told CNN.

Also yesterday, the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Cox's panel that Homeland Security's color-coded threat advisory system is not very helpful to states and localities because it does not convey enough detail about threats.

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