More Florida fallout

Carter and Ford make their recommendations for electoral reform while Bush stays on the fence.

Published July 31, 2001 6:11PM (EDT)

Big buzz

The commission headed by former Presidents Ford and Carter submitted its proposal for election reform Monday, and called for making Election Day a national holiday, restoring the voting rights of felons who have served their time and allowing voters in all states to cast provisional ballots.

The recommendations come on the heels of the Florida standoff in which hundreds of voters claim they were wrongfully removed from voter rolls, and unable to cast provisional ballots because state law does not provide for them.

Almost as soon as it was released, President Bush began to distance himself from the report, pointing out that it simply outlines a set of guidelines not necessarily destined to become law.

With Carter at his side, Bush said, "Today I accept their report and recommend the key principles drawn from the report as guidelines for meaningful reform. I commend the commissioners for their statesmanlike work. They have risen above partisan emotions and put forth practical suggestions for improving democracy, and the United States Congress should listen to them and follow their lead."

Of course, the reaction online was anything but "statesmanlike."

World Net Daily columnist Debbie Schlussel recently penned a column titled "Shut Up, Jimmy Carter" after the former president criticized the current one last week. But after the commission released its report, some folks at the Free Republic repeated the cries.

"Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, two of our BIGGEST losers, just gave the Constitution of the United States the finger. I am furious about this!" writes one poster. "This is coming from Mary Frances Berry, that little dwarf on the U.S. Human Rights Commission!"

The folks at the Democratic Underground say the proposed reforms, if implemented, would inevitably benefit Democrats, since they're apparently the only people who work for a living. Writes one poster: "I believe that the really contentious issue will be the national holiday one. How much would you like to bet that the repubs come screaming out against that one. Just think of how many additional Democrats would then be able to vote who couldn't before due to unusual hours, or who were just too tired to stand in long lines after a strenuous day at work."

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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