Local Activists Back Plan to Challenge Presidential Vote By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Monday January 03, 2005

Bay Area social and political activists have scheduled two actions in the next few days in support of a pending Jan. 6 Congressional challenge of the Nov. 2 presidential election. 

For the challenge to be heard before Congress, at least one U.S. senator must first support the motion. Wellstone Democratic Club Voting Rights Task Force chair Don Goldmacher said that he has pressed the issue with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s chief of staff. 

“Boxer is reluctant to step into an issue in another state without being asked,” Goldmacher said. He added that, as far as he knows, “Senator Diane Feinstein’s office isn’t talking with anyone from our side on this issue.” 

On Monday a rally will be held at noon outside of Boxer’s San Francisco office at 1700 Montgomery St. Activists expect to present her with petitions asking her to join in the election challenge. 

The day before, on Sunday, the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists’ (BFUU) Social Justice Committee is holding a Votergate Panel Discussion from 2-4 p.m. at the BFUU Hall at Cedar and Bonita Streets in Berkeley. Scheduled speakers at the BFUU Hall event are lawyer/activist Bill Simpich, “Radical Spirit” author and political commentator Stephen Dinan, and Berkeley City Councilmember Dona Spring. 

The Sunday discussion is about “how the November election was stolen and on the disenfranchisement of American voters, particularly minority voters” , according to Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner Phoebe Sorgen, co-chair of the Social Justice Committee of the BFUU, and it is intended to encourage participation in the San Francisco rally the next day. 

Berkeley voting activist Judy Bertelsen said in a statement that participants at the Jan. 3 San Francisco rally “will be seeking to prevent a repeat of the shameful day chronicled in Michael Moore’s film Farenheit 9/11 in which members of the Congressional Black Caucus could find no senator to support their call for a challenge to the results of the 2000 election.”  

The rally will focus on complaints of voter suppression and problems with voting machines in Ohio and other parts of the country. 

Rally speakers include Berkeley City Councilmember Max Anderson, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, labor/civil rights attorney Walter Riley, Margot Smith of the Gray Panthers, Michael Eisenscher of U.S. Labor Against the War, Wellstone Democratic Club Voting Rights Task Force chair Don Goldmacher, AFL-CIO S.F. Labor Council executive director Tim Paulson, and Michael Goldstein of the Harvey Milk LBGT Democratic Club of San Francisco. 

The Monday rally is being co-sponsored by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club of the East Bay, the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley, Bay Area United for Peace and Justice, redefeatbush.com, and East Bay Votes. 

“While the chances are slim of overturning the results of the election,” Sorgen said, “we see this as a way to create awareness within the country so that we can move toward meaningful political reform.”