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Kerry Cites Suppressed Votes in Election

Associated Press
Tuesday, January 18, 2005; Page A07

BOSTON, Jan. 17 -- Sen. John F. Kerry, in some of his most pointed public comments yet about the presidential election, invoked Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy on Monday as he criticized President Bush and decried reports of voter disenfranchisement.

The Massachusetts Democrat, Bush's challenger in November, spoke at Boston's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast. He reiterated that he decided not to challenge the election results, but said "thousands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote."

"Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans [went] through in 10 minutes -- same voting machines, same process, our America," he said.

In his comments, Kerry also compared the democracy-building efforts in Iraq with voting in the United States, saying that Americans had their names purged from voting lists and were kept from casting ballots.

"In a nation which is willing to spend several hundred million dollars in Iraq to bring them democracy, we cannot tolerate that here in America too many people were denied that democracy," Kerry said.

Voting irregularities in Ohio drove primarily Democratic challenges to the Nov. 2 election, but Congress affirmed Bush as the winner. The Ohio Supreme Court last week dismissed a lawsuit that cited Election Day problems, including long lines and a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority neighborhoods.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) cautioned that there are also GOP concerns about voter fraud on the Democratic side.

"I think it's helpful if elected officials and leaders look at both sides of the issues, and that we take action to make sure that citizens qualified to vote do vote, and that people do not defraud the system," Romney said after the breakfast.

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