On Monday (April 14) I caught a brief comment by Jimmy Carter about the Nepal elections on the BBC World Service. Carter, who was in Nepal to monitor the polling, said that whatever problems occurred had “paled” compared to the overall success of the vote. (Unfortunately, the audio report is no longer available.)
In a report issued on April 15 entitled Trip Report by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Nepal: April 6-14, 2008, Carter wrote in great detail about all the efforts made to ensure a free and fair election.
We have maintained a staff of long-term election observers for more than fifteen months. They have visited all 75 districts and had an opportunity to become familiar with the entire nation and its various and conflicting political factions.
After our arrival from Atlanta, we joined Dr. John Hardman and began receiving extensive briefings from former U.S Ambassador Peter Burleigh, David Pottie, Darren Nance, Sarah Levit-Shore, and others. Most of our 60 international observers, from 21 nations, had been deployed to the more remote areas by helicopter, all-terrain vehicles, and by foot. My co-chairman was Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, former deputy prime minister of Thailand, who was a key partner and essential to the mission’s success. Our team was joined by international observers from the European Union, Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), and by several thousand domestic observers. …
On election day we visited as many polling sites as possible in the valley that surrounds Kathmandu and found the election commission’s procedures were being largely followed. There were long and separate lines of men and women in a celebratory mood, the total turnout being above 60 percent. Despite some problems, our observers throughout the nation found the same situation among a total of 400 sites visited. Ballot boxes were required to be delivered to 75 central locations for counting, and we observed a number of these procedures.
But how does this square with Carter’s silence on the Florida and Michigan primary situation?? Well, he hasn’t been TOTALLY silent, because in early April he tossed out a tantalizing hint as to whom he supported while in Nigeria:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Carter wouldn’t quite say it, but he left little doubt this week about whom he’d like to see in the White House next year.
“My children and their spouses are pro-Obama. My grandchildren are also pro-Obama,” he said at a news conference, according to the Nigerian newspaper This Day. “As a superdelegate, I would not disclose who I am rooting for, but I leave you to make that guess.”
Carter’s spokeswoman confirmed the remarks.
Now, of course, Carter offers a perfectly good reason to support Obama since the latter won the Georgia contest; Carter can justifiably claim that he is supporting the will of the voters in his home state.
But that support does NOT explain why he has been silent on the issue of the voters of Michigan and Florida being disenfranchised. Isn’t it ironic that a man who has dedicated himself to monitoring 70 elections has nothing to say about what’s been going on during his own party’s primary season?
This is the same man who, along with the late Gerald Ford, headed a blue-ribbon commission following the 2000 election and followed up in September 2004 with a Washington Post op-ed entitled Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote in which he pointed out that many of the elements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 which resulted from the commission findings were not being carried out either because of funding shortfalls or political games.
The question is, why has Jimmy Carter chosen to remain silent now, while Florida (and Michigan) voters are AGAIN being given short-shrift? Why is Carter not publicly calling for these votes to be counted?
It certainly is within his rights to choose to support Obama…but it seems that this support is TRUMPING the rights of voters in Florida and Michigan.
While it is inspiring to read about the care and planning that the Carter Center has expended on the voting process in Nepal, why can’t Democratic voters expect the same attention? Doesn’t voting in Florida and Michigan carry as much value as a vote in Nepal?? Is Jimmy Carter letting us down?