We can’t let the terrorists delay vote
Newsweek magazine reports this week that U.S. authorities are exploring ways that the November presidential election could be postponed in case of a terror attack.
This comes on the heels of last week’s warning by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network may launch a “large-scale” attack within the United States in order to disrupt the election.
For that reason, the government should do everything it can to avoid stopping the constitutionally mandated vote.
No doubt the administration is thinking about the Madrid railway bombings in March that killed nearly 200 people on the eve of national elections. The next day, Spain’s ruling party was ousted.
DeForest Soaries, chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, wants Ridge to ask Congress to give the government power to cancel or reschedule a federal election, according to Newsweek. Although New York suspended its primary election on the day of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government apparently does not have that authority.
Soaries complained to the Associated Press that Ridge rebuffed him. The homeland security chief replied that while he doesn’t agree with some of Soaries’ arguments, his department is exploring the constitutional and security questions, and Soaries will be involved in the process.
Goodness knows, there will be opportunities in the coming months for terrorists to strike at our democratic processes, particularly when the Democrats meet in Boston later this month and the Republican convention takes place in New York City at the end of August.
But through wars and depressions, the United States has never postponed a presidential election. This is no time to start.
As President Bush pointed out after 9/11, we must carry on with our lives or else the terrorists will have won. The government must prepare for keeping the polling places open on Nov. 2, no matter what our enemies may try.
In the midst of a bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was besieged with demands that the 1864 presidential election be delayed. If he did that, Lincoln replied, then the rebellion “might fairly claim to have already conquered us.”
Those words ring true today.
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