Washington The two Republican-appointed members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights objected Tuesday to a draft report that accuses Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris of allowing unequal treatment of the state's minority voters during last November's presidential election.
"There is a lot of inflammatory language that doesn't square at all with the testimony I heard," said Abigail Thernstrom, who also was angry that the draft was leaked to the media. "The findings are intellectually indefensible."
Commissioner Russell Redenbaugh, a registered independent, also said that the conclusions about Bush and Harris are not supported by facts, though he did not deny that problems marred the Florida election. Redenbaugh said, however, that the snafus were the result of officials overwhelmed by an unexpectedly large turnout of black voters.
Fifty-four percent of votes rejected during the Florida election were cast by black voters, who account for just 11 percent of voters statewide.
The contents of the report were revealed three days before the commission is scheduled to vote on a final version. Redenbaugh said the leak of the report damaged the commission's credibility. "We write a report that says the state of Florida didn't follow its rules and then the commission doesn't follow its own rules," he said.