[Mb-civic]    Kerry Is Widely Favored Abroad

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Wed Sep 29 16:37:02 PDT 2004

Also see below:     
Hurdles Remain for American Voters Who Live Overseas    €

   Go to Original

  Kerry Is Widely Favored Abroad
  By Keith B. Richburg
  The Washington Post

   Wednesday 29 September 2004

Hostility toward Bush revealed in surveys and interviews.

  PARIS - From Canada to Mexico, from London and Paris to Jakarta and
Beijing, President Bush is widely unpopular as a candidate for reelection,
according to surveys and interviews conducted in 20 countries.

  Sen. John F. Kerry appears to be the runaway favorite abroad, even though
few people outside the United States know much about the Massachusetts
Democrat or his positions on foreign policy questions.

  "If foreigners could vote, there's no question what the result would be,"
said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United
States. "Bush's image, even before the war in Iraq, was not good. The way he
comports himself, the vocabulary he uses -- good versus evil, God and all
that -- even his body language, most people think is not presidential." He
added, "I've never seen such hostility."

  Kerry's foreign fans say they like his attitude about consulting allies
and respecting their views. To them, he seems worldly, with an African-born
wife. He attended school in Geneva and speaks French. A first cousin of
Kerry's, Brice Lalonde, is a Green Party mayor of a small town in western

  Bush appears to have strong support in such places as Israel and Singapore
for his stance against radical Islamic groups, and in some countries that
are benefiting from world trade, such as India, for his free-market views.
But elsewhere, a majority of people appear to be hoping he loses.

  "Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!" said Eros Djarrot, a filmmaker and founder of a
small political party in Indonesia, the world' s most populous Muslim
nation. "Simply because Bush knows what is good for Americans, but he
doesn't understand what is good for people outside America, especially
people in developing countries."

  Karim Raslan, a lawyer and commentator in Malaysia, another
Muslim-majority country, was more blunt: "Everyone would want to see Bush
out. He is loathed." He added: "The view in Asia-Pacific is, Bush is
dreadful. You've got to get rid of him. But is the other guy better? I fear

  In the Arab world, Bush is widely despised for launching the Iraq war,
supporting Israel and shoring up corrupt Arab governments in exchange for
their help in the region. "Bush talks about helping Egypt, but he supports
Mubarak," said Ahmed Shukri, an Egyptian computer science student, referring
to Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's authoritarian president. "He supports lots of
dictators. We don't trust Bush and we don't know Kerry."

  In the Muslim world as a whole, Bush's Middle East policies are often seen
not as targeting terrorism but the Islamic faith.

  Elsewhere, the American president is viewed as too quick to use force,
with no concern for the consequences to others. "I don't like Bush," said
Hao Zhiqiang, 42, a taxi driver in China. "He launched the Iraq war. The
price of oil is getting higher because of that."

  In Canada, a public opinion poll by the Globe and Mail newspaper conducted
in July found that Canadians favored Kerry over Bush 60 percent to 29
percent. In Japan, an earlier opinion poll published in the Mainichi
newspaper, conducted before Democrats had chosen a candidate, showed only 31
percent of respondents supporting Bush and 57 percent against him.

  In Russia, an opinion poll showed Russians preferring Kerry by a ratio of
almost 4 to 1, although President Vladimir Putin quipped to reporters that
the Bush supporters "include a few very influential people," an apparent
reference to himself.

  And a survey by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, conducted
June 6 through 26 in nine European countries, found that 76 percent of
European respondents disapproved of Bush's handling of international
affairs, up 20 percentage points from a survey in 2002. The poll also found
that 80 percent of Europeans surveyed -- compared with half of Americans --
said the Iraq war was not worth the cost in human life and material loss.

  The deep antipathy has produced a round of Bush-bashing magazine covers,
books and television debates that many foreign policy observers say is
unprecedented, stronger even than the widespread repudiation abroad of
President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

  In Germany, Stern magazine offered this declaration on its cover: "George
W. Bush, MORALLY BANKRUPT." In France, Nouvelle Observateur magazine
published a cover story entitled: "Why It's Necessary To Beat Bush."

  In Canada, the animosity has been running so high that the Canadian
Broadcasting Corp. this month aired a program called, "Has Bush-bashing gone
too far?" And in France, a popular Sunday television show, "Le Vrai
Journal," has a segment devoted entirely to Bush-bashing, with Americans
invited to explain to the French why they hate Bush and plan to vote against

  At times, normally circumspect diplomats and politicians have found
themselves swept up in the sentiment. A Canadian official called Bush a
"moron." Britain's ambassador to Italy, Ivor Roberts, said at a conference
in Tuscany last week that Bush is "the best recruiting sergeant ever for al
Qaeda," according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper. And the Spanish
prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, shortly after his upset
victory in March, said he hoped Americans would follow Spain's electoral
example and replace the incumbent president in November.

  The most obvious reason for these views is the war in Iraq, which remains
almost universally unpopular around the world, even in countries whose
governments have sent troops there as part of the U.S.-led multinational

  But Bush-bashing predates the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many policy
analysts date it to the administration's decision in its early days in
office to reject the Kyoto protocol on climate change. That move affronted
many people in the world, in part due to perceptions that it was announced
in a high-handed way with no concern for world objections. His subsequent
renunciation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty provoked similar
dismay abroad.

  There was an outpouring of sympathy for a brief period following the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in western
Pennsylvania, and much of the world rallied to the side of the United States
in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. But that goodwill flagged
when the United States filled its military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
with suspected terrorists and allowed them no access to the legal system.

  Political leaders of many nations who supported Bush in Iraq now find
their own political fates tied to his. Australians go to the polls on Oct.
9, with conservative Prime Minister John Howard, a Bush supporter who sent
Australian troops to Iraq, trying to fight off a strong challenge by the
Labor Party leader, Mark Latham, who is promising to bring the troops home
by Christmas.

  In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's support has plummeted to an
all-time low of 40 percent, in part because of his strong association with
Bush. And analysts cite the Iraq war in explaining the dismal showing of the
British Labor Party of Prime Minister Tony Blair in recent European
parliamentary and local elections.

  Some world leaders on the other side of the issue are said to be quietly
hoping for a Kerry victory in order to improve ties with Washington. One of
them is President Jacques Chirac of France, who has had a frosty
relationship with Bush since France lobbied against the Iraq war at the
United Nations. One French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
saying he could speak more candidly that way, said that if Kerry won, "I
think it will change the atmospherics of the relations, because public
opinion would say it's a new start."

  The hopes for a Kerry victory sometimes extend to political parties whose
ideology is similar to that of the Republicans. Britain's Conservative
Party, for instance, is shying away from Bush this year.

  The same is true in France, where most members of Chirac's ruling Union
for a Popular Movement, or UMP are rooting for Kerry. "In my party, they are
all pro-Kerry, except me," said Pierre Lellouche, a member of the National
Assembly and a foreign policy specialist. "I am a very lonely voice here
saying even if Kerry is elected, the fundamentals of U.S. policy will not

  Lellouche and some others contend that the biggest change in a Kerry
administration might simply be a difference in tone and perception. For
example, they said, a Kerry administration might be no more likely than the
Bush team to sign the Kyoto climate treaty or endorse the jurisdiction of
the International Criminal Court without major exemptions for U.S. soldiers
that the Bush administration has demanded.

  Also, a Kerry administration is likely to make uncomfortable demands on
traditional U.S. allies to help share the military burden in Iraq, something
that many diplomats say will not happen.

  For all the rancor against Bush, he does draw strong support in some parts
of the world. He has backers in Israel, for instance, thanks to a strong
pro-Israel policy. A recent opinion poll by the Maariv newspaper found that
48 percent of respondents in Israel supported Bush and 29 percent backed
Kerry. Bush also has a good reputation in the affluent Southeast Asian
city-state of Singapore, whose government largely shares Bush's fears of
Islamic extremism.

  In East Asia and India, areas that are benefiting from the expansion of
world trade, many people view Kerry warily because of criticisms during his
campaign of the exporting of American jobs.

  One other place where Bush appears somewhat popular is Sudan, particularly
in the Darfur region.

  Some Sudanese say they wish his interventionist policies would extend to
their country. "We could use a regime change," said Halima Huessin, a
Sudanese aid worker in Darfur, as she looked out over a gaggle of children
covered in flies and men sleeping in thatched huts.


  Correspondents in Toronto, Mexico City, London, Moscow, Cairo, Jerusalem,
New Delhi, Beijing, Tokyo, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Darfur, Sudan, and
special correspondents in Berlin, Madrid, Budapest and Lund, Sweden,
contributed to this report.

  Go to Original

  Hurdles Remain for American Voters Who Live Overseas
  By Michael Moss
  The New York Times

  Wednesday 29 September 2004

  Four years after overseas voting became a battleground in the presidential
election in Florida, millions of civilians and soldiers living abroad still
face a bewildering and unwieldy system of absentee balloting that could
prevent their votes from being counted.

   Election officials concede that tens of thousands of Americans overseas
might not get ballots in time to cast votes. Late primaries and legal
wrangling caused election offices in at least 8 of the 15 swing states to
fail to mail absentee ballots by Sept. 19, a cutoff date officials say is
necessary to ensure that they can be returned on time, a survey by The New
York Times shows. In Florida in 2000, late-arriving ballots became a
divisive issue when some were counted and others were disqualified.

  The tardy ballots are just one of several setbacks or missteps that have
affected the ability of the estimated 4.4 million eligible voters overseas
to participate in the presidential election. Some have been unable to send
their registrations to a Pentagon contractor's computers, which are clogged
by thousands of voter forms. Others were denied access to a Web site
designed to help Americans abroad vote. And many voters simply have had
trouble navigating the rules and methods that determine how and when to
register and vote and that vary by state.

  "I found it so convoluted I gave up," says Alex Campos, a management
consultant in London who repeatedly tried to register using the Pentagon
program, without success.

  To help speed the balloting process, federal officials activated a new
system last week in which voters can obtain absentee ballots instantly
through the Internet. But the Web site, myballot.mil, will be offered only
to members of the military and their families, quickly raising concerns
about fairness in a program that the Pentagon has been directed to run for
civilians as well. In addition, 23 states have already declined to join the
system for various reasons, including security, according to Pentagon and
state officials.

   People on both sides vying for the overseas vote say the balloting system
remains so flawed that some predict legal battles if these votes prove
crucial to the outcome of the presidential race.

  "If it's a close election, one can expect a great deal of challenges given
the confused state of this complex matrix of rules and regulations, and the
lack of central leadership in their implementation," said Jim Brenner, the
executive director of Americans Overseas for Kerry.

  In recent interviews, Pentagon officials defended their voting assistance
effort and said the new Internet ballot retrieval system was only one item
in a menu of services the program was using to help both military and
civilian voters.

   "There is no favoritism," said Scott Wiedmann, the program's deputy
director, adding that the new system must be limited to the military because
the identities only of service members can be verified.

   Other efforts under way to help overseas voters include speeding mail
delivery for people in the military and a special federal ballot that all
voters can request if their regular ballot does not arrive from their state
on time. But election volunteers working overseas say that many voters do
not know the ballots exist, or if they do, do not know how to use them.

  Republicans and Democrats are pushing hard to solicit these voters after
some assessments indicating that President Bush's support among the
estimated 500,000 members of the military and their families overseas may
have weakened. There is little direct polling of soldiers, but Peter D.
Feaver, a sociology professor at Duke University, says surveys have shown
that while most officers are staunchly Republican, the rank and file newest
to the military has been more closely divided between the parties.

   "Kerry will do better in this group than Gore did,'' Mr. Feaver said,
"but he will not reverse the Bush advantage."

   There is also little polling of the 3.9 million civilians abroad. But
last month, a Zogby poll of Americans who had passports found that they
supported John Kerry over Mr. Bush, 58 percent to 35 percent.

  The concern about states not getting their overseas ballots out in time
surfaced most recently in a report this month by the newly formed United
States Election Assistance Commission, which found that 18 states did not
have systems in place to mail ballots at least 45 days before the election.
A commissioner, Paul DeGregorio, said in an interview that states with late
primaries did not have enough time to turn around and send out their ballots

  Of the eight swing states that missed the 45-day mailing mark, only three
will accept ballots that arrive after Election Day. Overseas voters have
until Nov. 10 to send their ballots to Florida, which experienced problems
four years ago that prompted widespread calls for improvements to overseas

  In 2001, the General Accounting Office examined overseas voting and found
numerous problems, from inadequate public education on the subject to late
ballot mailings. In surveying small counties throughout the country, for
example, the G.A.O., now the Government Accountability Office, found that
8.1 percent of the overseas votes had been thrown out mostly because they
were late or not properly completed.

   In response, the Pentagon placed voting assistance officers in military
units worldwide and retooled its general Web site for voting assistance to
help more Americans navigate the labyrinth of local voting procedures that
apply overseas.

   But some voters say the Web site remains difficult to use and that
program workers have provided wrong information. Adam Hess, 26, a marketing
coordinator in Ottawa, said he was told that he could not vote because he
has never lived in the United States; he later learned that was not true
since he received his citizenship through his American father.

   In recent weeks the federal effort has also been clouded by a series of
missteps that appear to have affected mostly civilian voters.

  After blocking Internet systems in more than two dozen countries from
gaining access to the general Web site, the Pentagon retreated last week and
says it is trying to find a less encumbering way to protect against hackers.

  Two weeks ago, Americans in various countries complained to voting rights
groups that they received only ringing or busy signals when they tried to
fax voter registrations to the number provided by the Pentagon.

  "I come from Florida, and it's like, here we go again," said Timothy P.
Mason, a telecommunications analyst in Britain who said he tried for two
days before giving up.

  In an e-mail message to one of the voting groups, a Pentagon official said
that military installations were tying up the lines by faxing in hundreds of
registrations in single batches, and that efforts would be made to
accommodate the volume.

  New questions have also arisen about the private contractor hired by the
Pentagon to handle these faxes and unsealed completed ballots at its offices
in Alexandria, Va. The company, Omega Technologies, was sued last year by
Adams National Bank, which accused it of failing to pay off a loan of more
than $500,000. In court records the bank also said Omega improperly gained
access to a Pentagon computer to reroute payments to the company's new

   A lawyer for Omega, Daryle Jordan, denied wrongdoing by Omega and said it
had countersued in contesting the debt claim. Pentagon officials said they
were not aware of the litigation or another billing dispute, brought in 2002
by a Nashville resort. Omega settled the second dispute without admitting or
denying accusations that it fabricated a Federal Express record. Mr. Jordan
said Omega did not consider the litigation relevant to its Pentagon work.

   An effort by the Pentagon to create a broad Internet voting program
collapsed in February after criticism by security experts that the system
was prone to manipulation.

  Ten states so far have agreed to dispense ballots through the more limited
service that the Pentagon is announcing this week, according to officials.

   Nearly half of the states now also allow voters to fax back their ballots
to election officials, but the loss of privacy is causing concern among some

  Scott Rafferty, a Democratic activist lawyer in California, said soldiers
had contacted him to say they feared voting by fax. One, an Army sergeant in
Germany who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, explained
his reservations.

  "Some places you have to hand it off to get it faxed because the machine
is behind the counter, at the finance office or personnel support
battalion," the sergeant said. "They should come up with a better, more
surefire system."


  Alexis Rehrmann, Eric Schmitt and John Schwartz contributed reporting for
this article.



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