updated 7/20/2004 11:58:45 AM ET 2004-07-20T15:58:45

House leaders are calling for Congress to affirm that presidential elections, to be held this year on Nov. 2, will never be postponed because of a terrorist attack.

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The move comes after the chairman of a federal election commission suggested to congressional leaders last week that there should be a process for canceling or rescheduling an election interrupted by terrorism. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the administration is considering no such plan.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recently warned that intelligence indicates that the al-Qaida terrorist network wants to disrupt the upcoming elections.

A congressional resolution by Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, says “the actions of terrorists will never cause the date of any presidential election to be postponed” and “no single individual or agency should be given the authority to postpone the date of a presidential election.”

Learn how voting systems work, from paper ballots to e-voting.The resolution is supported by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and more than 60 other lawmakers. Ney said he would introduce it on Tuesday.

No precedent
No national election has ever been postponed, the resolution says, noting that federal elections took place as scheduled during the Civil War, World War I and World War II.

“Postponing an election in the aftermath of a terrorist attack would demonstrate weakness, not strength, and would be interpreted as a victory for the terrorists,” the resolution says.

Ney said the resolution would restore confidence in the electoral process. Hastert agreed, saying: “This resolution will send a message around our nation and around the world that the United States will not be bullied by terrorism.”

Unlike a bill, a House resolution is not binding if passed and does not have the force of law. It merely expresses the sentiment of members of the House.

Separately, about 190 House members, mostly Democrats, wrote to Ridge insisting that he take no further steps in postponing the Nov. 2 elections.

“We must ensure that in the fight against terrorism we do not lose the values and freedoms that we’re fighting for in the first place,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.

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