Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stuart Smalley, The Senator From ACORN

Yesterday's ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court on the U.S. Senate election contest was not unexpected. While former senator Norm Coleman could have pursued a further appeal in federal court on equal protection grounds, he instead did the statesmanlike thing and conceded the election. Of course, this move may have coincided with preserving Coleman's future political viability. But let's face it; Coleman, who seems to be fine man who may have run a lackluster campaign, was done-in by phantom ballots that appeared after his apparent election night victory. If you separate out the fraudulent votes, Coleman likely would have been reelected. Even with all the ballot stuffing, Stuart Smalley only managed to eke out a 312-vote win.

The guys at PowerLine blog, who followed this court struggle closely, suggest that Coleman's case was sabotaged by bad lawyering on the part of his legal team. But they also add the following:
We are left with the realization that every Republican in a statewide race here in Minnesota starts a few thousand votes in the hole, due to the disparate standards for judging absentee ballots used in Republican-leaning versus Democratic-leaning counties. Of course, that understates the case: the Republican starts out farther behind than that, due to illegal votes that cannot be prevented because of the Democratic Party's blocking of a photo ID requirement. We have no real idea of the magnitude of this disadvantage...The moral of the story, I guess, is that Republican counties should loosen their absentee ballot standards; that is to say, quit following the law.
Isn't it kind of demoralizing in contemporary American that the counties in compliance with the rule of law should no longer do so, otherwise they are put at a fundamental disadvantage?

As an aside, since there were three candidates in this particular election, why not implement an "instant runoff" process like they have in the UK and elsewhere, where you vote for your first choice and your second choice? Under that system, if no candidate makes it to 51% when the first-place votes are counted, the second preference comes into play.

But the larger issue is why in the greatest democracy in the world do we condone such lax if not fraudulent voter registration procedures perpetrated by ACORN and other groups along with their enablers in government? The Bush administration had the bully pulpit for eight years; why not use that to advocate a national law mandating photo ID to vote among other sensible legislative measures to protect ballot integrity? As we mentioned in a previous post, there is no reasonable basis for opposing such a law. Was the administration scared off by the Bush v. Gore controversy? Instead, wasn't that actually a golden opportunity to tighten procedures so that every legal vote is counted? Until the day comes, if ever, that the government creates a hi-tech national voter database that checks your fingerprint or iris when you go to vote on election day, or the equivalent, simply showing your driver's license (which is already required in some states) could be an effective way to protect against voter disenfranchisement.

Again, we'll never understand why the previous administration didn't use its huge megaphone in that instance and others--such as pushing back against misleading media reports on domestic or international issues or fighting to get judicial nominees confirmed over Senate filibusters. In the meantime, close elections will sadly continue to be decided by illegal votes, and judges understandably will be reluctant to overturn the results, even if the results are fishy. In the event of a legal challenge, the court system will likely issue rulings confirming the outcome derived from ideology or make-believe validation of the rigged fact-finding conducted by a lower court or politicized state elections officials.

From the Wall Street Journal:
What Mr. Franken understood was that courts would later be loathe to overrule decisions made by the canvassing board, however arbitrary those decisions were. He was right. The three-judge panel overseeing the Coleman legal challenge, and the Supreme Court that reviewed the panel's findings, in essence found that Mr. Coleman hadn't demonstrated a willful or malicious attempt on behalf of officials to deny him the election. And so they refused to reopen what had become a forbidding tangle of irregularities. Mr. Coleman didn't lose the election. He lost the fight to stop the state canvassing board from changing the vote-counting rules after the fact.
As Joseph Stalin said, "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."