Monday, March 10, 2008

The Audacity of Fairness: Should FL and MI Count?

All the election scuttlebutt right now (other than more 'Obama is a closet terrorist' slander) centers around whether or not the fine folks of Florida and Michigan should have their primary votes counted. The big issue is the fact that both of these states subjugated the Democratic National Committee's dictate and tried to move their primaries up in date (thus making them more important). As a result, the DNC slapped sanctions on both states, making their delegates non-binding. This is nothing new, it's happened in Delaware, and even in DC back in 04'.

The question is, how should these votes be handled?

Political leaders on Sunday debated the idea of again holding votes in Michigan and Florida using a mail-in ballot to resolve the issue of delegates from those states being barred from participating in the nominating process. DNC Chairman Howard Dean says a mail-in ballot could be one way to deal with the delegate dilemma.

The Democratic National Committee stripped both states of their delegates for violating party rules by scheduling their primaries too early. Michigan and Florida held Democratic primaries, but the candidates agreed not to campaign in either state, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who won both states, was the only top-tier candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

Also, some people chose not to vote because they knew their state's delegates wouldn't count. Democrats agree that new voting is needed to determine convention delegates for Florida and Michigan, but the question is how.

Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama are running such a tight race that it looks like neither candidate will get the 2,024 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. If Florida and Michigan count, they could put either candidate over the top. The states have 366 pledged delegates and superdelegates between them.
Distancing myself from either candidate, I can see the merit on both sides of this argument. The actual citizens of MI and FL didn't vote to move up the date of their primaries, the state parties did. So, to punish millions of voters by basically tossing out their votes, when they never asked to have their primaries pushed is decidedly anti-democratic.

On the other hand, rules are rules, not mere suggestions. The states made the decisions to push the primaries up, knowing full well what the consequences were. Imagine you're trailing by 4 in an NBA game with 0.5 seconds to go, and one coach calls a timeout and tries to lobby the refs for a 5 point line. Again, rules are rules for a reason.

Were this election not potentially historically close, there would be no such calls for mail-in ballots, etc, which are obviously coming from the Clinton Camp. Some talking heads are saying Clinton has no mathematical chance of catching Obama before they both arrive in Denver and let the SuperDelegates decide, so asserting her desire for a re-vote is understandable. As she's repeatedly mentioned on the stump, she "won" bothy states. Never mind the mere fact that she was the only person on the ballot in Michigan, and many Florida voters didn't bother showing, knowing their votes wouldn't count.

One thing I know for sure is that I've lost whatever little respect I had remaining for Howard Dean. As head of the DNC, he could easily squelch this whole thing by simply saying "no", the states made their beds, now they must lay in them. But there he was yesterday, making the rounds on all the political talk shows, asking states "who's gonna fit the bill?", which is just ludicrous. And believe me, I'm not just saying that because my candidate of choice could potentially end up on the ass-end of the pyramid should votes be recast. I'm simply saying this because it's fair. Really. I've run through the whole "if the roles were reversed, how would you feel?" scenario in my head, and reality is, Obama would be just as wrong to call for a re-vote.

Question: How do you think the ballot situations in FL and MI should be resolved?

Mail-in ballot suggested as possible Florida-Michigan fix [CNN]

Steve King, Republican Congressman: Al-Qaida Will Be "Dancing In The Streets" If "Hussein" Obama Wins [Huffington Post]

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