Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Waiting for Gardner

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, who was expected this week to announce the date of New Hampshire's primary, now says he will wait until Michigan's primary date is resolved. As you may recall, Michigan moved its primary to January 15, leapfrogging New Hampshire's original date and throwing the calendar into confusion.

But then on Wednesday a Michigan state judge declared that move unconstitutional because voter participation lists would subsequently be distributed only to the two main political parties, not to the general public. Today, the Michigan Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution 26-9 to salvage the primary, but failed to achieve 2/3 majority on a crucial procedural motion to allow the law to take effect before March 2008. The full Michigan legislature has until November 15 to act, otherwise the Michigan primary will revert to its original date of February 26.

Meanwhile, by state law, NH must hold its contest 7 days before any other primary, and Gardner is taking no chances. NH has begun distributing absentee ballots overseas. Said Gardner, "We have met the 30 days [requirement]. That leaves early December open." But he would prefer not to move the date into 2007 so regarding when he would issue a final ruling, Gardner said today, "I'm waiting for a decision, a resolution of this, some finality."

Aren't we all. What a way to pick a President.


Anonymous said...

Don't you guys find it somewhat ludicrous that the states have such a hold over a federal election, from counting the votes to biasing the pre-selection? Is there any chance that this system might be reformed?

Spotted Handfish

Dr. Strangelove said...

Unfortunately, there is not much chance. Few states would stand for it. The chaos this year might prod some people to make proposals, but my crystal ball sees only emptiness in the future.

Bob said...

I agree with Dr. S, it doesn't seem right but it's not at all clear where a solution would come from.

Just as a related note, in the UK (and many countries) the important national elections aren't according to fixed terms, but are scheduled _by the federal government_ - obviously seeking best advantage for the party in power. (On the bright side, this makes for a much shorter campaigning period.)

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think it is shocking that the Dems (and now the GOP too) have agreed that NH,NV,IA, and SC are allowed to have polls before 2/5, and all others are punished (except Wyoming, which has its GOP caucuses on 1/5, and nobody cares). The shocking thing is that they will disenfranchise Michigan and Florida voters for doing what other voters in other states can do.

Raised By Republicans said...

Spotted Handfish,

Of course it's ludicrous that individual states have such disproportionate influence on candidate selection.

But putting states in the diver's seat is a common feature of American federalism. I won't defend it (because I think we'd be better off with truly national elections and primaries) but I will say that to the guys that wrote our constitution - this sort of thing seemed like a good idea at the time (1780s).

The Law Talking Guy said...

Of course, RBR knows that as to the specifics, none of this - including any popular election of the president - was contemplated in the 1780s. The expectation was that state legislatures would choose the electors themselves (who would have thought that, given plenary power to do anything, they would have set up electiosn?). National parties were not expected, and primary elections were unknown.

What has resulted, Mr. Handfish, is actually quite typical of American republicanism, indeed of Anglo-American government in general: a workable hodge-podge that is half tradition and half political jockeying that allows us to muddle through with a democratic imperative bruised but largely intact.

I agree with RBR that it is indefensible on any theoretical ground. But it is defensible on the same grounds that Anglo-American policies always are: it works, er, sort of.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. One thing I do like about the American system is that the states are strong enough that, for example, Republicans will vote in different ways and not as a block. Unfortunately the Australian system results in politicians that feel compelled to tow the party line even to the disadvantage of their own electorates. I don't know how you stop that occurring...

Spotted Handfish