Election May Be Decided in the End by the Courts
Election day may be marked, this time around, by legal skirmishes across the country — on “last-minute legal battles over when and how ballots should be cast and counted,” according to a report in the Times.
In the last few weeks, nearly a dozen decisions in federal and state courts on early voting, provisional ballots and voter identification requirements have driven the rules in conflicting directions, some favoring Republicans demanding that voters show more identification to guard against fraud and others backing Democrats who want to make voting as easy as possible.
The most closely watched cases — in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania — will see court arguments again this week, with the Ohio dispute possibly headed for a request for emergency review by the Supreme Court.
In Wisconsin, the home state of the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, the attorney general has just appealed to the State Supreme Court on an emergency basis to review two rulings barring its voter ID law. But even if all such cases are settled before Nov. 6 — there are others in Florida, Iowa and South Carolina — any truly tight race will most likely generate post-election litigation that could delay the final result. …NYT
At least one legal expert at in voting law says there could be a “disaster.” And a well-known veteran of the civil rights battle — John Lewis of Georgia — sees a long term effort on the part of Republicans to limit voting: ““They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote.”
It’s looking more and more as though “the people” are no longer the deciders. The deciders are the parties.
We don’t talk about our two major political entities as major corporations, both warring for supremacy not of policies but of their own corporate supremacy in money and influence, but one former member of Congress may finally convince us that this is the case. And, interestingly, he is a Republican.
Mickey Edwards has for a long time been one of this blogger’s favorite “public intellectuals.” Edwards’ new book on the struggle between the two parties — and, more to the point, the struggle America needs to have against their very existence — came out about a month ago. Here he is on PBS:
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you start out by asking what would happen if the dead could have nightmares.
MICKEY EDWARDS: You’re right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were thinking of a particular founding father?
MICKEY EDWARDS: I was thinking of four of them.
You know, the one thing that George Washington, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson all agreed on was don’t create political parties. And the parties they had in that day were things where a few people got together on three issues, four issues, five issues, but not like what we have today, permanent factions, Republicans, Democrats always on opposite sides. and the founders all warned against that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what you write here is that the real culprits are the parties.
MICKEY EDWARDS: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you describe them as private clubs. What has happened to the parties?
MICKEY EDWARDS: Well, what happens is they over time got to be where they’re in control of who gets to be on the ballot. So they have closed party primaries, where a small segment of the electorate gets to decide who is the most pure candidate they have got.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In each state.
MICKEY EDWARDS: In each state.
And then what happens is, because of sore loser laws that they got passed in most states, the person who lost the primary can’t be on the ballot in November, even though that may be the choice of most of the voters in the state. And so you end up with candidates who are not really representative. There are hard-liners, non-compromisers, and they’re the people that eventually go to Washington. …PBS News Hour, 8/21/12
And on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”
Edwards cites the selection of committee chairmanships as a way to enforce partisanship rather than good governance. He says he has been in the room and watched discussions about “whether or not A or B ought to be on Ways and Means or Appropriations or the Labor Committee, and somebody will say, ‘No, we are not going to put that person on that committee because’ — whatever his or her constituency or personal views or expertise — ‘that person is not going to stick to the party line on the issues that are part of our platform, that are part of our agenda.’ ”
Edwards says party primaries are a major reason why Congress consists of politicians who are committed to sticking with a particular ideology and are unwilling to compromise. The most ideological and partisan candidates tend to succeed in party primaries, Edwards says.
“We’re allowing the clubs — narrow subsets of population — to dictate to the general public when they go to the polls in November about who their choices can be,” he says. …NPR