Friday, February 18, 2005

The Levers of Power

I'll start by way of Ohio, place of my birth (not raising) and scene of the most recent apocalyptic visions of Dems everywhere. There are obvious posts about Secretary of State Blackwell and partisan elected officials controlling elections here, here, and here.

But this lever of power is something new.

The good Secretary is requesting that the Ohio Supreme Court sanction attorneys for filing a case contesting the voting machines and voting irregularities in Ohio. Read all about it in brief here and here. This paragraph is the chilling part. This is the crux of it. Not only can GOP elected officials serve as Co-Chairs for a Presidential candidate's State campaign, not only can they be responsible for distributions of voting machines and regulations by which safety mechanisms must be put in place to ensure votes are tallied and counted, now they can have GOP Attorneys General smack lawyers with fines and censure if the lawyers represent citizens who allege fraud?

As a nice little CA plug and relevant tidbit, your own Bill Jones has supported turning the SecState office in CA into a non-partisan post. Haven't followed this, so I'm not sure if he means it. It'd be nice.

Leave it to the newly re-energized Congressional Dems (Senate and House) to get going on something before the GOP has framed it as a crisis. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) may be well on his way to framing the first Dem 'crisis' of the cycle (though I'll chat on Gannongate soon).

Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, will be filing an amicus brief in the Ohio Supreme Court with the support of Senator Russ Feingold and 17 other members of the House of Representatives recommending that theCourt not sanction the attorneys who brought Ohio election contest in Moss v. Bush (no.04-2088). Mr. Conyers offered the following statement:

"The attorneys in this case had reason to believe that the election results did not reflectthe will of the electorate. In good faith, they brought a case based not only on statistical probability but the depositions and affidavits of computer experts, statisticians, and electionvolunteers. In only a couple months, these attorneys have amassed over 900 pages of evidence.

"While we take no opinion on the underlying case, we firmly support the right of citizens to challenge elections results in court when they have a good faith basis to do so. Truly, Secretary Blackwell's attempt to sanction these attorneys is meant to send a message to anyone who dare challenge his questionable election administration. For our democracy to work properly, we can't allow this sort of intimidation by state officials.”

This is one of the more frustrating issues for me today because I think that many people, especially those in CA given what CD has been typing for the past few months, are ready to latch on to election reform as a "Democrat" issue. Unfortunately, as a pragmatic thinker (from time to time, don't get antsy yet) I recognize that picking the election reform fight now, with so many GOP SecStates, Legislatures, and national electeds is a dangerous thing to do. What's to stop Blackwell, DeLay, Rove, et al, from just saying: "Okay, let's reform it all." I am not a fan of that kind of reform.

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