Thursday, November 11, 2010

What A Jerk


Don't count me as a big supporter of Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator from Alaska. But she's beginning to look like cherries and ice cream compared to her opponent, Joe Miller, in this last election.

As you know, Murkowski narrowly lost to Miller in the Republican primary and decided to run as a write-in candidate. In the event, Alaskan law stipulates that individual write-in votes (in this case, for Senator) will not be hand counted unless the overall total of them exceeds the number of votes for any of the candidates listed on the ballot.

As it happens, the write-ins did indeed exceed the number of votes for the the winner listed on the ballot, Joe Miller. So now begins the process of hand counting the write ins. Last night on Fox News, Joe Miller explained why he intends to file a lawsuit seeking to throw out any of the write-in votes for Murkowski where her name is misspelled, claiming, well, darn it, its just the law.

No it isn't. Alaskan law gives the election commission the authority to count a write-in ballot with a misspelled name, so long as the voter's intent can be determined.

Which isn't so hard to understand. "Lisa Murkowski" isn't exactly the "Jim Smith" of names. It shouldn't be too hard to identify a "Liza Markowski" or a Lisa Merkowsky" as a vote for Ms. Murkowski. In some cases I'm sure the misspellings will be so bad that these votes will be rightly discarded - but I think those cases will be rare.

So the Miller suit is just a bunch of hot air. But The Independent puts a little more top spin on this croquet ball (my emphasis):

"But there is worse: after the courts in Alaska ruled last week that election workers could hand voters a list showing the names of write-in candidates as they enter the voting booths, Miller supporters rushed to register themselves as last-minute runners just to dilute whatever advantage the lists might give to Ms Murkowski. Suddenly there were well over 150 write-in candidates in the race."

Steve, if aliens ever decide to incinerate the Earth, there's a good chance it will be a decision made on the basis of our political parties and campaigns, which on a scale of morality have fallen a couple of notches below child pornography and witchcraft. But that's to be expected. Mud slinging has become as iconic as apple pie and Pepsi.

But if there's one place where we should draw the line it is when candidates and their parties try to game the election process itself. This demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of how democracy works and why it is better than any other system.

Frankly, the voting public rarely delivers elected leaders capable of the greatness we expect of them. I'm sure that every time you think of Pelosi and I think of Cheney, we find ourselves wishing those who voted for these people could be lined up against the wall and shot.

But you know, the privilege to vote is a privilege which defines citizenship. How can you expect a man to obey the laws enacted by a government he was not allowed to select?

And, to have some mealy mouth politician claim that elections should be decided in the courtroom instead of the voting booth is nothing more than a profound insult to every man and woman responsible enough to go out on election day and affirm the importance of that privilege by exercising it.


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