With all this talk about redoing the election, I’m kind of laughing inside. The Democratic party created this mess for itself and now that it looks like Hilary Clinton doesn’t have the nomination sewed up, they have to try and fix it. The fix might be a little more difficult than people think.
While most Fatmixx readers are probably well aware, I’ll give some background. The Michigan and Florida Democratic parties felt as if Iowa, New Hampshire, and the super Tuesday states had too much say in the nominations process. As a result, they moved the primary earlier in the year to give themselves more relevance in the process. This violated national Democratic party rules and the party decided not to seat the delegates. This was all done under the assumption that it wouldn’t really matter, since there would be a presumptive nominee (read Hilary Clinton) after Super Tuesday. Now that Barak Obama is actually leading, and that every delegate is important, the 210 Florida delegates and the 165 Michigan delegates could be the difference in making the nomination.
It should also be noted that since the delegates were going to be stripped from Michigan, Obama, along with all the other candidates, except Clinton, had their names removed from the ballot. For those voting in the Michigan Democratic Primary, the choice was “Hilary Clinton” or “None of the Above” (You can’t write in a candidate). Not only could you not vote for any other candidate, but your vote would also be ignored.
Michigan has an open primary. You just ask for the ballot of the party you want.
Those last two sentences are key. Michigan has an open primary. You just ask for the ballot you want.
Now that there is talk of a redo primary there is one thing I’m not hearing discussed: Who gets to vote in it.
I can’t speak for others, but I don’t maintain a party affiliation. I don’t for several reasons, but one of them is that I hate getting called by the party for donations. I donate to whom I like and have donated to candidates in at least 3 different parties over the last 4 years. I also don’t maintain a party affiliation because I don’t have to. If I want to vote in a primary, I just ask for the ballot that I want.
Since there was only one choice on the Democratic ballot and the delegates were going to be seated, I opted to actually make my vote count and I voted in the Republican primary. There was an internet move to get Michigan Democrats to vote in the Republican primary in an attempt to prolong the Republican primary. I know at least one or two people who opted not to vote in the primary since “it didn’t matter.” Hardly a scientific survey since I’m only including 3 or 4 people here, but it does give an idea of the problem.
Who gets to vote in the redo?
Do you limit it to those who voted in original Democratic primary? I have no idea how many, die hard Democrats voted in the Republican primary since their Democratic votes wouldn’t matter, but it wasn’t trivial. And how many decided to stay home, since their votes didn’t matter? Can you disenfranchise a large part of your own party…especially when all they wanted was for their vote to actually count? Can you disenfranchise those who were trying to spoil the other party’s election? Those seem like the hardest core supporters.
Do you limit it to registered Democrats? I deliberately don’t register with a party, because I don’t have to. Michigan has an open primary system. Is is acceptable to change the eligibility rules after the fact? Does the party want to exclude the more moderate residents of the state or party-undeclared minorities? As far as I can tell, there is no advantage in Michigan to declaring a party, unless you want to be involved in the party. I have to wonder how many voters in the Primary had not declared a party. These are going to be the voters who will make or break the general election for the Democrats. A choice not acceptable to this group may not be able to win the state.
Do you open it up to all registered voters in Michigan? This would allow people to vote in both primaries and would allow Republicans to play spoiler. It would almost assure that Hilary Clinton would win Michigan. But if you don’t allow all Michigan voters to vote, then how do you recapture those people who wanted their vote to mean something but were prevented from doing so by party ruling?
Forget about the question of “mail in ballots” versus “limited polling places” and who is going to pay for it all. There is a more fundamental question. “Who gets to vote?” is not trivial. The question of the eligibility of the voter will skew the result, no matter how it is decided. I can’t speak for Florida, but for Michigan this could be a serious problem.
The National Democratic party made their own bed and now they have to lie in it. There isn’t a solution. The Party tried to enforce some arbitrary rule about who gets the most influence in the process and now it is coming back to haunt them. The solution may have to be to divide the remaining delegates up as the national popular vote falls. It isn’t a pretty solution and it might not be “fair,” but it seems less wrought with danger then a re-vote.