Sunday, August 26, 2007


There is great resonance with the idea of voter disenfranchisement, especially in Florida. So, when Howard Dean and the DNC says that they may keep Florida's delegates from being counted towards the vote to determine the Democratic party candidate, Florida officials aren't taking it lying down.
The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to strip Florida of all its presidential convention delegates, threatening to leave the state without a voice in choosing the party's 2008 nominee, unless it delays the date of its primary election.

The ultimatum marks party leaders' most drastic attempt yet to impose order among states that have been trying to elbow their balloting closer to the front of the election cycle. Three months ago, Florida controversially set its primary for Jan. 29.

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee voted overwhelmingly to give Florida's party 30 days to reschedule -- to Feb. 5 at the earliest -- or risk losing accreditation for its 210 delegates to the nominating convention next summer in Denver.

A refusal to seat delegates from the nation's fourth most populous state could set the stage for floor fights and a public spectacle at a convention normally choreographed to show party unity.
There was a time when the process was all so simple. You knew you had New Hampshire and Iowa leading the way in late February, and several weeks later, Super Tuesday would come along and states like New York and New Jersey would come after that. In that time, the number of votes cast for candidates would see several eliminated along the way, and the die was cast with the likely nominee selected before the first votes were cast in New Jersey or New York.

No longer.

Now, there's a mad scramble to make other states relevant, so there's a game of chicken going on. States are leapfrogging over each other to remain relevant, despite rules setting the order:
Party rules ban states other than Iowa (Jan. 14), Nevada (Jan. 19), New Hampshire (Jan. 22) and South Carolina (Jan. 29) from holding their 2008 presidential primaries before Feb. 5. The calendar was designed to protect Iowa's and New Hampshire's clout in being first to choose a nominee. Nevada and South Carolina were added to provide racial and economic diversity.

If election trends of the past three decades continue, both Democrats and Republicans are likely to choose their candidates long before the 2008 national conventions are held in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

So while Florida Democrats may lose their delegate votes, they could have a greater influence on the presidential race by showing the early preferences of Florida, a donor-laden swing state with 27 electoral votes.
The DNC and RNC are both trying to keep state officials from messing with the schedules, and Dean is adamant about trying to maintain that order, but I really wonder what Dean and the DNC would do if Florida refuses.

They can't exactly withhold the delegates, as it would indeed restrain Florida voters in their ability to select a candidate. The irony that Democrats would seek to do this in light of what happened in 2000 is striking.

Having resided in both New York and New Jersey, I know that turnouts have generally been light for the primaries because the candidates have been winnowed and selected well before I got a chance to cast a ballot. It's a situation that those states want to correct. If Florida doesn't back down, they're going to present a quandary for DNC officials who want to protect their schedule.

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