Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Election Fiasco - Beyond "Raging" Against the Machine

(Cross-posted with minor edits from Crablaw Maryland Weekly.)

Yes, Maryland progressives and all fair-minded people are angry about the uber-fiasco in Montgomery County and similar farces in Prince George's County and the City of Baltimore.

Yes, we should be furious. But that is not enough.

We should support and applaud all efforts to uncover the truth about what happened in the different jurisdictions that effected such a large disenfranchisement of literally tens of thousands of Marylanders, of American citizens.

We should support everyone who supports fair process and sunshine upon this fiasco.

We should support Donna Edwards in her bid for the Democratic nomination for the Fourth Congressional District not because she is liberal, not because of her outstanding records of civic service, but because we have reason to believe that this incompetence deprived Marylanders of the ability to elect her fairly. Even if she were a right-wing social conservative with views that most FSP readers would find not to their preference, we would still do right by standing up for her aggressively and loudly. If even Rick Santorum or George W. Bush himself were burned this way, honorable people would stand by either. This is not about whether we get Al Wynn or Donna Edwards; this is about the rule of law, the core rights of citizenship and continued public confidence in our very form of government, beyond the changing winds of party, policy and personality.

We should support all reasonable efforts to deter and restrain this farce, to remediate its victims wherever such possibility actually exists and, if gross negligence or willful misconduct is shown to be the cause, support the criminal prosecution of the guilty under applicable law. Deterrence and restraint include, in my view, some firings after an appropriate investigation. Remediation means supporting those who may fight the good fight for judicial relief against executive and administrative incompetence, dereliction and reckless disregard of settled law, court orders and fundamental electoral due process.

We were not flooded, no one lost property or their livelihood. But this failure of core competence is Katrina-esque. The local Boards of Election, sadly, did not do their sole job - deliver a substantially fair and legally compliant election - but did instead a "heckuvajob" upon the citizenry whose Trustee they were and still are now.

The facts are not fully available. Maryland is said to have a "middle temperament" perhaps comparable to the "land of steady habits" which Connecticut is said to be. The extremes to avoid are despair and frantic manic anger at this electoral farce; a middle temperament calls for deliberate focus and a steeled resolve among all of us - lawyers, bus drivers, teachers, citizens, parents, students and even bloggers - to hold our public trustees' feet to the fire, stand up for the rule of law and the rule of Constitutional law and make certain that this anti-democratic outrage must not and will not stand.


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