Whatever Happened To Elections?

Whatever Happened To Elections?

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, January 07, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Politics: Now that Minnesota says Stuart Smalley is the winner over Norm Coleman, we may wind up with a new Senate of Franken, Burris and Kennedy. What we won’t get are special elections where the people vote.

Read More: General Politics


Surely we can do better than to add to the world’s greatest deliberative body the likes of a famous socialite, an unknown cipher and a failed talk show host not ready for prime time. Yet this is what the political system has labored mightily to produce.

On Monday, after a flurry of ballots that materialized after election night, the Minnesota Canvassing Board determined that Al Franken is the duly elected junior senator from the land of 10,000 lakes and almost as many questionable ballots. The margin was 225 votes out of nearly 3 million cast.

Franken is the former comedy writer and performer who played self-help guru Stuart Smalley (“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me!”) on “Saturday Night Live” before he launched a talk show on the Air America Radio network that went bankrupt in 2 1/2 years.

Franken is not quite senator yet. Incumbent Norm Coleman, who led on election night by more than 700 votes, has filed what is called an election contest. This is a legal proceeding, held before a panel of judges to be appointed by the chief judge of the Supreme Court, to determine the winner of the election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t waiting. “Al Franken has won the election,” he told reporters. “Everything is over.” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., new head of the Senate Rules Committee, also jumped the gun.

Coleman’s term officially ended Saturday. Schumer proclaimed Franken the winner on Sunday.

To be resolved through the election contest are a few tidbits such as 650 additional improperly rejected absentee ballots identified by the Coleman campaign that were excluded from the recount.

Among absentee ballots, 138 appear to have been double-counted in Franken’s favor. And 133 missing ballots from a heavily Democratic Minneapolis precinct were nevertheless included in the recount.

Interestingly, as Newsmax has reported, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who orchestrated the recount that gave Franken a lead six weeks after Coleman appeared to win by 725 votes on Election Day, has extensive ties to the ACORN organization under federal investigation for vote fraud.

All this could have been avoided if Minnesota had a law like Georgia’s allowing for a runoff if no candidate had a majority in the original contest. But then, as in Georgia, it might result in a Republican holding the seat.

Fears that a special election might result in a GOP victory led Illinois Democrats to rescind their own call for one and create the second ring in this three-ring election circus. Instead, we have the spectacle of perennial wannabe Roland Burris showing up on the steps of the Senate pleading that he is the junior senator from Illinois and can he come in and play.

Choosing Obama’s replacement in the Senate, as the Chicago Tribune points out in an editorial, should be the privilege of the voters of Illinois, just as it is the privilege of the voters in Rahm Emmanuel’s congressional district to vote for a replacement for President-elect Obama’s new chief of staff.

In New York, as we’ve noted, Caroline’s chief accomplishments seem to have been organizing a rock concert to raise money for New York public schools, serving on the board of a ballet company and serving on Barack Obama’s vice presidential selection committee.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the voters of these states want. What Reid wants are three warm Democratic bodies in these seats to reliably vote for the expansion of government power, even if they’re not the three brightest bulbs on the tree. He wanted it so badly in Illinois, he even called Burris’ accused felon patron, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, to offer a few suggestions.

Democrats once chanted that we should let every vote count. Not any more.