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Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Deja vu all over again
In 2000, there was a battle over election rules. Boiling down the positions of the two parties to their essences, Republicans argued that voters should have to follow instructions in order to have their votes counted, while Democrats argued that the rules were less important than making sure all voices were heard.

Now what do we have in New Jersey? Republicans arguing that the law should be followed, and Democrats arguing that the law doesn't really matter if another principle -- electing Democrats -- is involved. Of course, the New York Times comes down on the side of law-breaking:
In his emotional announcement, Mr. Torricelli said he would file a court petition to remove his name from the ballot and clear the way for another candidate, to be named in coming days from a short list being considered by Governor McGreevey. The Republicans are likely to argue that under New Jersey election law, it is too late to put another name on the ballot. But legal wrangling over ballot access cannot be allowed to obscure the central issue, which is one of democracy. The guiding principle should be the voters' basic right to a genuine election. With a month to go before Election Day, there is still time for a spirited campaign.
I wonder what Liz Macron would think of the claim that Torricelli's departure from the race means that it's not a "genuine election." Obviously nobody expects the New York Times to support a policy which might help a Republican get elected, but doesn't this go a little far? To claim that an election is not truly democratic if a Democrat isn't on the ballot?

But get past that partisanship, and think about the practical issues here. The New York Times wants a judge to rewrite the laws, after the fact, so that a Democrat can get elected. Sure; I don't see any potential controversy there. Certainly there won't be an appeal. And then another appeal, perhaps to federal court. Definitely we won't end up with federal judges deciding on which party controls the Senate. And it won't all be happening when we're under time pressure to determine the election winner. Didn't we do this before?

Contrast the New York Times' view with that of the Washington Post, which pointed out that voters did have a choice:
Still, it's reassuring that in one sense, at least, the process worked well. The ethics committee acted unequivocally and in time for its findings to be absorbed by New Jersey voters, and they -- to the evident and cynical surprise of Mr. Torricelli and the Democratic Party -- in turn registered their displeasure without even having to cast their votes.
Darn right. Just because we made our choice about the Democratic candidate before the election doesn't mean we were denied our right to an election.

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