Thursday, March 6, 2008

DNC: Michigan and Florida Should Count

Earlier in this election season, the Democratic National Committee stripped both Florida and Michigan of their delegates, as they determined the states violated party rules by scheduling their primaries too early.

I recall when the story first broke months ago; I felt it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. It’s not like both states did anything dishonest, underhanded, illegal, or unethical. They just scheduled the vote early. I’m not sure how early is considered "too" early, but there you have it. Essentially, the DNC took away the voting rights – and the voices – of several million Americans.

The new question is – should they now count? You would think that they should. I am sure that the millions of residents in those states would agree. And apparently so does the Florida governor, Charlie Crist, who reportedly said "common sense would dictate that every vote should count." Crist, who is a Republican, went on to say “The argument that we are making is that the people of our respective states voted. They cast that precious right. They made their voice heard, and those delegates who represent them should be seated at both conventions.” He also said he wants the votes that were already cast to be counted, as the "people should be heard and not party bosses in Washington" (from CNN's "American Morning).

But, politics is not always known for its common sense. DNC Chairman Howard Dean said Florida and Michigan knew the rules and agreed to them. He went to say – also on “CNN’s American Morning, ” "The rules were set a year and a half ago. Florida and Michigan voted for them and then decided that they didn't need to abide by the rules. When you're in a contest you do need to abide by the rules…You can not violate the rules of the process and then expect to get forgiven for it."

The Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in either state. Clinton, who won both states, was the only top-tier candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

So, if they decide the votes should now count, how exactly can they do it and keep it fair and decide what counts? If not all candidates were on the ballot, or if residents didn’t vote because they were told it wouldn’t count anyway, it seems to me the only way to do it right is do it over. Of course, that would be an expense that the people of those states would have to cover,

Howard Dean posed two options. He said, "They can come back to the DNC with a set of delegate selection procedures that do comply with the rules of the 48 other states, or they can appeal to the credentials committee at the Democratic National Convention…It's not the voters' fault in Florida and Michigan that they didn't get included, so we think it's a good thing to have these discussions going on."

Democratic House members from Florida and Michigan met in Washington on Wednesday night to discuss how to proceed. "Both delegations feel very, very strongly -- adamantly -- that our delegations be seated at the national conventions," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz of Florida.

According to CNN, Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan said he's not sure of the best way to resolve the dispute. "I think the key is the voice of Michigan and Florida is heard and there's a procedure that is fair to the residents and fair to the two candidates."

But, there needs to be an answer or a solution to this dilemma. Clearly the race is far too close to just ignore the voices of such a large voting block. I can understand why residents of those states would be fuming. As you know, I was annoyed myself when the media wrote off the value of Ohio’s voters so early in the game. So I think that the DNC, and the people of the states of Florida and Michigan should come to some happy medium on how to proceed. Because no voter should ever be silenced.

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