Just As I Thought

The alternative to chads

If you ever needed any more evidence of the Republican attempts to manipulate the election process, this should do it for you:

The Michigan Republican Party submitted more than 40,000 signatures last week in a bid to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the state’s November ballot.

Of course, this is not really about helping Nader. It is all about helping President Bush and hurting Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry’s campaign in a closely contested state.

The Michigan GOP denies that, of course. Matt Davis, a spokesman for the group, said it was merely concerned about third-party candidates being left off the ballot. He could not name, however, another third-party or independent candidate his party has helped.

Then there’s this scary possibility, brought to light by the 2000 Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore:

Suppose that some of the electors — the people who under our constitutional system conduct the real presidential election some weeks after voters go to the polls — aren’t actually selected by the voters.

Impossible? Not if you give a close reading to the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Bush v. Gore, which finally settled the presidential election of 2000, if not to everyone’s satisfaction. Under that decision, there is no guarantee that the electors who are decisive in choosing the next president of the United States will themselves be selected by the people of the United States. That’s because the justices ruled in that case that state legislatures have unlimited authority to determine whether citizens in their respective states shall be allowed to vote for president at all.

“The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States,” the court said, “unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.”

Imagine, now, a state in which the same party controls both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. There would presumably be no partisan impediment to the state legislature, with the governor’s approval, deciding that the majority party in state government shall control the state’s electoral vote, regardless of any popular vote in the state. If the Supreme Court’s declaration is an accurate statement of the law, there would not be any legal impediment either.

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