Thursday, December 16, 2010

Only-Thinking-of-the-Voters Scam

They just won't stop. A bit West in Alaska, there's Joe Miller. Here we have Chuck Turner.

The former will not become a U.S. Senator and the latter is no longer a City Councilor. Yet, they won't stop. They won't accept the realities that are too plain to nearly everyone else.

Moreover, each from his own angle has fallen back to stating that their ego-driven battles are only about voter enfranchisement. They want to champion their people's fundamental American right.

The claim of each certainly deserves consideration. In the end, it does not stand though.

Not Chuck Norris

Miller has modeled his stubbly appearance after a certain action movie star. Yet, he is indecisive and has problems with that reality thing. Rather than bring his fight to a quick end with his wit and strength, he has done the annoying bleed-them-with-lawyers route.

What would Chuck Norris do? Certainly not waffle and backtrack on his promises (he said repeatedly, he'd quit his race when the math no longer works, for example.) Miller seemed to surprise all by taking the GOP primary from sitting Senator Lisa Murkowski. In turn, he was stunned when her write-in campaign in the general got her over 10,000 more votes than his on-ballot total. He was happy to take the first surprise, but not adult enough, man enough, Alaska enough for the second.

His minions challenged every ballot they could, even thousands that elections officials, reporters and other observers said here very clearly Murkowski's. They demanded that the slightest misspelling and even those with a single lower-case letter among the capitals be disqualified.

Miller himself took the position that the intent of voters did not matter. Alaska law read that write-ins must appear exactly as on the candidate's filing papers. Even though that matter has been adjudicated several times and clarified by the elections department to mean more plain-folk sense of voter intent, Miller's efforts put over 8,000 of those 10,000 on hold (not formally disqualified).

After all that, he still came up over 2,000 votes short. Game over, you say...quoting Miller to himself? Not bloody likely! This is where he comes in with the outrageous claim that all he wants is for his voter's ballots to count.

The state and federal courts have been very generous in letting him gum up the works. In each court though, they have ended up saying, "You lost." He now is at the point of the federal judge saying he can go ahead and keep filing actions, but the state needs to certify Murkowski as the winner.

Game over? Hah!

Of course, it doesn't take much to realize that what Miller is about is disenfranchising voters. He would like enough people who knew they were voting for Murkowski to lose their right that he can win. He wants to toss over 10,000 ballots, over 10,000 voter's sacred American fundamental exercise of democracy.

Another Chuck

Back to us, Turner also is contorting his effort to stay in office as a voter-enfranchisement issue. At least he won his last election. Unfortunately for him, his enfranchisement claim seems to be that his 60% showing then trumps all ensuing legal actions after his conviction on four felony counts.

That deserves discussion.

At the city level, the Council's rules let and even mandate that they rule on the fitness to serve of anyone convicted of a felony. At the state level, the law oddly enough does not trigger on indictment or even conviction; instead, an elected official sentenced to even one day of prison time must vacate office.

Turner's federal sentencing is 1/25/11. With federal guilty findings on one count of taking a $1,000 bribe and three of lying to the FBI about doing so, Turner will spend more than one day in prison.

Yet as recently as yesterday, through his attorney in a letter to Council, "The issue of disenfranchisement of the voters of District 7 . . . raises loss of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.’"

Out here in the real world, the voters made a powerful statement that their sitting Councilor should win re-election. He did. The voters had their say.

Alas for Turner, that does not mean he gets to keep his seat for the full two-year matter what. His voters were not disenfranchised. Removing him from office at the Council level or even next month by state law does not change that he was returned to office.

Moreover, his attorney seemed to want to bully the Council and city with threats of losing a lawsuit on this matter. I bet that neither he nor Turner will have the grace to back away next month when the latter heads off to serve that other kind of term. We can only wonder whether the attorney, one Chester Darling, will sue the state claiming that its law removing felons sentenced to prison likewise disenfranchises voters who were perfectly happy to send Turner back to City Hall.

Sticky Votes

The common rope binding Miller and Turner seems to be obfuscation. Each would have us believe that if his case does not end up going his way, it is the voters, not the egocentric pol, who is wronged.

I can believe that each has supporters, contributors and voters who buy into that. Each pol is eager to depict himself as a noble small d democrat striving to protect the great public privilege and right of voting.

Yet in the end it has been and surely will continue to be in law, in governing bodies and in courts that the response is to listen and disagree...with rejection.

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