Michigan and Florida Could Re-Vote By Mail
by Todd Beeton, Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 02:00:18 PM EDT
Despite Hillary Clinton's continued insistence that the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated according to the vote shares the candidates received in the January unsanctioned primaries (let's face it -- not gonna happen) there are continued signs that the Clinton campaign has warmed to the idea of a re-vote, the latest being PA Gov. Ed Rendell on Sunday's Meet The Press.
...let's revote in Michigan and Florida. Let's end all the suspense. If our campaign is wrong and we are not going to be the strongest in those states, let the voters choose it.
For those who advocate a re-vote for Florida and Michigan, a vote by mail primary is an appealing prospect because it's so much cheaper than a full-fledged primary election. This is precisely the solution that the Florida Democratic party seems to have settled on. From The Politico:
Florida Democrats were moving forward Monday with a plan to redo their presidential primary using privately-funded mail-in ballots, a key state party official said, even though some congressional and party leaders had yet to sign on to the idea.
"We're huddling with state brass now," the official said. "The spotlight will be on us. We will have a detailed plan." [...]
The plan would be funded with money raised by the Florida Democratic Party and possibly include the help of the campaigns, the official said.
As for the when and the how:
Under the plan now being considered, Florida voters would receive mail-in ballots, with return postage, in mid-May and possibly face a late May or early June deadline for returning them, the state official said. Before it could be implemented, the mail-in plan would need to be voted on by the state party before heading to the Democratic National Committee for final approval, the state party official said.
The DNC would then conduct a 30-day public comment period before allowing the state party to move forward. If approved, the state party would then need at least three weeks to verify the mailing addresses of the 4 million Democrats who reside in the state before ballots could be sent.
While Clinton supporter FL Sen. Bill Nelson has also advocated for a re-vote and appears amenable to vote by mail, the plan under consideration by the FL state party does face the opposition of one prominent Florida Clinton supporter.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) said the plan would disenfranchise many voters, especially those in low income areas.
"I really don't think it's a good idea," she said. "It's fraught with problems and now is not the time to be experimenting when we're talking about stakes this high...We still have very raw nerves from the 2000 recount."
But while there's been some mixed messages coming out of the Clinton camp on whether or not to have re-votes in these two crucial states, what's been clear is whether or not a caucus would be acceptable in Michigan, as has apparently been proposed. Rendell was as adamant as Clinton has been:
No. Caucuses are undemocratic. That's another thing. We talk about the superdelegates being undemocratic. If you're a caucus, older people can't vote, older people who vote by absentee ballot. There's no absentee ballots in a caucus. Tim, if you're a shift worker and a lot of our workers, because they're low-income workers, are shift workers, you can't vote in a caucus. So we want primaries. That's the way we elect presidents. We don't have caucuses to elect presidents in the fall. Let's have a primary.
And now, despite having been outspoken in opposition to a re-vote in the past:
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin suggested on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that the mail-in option might work for Michigan as well.
The state officials (and presumably the campaigns) realize both that opposing a re-vote is politically perilous and that the attention and business the campaigns would bring to Michigan and Florida states would be a boon to those states so I think it's fairly safe to say we're in for re-votes of some description. A re-vote is starting to look like the most realistic scenario.
Update [2008-3-11 18:41:56 by Todd Beeton]:Howard Dean expressed support for a mail-in vote as well on Sunday's Face The Nation:
DNC Chairman Howard Dean expressed support for a mail-in primary during a television interview Sunday."Every voter gets a ballot in the mail," Dean said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "It's comprehensive, you get to vote if you're in Iraq or in a nursing home. It's not a bad way to do this."
But let's be clear, vote by mail is not without its problems, as Rep. Wassserman-Shultz expressed in The Politico piece. While it's far better from an enfranchisement perspective than a caucus, those that would be most likely to be disenfranchised are those who are most transient, i.e. the poor and the young. So perhaps it's no surprise that David Axelrod should express some reservations about the Florida plan. From The AP:
David Axelrod, Obama's senior strategist, told reporters Tuesday that the campaign is reserving final judgment until a plan is offered."But obviously there are concerns about a mail-in vote. I mean, there are concerns about eligibility, ballot security," he said during a conference call. "The state of Oregon has mail-in voting, and it took them more than a decade to perfect it to the point where they felt that they could run a statewide campaign through mail-in votes. And now we're going to turn this process over to parties within the states to run on with a matter of weeks to prepare."