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The Rights of Voters and Political Parties

An issue has surfaced for what I feel is unique regarding delegates for the upcoming political conventions.  The voters of Florida and Michigan regarding the assignment of delegates are currently not being recognized by the Democratic Party.  This is something that needs to be addressed not only for the current issue but the principle involved.  The question to be asked is does the Democratic Party have the legal right to interfere with state elections and the assignment of delegates.  There have been some inferences that the Democratic Party has authority over its internal operations, which I agree with.  In exercising this authority it has no place in any effort to affect the valid recognition of votes legally cast in any state.  The right to vote has long been a cherished part of our heritage.  The amount of interest in the Presidential election has increased participation of voters all over the country.  The issue surfaced, I believe due to the closeness of the delegate count.

The Democratic Party decided that if Florida and Michigan changed the dates for their primaries that the votes taken in those states would not be recognized at the Democratic convention.  The action of the officials in charge of the Democratic Party or any organization must understand that they cannot legally dictate terms to states.  This is not limited to the current election situation with the delegates but with any organization that wants to dictate their philosophy upon states.  Any state should fight such demands.    While this creates a situation it is not something that the states involved caused.  There have been attempts that the delegates could be evenly assigned between the two candidates.  This is something that would not reflect the will of the voters in either state and should not be accepted by Florida and Michigan.

It is great that there is more interest in electing the President this year but the decision to deny the seating of the delegates from Michigan and Florida is a bad one.  Statements are constantly being made that every vote is important.  This fact has never been more prevalent than this year.  Votes in any election are important and voters have a right to expect that all valid votes are counted.  Currently the situation on seating the delegates is being worked to resolve the situation but as of the writing of this article this has not occurred.  Political parties have a right to establish rules regarding how delegates will be distributed with regard to results in each state.  Other states have changed their dates for their elections and they have not been penalized.  The question to ask is why Florida and Michigan have been singled out for their action.  The rules of the Democratic Party, in my opinion, cannot legally negate the rights of states to schedule their elections within the laws of their state and national laws.  In national elections such as the President it is right that all states should vote for the President on the same day.  The need for this is clear.

Voters in any state not just Florida or Michigan have a right to have their votes counted and their delegates seated at the applicable party convention.  This article is not meant to criticize the entire Democratic Party for the current situation.  The individuals who were involved with the decision to deny these delegates to be seated created a situation that should not have occurred.  All states have rights regarding elections that no political party has the legal right to impact.  The decisions made by the voters of each state have a right to have their votes properly counted for the assignment of delegates to the applicable party convention.  Rules made by the Democratic Party should be for the Democratic Party not individual states.  Voters who vote in caucuses or primaries have a right to have their voices heard and political parties should not deny them that right.  Denying the votes of the people in these states is not the American way.

In one respect the Democratic Party established the rules for state primaries and how the votes would establish the amount of delegates won by the candidates.  While I feel that the actions by the states in this situation had some involvement in creating the situation I feel they were totally within their rights.  Except where there are laws that are in place such as when the Presidential election will take place states have a right to schedule elections as they see fit.  In many instances, if not all the scheduling of elections in states are scheduled as required by state law.  No political party has the legal authority to impose requirements for individual state elections as they would be in conflict with state law.

It is hoped that the present court case involving the recognition of the delegates from Florida and Michigan will be resolved and quickly.  Political parties who have or create rules for states that can or do violate individual state laws must be discontinued.  The policies and/or rules which the leadership of political parties generates are within their rights.  These rules and/or policies have no jurisdiction or legal right to impose them on states in violation of state laws.  This article is not meant to try and impact any court decision that may be forthcoming but the laws of individual states should be upheld.  Any organization that creates situations that causes conflict with state laws, the state laws should stand.  Actions by any organization that tries to penalize any state for following their state laws should be fought within the court system as it is now being done.

In terms of the latest on the issue of the Florida delegates the 11th district court in Atlanta returned the case to the lower court.  The reference to the action involved indicated that at the time of the filing of the case, which was August 2007, no injury had taken place as votes had not been taken.  The result of this requires the case to be amended to reflect the issues (s) identified by the 11th district court.  In terms of any    lawsuit filed the language must clearly identify the injury that occurred to the plaintiff.  Threats of action are not injuries.  Injuries occur after action has been taken regarding issues in lawsuits.

In summary states have a right to schedule elections in agreement with their state laws if they do not violate any federal law.  Our court system is great and I have full confidence that the right decision will eventually be made.  State laws must take precedent over the rules of any organization which creates conflict between their policies and state law.  Organizations cannot legally impose their policies upon states.  The current situation with the delegate count between the two remaining Democratic Party candidates has brought this issue to the forefront so it can be addressed.  The principle involved here is not just the recognition of the delegates assigned by the election results of these states.  The principle is whether any organization can impose their policies upon states and penalize them for not accepting them.  The laws of individual states are generated by their residents through their state congressional representatives and senators.  Organizations do not have the right or power to affect the laws created through that relationship.  In closing I must state that I am not a lawyer or judge and the comments in this article are my opinion but I feel that it may reflect the opinion of many others who have not yet voiced it.

 

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Dennis AuBuchon

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