By Angie Vogt, political commentary
We’ve heard the ominous warnings before about “disenfranchised voters” and “let every vote count.”
We heard it in the 2000 election when Florida voters were confused by their ballots and demanded a second chance to cast a vote. Then we heard it in our own state, in 2004, during the gubernatorial election with two recounts (though I’m hard-pressed to call it a “recount” when previously uncounted ballots were “discovered” and allowed to be “counted” in the mix).
Since 2004, Washington state’s Secretary of State Sam Reed went to work cleaning up the voter database. At that time, all 39 counties had separate voter databases and election officials had no way to cross-reference voter information, making fraud, duplication and clerical errors difficult to catch and correct. In 2007, Reed announced that more than 176,000 names had been removed from the voter rolls (almost 40,000 were duplicate registrations) in what was a massive consolidation and scouring of 39 different county registers.
What we did not hear from the local press was the stunning conviction in 2007 of three employees from a liberal political action group called ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) in the biggest voter registration fraud in state history. All three pleaded guilty to submitting more than 1,800 fictitious voter registration cards during a voter registration drive in King and Pierce counties.
Now, on the national level, the Clinton camp is crying the old “let every vote count” in an effort to reseat the delegates from the disqualified Florida and Michigan primaries. Both states were disqualified from their primary elections by the Democratic National Committee for trying to change their primary dates without permission or approval of the proper party authorities. Getting these delegates back is a long-shot desperate attempt by the Clinton camp in the race for delegates to win the nomination.
Then there’s the competition between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to win over the approval of the precious “super delegates.” While Republicans have their own super delegates, theirs are an insignificant 5 percent of total delegates, so they do not have the capacity to overturn the will of the primary voters. For the Dems, super delegates comprise a significant 19 percent of their total delegate count (795 out of a total 4,047) and are significant in that they are not bound by the “will of the people” as expressed in the popular vote. In a close race, they have the power to overturn the results of the primaries, giving them the the power to broker and bargain with candidates in exchange for their vote.
The battle for delegates between Clinton and Obama will most certainly lead to a bitter bargaining process that may not be resolved until the Democratic National Convention in August, leaving only two full months to campaign for the general election.
So, while John McCain is allowed the luxury to look presidential, to travel to the Middle East and engage in “grown-up” politics, Senators Clinton and Obama are forced to spend their campaign cash on throwing punches at each other (instead of their ultimate opponent, McCain). They are forced to humiliate themselves by wooing super delegates while exchanging petty barbs in what boils down to race and gender politics.
Personally, I am rather enjoying watching them suffer the consequences of their own vicious game. After years of watching good public servants suffer false accusations of racism and sexism, it’s gratifying to see them squirm and tap dance around their own game.
Watching Hillary Clinton throw a campaign staffer under the bus on a weekly basis for an innocent comment taken out of context, while she indulges in compulsive lying about her experience in world affairs would be humorous, but that her raw ambition and sense of entitlement are embarrassing. It’s like watching your crazy Aunt Hilda get drunk and make a fool of herself at a family reunion. But then, haven’t you heard? Politics is a messy, vicious game.
It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the boring old days of Howard Dean’s famous yell and the last-minute rumors of George W. Bush’s drunk driving arrest from college. Those were the days.
Federal Way resident Angie Vogt: firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns and further commentary, visit www.soundupdate.com.