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Point, Counterpoint: HB177

June 11, 2007

Below are two quotes taken from the comments on DWAs wonderful post about HB177:

Tyler Nixon says:

I must hand it to Allan Loudell. He probingly eviscerates these two legislators for having no logical or even rational arguments to support this major change to Delaware’s election structure. The rambling, dodgy non-responses in these interviews, not to mention the apparent cluelessness of what their own legislation will do, is testament to how HB 177 is a pure power play against democracy and civil rights by “major” party elites.

According to cursory testimony before the House Administration Committee (translate : “fast track” committee) the bill was written by Richard Forsten, the Del. GOP Parliamentarian, and Betsy Daniello, the daughter of the Del. Democratic Party chair. If this is not an example of blatant self-interest and insiders gaming the system at the expense of civil rights, I don’t know what is.

These two interviews are also full of cutesy little “game theory” catch phrases, as if these are sufficient or even appropriate justifications for HB 177 : “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”, “elections are not double elimination tournaments”, blah blah blah.

No, elections are not double elimination tournaments. They are not tournaments at all, Senator Copeland. They are the people’s only direct voice in choosing our government. They should not be manipulated with such a paternalistic, petty, and cavalier attitude.

Further, the bill and its sponsors seem to be hysterically focused on the non-existent situation in which a candidate loses a major party primary and then somehow becomes the candidate for another party. This is a red herrring. You have to file in July for an office and be nominated by a minor party before the major party primary. No one can run off after losing a primary and suddenly grab another party’s nomination.

These sponsors completely ignore the real world situations of major party candidates being nominated by another party long before their party’s primary. They also ignore the reality of uncontested major party candidates who have been nominated by another party. These are real scenarios and the rights of the candidates and “minor” parties are taken away in these situations by HB 177, just so the major parties can control how other parties do business.

Our Constitution mandates elections to be “free and equal”. The so-called “major” parties’ hierarchies are willing to betray this in a vindictive effort to respond to the blowback they are getting from their internal hierarchies’ machinations and manipulations.

The mere avenue of crossover candidacies is itself a needed balance against the reality of how the hierarchies of both major parties have gamed the process and flouted fairness on fundamental levels.

The Delaware election code begins : “The purpose of this title is to assure the people’s right to free and equal elections, as guaranteed by our state Constitution. To that end, the full exercise of that right demands that the people be afforded the means to form political parties, nominate candidates and cast ballots for whomever they choose.”

This is fine until they add this (unconstitutional) premise, that proceeds to nullify the previous statement :

“At the same time, however, lengthy ballots which list a profusion of political parties and unaffiliated candidates, many of which are not serious contenders and lack even a modicum of community support, tend to create voter confusion and to clog the election machinery.”

This little addition is totally unconstitutional, as is the the use of the voter registration system to create a party affiliation tracking system to segregate “minor” political parties for lesser treatment. Now with HB177 the “major” party controllers want to tighten their grip with this sweeping legislation to take away the political free speech rights both of candidates and entire masses of citizens who have come together as a political party.

The Delaware Constitution very specifically limits voter registration to the sole purpose of determining voter eligibility – NOT to promote the interests of the two major parties or create a two-tier system of election rights.

Article V § 4. Registration of voters; days for registration; application to strike name from list; appeals; registration as prerequisite for voting.

Section 4. The General Assembly shall enact uniform laws for the registration of voters in this State entitled to vote under this Article, which registration shall be conclusive evidence to the election officers of the right of every person so registered to vote at any General Election while his or her name shall remain on the list of registered voters, and who is not at the time disqualified under the provisions of Section 3 of this Article; and no person shall vote at such General Election whose name does not at that time appear in said list of registered voters.

HB 177 opens a huge constitutional and legal can of worms that these legislators may be better to think twice about. I welcome this fight. It is high time the election system serves the people and not the desired status quo and unearned advantages of the two major parties’ elites.

Ballot reform that eliminates the structuring of our ballot around political party slates is long overdue. Some states list no party affiliations on their ballots – you have to be smarter than just a blindly partisan switch-puller for a tidy little party slate, all set up for you like we have in Delaware.

The ballot should be a grid around two things : the office and the candidates for that office. IF party affiliation is listed at all, it should be under the candidates’ names. Voters should not have to go scanning across a field of blank boxes to find all the candidates for an office, just so that political parties can have our ballots used as subliminal advertising, with top billing going to the D’s and then the R’s.

HELP DEFEAT HB 177. It is an assault on civil rights and democracy.

Mike Protack says:

This bill is #199 on my list what I care about. #198 is the price of bannanas. #200 is the price of apricots.

Get my drift?

I have two questions for you, my faithful reader:

  1. Can you define a) the dedicated public servant and b) the airline pilot
  2. Which of these two gentlemen is running for public office?

See, question 1 is not too tough. It shows who has a command of election law and who flies airplanes.

Question 2 is a little bit more difficult. See, it may seem that a guy like Tyler, who works his ass off on a daily basis for the public good and is able to intelligently discuss just about every issue that you can throw at him is not the one who has announced that he is running for Governor! No, it’s Mr. Protack, whose contribution to a discussion about a bill that will significantly change DE election law is (again):

This bill is #199 on my list what I care about. #198 is the price of bannanas. #200 is the price of apricots.

Get my drift?

Who would you want serving us in our government?


3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2007 1:09 pm

    [runs away. hands over ears]

  2. FSP permalink
    June 17, 2007 2:23 pm

    Nixon for Mayor!

  3. June 17, 2007 2:35 pm

    Let me tell you, I would work that campaign until my hair turned blue!

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