It seems Harry Reid is determined to get the result he wants in the Minnesota senate race (hint: It does not involve a Republican victory). That race was narrowly decided for incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman over Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party challenger Al Franken. The margin was only a few hundred votes, and so Minnesota has been conducting a mandatory recount. A few votes have shifted here and there, but it’s looking more and more as if Coleman will win by a razor-thin margin.
Thus, the Franken campaign has grown increasingly desperate and, in its desperation, has demanded that disqualified ballots be included in the recount. This is plainly against Minnesota law, as John Fund explains:
The problem with adding absentee ballots is state law. According to an advisory opinion issued last week by the office of Democratic state Attorney General Lori Swanson, "Only the ballots cast in the election and the summary statements certified by the election judges may be considered in the recount process." A recount manual prepared this year by the office of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, also a Democrat, makes clear that the canvassing board only supervises "an administrative recount" that is "not to determine if absentee ballots were properly accepted."
Camp Franken wants all ballots counted, and is producing voters who claim their ballots were improperly disqualified, and it wants data on the rejected ballots so it can go talk to the individual voters. This seems a reach and, in fact, the Minnesota Canvassing Board rejected this attempt to add ballots after the election is over. Franken’s team will now probably file suit in the courts, which, again, I think would be denied. The state’s election law is clear in this matter.
This is where it gets really interesting. Senator Harry Reid (D-Hack), Senate Majority Leader, has expressed "concern" over the election process in Minnesota:
“Today’s decision by the Minnesota Canvassing Board not to count certain absentee ballots is cause for great concern," Reid said in a Wednesday afternoon statement. "As the process moves forward, Minnesota authorities must ensure that no voter is disenfranchised. A citizen’s right to have his or her vote counted is fundamental in our democracy."
Lurking in the background is a threat to have the Senate itself decide who won the election, and, given the Democratic majority, we can expect that winner to be Al Franken. The Constitution gives the Senate final authority in this matter:
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
–Article I, Section 5.
So, the rules are clear: Franken, if he loses the recount and loses in the courts, can make a final appeal to the Senate, where Democrats would love to come one step closer to a filibuster-proof majority.
The mind recoils, however, at the idea that the Senate of the United States would utterly subvert the will of the voters of Minnesota and overturn their democratic and legal processes. It would be nothing more than a naked power grab, a political coup. Even the veiled threat is a stupid thing to make, though no one has ever accused Reid of being a genius. I have to agree with John at Power Line, the blowback against the Democrats were Reid to follow-through on this would be tremendous.
And this again leads me to wonder about the Democratic Party’s commitment to democracy. In addition to the threat to make Franken a senator regardless of the election results, Democrats are also pushing for the Employee Free Choice Act, aka "card check," which will end secret ballot elections in labor unions. They also want to restore the Orwellian "Fairness Doctrine," with the aim of destroying conservative talk-radio and stifling dissent. They are allied with groups, such as ACORN, that engage in voter fraud.
So I ask again: what is democratic about the Democratic Party?
LINKS: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air sees the same subversion of democracy in what he calls the "sore loser strategy."
UPDATE: In the comments section, reader John makes a trenchant observation:
Funny how they didn’t care so much about about disenfranchising the voters of Michigan and Florida during the Democratic primary. That is, until the primary was all but decided.
Both states did break Party rules, and the problem was compounded by Chairman Dean’s ham-handed enforcement of them, but, yeah, the contrast does cast Senator Reid’s (D-Stooge) touching concern for Michigan voters in an ironic light. To say the least.