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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I'se the bye that rigs the vote?

"The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them." - Mark Twain

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson
Given the antics of the current U.S. administration over the past couple of years, I can't help but start asking questions when something like this pops up:
The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.

Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel.
It's been almost three years since 9/11, and it appears that nothing has been done to even consider the issues that Rev. Soaries is raising. Why not? And why is the issue being raised now (considering that Rev. Soaries has been a member of the commission for over a year)?

While I have no difference with the good Reverend over the issues of increasing security at election time, I find it disquieting that he feels the need to raise the idea of "cancelling or rescheduling elections".

The U.S. federal electoral process has proven itself to be quite durable (if almost interminably endless) for most of America's 200-year(+) history. It has held elections (presidential and midterm) without interruption through wars civil and international (1812, 1864, 1898, 1918, 1942, 1944, 1950, and all through the Vietnam war). Because of this history, the cancelling (or even postponing) of a U.S. federal election in the face of mere terrorism is unjustifiable and would most certainly be considered illegal.

It is not, however, unthinkable...

Lyndon Johnson did consider the possibility of postponing - owing to the civil unrest in the country at the time - the 1968 election by executive order backed by the declaration of martial law, but was advised that it would be unconstitutional to do so.

It should be noted that Rev. Soaries seems more concerned about the process surrounding a cancellation; he appears to presume that such a cancellation is quite possible, and there are those out there who are going to extreme lengths to try and justify such a cancellation (for a sample see this recent comment stream at Free Republic) regardless of the legality of it.

I suspect that the real reason behind such a cancellation would be that of an administration so distrustful of the democratic judgement of its own citizens, and so afraid of losing the reins of power in the coming election, that it would willingly subvert the U.S. constitution completely (rather than doing piece-meal end runs around it) as a means of carrying on with its agenda. Cancelling the November election (for whatever pretext, no matter how flimsy) would effectively complete the tranformation of the U.S. into a fascist regime, and, given the current U.S. administration's somewhat cavalier interpretations of its Constitutional powers so far (especially since 9/11), I would not be at all surprised to see that happen.

But I sincerely hope it doesn't....