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But is it an Election? September 24, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Politics.

So…the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are neither happy with states that are playing games with primary dates. It would appear that the Democrats are deeper into this problem, though. They’ve told their fellow party members in Florida that they’ve just gone too far by moving their primary all the way to January 29. And now supposedly the Florida Demorats are thinking of suing the national party. Reportedly this law suite will accuse four other states of conspiring to violate minority rights by convincing the national party to ignore the results of the primary held on the date that the national Democratic party doesn’t like. They will claim that this is a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 But this raises an interesting question. Does the Voting Rights Act cover primaries? A primary is, after all, the selection of a candidate by a political party. Parties and their internal functions are not mentioned in the Constitution at all. So I consider this a serious question.



1. Center of Attention » The Moderate Voice - September 25, 2007

[…] Jim Satterfield raises a question I, for one, had never considered: “Does the Voting Rights Act cover primaries?” […]

2. Daniel CAZ Greenberg - September 25, 2007

I would ask the better question: what in the world does the wrangling of primary dates have to do with minorities, anyway? Is the argument that Iowa and New Hampshire are ‘too white’ to accurately reflect the will of the nation?

By denying Florida’s voting, don’t they deny the will of -all- Florida voters equally?

Or, is this just a legal thing.. needing some sort of concrete law to put up charges, hoping this sticks, and running with it to acquire the desired courtroom setting?

Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing some more concrete rules on how the two parties operate, if for no other reason than I can’t seem to envision a new party (or parties) entering the fold any time soon. Primary votes no earlier than Jan 1 of the election year? Expanded blocks, maybe regional rather than state-based? Going to a more national system? Plenty of options abound.

The suit seems shallow from my unenlightened seat.

3. Daniel CAZ Greenberg - September 25, 2007

Point of clarification.. I’m not trying to knock the precept. I’m just boggled because I don’t see the reasoning as anything other than a very unintended and narrow legal parsing with vitriolic intent.

4. Tully - September 25, 2007

Jim, that’s an excellent question, and for the very reason you cite–it’s a PARTY election. The VRA covers how the elections are conducted, to be sure, but I don’t know that it has any power to force the Democratic Party to seat a state party’s delegates.

I’m sure a lawyer could construct a reasonable-sounding claim under the law, but not sure at all that it would stand up in court, much less salute.

5. Jim Satterfield - September 25, 2007

I agree with your point in #2, Daniel. I was just addressing one of the points that occurred to me. How a penalty for refusing to do what the national party wants that the party leadership is applying to the entire state can be interpreted as being an issue of minority rights is another question about the whole brouhaha that I think it’s fairly likely they’ll lose on.

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