VIDEO - Hannity Begins to Carry Disingenuous Buckets of Anti-Democracy Water
Jennings May Have to Play the Congressional Constitutional Card to Gain the House Seat Which Obviously Should Belong to Her...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006, 3:11pm PT  

It's a lovely change of pace when some of the other "big boy bloggers" beat me to the punch on Election Integrity-related stories. Perhaps I can start sleeping in for a while. I could use it.

That said, TPMMuckraker gives us a fine update on the FL-13 sitch, and Sean Hannity's virtuoso performance in what is likely his most disingenuous performance to date last night on Hannity & Colmes, where Republican Vern Buchanan spouted off with neither a Democratic nor a non-partisan Election Integrity advocate to counter his nonsense.

In addition to TPMM's points, it should also be pointed out that Hannity stated incorrectly --- twice --- that Sarasota is the strongest Republican stronghold in the contest. That, despite, his later admission that the Democratic Christine Jennings won the area by 7%.

As well, Hannity (again unchecked) is allowed to rant about how Republicans don't challenge elections when they lose, they accept defeat gracefully. Guess Sean doesn't read The BRAD BLOG and thus doesn't know about the Conservative TX Supreme Court Justice Steven Smith, or the mess in Maricopa County, AZ, still percolating from back in 2004, or the fact that Rick Santorum and the PA Republican party demanded that touch-screen systems where votes reportedly flipped be impounded in 27 counties on Election Day, just to name a few instances.

But we'd expect nothing less from water boy Hannity.

Most of note in the video, perhaps, is Buchanan's un-checked (and by now, expected) outrageous claim that Jennings is "destroying democracy" by calling for a revote. A funny turn of phrase from a guy who is doing everything he can to ensure that the rather clear voices of the voters are ignored in favor of a 369 vote "victory" gained only due to faulty, paperless touch-screen voting machines.

Even Buchanan is unable, in the clip, to explain why 18,000 votes in Jennings's strongest county simply disappeared. Of course, he'd have to admit he lost if forced to come up with an answer to that mystery. So he avoids the question twice by explaining only that "there's a lot of speculation out there you can read."

Got nothing, Vern? But don't give a damn anyway? We thought so. Now that's what we call "destroying democracy"!

In other FL-13 coverage around the 'sphere, both the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and a group of political scientists [PDF] are averring that it was bad ballot design which caused the problem (The BRAD BLOG earlier posted a photo of the way in which the race was displayed on the touch-screen systems, such that it would have been very easy for voters not to see the race at all on Sarasota's ES&S touch-screen machines.)

The "bad ballot design" explanation, however --- that voters didn't notice the race --- fails to account for all of the affidavits from voters claiming they tried and tried to vote in the race, but couldn't get their vote to register properly for Jennings, as one of the attorneys representing the voter lawsuit calling for a revote recently told us.

Finally, DailyKos (of all places) has some decent front page coverage of the rather conservative (we've found) Election Law professor Rick Hasen's explanation [PDF] of the Constitutional card that can be played by the U.S. House to settle the matter. At this point, it's looking more and more like that will be the way this thing is ultimately settled...

Jennings has until December 20th to file a challenge in the House, which has the Constitutional right to be the "Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members," and can either choose to seat Jennings or choose to leave the seat vacant, which would then force a Special Election in Sarasota and a re-run of the election.

We've been loath to discuss or push that option ourselves, seeing as how it was abused by House Republicans during last Summer's Busby/Bilbray race in San Diego's CA-50 special election. In that case, Republicans charged (so far successfully, though the case is under appeal) that neither California courts nor voters had the right to contest the election since the House had already seated the Republican Bilbray and the Democrat Busby had failed to file a challenge under the House's rules.

Problem was in that case, however, that the House had sworn in Bilbray just 7 days after the election and more than two weeks before it would be certified by the state of California, after which challengers have a period of 5 days to file a contest if they wish.

The (purposely) rushed swearing-in of Bilbray, before thousands and thousands of votes were even counted, left both the candidate and voters in the state without an opportunity to follow state procedures first before invoking the congressional option. The judge bought it, and tossed out the challenge.

In Florida, however, the case is moving along in state court (for the moment) and should be allowed to do so before pulling out the bigger guns. That said, and with the state's own team of auditors now saying that it may be two months before they can complete their testing of what may have gone wrong --- bringing their final report in a full month after Buchanan would be sworn in --- it may well be time for Jennings to start considering such an option.

If she does, the Congress would be delinquent if they didn't either seat her instead of Buchanan or declare the seat vacant, at the very least, and force that much-needed "do-over" down in Sarasota.

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