It occurred to me this morning that the solution to Republican electoral problems is, when you think about it, obvious, and a friend of mine from a red state pointed out that a Tea Party leader has already mused about it, back in the heady days of 2010. The solution, which has a rich tradition in western and US history, is a property qualification for voting. And what is rather shocking is that there does not seem to be anything in the Constitution to prevent it.
Clearly, there is nothing in the basic, or even 10-amendment, Constitution — at least as originally understood — that would prevent a state from imposing a property qualification. Several states had them in the early years of the Republic (just as at least one had an established church for several years). I think the main federal issue would be whether the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, as currently understood, would block a property qualification. There would, undoubtedly, also be state constitutional law issues in many states.
I’m not an Equal Protection expert by any means, but my knee-jerk reaction is ‘of course that isn’t Constitutional’. That said, it’s not explicitly barred, which I suppose means that were the Court to treat the question doctrinally, it would apply strict scrutiny. I don’t see how a state would come up with justifications for a property requirement that would survive strict scrutiny, but I’m open to correction on anything in this last paragraph by people who actually know stuff.
“In Honduras, according to breaking Catalan newspaper reports (translations available, USA Today mention), authorities have seized 45 computers containing certified election results for a constitutional election that never happened. The election had been scheduled for June 28, but on that day the president, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted. The 'certified' and detailed electronic records of the non-existent election show Zelaya's side having won overwhelmingly.”
Which is indeed interesting.
And one of the tags the editors put on the story is …. “Florida2000”.
Former Senator Norman Coleman's appeal of a court decision rejecting various challenges to Al Franken's Senate victory has failed on all counts. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously per curiam for Franken on every issue.
The decision does not actually order the Governor to certify the election, it just affirms the lower court decision. (The Governor not being a party to the case, it's not clear to me that the court could have issued such an order procedurally.) In the ordinary course that should suffice — the Governor's duty is now clear.
Update: the key language is this: “For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.” That doesn't leave the Governor much wiggle room unless Coleman starts trying to get a federal injunction. Which ether won't be forthcoming or will be really, really brief.
The possibilities for obstruction now are either that the Governor will not certify the result (uncertain, but he's suggested in the past he'd do what the state Supreme Court ordered), and an attempt to take the case to the US Supreme Court. I don't think the Supreme Court will touch this one, but I suppose the cert petition might buy Coleman a little more time. He certainly has no shortage of funds from GOP groups trying to prevent the seating of the 60th Democratic Senator.
(Not that I place great hopes on a 60-strong Democratic contingent. There are still too many who won't vote to break filibusters.)
Florida has a serious gerrymandering problem. We're the classic 50/50 state politically (remember the 2000 election?) but the state legislature in particular and also the state congressional districts are drawn with a heavy partisan bias. The results are sometimes quite striking.
The people at FairDistrictsFlorida.org are trying to do something about it. Trying to legislate neutral principles for districting is a Very Hard Problem, and I haven't yet taken the time to figure out what I think of this proposed solution to it, but I agree it's a major issue and admire the energy and commitment Fair Districts Florida is bringing to the problem.