Friday, July 13, 2012

Election Courts

Ignoring the Elephant in the Living Room
even the elephant with a bad case of diarrhea

Our Constitution stipulates a "speedy trial."  The idea was easy enough to come by after the way the British had been treating American Revolutionaries, a good number of whom either starved or frozen to death in prison ships in Boston harbor.  The challenge of "accessible justice" is still showing up in American military adventures in places like Afghanistan and in Rovian anti-democracy adventures in Alabama.  One of the Taliban's "selling points" is the common Afghan's access to Sharia Law.

We have watched "justice" attempt to catch up with the case of Don Siegelman who won an election to be Governor of Alabama only to be "un-elected" at 3 AM that same night by local servants of Karl Rove.  The case was incredibly stinky immediately.  100 state Attorneys General petitioned for judicial intervention.  There was even a rumbling flitting through the House Judicial Committee.  This last week the Roberts Court declined to consider the phony public corruption conviction which Siegelman ran into in Alabama and which resulted in his instant Federal imprisonment in solitary confinement.

In case you're not familiar with this nasty little tale, here are a couple of links.

Siegelman is history at this point.  This posting is about the future, not the past.

Setting aside the anti-democracy outcome we encountered in the Siegelman affair, let's look at the work of anti-democracy forces currently active in our 2012 politics.  There are plenty, and this rich population of insults spreads from state legislatures to the federal system with a very suspicious commonality of both purpose and mechanisms.

This posting is specifically about the lethal injuries to the American electoral system being plied by tea bags in high places.  Inebriated by suspicious election victories in 2010, the tea bags began to believe themselves, their own incendiary rhetoric.  The general strategy which emerged is the typical Republican Party "human wave" approach to undermining the Constitution.  

The crimes are now so plentiful that not even the Federal Department of Justice can respond in time to kill all these rats in time to guarantee the validity of the 2012 election.

From this we see the grave consequences of the DOJ's not having the capacity to deliver "speedy trials" when it comes to enforcing election laws.  As usual, MeanMesa wants to rush into the fray with a remedial suggestion.

A Growing, Tacit Acceptance of Election Crime

The "tip of the spear" is clearly the timing issue although there are plenty more "spear tips" just below the surface.  All these crudely crafted illegalities have a sinister quality of being quite temporary.  The consequences they are inflicting on the voting process will, inevitably, be remedied with the traditionally slow and steady judicial effort to protect the Constitutional guarantees inherent in American elections.

However, it is more than an unfortunate coincidence that all these schemes have suddenly "grown legs" at such a critical time.  Given that all of them enjoy only a fleeting permanence, their "life cycle" before they are officially laid to rest will, very likely, last just long enough to destroy the next election's legitimacy.

The murmurs of the voters already reveal a serious cynicism about elections.  The mischief has been left untended long enough to shake even the most optimistic views with respect to trust, let alone with respect to expectations.  We see evidence of this in the Wisconsin grassroots organization such as Wisconsin Wave -- by lined with "We won't pay for their crisis/No More Stolen Elections."  (Visit the Wisconsin Wave site: )

What does Wisconsin Wave intend to do?

Something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  They intend to count the physical ballots cast in the unsuccessful recall of Governor Scott Walker.

The point here is pretty straightforward.  Why do the people in Wisconsin Wave distrust the election outcomes?  In fact, why are you reading this and having no particular problem distrusting the election outcomes just the same way Wisconsin Wave does?  For the third "pregnant" question, why isn't the United States Department of Justice all over this?  Isn't it responsible for keeping Constitutional elections somewhat believable?

Answering the last question first, the DOJ probably will get to this sooner or later, except the "later" part of "sooner or later" will probably not be until the crook presently running Wisconsin into the ground will long be retired to his easy chair on a Madison veranda.  If the election fraud in Wisconsin -- or anywhere else in the country -- can be sustained as a fait accompli long enough for the crime, no matter how temporary, to accomplish its goals, the Republican tea bags find it an acceptable exposure to risk.

We've known for a long time that these sociopaths are entirely saturated with the "do-ability" of any sort of short term mischief if the outcomes have even a marginal chance of permanence.  They invest this way; they legislate this way; they even indulge their remarkable hubris for grotesque dalliances of all sorts this way.  

For example, the Idaho Senator who couldn't keep his hands inside his airport lavatory stall at first confessed, pledging to resign from the Senate, then attempted to retract his confession, then withdrew his pledge to resign.  The Senator was following the typical GOP pattern of brazenly enduring the short term "hit" while fortifying every possible advantage for a long term survival.  (Read the WIKI account of Senator Larry Craig's performance here. )

The election crimes follow this same pattern.  Even if they are protested or even legally challenged, the goal is to sustain the fraud's effect long enough to permanently mitigate the possibility of ultimately correcting it.  Sometimes this gambit is successful and sometimes not.

It should never even be considered possibly successful in this Republic,

The mere fact that we have become tolerant of these election crimes suggests that we have been "buffered" into so much more of a casual acceptance of them than makes any sense whatsoever.  

Election Crimes
Constantly easier to swallow

The litany of large and small election crimes is not a revelation to anyone who cares enough to have been paying attention.  We can easily list a few.

Voting in The United States is NOT a well oiled machine! (image source)

Rove's "caging"

Registered voters had their registration challenged in a single, largely incomprehensible letter.  If they didn't respond correctly, they were purged from the voter register.  Many active duty military voters were purged this way because the letter was sent to their home address by registered mail.  The scam had a prohibitively strict response time requirement.

Voter Suppression by Redistricting

Most of the laws and processes for redistricting were penned early in the 1900's.  Every time the census calls t he task for states now, it becomes a political party slaughter of whomever is currently not in power.  Worse, we have come to accept this as, well, acceptable.  The violent political mayhem we see where ever this is occurring is totally NOT the Constitutional intention of the redistricting idea.

Voter Suppression by Additional ID Requirements

Since the steam willowed out of the Jim Crow Laws, there has been a continuous effort to find a way to selectively disenfranchise voters who were likely to vote a certain way.  The latest effort along these lines in the constantly increasing difficulty of attaining "legal" voter identification.  Such programs have been rampaging through two dozen states which presently find themselves under Republican gubernatorial and legislative control.  The DOJ is working diligently on the first few such crimes on a list of 300.

Supreme Court Appointment of An Un-Elected President

Not much need be added to this dismal story of death, looting and  deception.  Notably, the mechanism for this electoral and judicial coup d'etat rested entirely with the physical mechanism of casting a ballot.  We need to remember the "hanging chads" while we visit the war dead.

Non-Compliance With the Civil Rights Voting Act

There are still states which must hold elections under the provisions of the Civil Rights Act.  All of them dependably maintain at each election that this necessity should be vacated.  None of them have demonstrated an ounce of good faith in any effort to rectify the conditions which placed them there in the first place.

False Claims of Voter Fraud

The synchronous, nation wide, entirely gaseous campaign to inflame voters with the threat of illegals casting ballots is, happily, falling apart due to lack of instance or evidence of the pretended problem.  Still, this process represents an excellent example of imposing obviously Unconstitutional obstacles to free voting and then "reaping the rewards" before the court system can throw such reactionary garbage back off the books.

Suspicious Voting Machines

When the local "good old boys" have enough friends in the State legislature to purchase "voting machines" from their friends in the voting industry, it's profoundly foolish to think that something good is about to happen.  Time and again we have watched as hackers effortlessly demonstrate their talent at rigging election results being counted by these machines. 

When the crooked [now, "convicted"] Indiana Secretary of State wanted to throw the local vote to the autocrat, the voting machines were dutifully programmed to transmit the election results to a Republican vote fixing bunker deep in the South, safely protected by miles of "cracker country."  

Yes, he was convicted, but in the meantime the electoral votes of another state flowed into the George W. Bush coffers at the national level.  His trial finally reached a court with jurisdiction in 2007.  Reversing the Indiana vote by that time was two wars, $5 Tn worth of missing borrowed money and an economic contraction at 9+% too late.

There are plenty more of these examples.

One important point here is that this passive acceptance of anti-democracy and anti-voting freedom is new.  MeanMesa has seen the historical alternative.  The question of precisely how this has developed has a depressing answer.

The steps toward today's election mayhem were small ones, very nearly Constitutionally invisible.  When the added advantage of the apparently complete cessation of civics classes in what's left of the public education curriculum is mixed into the recipe, this current fiasco seems inevitable.

So, where can we go from here?  Soulful laments following frothy comparisons with the "good old days" don't hold a realistic key to solve our problem.

Enter: The Election Courts

These courts are the MeanMesa suggestion.  Yes, the very term is reminiscent of the widespread election manipulation of Pakistan or Egypt, but after becoming comfortable with the historically tainted "homeland" concept in the now sprawling Department of Homeland Security, maybe we can get used to it.

The specific benefit sought from the creation of these courts has everything to do with timing.  Judicial expertise in handling election issues can be placed in the second position, and the federalization of such matters can follow up as the third advantage.  We can look at these three individually and then add a few "outliers" to round out the dream.


Election crimes occur very close in time to actual elections. The judicial remedy for the damage of such crimes must be initiated by a "damaged party" by means of a lawsuit.  Immediately, the issue of standing materializes, and this issue materializes directly in the midst of the perpetrators of the election crime.  Further, the judicial process for such a remedy is usually only beginning when the election has already been called, and the miscreants have been handed even greater power to suppress justice from their new elected positions.

Election courts would have schedules which were not hampered by a back log of other cases, making them responsive in a timely way to suits for remedy.  The nature of a Constitutionally guaranteed "speedy trial" can hardly be met with a decision delivered months after an election is settled.

Judicial Expertise

The participants in a typical remedy trial are currently the same folks who participate in a criminal prosecution for a violent crime or a felony.  The knowledge and experience required for an effective trial on election matters are usually absent.  Once election courts were established, the experience needed to try such cases would grow naturally.  

For example, we can see the dismal failure of the current system in cases of state redistricting.  The proposals may begin in a more or less dedicated state legislature -- most of whom also have little or no experience or knowledge themselves -- but it then begins a journey through a legal maze of equally inexperienced judicial players which can take years.  In then end, voters in the electorate expect power to win.

Neither the electorate, the legislators, the press nor the judges have any particularly demanding expectations of how good justice might appear in the end, leaving the process to be essentially a state-by-state, Chamber of Commerce by Country Club "crap shoot."

Federalization of Authority

Perhaps the most egregious of the all the criminal election players enjoy a fortified "home base" where practically "anything goes."  Judicial relief, deserved or not, must fight its way through a maze of friends, acquaintances, interest parties and other political cronies, each one with a "dog in the fight" or a "political favor to collect" from a desirable outcome.

To support the "rule of law" idea in our founding, trials for justice in election law have, basically, no place at the local level.  The "states rights" crowd have permanently soiled any possible legitimacy in such questions.  Generally, they are precisely the perpetrators who covered the outrages in the first place.  A national system of election courts, one where trial could, perhaps, be scheduled anywhere in the country, would eliminate the anti-democracy "good old boys" undue influence [including tactical delay...] in such cases.

The "Outliers"

Once the Congress came to understand that voters were actually aware of this mess and also interested in permanently resolving it, we could expect at least a tepid inclination to found and start the courts.  However, once the courts were beginning to function, it wouldn't be too long until it became clear that national election law would also be required.  Establishing national election law is perfectly within the purview of  Congressional responsibility, although we can anticipate that such a process would be, well, quite dramatic as it unfolded.

Additionally, effectively rehabilitating the national election process would serve our other national interests.  If we were able to "clean house" domestically, our ideals of justice might begin to, once again credible, represent a reachable goal for other countries who are just now struggling to deal with judicial corruption.  Think of the nations of the Arab Spring.

Far in the future, we might dream of being able to provide acceptable assistance in the training of judges, the formation of courts and the establishment of Constitutional protection to not only guarantee the validity of elections, but for the rule of law in general in such countries.  The next great challenge for most of the entire planet will be to develop a capacity to do something about corruption.  

Why wouldn't we Americans want to be able to help such a high borne cause?

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