3.26.2008

Michigan makes news, again

In news that is unlikely to have a profound affect on the presidential race, a federal judge ruled today that Michigan's law that placed the primary on January 15th was unconstitutional. The issue at hand was this 2007 law's stipulation that the Election Day's voting lists containing the party preferences of voters (i.e. whether they chose a Democratic or a Republican ballot) would be sent to the state's Democratic and Republican parties. Smaller parties, helped by the ACLU, protested that this was a violation of their rights, and that if they were not going to be given the records as well the Democratic and Republican parties should not get them either.

This issue had been on the table for quite some time now, and some people had speculated (and Clintonites had hoped) that Judge Edmunds could rule that a re-vote is necessary with a proper law as a remedy for the unconstitutional law that set up the January 15th primary. But Edmunds did no such thing: The fact that the primary law (and thus the January 15th primary) is unconstitutional does not mean that there will be a re-vote. In fact, considering that the Michigan legislature adjourned last week without being able to pass a law setting up a do-over, a re-vote is as unlikely as ever.

Two small consequences, however, out of this decision, beyond the very important fact that the judge did not order a revote (a victory for Obama). First, whatever chance there was that the DNC recognize delegates based on the January 15th vote is now almost inexistent. In finding some sort of resolution to the Michigan delegate crisis, the DNC will now be even less sympathetic to pleas from the Michigan Democratic Party since the contest that was held that the state's Democrats want to see counted has now been pretty much invalidated.

Second, Hillary Clinton can hope to use the ruling to bring up the issue of re-votes again. She failed to make this an important issue last week, despite the fact that there is a coherent argument to be made that the Obama campaign blocked new primaries from taking place. Now, she has another opportunity to try and find a way to push for a new vote to happen somehow, boosted by the argument that Michigan has been found to not have held a valid primary at all at this point. The Clinton campaign already reacted to this news via email: "In the wake of today's court ruling regarding Michigan’s January 15th primary, we urge Senator Obama to join our call for a party-run primary and demonstrate his commitment to counting Michigan's votes."

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