Give Hillary Michigan and Florida

Even though the two states violated Democratic National Committee scheduling rules, their primary wins should officially count for Hillary Clinton. Pro or con?

Pro: Make Every Vote Legitimate

A number of reasons exist for simply awarding delegates based on the results of January’s Michigan and Florida Democratic primaries. The cost of holding new primaries is more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) wants to bear in an election year. Neither the state parties nor the state governments appear eager to pay the tens of millions of dollars a new round of primaries would cost.

The best argument, however, is a simple one: If a difficult choice exists between including voters or excluding them, there should be a bias in favor of inclusion. Traditionally, Democrats have stressed the democratic value of inclusion—even to the extent of changing existing rules to allow for greater participation in the electoral process.

The struggles to ensure voting rights for African-Americans by repealing the poll tax, encouraging naturalization for immigrants, and even restoring voting rights for felons have found some of their strongest champions in the Democratic party. As recently as 2000, the Democratic battle cry in Florida was to make sure every vote counted. In fact, the entire McGovern-Fraser [Commission] reform movement of the 1970s was sparked by a desire to democratize Presidential nominations and include more voices in the selection process.

In a perfect world, other alternatives would be readily available, such as using a caucus system. However, caucuses exclude absentee voters, including deployed members of our military. Scholarly research has also shown caucuses are biased against groups—such as minorities and the less affluent—whose voting rights the Democratic Party has fought to protect.

Real life requires responsible people and organizations to make difficult choices. When faced with an almost identical dilemma, the Republican Party made a Solomonic decision to accept the results of Florida and Michigan’s January primaries but penalized them half their delegate allocations. The Democratic Party may find that this choice is its least bad option.

Con: Punish Rule-Breakers

At first glance, little rationale—beyond a stubborn insistence on sticking to an arcane set of rules—exists to disenfranchise millions of Democratic voters. Nonetheless, there is good reason not to ratify the results of Florida and Michigan’s January primaries.

When the Democratic Party adopted the McGovern-Fraser reforms in the early 1970s, the party created a system of primaries and caucuses that were initially spread over a five-month period. Little-known candidates such as Jimmy Carter could build grassroots organizations in the few small states holding early contests. Momentum generated by these victories attracted media coverage, contributions, and voters in the races that followed. These “dark horses” were also aided by a voluntary system of federal financing, funding their initial forays while limiting the money spent by early front-runners.

The system created by McGovern-Fraser has collapsed for two reasons. First, the growing amount of money poured into Presidential nominations allowed well-financed candidates to forgo federal financing. Second, more states have moved their primary dates because states such as Iowa and New Hampshire had an influence disproportionate to their small delegate totals. While only four states held primaries before Mar. 15 in 1976, 26 states had primaries before that date in 2000.

However, this process, commonly known as “front-loading,” reduced the choices available to voters and drove down public interest and participation. To address front-loading, the DNC established the Price-Herman Commission. It allowed smaller, but more diverse, states such as Nevada and South Carolina to vote earlier, but drew a sharp line to keep larger states, such as Michigan and Florida, from moving their races into January.

Florida and Michigan knowingly crossed that line. The decision to refuse to seat democratically elected delegates has precedent. In 1972, Illinois voters elected a delegate slate to the Democratic convention that did not comply with the McGovern-Fraser reforms. The party seated a rival, non-elected contingent to emphasize the importance of following the new rules. The Democratic Party should make the same point in 2008.—A.D.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek.com Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Reader Comments

random

The curious thing to me about this debacle is that the discussion only began when the quest for the Democratic nomination once again became a tight race. The Democrats were insistent on punishing Florida and Michigan until Clinton's supporters began musing how much they would cut into Obama's lead if the states' results were included in the delegate tally. While every vote should be counted and rules have to be followed, the timing and background here smack too much of intra-party politics rather than germane concern for whose votes should be counted and how.

I also wonder what would happen if the states re-voted and changed their selection, placing Obama even farther in the lead. Would Clinton and her backers start grousing about how they broke the rules and should suffer the consequences?

John Hoehn

The states impacted and the DNC will have to work this out. It is not reasonable to disenfranchise so many voters. Forget the politics for a minute, and ask yourself "What is the right thing?"

Try to make the mail-in work. Get creative. And, Democrats--don't ever pull this party boss thing again.

random2

As I recall, 40% of the voters in Michigan will be disenfranchised if the votes stand as is, as they essentially voted "None of the Above" to the few Dems willing to run on the ballot. As it appears, many of the delegates from other states are going to be split or shared among the candidates; should the Party insist on delegates from Michigan showing up officially voting "None of the Above"?

The party itself should have sorted out a feasible plan to deal with this before the primary. Now they've got to clean up a mess with (at least in Michigan's case), no potential winner except Clinton.

Florida itself, at least, isn't a substantive vote for "None of the Above." and I suppose is its own issue.

Jack

Both arguments have merit. I'm just glad I'm not the one who has to decide.

whatever in Florida

This is the craziest thing since hanging chads. Come on, people. Didn't we learn years ago? At the very least the American voter is getting out and casting a vote. Not sure what the Republicans will vote for since they already have a locked-in front runner. Guess their votes no longer count. Personally I say the vote should stand as it is--no re-vote. That is only going to cost the taxpayers more money. Like we've got any to spare right now. Anyway, if it wasn't so close this would not be an issue.

Becky King

Hillary is stronger and smarter than Barack and will carry the nomination. She will be the candidate for the Democrats, and she will carry this country.

Gene

I didn't change the primary date, voted on the day Florida let me, and I'm being penalized. I don't think so. If the DNC doesn't want my original vote, then the DNC doesn't deserve my vote in November either. I will not revote.

Rebecca

The votes clearly cannot stand as counted. It is obvious, particularly in the case of Michigan, that these votes are tainted. Furthermore, thousands of people did not vote because they thought their votes did not count. They would be disenfranchised by that solution.

Now keep in mind that neither candidate is likely to accumulate much in the way of net delegates from a re-vote. Based on the results in previous states, proportional awarding of delegates means that one candidate has to win by a large margin to end with any kind of a statistical net gain, and that is not likely to happen.

Clinton has been winning the big states, but Obama has significantly cut into her lead, or taken it away completely, once he has campaigned personally in a state, which means a re-vote will likely end in a less than significant result. So it is just not worth the cost to do a re-vote.

Now, the point was Florida and Michigan wanted to have early primaries so as to have more influence in the election. So the appropriate punishment would be not to have their votes affect the outcome. This does not necessarily mean not seating their delegates, though. The suggestion by Dodd to just split the delegates 50/50 seems to make the most sense rules-wise and economically.

nT

What is the purpose of the rules? For not following the ruler? Who is the ruler? Removing delegates from Michigan and Florida will remove from voters from these states the ability to choose their Democrat Presidential candidate but cannot stop them from voting for a Republican candidate. The rules and the ruler are defective and should be discarded. Count their votes now, or they will let their votes be counted by the other party. Doctor Dean must make a quick decision now. Put the voters in mind first.

Jim Jones

The notion that the Florida and Michigan delegates should be seated according to the original vote is ludicrous. Only in Russia would a government and media accept an election with one candidate on the ballot. An election in which all candidates--except Clinton--agreed not to campaign, advertise, fund-raise, or even put their name on the Michigan ballot. The rule of law must be supreme. To shirk the rules for the short-term gain of one person is to the long-term detriment of us all.

John Dunlap

Democrats don't like Republicans, because they think Republicans think they're stupid. Republicans don't like Democrats, because they think they're stupid. This mess only confirms said thoughts. Howard Dean for President? Yuk, yuk, yuk.

Edna

Hello, long-suffering Florida Democratic voter here to weigh in. I just want to say that it was the Republican-controlled state legislature that set the primary date. The Democrats just went along with it because bundled into the same legislative package was a provision requiring a paper trail in elections from now on, which is something Democrats have been fighting for. Long story, but my point is: Should millions of innocent Democratic voters be punished and disenfranchised from selecting a nominee for our party, all due to something done by the Republican state legislature? True, Florida and Michigan broke an arcane, unfair, minor party rule by flouting the earliest allowable primary date, but the punishment is Draconian, self-destructive to the party, unfair, and most important it: 1) doesn't fit the crime and is way over the top; and 2) is directed at the wrong people: millions upon millions of voters, who ask nothing more than for our votes to count.

MiamiCane

Unless the DNC allows the Florida and Michigan primaries to count, it will just further show how the party has lost touch with its constituents. Both states have a combined population of 28 million people. Almost 10% of the country's population. I'm a Florida resident who believes a state of this size has a right to demand its status ahead of states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Since I'm Republican, I am laughing at the DNC and its decision.

johnpaul

In Florida, just seat the delegates as marked for Clinton, Obama, and split the Edwards delegates 50-50. In Michigan, since Obama wasn't on the ticket, give him half the allocated delegates and give Hillary half. I believe this formula would still put Hillary in the lead, but would require a real win in the remaining primaries. She hasn't offered the vice-presidency to Obama or the presidency to herself. She expects anyone running for office will have to win the election first. Obama is a bit presumptuous to say he's been offered the VP position. Only voters can bestow that. There's a difference between offering a spot on a ticket and dolling out political offices. Hillary makes no claim there.

Edna

P.S. In response to the poster who commented: "As I recall, 40% of the voters in Michigan will be disenfranchised if the votes stand as is, as they essentially voted 'None of the Above' to the few Dems willing to run on the ballot," I say this: The Michigan results are valid, even though Obama and others removed themselves from the ballot. Why? Because it was their choice to take their names off the ballot. No one forced them off. Therefore, the voters chose between the candidate (okay, so there was only one) who chose to leave herself on the ballot, or "uncommitted." Those were the choices. It was a free and fair election. Too bad if Obama's self-touted "judgment" was so poor that he decided to disrespect the millions and millions of voters in Michigan and Florida in an attempt to impress the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire at the time. Oh well. That was his choice. He doesn't get to whine now (although he and his supporters are) that the process was somehow unfair, and boo hoo hoo. Nope, sorry: You took yourself off the ballot, buddy. Usually, if one decides to take oneself off the ballot, then one is not on the ballot; that is how it works. Obama knew full well that the delegate issue was being contested and was far from settled, so he should have left his name on the ballot if he had any judgment. Instead, he opted to disrespect the Michigan voters, and continues to disrespect Michigan and Florida by basically sneering at the very idea of seating our delegates. I guess that is his new politics of "inclusion." Well, he will find out the results of his brilliant "judgment" in November. I, for one Democrat, will not cast a vote in the general election for Obama. Period. I will, for the first time in my life, not vote, rather than vote for that hypocritical, hollow, empty, sloganeering politician.

He wasn't on the ballot, because he chose not to be. Therefore, cry me a river about it, Obama supporters, as I don't care. He should have stood up to the DNC at the time and said, look, I agreed not to campaign in Florida and Michigan, but I am not going to take my name off the ballot, enough is enough. But instead, he did the equivalent of voting "present," as usual: He didn't want to irritate anyone who could get him further along in the process at that time, like the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire (not that they could probably have cared less if the candidates were or were not on the Michigan ballot) and the DNC.

Great judgment call there, Barack (not).

random

"Unless the DNC allows the Florida and Michigan primaries to count, it will just further show how the party has lost touch with its constituents. Both states have a combined population of 28 million people."

Ah, but the Republicans also punished the state by first, violating the rules of their party designed to prevent front-loading and making who wins the nomination a foregone conclusion and then inflicting the same pain on the Democrats. Then, the heads of the GOP took away half the votes and delegates from the state. How is that more in touch to simply discard half the votes and half the delegates? Since McCain clinched his nomination with a very impressive lead, it doesn't matter much in the primary race, but if he and Huckabee were still duking it out state by state, vote by vote like Clinton and Obama, well the Republicans would be singing a different tune, too.

random

"He wasn't on the ballot, because he chose not to be. Therefore, cry me a river about it, Obama supporters, as I don't care. He should have stood up to the DNC at the time and said, look, I agreed not to campaign in Florida and Michigan, but I am not going to take my name off the ballot, enough is enough."

Obama removed his name from the ballot as did all other candidates per the party's rules. Clinton just decided to violate what the DNC required her to do while Obama and all the other candidates did what they were asked. Support for a candidate shouldn't blind you from the facts of the matter. Long rants charging that the challenger is just some sloganeering hypocrite can't take away from the fact that Clinton broke the rules and now expects to be rewarded for it and her supporters are bashing Obama for playing fair and following DNC regulations.

Ed

I'm a strong Hillary supporter. However, I'm 100% against giving her Michigan and Florida based on the past voting. That would completely divide the party and almost guarantee that we lose the general elections.

There is one and only one solution to the problem: Hold regular primaries again in both states. Not mail-in, not caucuses, but real primaries. Have the Hillary camp pay 33%, Obama 33%, and the DNC 33% of the total costs. This would be as fair as possible. Obama may want to fight this, because he will lose the nomination this way, but that's the fairest way to solve this problem.

observer

As a Floridian, I am amused by this discussion.

The Florida Legislature changed the primary date with near-unanimous support from both parties (118-0 in the House; 37-1 or 2 in the Senate). Those votes reflected the overwhelming belief among Floridians that two backwater, lily-white, unrepresentative states (Iowa and New Hampshire) should not be allowed to dictate who is allowed to run for President of the United States.

The Legislature's actions were not a mistake. They were not a miscalculation. They were not puffery by a bunch of overblown politicians. The actions reflected the will of the people, and were taken with the full realizations that both political parties would likely disqualify all of our delegates.

We didn't care, and still don't. We are making a statement and calling a bluff to try to change a horribly corrupt and incompetent system of selecting nominees.

Floridians, me included, went to the polls on January 29, knowing full well that our votes would probably only be a beauty contest. But, say what you will, we made our voices heard. We knocked Edwards out. We knocked Romney and Guiliani out. We knocked Huckabee out, although he's a little befuddled and didn't realize it for quite a while. We had our say in this primary season, and we're fine with whatever consequences come from our decisions.

The rules were made a year and a half before the Florida vote. Every candidate agreed to the rules. Every candidate adhered to the rules. Every candidate accepted the results until momentum started building for Senator Obama. The only rationale for changing the rules after the fact is that some folks don't like the way things are turning out, and that's a pretty sorry reflection on the Democratic Party.

If the rules are changed for political expediency, the Democratic nomination will be a fraud--no matter which candidate wins it. A handful of Floridians will shout, "Woo hoo, we got to vote twice." But many, many voters in other states who followed the rules will smell a very foul odor, and will vote accordingly. Many Floridians will, too.

Let it go. Let the process work its way through and select a legitimate nominee in a legitimate manner.

qwerty

What kind of a mewling little twerp would side with "the rules" over millions of voters? There are no "rules" that apply anyway, in this situation. The moron who wrote the con side could not, of course, cite any document stating that "Florida votes won't count." There was no law passed, no binding contract. So these little Hitlers, who are in love with "rules" (same people who were always running to the teacher, "Jimmy is breaking the rules!") are going to have to step aside.

observer

"The Democrats just went along with it because bundled into the same legislative package was a provision requiring a paper trail in elections from now on, which is something Democrats have been fighting for."

This statement is so untrue that it almost begs to be called a lie. The Florida Senate sponsor of the bill was a leading Democrat. Every single Democrat in the Florida House voted for the bill. Every Democrat but one in the Florida Senate voted for the bill. he Florida Democratic Party was giddy with excitement over the prospect of an early primary (as was the Republican party).

The only group who now has decided to object are the supporters of Mrs. Clinton, and they have only started that slimy tactic after the nomination started to slip out of her grasp.

Edna

Ed, unfortunately, it would be impossible to hold a new primary in Florida, other than a mail-in primary (which is going to be logistically daunting itself, but at least it is in the realm of the possible). The thing is, Florida law requires that all counties get rid of the touch screen voting machines before the general election, as they are being replaced with optical scanning equipment that will provide a paper trail. This is what the Democrats voted for that was in the same legislation as the Republicans stuck that primary date move into. Anyway, after the January 29 primary, many counties already packed up the old touch screen machines, and they are gone. The new machines won't arrive until August, which would be too late for a revote. Besides, another problem is that none of the poll workers are even trained on the things yet. So it would have to be a mail-in primary in Florida, if we do anything. Florida has never conducted a mail-in primary before and, as one Pundit sarcastically and hilariously put it on "Florida This Week," "What could go wrong?"

I'm not saying I'm against a mail-in revote. What I'm really for is the rules committee issuing a one-time-only "pardon" to Florida and Michigan for moving up their primaries, counting the results of the primaries, seating our delegates, and for the next election, changing the primary system itself so that we have a fair system of rotating regional primaries. But, if the party absolutely refuses to acknowledge the results of the already-held Florida and/or Michigan primaries, I'm not totally opposed to a revote. If that is the only way for my vote and the vote of millions and millions of Democrats to count toward selecting our nominee, let's go for it. But in Florida, it would have to be a mail-in primary. We don't have voting machines at this point, ironically because we are trying to avoid any election problems by switching to the new system. But no machines if we suddenly need to hold primaries at all the precincts would be a problem, putting it mildly.

Oh dear. The truth is stranger than fiction this primary season.

Richard Wiggins

It is outrageous that anyone from outside the state of Michigan, much less people who did not see the January ballot, dare propose that Michigan's delegates be awarded to Hillary Clinton. I am a Michigan voter, and I was deprived of a choice in this race. Obama and other leading candidates honored their contract with the DNC and removed their names from the race. I had a choice of Clinton, Gravel, Dodd, and Kucinich--and Uncommitted, which won in some jurisdictions. (The closest choice for Obama supporters was Uncommitted.)

Professor Dowdle argues that we should err in favor of inclusion of votes. Sir, there was no election. Have you actually seen the ballot we faced? Are you aware that the two major parties conspired to enact a state-run primary that outlawed writing in a candidate of one's choice? Do you understand that we could not vote for Edwards or Obama, my first choices on that cold day in January?

How dare you suggest what should happen in Michigan from so far away, and so obviously so unaware of the facts.

Andrew

OK, first I have read through some of this bs that some people are writing. First of all, one person cannot and will not "carry" this country (Sorry, Hillary, it's not going to happen). Second, if you think that your vote doesn't count and you will not revote, that's your prerogative.

Now, the rules were broken. Enough said. I am not saying that I am a Hillary or Barack supporter. I am saying that the rules were broken. So fix it. If it means stripping Michigan and Florida of their delegates, then do it. If it means a revote, revote.

Please ask me if it is fair for someone to win all the delegates in a state for its being uncontested against the next-strongest or strongest candidate. When you ask, I will tell you the truth.

It's like voting for the best soda in the U.S. and not including Pepsi as a choice in Michigan and Florida.

Oh, now I am talking food and everyone wants to pay attention. I bet if you set up donuts outside the precincts on the day of the "revote" people will show up.

Welcome to America.

daisy_chain

Biggest reason for a recount--millions of angry Florida and Michigan voters who will side with Republicans in the general election if Democrats throw out their primary votes.

Truly Concerned

Attention, Michigan and Florida, not to mention the rest of the U.S. The people who changed the dates for the primaries in those states were put into office by the residents of those states. Maybe next time the residents will be a little more concerned about who is getting to run the place. Especially in Michigan. Let things stand as they are. Let this be a lesson to you all on getting more involved in the voting process.

Edna

To "truly concerned" who asininely and ignorantly stated: "Attention, Michigan and Florida, not to mention the rest of the U.S. The people who changed the dates for the primaries in those states were put into office by the residents of those states. Maybe next time the residents will be a little more concerned about who is getting to run the place. Especially in Michigan. Let things stand as they are. Let this be a lesson to you all on getting more involved in the voting process."

Well, attention, "truly concerned": We Democrats did not elect the Republicans who pushed through the primary date change in Florida, thank you very much. And I, for one, do vote in every election. Let what be a lesson to us? The fact that millions of us innocent voters are getting our votes taken away? Oh, it's a lesson all right. It's a lesson regarding what an idiot Howard Dean is; that's what it is a lesson on. And you can keep your "truly concern" to yourself, if all you are going to do is chastise millions of voters in two states for something we had no control over, and kick us when we are already down from having our votes taken away. Oh wait, let me guess: You are an Obama supporter, correct? Yup, I recognize his politics of "inclusion" anywhere. Nice.

Edna

To Andrew, who said the voting in Florida and Michigan was unfair because: "It's like voting for the best soda in the U.S. and not including Pepsi as a choice in Michigan and Florida."

1. Pepsi, a.k.a., Obama, was on the Florida ballot, as were all the candidates. Get your facts straight, please.

2. As for Pepsi's not being a choice on the Michigan ballot, as I've said before and I'll say again until Obama supporters finally grasp it: That was his choice. He opted to remove his name. Not my problem. Not the problem of anyone who is concerned with free and fair elections. If a candidate is stupid enough to remove his name from the ballot because a few small states are pressuring him to do so, then he is stupid enough to. The election results are still valid. If you don't choose to run in a given state, it doesn't make that state's election unfair. It makes you a stupid candidate.

observer

"Biggest reason for a recount--millions of angry Florida and Michigan voters who will side with Republicans in the general election if Democrats throw out their primary votes."

First of all, your "reason" is nothing more than your view of political expediency, which is hardly a principled argument.

Second, nobody's throwing anyone's votes out. We knew long before the primaries were held that the contest was only a beauty contest. When you offer a beauty contest, and you deliver a beauty contest, how is that throwing anything out? It just isn't.

And finally, logic and common sense make me think you are wrong about the possible effect of not seating the Florida and Michigan delegations. I think it's telling that you do not hear much from Florida or Michigan complaining about the result--except from partisans for Mrs. Clinton.

If the delegations are not seated, I don't think very many people are going to throw away a vote for President of the United States out of spite.

However,.if the rules are changed, I am virtually certain that whoever loses because of the change is going to feel robbed. I don't think their supporters will vote for McCain if they were not inclined to do so anyway. But they might stay home.

I think staying home is particularly likely among Senator Obama's supporters, especially considering some of the racial attacks on him, including the one today. If you want to lose an election, the repeated racial attacks by the Clinton campaign are about as good a blueprint as you'll find anywhere. There is going to be a backlash against those tactics, and not just from the black community. (I'm a white male, incidentally.)

If the nomination is awarded to either candidate without legitimacy, it will be worthless.

Anton Gray

Great posts, guys. I really enjoyed this thread. Especially Edna, who said Obama knew the rules, Obama played by the rules, and now to show Obama that the rules matter, we need to change the rules in favor of Hillary. Rules are of course made to make life easier and more convenient to the people who live by them. When they don't make life easier, then there is a problem. Although I'm morally with the people who say everyone knew the rules, let's live by them, practically, the rules need to be seen to be workable and make things fair. Sadly, the best result is a new contest.

Irritated

Here's the thing. Yes, technically Obama was following the rules by removing himself from the Michigan ballot, but was that the right choice? Obviously it is a matter of opinion. In my opinion, all of the candidates should have left themselves on the ballot. It is a slap in the face to the voters not to and suggests that the candidates think it is OK to take the votes away from so many people. The truth is, we want our leaders to stand up for us, which sometimes means they aren't going to follow arbitrary guidelines and are going to do what needs to be done. However, all that said, it's clear that Clinton did not leave herself on the ballot because she was standing up for Michigan's right to vote, despite what she might say. She did it because she wanted the momentum the win would give her, despite the votes not counting. Neither of these candidates is a winner here. The only way to resolve Michigan is to re-vote or split the delegates. Let Florida stand. The people who didn't vote because they thought their votes wouldn't count are as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

With regard to comments that the only reason people now care about Florida and Michigan not counting because Clinton lost momentum are obviously uninformed. The problem is that without the delegates from Michigan and Florida, it is unlikely that either candidate can obtain the requisite number of delegates to win the nomination. There will be no winner without either changing the number of delegates required to gain the nomination (more monkeying with the rules) or counting/re-voting/splitting the delegates from Florida and Michigan. It's that simple, folks. It's a close race, and those delegates are needed to determine a winner.

Jesse

I voted for Obama, and as much as I want him to win, I believe they should use the votes they have. As someone else commented, the punishment should fit the crime, and while the crime of not following an order-of-voting rule is substantial, it is not worth disenfranchising so many voters. That just doesn't make sense. Why don't we fire some of the DNC idiots who made the order-of-voting mistake? How is that for the punishment fitting the crime?

robert

Obama didn't campaign in those states, because he was told they wouldn't count. If you now count them, you disenfranchise every other voter for Obama by saying the rules don't matter and we are going to nominate Hillary anyway. We will lose tens of millions of voters from the Democratic party. Young people already don't trust our government, so let's not give them concrete reasons to do so. It's like saying, after a football game, "Actually, field goals count for five points, not three, so the other team wins." Ridiculous.

Edna

Jesse, I just want to say it is refreshing to read reasonable, fair, thoughtful comments from an Obama supporter. I really appreciate your comments that: "I voted for Obama, and as much as I want him to win, I believe they should use the votes they have. As someone else commented, the punishment should fit the crime, and while the crime of not following an order-of-voting rule is substantial, it is not worth disenfranchising so many voters. That just doesn't make sense. Why don't we fire some of the DNC idiots who made the order-of-voting mistake? How is that for the punishment fitting the crime?"

I was the one who said that the punishment doesn't fit the crime and is directed at the wrong people, and I agree with you that even though the rules shouldn't have been violated, it is not fair to disenfranchise millions of voters because of an arcane and arbitrary rule's being violated that the millions of voters had no part in violating. Someone commented that the voters are the ones who elected the folks who violated the rules and that those folks represent us, therefore. Well, in Florida, it was the Republicans who pushed the rule change through, and I have never voted for a Republican in my life. I do vote, but I vote Democratic. I stand by my party. All I ask now is that my party stand by me and the millions of other loyal members in Florida and Michigan who want nothing more than for our votes to count toward choosing our party's nominee. I don't feel that way because I support one candidate or another; I have felt that way ever since Howard Dean yanked away our delegates, when all the candidates were still in the running.

Richard Wiggins

Note that no one is talking about whether the Michigan Republican delegation should be seated. Their national party decided to cut the delegations in Michigan and Florida by half. No one is upset by this; no one claims disenfranchisement. This is because the Republican race is settled. This proves that the brouhaha on the Democratic side is not about a bogus claim of disenfranchisement; it's about who wins the nomination. I am ashamed of every Democrat in Michigan and nationally who now favors changing the rules in order to nominate Hillary.

Again, people who are not from Michigan need to be fully aware of the facts before they comment. The two major state parties railroaded through a law to advance the primary date, and the governor, a Democrat, signed it. They took a calculated risk trying to raise Michigan's profile in choosing Presidential nominees, and they blew it.

You may sanctimoniously say it is the fault of voters in Michigan, but if you were not here to see how this unfolded, then just be quiet. A good friend of mine led a lawsuit to overturn the backroom legislation brewed by the parties. We lost.

Voters in Michigan are not going to stay away from the Presidential election by the millions. We are angry that we didn't have a real primary election. We blame our state party (parties) for denying us a real vote. We are not so foolish as to deny ourselves a vote in the general election. That's a silly assumption.

I do not want the Michigan delegation seated in the Democratic race because we had no real choice. To pretend in March that the votes cast in a non-election in January are somehow sacred is nonsense. The Michigan delegates are the very party regulars who brought this fiasco upon us. They deserve to be punished for not following the rules.

Nilesjo

One of the virtues of campaigns is that they allow voters to see how the candidates and the parties manage a complex process that affects all of the citizenry before actually taking office. It speaks to the ability to have the vision to understand how hard decisions will affect the country.

From that perspective, I would say that the voters may be having second thoughts about having the Democrats control both the executive and the legislative branches of government. If they can't even get the primary election process right after many decades of practice without it becoming a comedy of errors, how can they be expected to manage the unique and complex problems that a new administration will face?

Daniel

Give Hillary? Is this a primary or a charity fund raiser? As a democrat, you have to favor a Michigan and Florida primary re-vote or face a huge divide within the party and lose voters to the McCain one-track train.

Ron Weisinger

Why have rules then?

Lincoln

Simply put, if the governors of those States had not tried to act on their own and not listen to DNC rules, then it's their own fault. I don't feel any pity for them. However, they should have allowed the citizens in this state to choose the right to risk moving up and having their votes not count. It goes to show us something. Are we living in a democracy or a dictatorship? Do people have any rights anymore?

Chris

It was a strategic mistake for the DNC to have not addressed this sooner. By allowing Clinton to control the message, they are taking the blame for a problem the states of Michigan and Florida created. It is unfair that the people of Michigan and Florida were not able to vote in the Democratic primaries, but the cost of fixing it should be borne by the states.

jer

Ron is right (above). Sore loser.

RobinL

Uh, give Hillary what? Nope. People shouldn't be rewarded for that kind of wayward behavior. The state knew the consequences and did it anyway. She didn't think at the time that she'd need their votes--and now it's all about the voters? Come on, Hillary---pull up your big girl panties and try to be forthright. We know it's a stretch.

random

"I stand by my party. All I ask now is that my party stand by me and the millions of other loyal members in Florida and Michigan who want nothing more than for our votes to count toward choosing our party's nominee. I don't feel that way because I support one candidate or another; I have felt that way ever since Howard Dean yanked away our delegates, when all the candidates were still in the running."

So if you really feel that way, you should have no problem with a do-over that actually includes all of the running candidates' names on the ballot, i.e. both Hillary and Obama. What if Hillary took her name off the ballot in Michigan but Obama left his? Would you then advocate just giving Michigan to Obama because you're in favor of just handing a state to Hillary regardless of who was or wasn't on the party ballot? What kind of a democracy does one have when you can vote for certain people but not others, depending on who followed the rules and who broke them?

Hey, if Hillary wins Michigan and Florida in a vote where Obama's name is on the ballot, good for her. But just handing her the state without making her face the same challenge she's faced and lost more than a dozen times now, doesn't sound like a fair vote.

charlene

Fire Howard Dean and Donna Brazile.

Bill Odum

This is not a parlor game; in my opinion, it is a fight for the soul of America, after one of the most disastrous 7 1/2 years in the nation's history. While America is burning, the Democratic establishment is fiddling with the rules of the "parlor game" in regard to the Florida primary vote. In the meantime, John McCain, a representative of the Republican party, is hugging and shaking hands with the man whose Administration, coupled with a Republican Congress, is responsible for the terrible state of the union. Are we about to see a rerun of the 2000 election? Not seating the Florida delegates, after a legitimate primary election, is a big contributor to that probability. Clearing the way for the Florida delegation to be seated at the Democratic National Convention should be settled before the convention.

Dave

The people voted--what did that say? I really don't care what the political bosses in Washington say. What is this, a Communist country? Do we have to listen to the political line in order for it to count? Shame on the Democratic Party for not listening to the people. Remember, "by the people, for the people." How easy to forget when power is concerned.

Dave

Fifteen million people vote, and 12 people in Washington say it doesn't count, majority rule. Isn't Democracy great? Something stinks when power is involved. The party bosses are saying to the people, it's my way or the highway. Tell them to go to hell.

Paul in Michigan

Perhaps the only good thing about this mess is that it has given us a clearer view of what these candidates are made of. Hillary's willingness to shamelessly speak untruthfully about the fairness of the January primaries (yesterday: "The results of those primaries were fair, and they should be honored"), selling a bit of her soul in a bid to gain power, has turned me from neutral on her candidacy to a staunch opponent.

Jet

My wife, who is from Russia, believes that Obama's total of the most pledged delegates and the greatest number of popular votes won't mean anything, either, come convention time. Her core belief: When it comes to power ball, party politcs are pretty much the same in the Soviet Union and in the USA.

John

Senator Clinton did not violate rules of the Democratic party. The voters in these two states voted for the candidates they believe would do the best for the country. Let the votes stand and be counted. Otherwise, the Democratic party is going to lose a lot of votes this November. I would vote for a Republican nominee, if the Democratic party does not want my vote.

Maria

No. The votes should not count unless their is a primary held. Why? If both parties' names were not on the ballot, that is not fair, and why is no one discussing how Hillary stated she would not put her name on the ballot, but somehow her name showed up on the ballot? Umm...

Rudy Miami

This all sounds like a cruel joke. Just the fact that there is a debate over a redo is providing the Clintons' argument with legitimacy (changing the rules when the game is almost over). The millions of dollars that are going to be spent on satisfying the limitless Clinton ego should instead be invested in aid the poor, the homeless, and the children of Florida and Michigan who would really benefit from the resources, not on last-minute prayer intended to rescue a failed candidacy.

Doug Terry at terryreport.com

An election is a specific end point that is preceded by a campaign, rallies, mailings, and personal contact with the voters. What if we decided to vote for President tomorrow? The choice would be entirely different from the one the nation will make in November, because by then everyone will have had a chance to consider the choices, weigh the pros and cons of each candidate, and take a chance on the one they think is the best.

Michigan and Florida were not valid contests by any stretch. Trying to make it right now, after the fact, presents the possibility of making it all wrong by changing the outcome. In 2000, there were many problems in the November election in Florida, including the confusing "butterfly ballot," and many people were probably disenfranchised as a result. Yet, it was impossible to have a do-over, because the choice would be different on a different day. As an example, supporters of Gore, knowing how close the first vote had been, would have been highly motivated to turn out in greater numbers (the same for Bush supporters). The only fair outcome I could imagine, had it been determined that Florida was so deeply flawed as to not be counted in 2000, would be throwing out the entire results in the state.

We don't have practice votes until we get them right. We practice democracy each election cycle and take what we get from the best system then devised. The time to work out the problems in Michigan and Florida was 2007, not 2008.

random

"Senator Clinton did not violate rules of the Democratic party."

The DNC said that because Florida and Michigan wanted to push their primaries so far ahead to carry more influence in the nomination process than they were supposed to, candidates are not to campaign in these states and not to pursue having their names on ballots.

Hillary Clinton campaigned in both states and made sure her name was on the ballot and going up only against those candidates she could outspend and outperform. Sure seems like she violated the rules by doing the opposite of what the Democratic party said to do.

"The voters in these two states voted for the candidates they believe would do the best for the country."

Without having the choice to vote for Obama, Edwards, or Biden, depending on the state. So they chose who they believed would do the best for the nation but without all of the choices' being on the ballots. Is this a Soviet election where candidates who are supposed to win are put up against cardboard opponents and the names of worthy contenders are left off the ballot? I've seen those types of elections firsthand and know from personal experience that the results they produce aren't pretty.

"Let the votes stand and be counted. Otherwise, the Democratic party is going to lose a lot of votes this November. I would vote for a Republican nominee, if the Democratic party does not want my vote."

So let's let votes for Hillary count even though she skillfully evaded Obama, Edwards, and others in those primaries? And doesn't your devotion to Clinton to the point of a threat that you'll deprive the party of a vote speak of a personality cult more than world view and ideas? Are you more interested in advancing liberal views and policies, or are you simply devoted to Hillary? Just like votes on selective ballots, cult of personality politics also tend to produce unsavory results that are liked only by the initiated.

Hendrick

The votes cannot stand. This all sound like a cruel joke. Hillary should gracefully accept defeat and bow out of the nomination contest now to save the Democratic Party, which stands to lose In the November election if the debacle of fiddling with the party rules and game continues. It would be a political fraud by the Democratic Party if Senator Clinton is given Florida and Michigan to rescue a failed candidacy. I await the final count of Texas primary votes on March 29, which was blundered to declare Clinton winner, when I believe she lost.

Kevin

I'm a Hillary supporter, but to me you have to set the rules, have everyone agree to the rules, and then not change them once the "competition" starts.

Michigan and Florida knew the rules, and they went ahead and tried to challenge them by holding their primaries ahead of time, and they got penalized for it. Is it wrong for the Michigan and Florida voters to be disenfranchised because of what their party did, sure, but at the same time, they should've known what was going on when no one was on the ballots (save for HRC in Michigan).

Can you imagine similar scenarios in other real world situations? Referees changing the rules because they want one team to win, contractors changing the terms of service because they can make more money using cheaper parts, a President dumbing down his requirements for war so he can do so ...oh wait, that happened.

Jeb

If she was winning, would she have thought about counting those votes? No.

Robbie Laughing

Either there are rules, or there are not. We know Bush usurped the White House through sleazy shenanigans, so now Hillary proves her credentials in honor and integrity by behaving just like Bush and his cabal. Is the U.S.A. just a Third World superpower of political sleaze and corruption? It sure seems to me that women politicians, who were once a breath of fresh air, now smell as bad as the men in politics.

MaryBeth

I am a Democrat in Michigan, and I want an opportunity to vote in a legitimate primary. The Michigan Democrats took a foolish chance and were warned of the consequences, and the votes from the January primary should not count. Shame on you, Hillary Clinton, for expecting otherwise. It looks as if we are going to get a do-over in June.

Pissed at you Wannabe Rule Breakers

I have a few questions for the people who say that the Florida and Michigan votes should count.

1) Why did Florida and Michigan, along with the rest of the states, agree to the order in which states were going to hold their elections, if they weren't going to live up to their agreement?

2) Why are you people crying to the DNC about the punishment administered when the states knew 18 months in advance what would happen if they broke the rules?

3) Why are you not breathing fire at the Senators in either state that decided to go ahead and break the rules, knowing they were going to be punished? They knew the rules and the punishment for breaking them.

4) Why don't you express your anger with them in the states' next elections? I mean it's their fault this happened, not the DNC's fault.

5) What's wrong with Senator Dodd's proposal for a 50/50 split? That way both states' delegates will be seated and your votes will count--sort of. I mean, come on. Aren't you trying to beat McCain in the general election? Isn't that the ultimate goal?

6) Last and not least, Hillary Clinton, along with the rest of the candidates, agreed along with those states about the order in which the voting would be held. At first she agreed that the votes wouldn't count. Then only when she realized that she could actually lose the nomination did she, and her camp, start clamoring about how those votes should count. My sixth question is: After two elections won by a horrible President who has destroyed America and the rest of the world's view of us, why would you want to support someone who's going down the same path? People talk about Obama's inexperience, next to Hillary's. But let's talk about Hillary's hypocrisy, and outright blatant defiant, and quite frankly, lawless rule breaking she's been trying to get away with.

As it's been stated in the media many times, Hillary has changed her view of things several times, blatantly so, when it benefited her candidacy to do so. At least when it suited her. She has defied the party's rule, and most of her supporters have ignored those facts--and even gone as far as threatening to break the party apart if she doesn't get her way. It sounds to me like if you put her in a three piece suit, hide her breasts so you can't tell she has any, shave her hair a little, dye it black with some gray, get her drunk so she'll tap dance in front of the whole world and sing a celebratory song to the pardoning of Scooter Libby, you'd be looking at another George W. Bush. (Whew, say all that in one sentence without breathing.)

Now on the other hand, you have Obama, the good little boy, that does everything that Daddy DNC tells him to do, and up until recently even tried to stay out of the mudslinging that Hillary obviously (need I throw in another "blatantly"?) been begging him to join her in. And in his decency has again tried to stop it. But one thing you can say about Obama, if you're wanting to know the change Obama's been touting, you can start learning by looking at the way he's running his campaign.

He put me in the mind frame of a Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark. Yes, he may be inexperienced in the federal and world level politics, but his demeanor, and his willingness to stay above the mudslinging, makes him seem like something more than a politician. It's almost scary.

Let's hope that Obama is indeed the real incarnation of Thomas Jefferson Jackson.

Oh and you Hillary supporters? Don't even think about trying to take this out of context. I've copied and pasted it to a file that of course will have a time stamp similar to the one that is posted here. So if you change it, I will show what I really put.

Geo140

I am an Independent who voted Republican in the past, but voted for Obama this year. Though the foundation of the Democratic Party fails to appeal to me, Obama and his campaign has.

Now, with this fiasco, I remember why I have always found it difficult to vote for a Democrat in the first place. Rules and the rule of law have no real meaning to the Democratic Party and the people they seem to present as nominees for office.

This world is complicated enough already with out having everyone live by a "let's do what's right" mentality as some would suggest. Forgetting that "what's right" is so subjective.

Hillary Clinton and her campaign is an example of everything that is so perfectly wrong in the Democratic Party. That is, a "let's abide by the rules until they no longer serve us" type mentality; largely because they believe the end justifies the means.

Ironically, the Clinton campaign is doing to its own campaign what the Democratic party has done to the nation every election year. Creating divisiveness through allegations of media bias, race baiting, and mud smearing. This time, Hillary is doing it to Obama.

At least with the Republicans, you know what you're getting ahead of time, even if the picture isn't so pretty.

For the Democrats, it looks like it is finally time to lie in the bed they have made, and in the long term, it will most likely cost them an election they should have handily tied up.

George

You can't just sit the delegates as is.

A big reason you have states with their primaries staggered over months is so that politicians can have time to campaign in those respective states.

The votes Obama or Clinton won when Florida and Michigan held primaries the first time around aren't the votes they necessarily would have received had both candidates actively campaigned in those states. Obama wasn't even on the Michigan ticket.

Not that I believe their delegates should be seated at all, but if they should, only after a complete new re-vote.

Will

It is really quite simple. This is either a democracy or it is not. If the people of Florida and Michigan do not have the right to have their votes count, then it is not a democracy. Is this the party that took its name from that very concept? Approximately 5 million people kept out of the process. This election is important. Is putting the people's choice in office worth $25 million? I think so.

Maureen

Florida and Michigan have had two months to see the true side of Hillary. I'm sure knowing now what they didn't know then will be to Barack's advantage. So, I say, let them re-vote.

soflindie

Being from Florida, I can tell you firsthand that Hillary did not care about us until she needed our votes. Our own Democratic Party in Florida screwed the voters, not Senator Obama. We were told it was a GOP primary only. The record turnout was due to a property tax amendment. Rules are rules, and you can't change them because one candidate suddenly finds you important.

Agnostic Democrat

Rules are rules are rules are rules. Everyone knew that going in and signed a pledge, and if any of the voters have a beef, they need to take it up with their state, not the candidates, or in this case, the candidate Hillary is trying to demonize. She is on record stating that the votes should not count. That was until it became clear she had no other way to win. Aren't we smarter than that? End of story.

Richard Lawrence

The right to vote and for the vote to be counted is the most sacred American right. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their life in wars to defend that right. No party rule or technicality should have the right to deny that right from millions of voters. It's a mockery of everything Americans stand for. I'm a Democrat and have always voted that way. But if Florida and Michigan votes are not fairly counted, McCain has my vote in November. I don't care what the Democratic Party has to do to fix it--mail in, revote, etc. All I know is they made this mess and they need to fix it instead of pointing fingers. If Democrats have the audacity to trample on our most fundamental American right, I urge more fellow Democratics to do what I plan to do and launch a protest vote for McCain in November. The party issues are important, but no issue is more important than the right to vote and for that vote to be counted. Let's show the Democratic leadership this kind of "banana republic" politics will not be tolerated. If Obama is really serious about bringing America together, he should start with not disenfranchising the voters of Florida and Michigan. If he can't support such an effort, then his critics are correct. There is no substance behind his words. He is just a windbag full of empty political rhetoric.

Join the Debate

 

Participate More!

Please send us your ideas for new Debate Room topics. If you're an academic, association officer, or other industry expert and would like to write a Debate Room essay, send us a query. Questions? See the

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!