Thursday, July 29, 2010

Illinois voters face confusing, simultaneous Senate elections

Illinois voters face confusing, simultaneous Senate elections; STLToday

Even for Illinois, the paragon of political peculiarity, this one is weird.

It is virtually certain that the state's voters will elect two people to the same U.S. Senate seat in the Nov. 2 election. The winners could be the same person, or candidates from different parties or even different candidates from the same party.

As required by a recent federal court decision, one will serve just until Jan. 3. The other will serve from Jan. 3 to early 2017.

As crazy as this sounds, it could have been much worse. Lawyers and the judge in the middle of this mess appear to be forging a path that would spare taxpayers the cost of holding a special election, or two, at upwards of $20 million each.

And despite a natural inclination to blame former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on general principle, it's not really his fault.

The roots reach back two years, to the election of Sen. Barack Obama as president. The right to fill the Senate vacancy fell to Blagojevich, who would later be accused in federal court of trying to sell it for a bribe. He denies it, and the jury on that is out — literally.

Just before the tainted Blagojevich was impeached and tossed from office in early 2009, he even considering naming himself to the Senate, according to FBI surveillance recordings. Instead, the governor picked Roland Burris, a former state attorney general who reinforced his lightweight political reputation with a fawning acceptance of the appointment that other Democrats felt was too tainted to touch.

Sated by the title and perhaps aware of his scant chance of election, Burris did not file for a full term in the Feb. 2, 2010, primary. Democrats nominated state Comptroller Alexi Giannoulias that day, and Republicans chose U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk. So far, so good.

Lurking in the background was an activist lawsuit insisting that the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while allowing a temporarily appointed senator, demands a special election eventually. The state fought the suit, as I presume Gov. Pat Quinn was not eager to set up the potential for $40 million worth of special primary and general elections.

A federal judge ruled that the 17th Amendment does indeed require an election, and an appellate court recently affirmed it. ...

Read the rest here.

Comment: Thank a progressive because this is democracy folks! However if we just followed the plan the founders gave us we wouldn't need judges being involved and special elections costing $40 million.

Let's return to the founders plan and repeal the 17th Amendment.

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