Hillary Wants Florida Do-over Vote Counted in Private

Now here's one really terrible idea -- and if Obama goes along with it, he should just write off Florida completely, regardless of how many Democrats down there might vote for him. The Clinton camp is urging a big mail-in re-vote: a "complex plan" that would entail the party's "pay[ing] a private firm to count the votes."

This news comes courtesy of New York Times, which, reports that crucial last detail in passing, but we (and, certainly, Obama) should demand to know (a) why all those ballots should be counted in that way, and (b) which "private firm" the party has in mind. For this is Florida, remember? And, so far, nationwide, the "private firms" retained to manage all aspects of our elections have always done a scandalously rotten job -- or at least it would be scandalous if the U.S. press would bother to report the scandal(s).

In any case, the fact that Clinton's posse wants to do it this way indicates quite clearly that they figure -- rightly -- that it will only benefit themselves.

In the long term, we must ban all private vendors from America's elections, so that such a plan as this would not be merely ill-advised but patently illegal. And, right now, Obama -- and all those Floridians who still believe in fair elections, whether they would vote for him or not -- should just say no to this appalling plan.

Here are the crucial excerpts from the Times story, where at least the Obama campaign seems to be rightly skeptical.

Mr. Obama's campaign has expressed strong reservations about a mail-in primary. Appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama said it would be important "to figure out whether this was fraud-proof."

Allan Katz, a superdelegate from Tallahassee who supports Mr. Obama, said the plan was "delusional" given the tight time frame, the state's lack of experience with mail-in balloting and its history of voting troubles.

"The likelihood of this being pulled off without lawsuits galore is, I think, very remote," he said. "They have no chance of doing this right; only the chance of another election fiasco in Florida."

Under the plan being finalized, most of the state's roughly four million registered Democrats would receive mail ballots in early May and the vote would be counted in early June, after each voter's signature was verified. The party would run the contest, said Mark Bubriski, a state party spokesman, but would pay the state to authenticate ballot signatures. The party would then pay a private firm to count the votes, Mr. Bubriski said.

The Times report suggests there will be more news today or this week on the Florida and Michigan delegate conundrum. Both states were stripped of delegated after holding early primaries with Democratic National Committee approval. All the candidates signed pledges not to campaign there, but unions supporting the Clinton campaign pushed hard for her in Florida. Obama was not even on the Michigan ballot.

Earlier today, Hilliary Clinton, speaking at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting, said the Florida and Michigan delegates should be seated.

"If you are a voter from Florida or Michigan, you know that we should count your vote. The nearly two and a half million Americans in those two states who participated in the primary elections are in danger of being excluded from our democratic process and I think that's wrong. The results of those primaries were fair and they should be honored. Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about what we should do to ensure that the voters in Florida and Michigan are counted.

"In my view there are two options: Honor the results or hold new primary elections. I don't see any other solutions that are fair and honor the commitment that two and a half million voters made in the Democratic primaries in those two states. Whether voters are clamoring for solutions to the challenges that we face or not, or whether people are coming out in droves to be heard, we have a basic obligation to make sure that every vote in America counts.

"I hope that Senator Obama's campaign will join me in working to make that happen. I think that that is a non-partisan solution to make sure that we do count these votes."

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