Saturday, August 28, 2004

State Board of Elections doing their job to question whether ILGOP can replace Ryan with Keyes

Yesterday the State Board of Elections did their job. Instead of just allowing the Republican State Central Committee to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Senate nomination when Jack Ryan withdrew, the Board had a good debate on the point as state law is silent as to whether the State Central Committee has the authority to do so.

As it turned out, the four Dem-appointed members thought the silence in state law should be interpreted as meaning the RSCC had no authority and the ballot ought not include Keyes while the four GOP-appointed members thought the explicit authority granted to the RSCC to fill almost every other vacancy should trump the silence on whether U.S. Senate vacancies may be filled by the RSCC.

But that vote doesn't mean that Dems are "playing politics" with the decision or that the Obama campaign or Speaker Madigan is trying to hurt the Keyes campaign. Far from it. Any rational political decision by the Democratic Party of Illinois or the Obama campaign is to let Keyes get on the ballot, state law ambiguity or not, as the state's electorate is firmly behind Obama to a degree unmatched by any other Senate campaign in memory.

If the four Dem-appointed members of the State Board of Elections had followed the smart political advice and ignored the real legal question here, then they would have been "playing politics." Instead, they did the right thing and had a real debate on the issue. Good for them.

The Trib article is here and the Sun-Times article is here. Dan Proft's spin that they are "playing games with the law" is totally wrong. So is the Obama aide for calling it "outrageously stupid." And the headline writers are wrong too. This isn't "wacky."

If there are any huffy editorials about this, any blame should be cast at the General Assembly for not clarifying this state law when everyone knew there was a problem. (Yeah, I'm a little bitter, since the omnibus bill that would have cleared this up included the 14-day grace period voter registration reform that I worked on to make it easier for people to register to vote).

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