Will NJ court (Dem-controlled) permit Dem candidate to run?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Regional News IT'S ALL UP TO THE COURTS NOW By BRIAN BLOMQUIST
October 2, 2002 -- WASHINGTON - The New Jersey Supreme Court today holds a hearing to decide whether to make an exception to the law that says changes on the ballot must take place at least 51 days before an election.
The vote is now just 34 days away.
Democrats say it's unfair to deny voters a choice.
Republicans say a belated switch is illegal, claiming many county clerks have already distributed ballots and vowing to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if they lose in New Jersey.
Republicans were searching by e-mail for absentee voters who have already sent in their ballots - shades of the Florida fiasco in the 2000 presidential election.
-- Anonymous, October 02, 2002
N.J. Supreme Court rules Democrats can replace Torricelli on ballot
By John P. Mcalpin, Associated Press, 10/2/2002 18:31
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) Giving hope to Democrats scrambling to retain the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, the New Jersey state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the party can replace Sen. Robert Torricelli's name on the November ballot.
The ruling clears the way for former Sen. Frank Lautenberg to take Torricelli's place. Lautenberg, 78, served three terms in the Senate before retiring in 2000.
The Democrats argued earlier in the day that it wasn't too late to replace Torricelli, 51, even though he dropped out with only 36 days to the election. Republicans believed the law specified that a candidate can't be replaced when they drop out less than 51 days from the election.
Torricelli abruptly dropped out of the race Monday, citing continued questions of his ethics after a scandal involving illegal campaign donors.
''It is in the public interest and the general interest of the election laws to preserve the two-party system and to submit to the electorate ballot bearing the names of candidates of both major political parties as well as of all qualifying parties and groups,'' the court ruled in a unanimous decision.
The court said that the state Democratic party must pay for the ballots to be reprinted. State election officials estimate it will cost about $800,000 to do that.
State Attorney General David Samson will oversee the effort to certify the ballots, the court said.
''The winners in this case were the citizens of New Jersey,'' said Angelo Genova, who argued the case for the state Democratic Party. ''Voters will have the right to choose. Doug Forrester will have to face a vibrant opponent.''
Republicans said they planned Thursday to file a motion in U.S. District Court in Trenton and petition the U.S. Attorney General to order that all absentee ballots that have been printed are mailed immediately. Also, the party said they will ask that any move to alter ballots sent overseas be blocked.
For nearly three hours Wednesday, the seven justices four Democrats, two Republicans and one independent peppered lawyers, state election officials and even some third-party candidates with detailed questions.
They questioned whether it was possible this late in the game to print and pay for new ballots, and whether it was fair to bend the rules to accommodate the Democrats' request.
''Here we have a candidate, he's capable, he's able, he's just changed his mind about running,'' Associate Justice Jaynee LaVecchia said.
John Carbone, an attorney representing the county clerks, had said time was critical.
''If we go beyond Wednesday of next week, Tuesday of next week, it's not going to be doable no matter how deep the pockets,'' Carbone said.
No one is sure how voters will react if the court is seen offering a partisan decision, or if the legal action will divert voter attention from the campaign, said Ingrid Reed, a professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
''They sure knew about Torricelli and had an informed opinion about him. They were paying attention,'' Reed said. ''I think the voters were listening and certainly if Democrats are going to get any votes out of this switch, the are going to get the votes from Democrats they may have lost thanks to the scandal.''
The justices on Wednesday even heard from the minor parties, with representatives of the Green, Libertarian and Conservative parties arguing that the debate about replacing Torricelli ignores the fact that there are other legally valid candidates.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Democrats planned Lautenberg's campaign and negotiated the transfer of funds and operations from Torricelli's operation. The Democratic State Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Lautenberg as their choice.
-- Anonymous, October 02, 2002
See deja vued all over agin! What a precedent THAT has set! I hope the Repubs will do the same damn thing every time their candidate is behind in the polls, just for general principles. Of course, not all states have that same law, not exactly anyway.
-- Anonymous, October 03, 2002
Since this was a state law, there is only so much that can be done on the Supreme Court level. Fourteen Amendment/Equal Justice, I believe. Something along the lines of the poor absentee voters [military personnel] getting screwed [again]. However, if that is resolved by the time SCOTUS hears it, assuming they accept to hear an appeal, then it may pass as is.
We're having a really nasty governor's race here in Massachusetts. Recently the governor candidates have decided to run on a platform with someone in particular for lieutenant governor, even though they are voted on separately. The republican lightweight for LG was Republican party chair for a while, and has been thoroughly pistol- whipped for NOT coming up with republican candidates in several major races.
So, yes, it's true that the voters ended up without a choice for the general election. That was squarely the responsibility of both Torricelli and the NJ democratic party to ensure that didn't happen. Not unusual for a candidate to run unopposed, and this by rights was one of those times.
-- Anonymous, October 03, 2002