Who Really Won?

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Permanent Campaign

Here's a look at the Sore Loser Campaign in Washington State and its implications for us all:

The system of election administration in our country has a margin of error. Political professionals know this and are already using it to calculate whether an election is beyond “the margin of litigation,” as conservative writer John Fund has put it. Professor Rick Hasen, an election law expert at Loyola University Law School, notes that the number of election challenges has already climbed in the wake of Bush v. Gore, from 62 cases in 1998 to 250 cases in 2002. He says the lesson that political professionals have learned is that it is OK to challenge close elections. “There is much less concern about damage to the democratic process and more concern about who won.”

A Rossi court victory could open the floodgates to election challenges around the country. An increase in challenges would make the peaceful transition between office holders more contentious and difficult and would fuel the bitterness of both the grassroots and the elected officials. That bitterness, in turn, would feed into the governing process, making elected officials of both parties less likely to cooperate across party lines to pursue sensible legislation that represents the public interest.

Developments in a courtroom in a small Washington city may determine whether our political process becomes even more degraded than it already is. Keep your eye on Wenatchee.