Friday, 12 September 2008

Third-world elections

Via Marvin King and Dad comes word that a minor blow-up is happening in Mississippi over the placement of the Musgrove-Wicker Senate contest on the state’s ballot, after Gov. Haley Barbour approved a sample ballot issued by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (both Republicans) placing that election at the bottom of the ballot, in apparent contradiction of a state law that requires federal contests to be listed at the top of the ballot. Following my general rule not to attribute to malice what may simply reflect ignorance or an honestly-held, different interpretation of the law, I won’t leap to the conclusion that Hosemann, who drafted the ballot and is relatively new to the job, is engaged in partisan shenanigans. But Hosemann and Barbour should nonetheless fix the sample ballot forthwith and save the state’s taxpayers the cost of litigation. (I have no particular dog in this fight; both Wicker and Musgrove are, in my opinion, unworthy of election to any high office beyond that of class dunce, given their track records in office.)

Over the longer term, while I am not fully convinced that “independent” electoral arrangements are in practice much more fair than partisan ones, the state legislature should at the very least modify the election code to ensure the full board of election commissioners—which also includes the state Attorney General—reviews the ballot before it is issued.