Sunday, November 26, 2006

The never-ending story

The Democrats have an unquestioned majority in both the House and Senate of the 110th Congress, but the 2006 election isn't over yet in three districts. Here's a summary for those who haven't been obsessively following political blogs:

  • Florida 13th District: We knew that electronic voting without a voter-verified paper trail would result in a crisis, and now that it's happened, it's no surprise that it happened in Katherine Harris's old district, with a candidate named Buchanan on the ballot. The campaign between Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) was ugly, with the Republicans making harassing robocalls that voters thought were coming from Jennings. Based on the votes that were counted, Buchanan is ahead by 369 votes. However, the count includes about 18,000 undervotes -- ballots showing that the voter didn't vote for anyone in this race. Any "recount" would show an identical result, since there is no further information beyond the data stored in the electronic voting machines. These 18,000 ballots voted predominantly Democratic in other races, so it is likely that if their votes for the congressional race had been counted, Jennings would have won. The fight continues (again) in the Florida courts. The only fair outcome is to call a new election, along with legislation preventing this from happening again.
  • Louisiana 2nd District: In Louisiana, candidates from all parties compete in an open primary on Election Day, and if no candidate receives a majority, there is a runoff in December. In this district covering most of New Orleans, the candidates in the runoff are incumbent Rep. William Jefferson (D), subject of a federal bribery investigation, and challenger Karen Carter (D). The seat will be Democratic one way or the other, but now that the corrupt Republican majority has been overthrown, the voters have the opportunity to clean up the Democratic party too and throw out the corrupt incumbent.
  • Texas 23rd District: This was one of the districts redrawn in Tom DeLay's 2003 redistricting, and then it was redrawn again in August 2006 following the Supreme Court's ruling in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry that the district violated the Voting Rights Act. Since this was after the Texas primary, the re-redrawn districts had open primaries on Election Day, and the 23rd District, in southwest Texas, is going to a Louisiana-style runoff. Incumbent Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) goes up against former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D), a victim of DeLay's redistricting.
When the dust settles, the Democrats will hold 233-235 seats in the House, and the Republicans will hold 200-202.

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