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Posts published in “Day: May 17, 2021”

See you in court


A report from Arizona on events today in the battle over vote counting there.

Well, now, seems the continuing circus called a “recount” of Arizona’s Maricopa County 2020 presidential ballots has taken on a more serious tone.

After a special Monday meeting of the County Board of Supervisors - four Republicans and a Democrat - the vote was unanimous. They rejected a 13-page letter from the GOP Senate President that made accusations, demanded more support and asked more questions four months after this whole farce began.

Further, the outright terse response of basically “enough is enough” was accompanied by a boldfaced postscript: any more info requested or questions to be asked will bring an invitation to “see you in court.”

In extensive remarks, supervisors sounded as one. The last presidential election was fair, above board, recounted twice, equipment fully tested, results certified and accepted. And “That,” as they say, “is that.”

Led down a dead-end road in this fiasco by the “Cyber Ninjas”, a Republican-leaning outfit from Florida, the affair has attracted hundreds of Trumper-counters, dressed in full - and highly priced - Trump wear. We even have several QANON believers counting and more outside waving their banners.

Cyber Ninjas - hired by the Senate GOP, has never done an election recount before and the resulting mess here is ample proof. Because they were in over their heads, Ninjas hired four sub-contractors to actually run the show. They, too, have been found “inexperienced” so things in the ballot counting have run further amok.

Somewhere in this circus-like hierarchy, some unidentified voice now has decided it wasn’t just the presidential ballots to be counted but every race on the ballots. Every one! So, the half-million already processed will have to be recounted. Counting them the first time took three weeks.

At the moment, our 2-million-plus ballots are locked in a warehouse painted a bilious green, “guarded,” shall we say, by guys in slick, new uniforms who’ve probably got other day jobs. The arena where counting originated is being used by local high schools for graduation exercises, hence, a one-week delay.

Thanks to the inexperience of the Ninjas, continuing demands from the State Senate, phoned and emailed death threats to supervisors, large and loud demonstrations at their homes, swirling and out-of-control rumor mongering by Trump, the far-right and the further-far-right, this whole mess is melting down like some bad sponge cake recipe.

People hired to “recount” the ballots are obviously from some Republican shopping list. One was an Arizona legislator seen on the Capitol steps during the January 6th uprising. Guess he felt his new-found identity and participation would add something to the already steaming mess.

The Senate set aside $150-thousand for the show. Ninjas and friends have already blown through that so (un)social media is being used to raise more dollars and twist arms of major GOP donors nationwide even tighter. It’s all very secret so, in the end, we won’t know who ponied up the bucks. Or, how much.

I know of no one who’d bet this unholy “recount” will result in some sort of acceptable report - a report obviously finding “negligence” on the part of the county and its minions. I’m currently in the very small - but growing - group believing there will never be any legitimate outcome, that further counting is probably unlikely and that the infamous experience will collapse of its own weight.

While the Republican-controlled State Senate was within its rights to ask for some sort of in-depth information of the official count, and the Maricopa Supervisors were within their right to provide some paperwork assistance, this whole damned exercise was doomed from the start. A total one-party screw up.

We’d already had counting, two recounts and a thorough examination and testing of the counting machines. That should have been enough.

After listening to the voices of the county supervisors - hearing the frustration and a sort of closely-held anger by each - the ball is now in the Senate Republican caucus. They should take it and walk off the field, claiming “victory.”

If they stay on the field and send another “inside fastball” to the supervisors, we taxpayers will be picking up a new and highly unnecessary legal tab.

An end run around the constitution


When Idaho legislators arrived at the Capitol in January to start the 2021 session, many of them were hopping mad at Governor Little for exercising his constitutional power to respond to the pandemic. They were bound and determined to snatch powers from the Governor and take those powers unto themselves.

One particular bone in the legislative craw was that Little had called an extraordinary session of the Legislature last August, but did not allow for consideration of things some legislators wanted to address in the session. The Idaho Constitution says only the Governor can call an extraordinary session, the session cannot exceed 20 days and the Legislature cannot consider matters not specified by the Governor.

So, on January 21 the House passed a resolution to amend the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to call itself into session. Both houses later agreed on SJR 102, which will be on the election ballot next year.

As the legislative session slogged along, somebody came up with a bright idea of how lawmakers could retain the ability to legislate throughout the year--just never adjourn. This may seem as an end run around the Idaho Constitution. It most assuredly is.

During the drafting of our Constitution in 1889, the convention delegates decided the Legislature should hold a session every other year. They spoke of sessions lasting 40 to 60 days. There was no drop-dead date, but the Constitution provided pay of $5 per day with a $300 maximum—a 60-day limit. They clearly expected that sessions would last no longer than 60 days.

In 1968, the people changed the Constitution to provide for annual legislative sessions. In recent years, legislative sessions have averaged about 90 days. In the entire history of Idaho, there has never been a serious contention that the Legislature could stay in session the entire year, that is until this year.

On May 12, the House introduced the year-long Legislature, passing House Resolution 4, purporting to go into recess while retaining the ability to reconvene until New Year’s Eve. The pertinent provision of the Constitution says “neither house shall, without the concurrence of the other, adjourn for more than three days.” It does not use the word “recess.” The Senate, rather than going along, decided that same day to adjourn for the year. If the Senate does not change its position in three days, I believe the entire Legislature will be considered, as a matter of law, to have adjourned for the year.

If the Legislature has had the option to stay in session full-time since statehood, why has it never before exercised this extraordinary power? If the Legislature can stay in session as long as it pleases, the Governor’s constitutional power to call a special session would be meaningless. If one house of the Legislature can force the other to stay in perpetual session, the proposed constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to call itself into special session is clearly unneeded and should be voted down next year.

The Legislature is yearning to become a full-time, year-round operation. It spent tens of millions of dollars building super-nice underground quarters in the Capitol several years ago. It wanted to appropriate $2 million more this year to build palatial offices in space it snatched from the State Treasurer. It very much wants to accumulate, consolidate and extend its power, as has been so clearly demonstrated throughout this dysfunctional session, which may be the first of many sessions without end if the House persists with its end run around the Idaho Constitution.