Lawmaker proposes a vote-by-mail solution that would work for Florida and Michigan

With every delegate at stake in the hard-fought Democratic race for the presidential nomination, one lawmaker has proposed a way to ensure all voices are heard. Florida’s House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber has called for a vote to be conducted by mail in Florida, scene of an infamous re-count that ushered George W. Bush to power in 2000.

Democratic candidates avoided campaigning in Florida's nominating contest in January 2008 after the national party officials stripped it of the delegates whose support determines the party's nominee. The punishment came after state officials, led in lockstep by Republicans, set a schedule that violated Democratic party rules by moving forward the date of its primary contest. Amid the dispute and no campaigning by candidates, Clinton drew the majority of the votes in the election of dubious legitimacy.

Now, with her presidential bid weathering an onslaught from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has called for her wins in Florida and Michigan, which was also stripped of delegates amid a similar fiasco and where Clinton was the only top-tier candidate whose name was on the ballot, to be counted in determining the party's nominee.

Gelber has suggested on a blog on his Web site that the state could instead vote again by mail so that millions there could have a say after all.


Re-vote would give Florida and Michigan a meaningful say

Clinton's camp immediately dismissed Gelber's idea. Such scoffing is understandable: It gives Obama a chance to win a state she already claims; and independents, who might be eligible to join in the vote by mail process, typically favor Obama, further strengthening his chances.

''I think that the people of Michigan and Florida spoke in a very convincing way, that they want their voices and their votes to be heard,'' Clinton said.

But her demand -- which takes on an increasingly self-serving air now that Obama leads in delegates -- may not get traction.

''I think even my 6-year-old would understand it would not be fair for Sen. Clinton to be awarded delegates when there was no campaign and, in one of the states at least, my name didn't appear on the ballot,'' Obama told reporters.

And for Democrats looking ahead to November, Gelber's idea of including independents is a potentially ingenious party-building tool. The state party would have an entrée with these swing voters months before the general election campaign gets under way. Their votes could prove pivotal in the fall race.


For more information:
Making secure voting easier, making Americans' voices heard: Vote By Mail Project [www.VoteByMailProject.org]