Its sometimes difficultto fathom

October 6, 2002 1:37 a.m.

It’s sometimes difficult
to fathom what ridiculous hypocrites Republicans are when it comes to election
law and the courts. It turns out that back in the primaries Douglas Forrester, rule-of-law crusader from parts North, had his own problem with a last-minute ballot change. Here’s a few grafs from today’s New York Times

Mr. Genova [the Democrats’ lawyer] also uncovered a legal memorandum from Mr. Forrester lawyer written in April, when State Senator Diane Allen, one of Mr. Forrester
opponents in the Republican primary, was trying to block him from taking
the ballot position of James W. Treffinger. Mr. Treffinger, the Essex County
executive, had resigned from the race because of scandal three days earlier,
or 40 days before the primary.

Senator Allen maintained that moving Mr. Forrester
name to Mr. Treffinger’s place on the ballot would come too late under Title
19 of the state election law, which sets a deadline of 51 days before an
election for ballot substitutions. It is the same argument that Mr. Forrester
lawyer, Peter G. Sheridan, made before the State Supreme Court on Wednesday,
opposing Mr. Lautenberg’s placement on the ballot. The Democrats said that
the deadline was merely a guideline.

In April, Mr. Sheridan read the law the way the Democrats do today.

“Strict compliance to statutory requirements and deadlines within
Title 19,” Mr. Sheridan wrote, “are set aside where such rights may be accommodated
without significantly impinging upon the election process.”

It first seems worth pointing out that if the United
States Supreme Court is inclined to throw Frank Lautenberg off the ballot
they would appear to be obligated to throw Forrester off the ballot too, since his primary candidacy was also a violation of state election law.

Now, I had heard about this issue before but I hadn’t realized that the
comparison was that spot-on. It’s the same 51 day deadline. The Times
asked Sheridan about the seeming contradiction and he replied that the two
cases were not similar because “no primary ballots had been issued” last
April when the earlier controversy took place and today 1600 absentee ballots have already been sent out.

But this argument only shows that Sheridan is dull as well as hypocritical.
He seems to be arguing that the relevant issue is not the inviolability
of the deadline but the practical effect of allowing a change after the deadline
takes place. He says that in April it was okay to make the change because
no ballots had yet been printed and thus no harm — nothing “significantly
impinging upon the election process” — could come from listing different
names on them when they were printed. In other words, the deadline is simply
an administrative guideline and if changes can still be made after that date
passes, then they should be.

What Sheridan doesn’t seem to realize is that this argument is already
taken. The Democrats have it! And by embracing it, he tears his own case
to shreds. The county clerks in New Jersey all said that they could make
the changes in time. They could even reissue the absentee ballots. So if
the issue is the practicality of making the change and not the inviolability
of the deadline then Sheridan has no case.

Forrester has no case.

Even the lickspittle commentators who embraced their case have no case.

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