Tuesday, October 01, 2002

TV news shows continue to describe wacky scenarios for NJ election problems, and they are endorsed by supposed experts. One says that Torricelli can resign, and the NJ governor can appoint a replacement until Nov. 2003. Another says that the replacement would automatically get to be on the ballot next month because he will be the incumbent. Another says an incumbent Congressman can take Torricelli's place, and someone else can replace that Congressman's name on the ballot. Another says that a special election will have to be held.

None of these make any sense at all. If Torricelli resigns, then that creates a very short term vacancy that the governor can fill. But the Nov. ballot will have to have Torricelli's name on it. He was the choice of the Democratic primary, and that cannot be changed now. NJ law and elementary fairness don't allow any other alternative. Any election has to be carried out under pre-existing rules, or it is a crooked election. No action by the governor can make a 6-year US Senate term last any longer than 6 years. Ballots have already been printed. Some overseas soldiers may have already voted. There is no way that the Democrats can retain the NJ US Senate seat unless Torricelli changes his mind and somehow wins the election.

George writes: "The fix is in. The Democrats would not have had Torricelli quit unless they were sure to get someone else on the ballot instead. The NJ Supreme Court has already agreed to hear the case. That court is an appellate court. The facts can only come from a lower court. A deal must have already been struck with crooks on the NJ Supreme Court."

Maybe the US Supreme Court will have to straighten out a crooked Democratic state supreme court again. Here is a wacky theory from CounterSpin, claiming that the Democrats can just call off the election if they are losing. The idea is that if Torricelli resigns less than 30 days before an election, then the governor can appoint a temporary replacement, and it is too close before the election for the election to determine the replacement.

I looked at the law, and the theory doesn't make any sense. The governor can fill a vacancy, but he cannot call off an election for a Senator to serve in the next term. The election will proceed as scheduled, and the winner will immediately take office. The law says:

If a vacancy shall happen in the representation of this state in the United States senate, it shall be filled at the general election next succeeding the happening thereof, unless such vacancy shall happen within thirty days next preceding such election, in which case it shall be filled by election at the second succeeding general election [or a special election].

If Torricelli resigns, then the vacancy is only in the current term. The election will take place to fill the next term, starting in Jan. 2003. If Torricelli resigns now, then the Nov. 2002 election will fill his vacancy as well as decide who serves the next term. If he resigns next week, then I guess the Nov. 2002 election will not fill the vacancy, but it will still determine who serves the next term.

If the CounterSpin theory were correct, it would be possible for an incumbent Senator, who wasn't even running for re-election, to sabotage an election just by resigning. The election is necessary for the new term, whether there is a vacancy in the old term or not. I don't see any way to read the law, except to say that Forrester and Torricelli will both be on the NJ ballot next month.

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