March 7th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Obstacles remain for Michigan, Florida


Obstacles remain for re-votes in Florida and Michigan (AP Photo)

(CNN) - Elected officials, state and national party leaders and campaign advisers in Michigan and Florida are confronting major obstacles in their quest to stage new Democratic votes in those states that would allow delegations to be seated at the party’s summer convention.

Negotiations for a new Michigan caucus fell apart Thursday evening, and were to re-start Friday, according to a source close to discussions.

The plans were stymied when the chairman of the Michigan Democratic party, Mark Brewer, reported that a new vote – which would involve an estimated two million voters - would cost $10 million.

The source said the cost "is a very real challenge," since the state party, which had agreed not to use taxpayer money to fund any re-vote, is uncertain how they would cover the cost. One option under consideration was to cover expenses through a combination of fundraising, money provided by the Democratic National Committee, and funds directly from the campaigns themselves.

Now a group has been formed to "figure out a solution and start again.” The group includes: Debbie Dingell, GM Union President Ron Gettelfinger, and Rep. Caroline Cheeks Kilpatrick. They will talk to the state party, the DNC and the campaigns to determine how to raise the money – though the source tells CNN the campaigns have not made it clear to the other parties precisely what they want, or what they would be willing to agree to.

One plan would call for a "firehouse caucus" that would take place at some point between mid-May and June 6. A "firehouse caucus" is an all-day vote that is run by the state party; it is called a caucus because the party cannot legally hold a primary: and unlike the procedure in a typical caucus, voters are free to show up throughout the day and voting is done by secret ballot.

In Florida, Florida Department of State spokesman Sterling Ivey, which oversees the State Board of Elections, said that any statewide primary would take at least 90 days to organize from the moment a plan is set in motion.

One potential snag is the fact that 15 counties in that state are changing over from touchscreen voting equipment to optical scanners. That new equipment is required by law to be in place by July 1 - so that may be the earliest a statewide vote could take place.

Another obstacle, as in Michigan, could be the cost. Estimates of the price tag for a new vote run as high as $20 million – although a mail-order election idea being floated by some Democratic state senators in Florida would cost significantly less, around $5 million.

And that plan comes with its own set of logistical headaches: there would have to be special legislation and state direction involved – and the process itself, which would be unprecedented in state history, would require special safeguards to ward off potential fraud.

- CNN’s Jessica Yellin and Rich Phillips

soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. Carl

    Will... I totally agree.

    I watched a few shows recently, and many speakers asked their guests (both dem and rep) why don't we do this on the same day nationwide like our election.

    Answer most common... well that is the simple way, but not the way we do it...

    my goodness... no wonder this country is going in the tubes

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Wayne

    William. If you want it fixed you have to vote for Obama. Shrillary and McCain are the status change will occur. We must elect Obama to president. This country will tilt towards distruction if we continue on this path.

    March 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. Butch

    flip-flop flip-flop sounds like John Kerry. Just what we need in the White House, a party that can't even decide how to nominate a candidate.

    March 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. David

    Ditto to William's comment. And whoever is responsible for the rule that the delegates from those states would not be counted if those states held their primaries too early, notwithstanding that they were going to allow over 5 million people to vote, should resign. Also, the political parties don't set election dates, the government does. Hasn't anyone told them not to make a rule that cannot be enforced? Complete idiocy!

    March 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. anon

    When will democrats in Michigan and Florida realize their party doesn't consider them as important as voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada?

    Michigan and Florida are not important states or are representative of the country like Iowa and New Hampshire!

    March 7, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. CeeJay

    What a mess the leaders of Florida and Michigan have put the Democratic Party and the American Political Process in. If only they had followed the rules of the game.

    While it is obviously not right to disenfranchise millions of voters, it's obviously not right to change the rules of the game midstream.

    To seat the delegates means that our political process cannot be trusted and not to seat the delegates means that millions of voters will not be heard in this election. I think the integrity of our political process is much more important than one year's election.

    My question is, why have the voters and legislators in Florida and Michigan waited until now to scream to seat the delegates?

    March 7, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. David H

    It's good that a plan might be in progress. The outcome of this election would of course be questioned unless Florida and Michigan becomes involved in the process. Millions of voters must be given the chance to vote and their votes must be counted.

    There's still plenty of time. The new primaries could be held in may or even june.

    March 7, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Mary - Independent

    I agree with William – we should have ONE DAY FOR THE PRIMARY FOR EVERYONE!

    Shame on you Michigan and Florida for all of this manipulation!
    The democracy of this country should allow everyone to vote who is registered AND TO BE COUNTED.


    March 7, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. pmac

    To hastily set up a caucas or primary would surley invite voter fraud.
    Just another way to get Hillary a win. Florida again- – -God here we go again.
    By the way, a lot of you Clintonites are gloating over her wins in OH, TX & RI. Hmmm, out of the last 15 its Obama 12, Hillary 3. Gloat on!

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Raj NYC

    It is a mess.
    It is a shame
    It is 2000 all over again!

    Last time Democrats blamed Bush, when in fact then and now they should blame themselves. How they let Bush win and won't give Obama the primary baffles me. HRC is destroying the party.

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. Matthew Dailey

    The Democratic National Committee, nor the Clinton or Obama campaigns should fund a dime to a re-vote of the Florida and Michigan primaries. The Florida and Michigan state parties should be the only ones funding this re-vote. If they don't have the money, well too bad. Both states voted to move their respective primaries before New Hampshire knowing full well what the consequences were. I'm glad Howard Dean refused to provide funds for a re-vote.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. NILLA

    The democratic party should be very careful not to disenfranchise the voters in Florida and Michigan , It would be a repeat of election 2000 when many voters like me were disenfranchised.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. rayjay

    20 years ago a few cities in CANADA purchased voting machines from the USA and more importantly TEXAS. These machines require a paper ballot to be filled out very simply and then put into the voting machine. It counted the balot imidiatly and retained the paper ballot for backup if problems come up. Thats 20 years ago and you are still screwing around with every state different and problems.
    Its time you have a NATIONAL ELECTION COMMISION that sets all the rules for voting and when there held. One set of rules ,or is this too mutch for American 's to handle. I thought you were the leaders of democracy around the world. If you are SHOW IT

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Casey, Atlanta

    Whoever pays for it, they should both be primaries, and moved to June 1st in conjunction with Puerto Rico, and call it the day.


    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. Midwest voter

    Unbelievable is right. How is it that these states make such an early decision to yank the votes, but now that Obama and Clinton are running so close they want their votes to count? They should have thought of this at the time they made the decision to move up their primaries. If the DNC decides to count these states now, I will be thoroughly disappointed. It's not fair. They made a decision and to go back on it now would only show the public that the government doesn't have to follow rules or can change them when they are not to their advantage so why should adults, teens and children have to follow rules? No one in the US owns up to anything anymore. It's really becoming pathetic. And we wonder why our society has the most population in prisons than any other country in the world? Go figure.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. David

    I'm a little confused by all the clamoring for a re-vote. Rules are rules. I support Mr. Obama, and I know I'd be frustrated if he'd won those states. Frustrated, but not enough to demand a re-vote. Besides, with all the pandering Clinton is doing, it can't possible be on any kind of a level playing field now. It's silly. Get the names of those responsible and find a way to punish them. Vote them out. We elect and do not elect people for a reason,

    March 7, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. H


    YOU ARE SO WRONG WHEN YOU SAID "reading all of these comments from all these dillusional HRC idiots make my head hurt."

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!08

    March 7, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Felton, from Pa

    ...Didn't Hillary say, months ago, when she was winning..that "the votes don't count anyways"?....RULES ARE RULES...she said so herself......go figure...

    March 7, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. Sandy

    I'm from MIchigan and I'm one of the millions of voters here who have been disenfranchised by my own state government. I agree that the tax payers of Michigan should not pay for a new primary or caucus, I also agree that the DNC shouldn't pay for it. I do believe, however, that the people who caused this problem SHOULD pay for it. Governor Granholm and all the legislators who voted to break the agreement they made with the DNC should fork over the money. It isn't as if they weren't well-informed of what the consequences would be if they re-scheduled MIchigan's democratic primary. This may be a drastic comparison, but when someone breaks the law in Michigan, they are required to face the consequences and make reparation. Why should the state government "breaking the law" have a different result?

    March 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Manuel TX

    I agree with William.

    And we should start by getting rid of caucuses. The entire concept of a caucus is ridiculous and undemocratic as has been clearly shown by the Texas primary.

    Obama is enjoying an advantage in delegates because the caucus system is disproportional and subject to manipulation.

    I was not thrilled that the people running my local caucus, including the paperwork, were all wearing Obama t-shirts.

    March 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Does it strike anyone else that it is profoundly undemocratic to permit political parties to control the effect of citizens' votes for a Presidential election? The U.S. Constitution nowhere states or implies parties should have the power to play games with their bizarre caucuses and superdelegates. I'd hate to let the Supreme Court decide another election, but I'd love to see a credible challenge to this arrogant abuse of power by unelected political hacks.

    March 7, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. Jorge

    We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no
    matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can withstand the
    power of millions of voices calling for change.
    We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will
    only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against
    offering the people of this nation false hope.
    But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been
    anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible
    odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't
    try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a
    simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
    Yes we can.

    Obama '08

    March 7, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |

    Howard Dean is weak because he is powerless to run the DNC. It is being taken over by Hillary and Obama. Dean can't make things happen either way. His leadership could become a liability in the general election. I don't think disenfrachising Florida and Michigan is going to help come November. As, for a reelection, Obama better stop opposing it because it can only enrage Florida and Michigan voters against him. He can't win the presidency of this country by dogging two important battleground states. Wake up homes, and smell the frioles eh. Tu mundo es terminado.

    March 7, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Unbelievable

    De ja Vu 2000! Florida is going to screw it up. Again!

    March 7, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. Patricia from Connecticut

    The brilliant elected officials who decided to have an election that was UNSANCTIONED should have a claim filed on their liability insurance under Errors and Ommissions – since Stupidity is prob. not covered. With a pending claim against all those folks – the $$$ wll be there to have a REAL election, the kind the other 48 states and Puerto Rico had to abide by......

    And this time, all candidates currently running will be available as a choice.

    March 7, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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