March 9th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
12 years ago

Party leaders weighing Michigan, Florida mail-in re-vote

(CNN) - Democratic leaders in Michigan and Florida suggested Sunday they might be moving toward a solution that would allow them to send voting delegates to the party’s presidential nominating convention this summer.

Both states lost that privilege when they scheduled their primaries before February, despite party instructions, and the major candidates did not campaign there in advance of the contests. State and national party leaders and representatives of both remaining presidential candidates have been meeting to try to resolve the dilemma of whether – and how – to ensure representation for the delegate-rich fall swing states.

On Sunday, the idea of a mail-in primary seemed to be gaining some traction, despite concerns over the security and cost of a new vote.

On CNN’s Late Edition, Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Claire McCaskill of Missouri - surrogates for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, respectively - did not rule out the prospect. “We can't change (party) rules in the middle of this process,” McCaskill told anchor Wolf Blitzer, but added that if party leaders “come up with a fair way to redo this, whatever they decide, the Obama campaign will respect” the new process.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Clinton supporter, weighed in against the idea. "I would resist a re-vote for a couple of major reasons," she said on Fox News Sunday. "Number one, the re-vote that's being talked about right now would be a mail-in ballot. And we have never conducted a mail-in ballot in Florida. And in an election that is this important, an experiment like that is - now is not the time to test that."

But Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, who released a statement Friday that argued a second primary was impractical, said on ABC’s “This Week” that a mail-in vote was the only logical way to repeat the contest.

“Only a mail kind of a vote will work,” said Levin. “And there’s a lot of logistics which are involved in that which people are looking at right now to see if it is possible. If it is possible, I believe it should be considered.”

State leaders in both Michigan and Florida have expressed a reluctance to fund new Democratic contests. Levin said that he did not believe cost would be an obstacle to a re-vote: “If there’s a practical way to do it which people believe is secure and fair, I believe a couple of million dollars could be raised.”

Hillary Clinton was the only major candidate to appear on the ballot in Levin's home state Democratic primary in January; she won both the Florida and Michigan votes, and her campaign has argued that those results should stand.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said he did not think cost would be an issue in Florida at all.

"Senator (Bill) Nelson and I have had some discussions which could lead to something fruitful, which is that the Florida party would be able to raise money,” said Dean. “They can take unlimited amount of money in Florida. I don't know if that's possible in Michigan or not, and there's some discussion of that too."

Nelson was the original proponent of the mail-in primary idea.

The state’s Republican governor, Charlie Crist, told ABC's "This Week" he would be willing to assist in ensuring a re-vote could take place in Florida.

Dean said the ultimate resolution of the potential crisis was up to state leaders – with the only stipulation that both Clinton and Barack Obama feel it is fair.

“I have to run these rules so that the losing side feels it’s been treated fairly,” Dean said on “This Week,” adding that he has discussed possible solutions with both Nelson and Levin.

–CNN's Peter Lanier contributed to this report

Filed under: Florida • Michigan
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Kentucky

    Lets think about this for a second, this was the fault of the party officials in each state that caused this problem. I do believe the people of Michigan and Florida should be heard, it wasn't their fault that their officials were stupid, but now they should have to pay to redo the elections. I believe that the DNC should not pay for this and the states be held responsible! If they cannot afford to pay for a new election, then the people must blame those responsible in their state. lets also hear WHO we are talking about in each State so we know who to blame.

    March 9, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. Ben

    There's something very fishy going on here.

    If the Democrats end up disenfranchising their constituents in Florida and Michigan in the primaries, the people will be so disgusted that these huge states will go to the Republicans in November.

    After the ostentatious failure of the Bush administration, the next election should be a shoe-in for the Democrats, yet they seem to be doing everything in their power to bungle the job. Between the endless in-house bickering, the racially divisive campaigning and the suspect electoral procedures that stink of fraudulence...what else could they possibly do wrong? It's as if they are intentionally trying to lose, and for the life of me I don't understand why.

    March 9, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Carl S

    The logical, middle-ground solution to this problem is a caucus, which is much less costly than a primary and could be paid for fairly easily if both campaigns, the DNC, and the state chipped in just a little over $1M each. The only reason this solution has been disregarded is because of the Clinton name and Hillary's complaints over the caucus system. That's a fair criticism, but if you have to choose between the status quo (counting none of the delegates), a caucus (a feasible, fund-able option which may or may not favor Obama), and a primary (which is unfeasible given the lack of funds, meaning it's not an option at all), it's a no-brainer. The mail-in ballots may also work, but no one seems to know how much it will cost, so it is not yet an option until someone can come up with an estimate.

    If the focus is really on not "disenfranchising the poor voters", then the choice for a caucus is clear as it is both feasible and the people in these states will have an opportunity to vote. However, that clearly has not been the focus of this whole debate - everyone seems intent on giving Hillary as much of a boost as possible under whatever system is chosen instead of making sure the voters will count, which is what we're supposedly after. If her name wasn't "CLINTON" and had she not complained so vehemently about the caucus system to date, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

    March 9, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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