Every vote counts.
This is a familiar mantra, uttered time and again with each election cycle, as various veterans of voting try to encourage civic engagement in those less inclined to submit a ballot. It is a phrase prescribed by political practitioners everywhere, meant to promote participation and inspire optimism in the face of impossible odds.
While it certainly warms the cockles to hear it said, this notion will cease to carry any clout if those choreographing the election processes can justify casually changing the game at a moment’s notice. What happened to Ron Paul’s Maine delegates in Tampa, Fla. at the recent Republican National Convention illustrates the potential for a serious decline in morale when the “equal votes” concept isn’t upheld.
After the Maine GOP convention in May, Paul had earned the representation of 20 of Maine’s 24 delegate nominations. The apparently huge increase in support since the results of the February caucuses indicated that Paul’s campaign had some serious boots on the ground, and that those boots were made for walking.
However, the RNC rules committee seemed determined that the other shoe would certainly drop. Eventually they indicated in their credentials report that the delegate selection process had been fraught with improper procedure. The committee officially reassigned 10 of the positions to Romney supporters in the interests of “fairness” the day before the RNC began, leaving Paul with 10 and Romney with 10.
As this obviously further stacked the deck in Romney’s favor, Paul supporters endeavored to overturn the ruling. Efforts to register their grievances, however, were essentially snuffed out. And since they weren’t allowed to speak, they made no efforts to hold their peace as the convention commenced with only half of Maine’s support for Ron Paul represented.
It is rarely the case that the race for political office leaves all involved with a one hundred percent satisfaction rate. But this utter dismissal of delegates, absent a legitimate opportunity for them to dispute the decision, shows a lack of respect for the election process. What sort of confidence in the system is this coup supposed to inspire? As Maine goes, so goes the nation — and Maine Paul backers certainly balked at the sting of betrayal when their delegate count was commandeered by their own party convention’s Credentials Committee.
Every delegate’s vote is tallied to determine to party nominee in the presidential race. Needless to say, if those votes are vetoed by the very organization overseeing their submission, the final count misrepresents the will of the people.
Such a manipulation of the method by which everyone’s voice is meant to be heard will quickly leave an impression that some votes aren’t worth a damn after all.