If at First You Don’t Succeed

If at first you don’t succeed, claim the rules don’t apply to you.

That’s what the Montana Republican Party tried to do this week.  The party which formerly claimed to stand for fiscal responsibility had hoped to force taxpayers to cough up the cash for a recount in the state superintendent race.  In spite of the fact that their candidate had lost by too great a margin to qualify for a taxpayer funded recount, they went to court.

Sandy Welch, the GOP candidate, asked a judge to grant her an exception to the rules.  She thought fancy out-of-state lawyers could convince a judge that there were special circumstances which would justify making you and me pay for her increasingly futile pursuit her own political ambitions.

Republicans also probably wanted the recount it in the news while they try to pass new laws that restrict voting rights, like same day registration, early voting, mail voting, etc. They were hoping they could use your money to create a climate for passing voter suppression laws in Montana.

Brief grinch meme plagued Welch campaignWelch had tried to force the recount to be conducted right before the Christmas holiday–much to the dismay of county officials and their employees.  The grinch-like demand wasn’t lost on internet pranksters, prompting a brief grinch mini-meme of sorts with pics like this making the rounds.

Thankfully, the GOP failed on both accounts.  A judge said they had to live by the same rules as everyone else and must pay for the recount.

But when it came time to put up the money, Welch said she didn’t actually have it–revealing some inconsistencies with her previous statements.

First, Welch had said that the national republican party would pay for the recount, but when it came time to pay the money wasn’t there.  The national Republicans refused to comment.

The GOP wouldn’t say how much they had raised, if anything.  And instead of accepting the fact that the voters decided against the right-wing education policies the GOP was peddling, they tried to blame the Secretary of State for Welch’s loss.

There were other inconsistencies in Welch’s statements.  As the Billings Gazette reported. “Welch said [Citizens United attorney James Bopp] is the lawyer hired by the Republican National Committee to work on the case, but another attorney from his firm, Anita Woudenberg, delivered arguments Friday.”

Perhaps all this talk of national money and famous lawyers was Welch was trying to color her race with some kind of national importance.  Whatever the reason, somebody wasn’t telling the truth. Either that or intelligent life is just not found on this particular planet.

Posted: December 12, 2012 at 8:15 am

30 thoughts on “If at First You Don’t Succeed

  1. Amorette

    Did the national Republican party suddenly say, why on earth are we wasting over $100,000 on such minor election in a small population state when we have NO chance of changing the outcome? Wow. Fiscal responsibility from Republicans? Who’d a thunk?

  2. Jennifer Davies

    I’m finding it hard to believe that they ever intended to put up the money. Either Welch made it up, or her lawyers were hoping to cash in by teller her a tale.

  3. Craig Moore

    IMHO someone did the math on the chances to overturn the election.

    However, Judge Stadler did take note: http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_7b0afb12-40de-11e2-947d-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=story

    In his brief verbal ruling, Stadler said Welch had succeeded in demonstrating probable cause for a recount, partly because the respondents (Juneau and McCulloch) admitted that certain election laws were violated and that there are “sufficient facts” to convince the court that the problems were not limited to the counties cited by Welch.

    With that admission of election law violations, may we expect McCulloch to address those failings that go to the integrity of the voting process ?

    1. Paul S.

      Seems like the math teacher could have done te math weeks ago…but that’s not my main point. The law says that in order to have probable cause for her case, that Welch need only certify that she believes that there were problems that could change he outcome of the race–not that the problems actually exist.

      When the state lawyers acknowledged that, for example, Yellowstone Counties vote counting machines took too long because they rejected folder ballots and had to be repaired before the count resumed, how does that prove the court results are wrong? Answer: it doesn’t. And how is that Linda McColloch’s fault? Answer: it isn’t.

      1. Craig Moore

        I am not blaming her. However, she is accountable for addressing election law violations, the court took note, going forward and strengthen the process.

  4. James Coner

    I agree with Craig that someone finally did the math, and with Paul S. that someone should have done it earlier. I find myself wondering whether Welch’s campaign was so shocked by her loss that it wasn’t able to think straight.

    The problems cited in Welch’s complaint occurred at the county level. Most occurred prior or subsequent to the voting. And insofar as I can determine, none changed the outcome of any contest.

    Some of Welch’s allegations are interesting or serious enough that they should be investigated and a conclusion reached.

    Running out of ballots is not uncommon, most likely because of dubious methods of forecasting the number of ballots needed. Photocopying ballots is not the optimum solution, but it’s a better solution than not having any ballots.

    Welch alleged that a programming error in Lewis and Clark County resulted in Juneau winning one precinct 25-0 (precinct 46, I suspect). That needs to be confirmed, but if it did happen it most likely would have been an error of the “if oval A is black, a vote for Smith; if oval B is black, a vote for smith [instead of Jones].” If that happened, it was human error, a blunder, not a failure of law. A many vote to zip count in a precinct is pretty good proof of that kind of error — but I only found one precinct with a Juneau => 1, Welch = 0, count: a precinct in Deer Lodge County in which the only vote cast was for Juneau. No fraud or blunder there; just low turnout.

    Welch also alleged that in Missoula County, approximately 300 ballots were double counted when they were run through a counting machine after first being rejected by the machine. That needs to be confirmed.

    Folded ballots were a problem in Yellowstone County, but there’s no evidence that those ballots were miscounted or double counted. Remedies for folded ballots can be made under existing laws.

    And fraud? Welch clearly rejected that claim. I consider her rejection of it as strong evidence of her having read David Parker’s irrefutable debunking of Tammy Hall’s claim of fraud (http://bigskypolitics.blogspot.com/2012/11/voter-fraud-in-montanas-senate-race-not.html).

    I recommend two books: “This is Not Florida,” Jay Weiner’s account of the 2008 senate recount in Minnesota, and “The Voting Wars,” by the Election Law Blog’s Rick Hansen (http://www.electionlawblog.org/).

  5. Dave Skinner

    I’m still of the feeling a recount would have been useful in identifying and CORRECTING whatever flaws are in the system. I just wonder what would have been the topics du jour had the election results been a mirror of what they were, with the GOP winning these races and DJ being an equal distance behind.
    Bottom line is, elections matter, and they should be honestly and professional tabulated.

    1. James Coner

      One thing needing attention is the “you pay for it” 0.25 to 0.50 percent recount window. That’s a rich man’s recount and unfair. Welch’s ability to raise 115 grand should not have been a factor in whether she qualified for a recount.

      I think the 2113 legislature should charge an interim committee with reviewing recount thresholds and procedures.

  6. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

    Guess that Ms. Sarah palin Welch will have to go back to doing what she does best, beiing a consultant………..

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!

    HEY, too funny! That’s kinda like me. You see, Sandy, I TOO was in need of a cover occupation at point in my life that didn’t make me look like a complete TOTAL dildo like you. The best I could do though was “student”! I never thought of consultant. I don’t thin it was invented yet!

    Yes, after ten years in college,though, of drinking, carousing, chasing coeds, and just generally having great time, I finally felt the need to finally move on. When will YOU????

    HEY, don’t be mad! I’m jus’ askin’! Can you really MILK consultant withOUT folks beginin’ to wonder jus’ HOW lame you really are??? I FEEL YOUR PAIN, SISTER CONSULTANT! But be of good cheer. ONE of these days you might actually HAVE a job!….if indeed you’re not totally lame!

  7. Danika

    The recount thresholds were set so that if you had a reasonable chance of overturning the result with a recount, the taxpayers would fund it. If you didn’t , you couldn’t make taxpayers pay to chase your pipe dreams. Makes sense to me- except why would you want to pay if you can’t win. The .25 and ip recount provision should probably just be eliminated.

    1. James Conner

      I would eliminate the rich man’s recount. And I would lower the “government pays for it” threshold to 0.10 percent. And even that might be too high. That said, candidates must be able to obtain a court ordered recount in cases where there is solid proof (not Welch genre conjectures) of irregularities large enough to flip the election.

        1. Havre Voter

          From where I sit, it seems the SOS doesn’t have enough power to ensure quality controls at the county level. That wouldn’t be solved by making the office non-elected.

          1. Havre Voter

            Also, if it were an appointed position, politics still plays a role. I like the ability to vote a person out if they don’t do a good job.

            1. James Conner

              What qualifications would you require for being elected a county clerk and recorder? The current standard, which seems to be old enough to vote and probably not in jail? A minimum of a B.A. in elections administration, and some experience in the field? Our county clerks are people who got an entry level job in a clerk and recorder’s office and stayed long enough to replace the incumbent clerk when she (and in Montana, 55 of 56 elections administrators are women) retired or screwed-up. Calling that an apprenticeship system gives it a respectability it doesn’t deserve.

              I disagree with your premise that politics is always involved. As one drills down through the civil service, partisanship and politics fades away pretty quickly. That’s why we replaced pure patronage systems with civil service systems. Other nations use professional, nonpartisan, election administration. We should too.

              1. Havre Voter

                I didn’t know there was such a degree as elections administration, but I do believe a degree of some kind (or many years of real hands on training and experience running elections) and some kind of certification should be required. I’m interested in hearing more about the apprentice program you bring up- sounds like a lot of room for variations.

                1. Dave Skinner

                  Don’t forget, there are rich liberals too. Say, if Max wants a recount in the 2014 Senate primary, why not?
                  If enough voters feel robbed they want to support a recount, let them. But I’ll be honest and say that .25 percent is a good enough threshold for the free stuff.
                  What would bother me is, if Welch had done the deal and the corrected error was more than .25 percent on the aggregate. What then?

    2. Danika

      Rather , I intended to type that the .25 and up “you pay” recount should just be eliminated. It isn’t necessary.

  8. Richard Miller

    There must not be much intelligent life in Montana….look at the composition of the current Legislative fun house.

  9. Farmboy

    Now that the 2012 election has been put to the pages of history, I think we all need to ask ourselves some questions. First is all this money healthy for democracy? Second how can we make our system so everyone has a fair shake in it? Also I feel the Republicans need to ask some questions of themselves and the direction of their party. First question, since 1988 we have had six presidental elections, and in those six you have only won the popular vote once, by a slim margin, what does your party need to do to win elections? Also on a state level Republicans need to ask, themselves about the quality of candidates they have running. Is this really the best you can do? Welch will go down as a crybaby who could not put up when the time was up, this tells me she is done in politics as we know it. Rick Hill is now back to the pages of history, eventually he will be an answer to a trivia question. Denny Rehberg is done, so who is next? Are you guys going to bring back Micheal the Obsenity guy from Billings next time? Or how about recycle Mike Taylor? Who’s next?

  10. Publius II

    The GOP (and teabaggers who want creationism in public curriculums) gives ‘Intelligent Design’ a whole new meaning…..when it finally got around
    to WHO would PAY the recount bill, apparently the national GOP had other priorities, like RAMMING thru right to work – for less – legislation in Michigan without debate and respect for the minority opinion. There will be consequences for that kind of parliamentary terrorism from Governor Snyder.

  11. Publius II

    Yesterday, another state judge THREW OUT ATP’s legal case, as ATP FAILED to assist in discovery and producing critical documents the judge had demanded for weeks. Good riddance to ATP, but we can sadly acknowledge they’ll be back like a bad STD.

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