Nelson urges DNC to compromise on delegates

03/27/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Sen. Bill Nelson today announced a new plan to have Florida’s Jan. 29 primary count by copying what the Republican National Committee did.

When Florida’s Legislature voted last year to move the primary date to January, lawmakers were aware that penalties loomed but went ahead anyway, daring the national parties to sanction them.

Both parties did – but while the Democratic National Committee stripped the state of all of its delegates, the GOP cut half of theirs – making the primary extremely relevant, with John McCain’s victory over Mitt Romney; it essentially knocked the former Massachusetts governor out of the race.

Nelson’s plan is just the latest that have been floated to have the Jan. 29 vote counted. He and South Florida Congressman Alycee Hastings were unsuccessful in suing the DNC for stripping the state’s delegation.

Nelson also struck out when his plan for a mail re-vote was rejected by the state’s entire Democratic Congressional members.

But Nelson said today he wasn’t giving up.

Nelson also used the opportunity to discuss new legislation he will soon file in the Senate that would abolish the Electoral College, and propose a new way that would take away Iowa's and New Hampshire’s dominance.

Susan McManus, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida, applaudes Nelson for attempting to fix the vexing delegate problem.

Steven Hill is director of the political reform program for the New America Foundation. He also applauds Nelson’s proposal in terms of changing the primary system. Hill says that the lack of leadership in the Democratic Party is perpetuating the current problem.

Also part of Sen. Nelson’s proposal is to give grants to states that develop mail-in balloting and secure Internet voting.

Rob Ritchie, executive director of the group Fair Vote, likes the idea of more experimentation, but says investing in remote voting could be risky if there’s a backlash from voters.

USF Political Science Professor Susan McManus says banning the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment, and its passage is dubious.

WMNF will hear more from national election experts Steven Hill and Rob Ritchie on Friday night's broadcast.

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