(Licensed through Wikimedia Creative Commons. Photo Courtesy of Bob Jagendorf.)
Chris Christie is no friend of democracy.
The scheme that the New Jersey governor implemented with regard to Wednesday’s New Jersey special election to fill the US Senate seat that went vacant with the death of veteran US Senator Frank Lautenberg was designed to achieve the a very low level of voter turnout.
And to provide Christie, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, with a very high level of political cover.
It worked for Christie.
But it certainly did not work for New Jersey, or for the premise that broad voter participation ought to underpin representative government.
Here is how Christie gamed the political process:
1. He scheduled the Senate election for October 16, twenty days before New Jersey’s regularly scheduled statewide and local elections. That cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in additional expenses and created unnecessary confusion. Why? Christie did not want to have a high-profile Senate contest on the ballot the same day that he would be seeking re-election. He feared that parallel scheduling would have brought more Democrats to the polls—to vote for the expected Democratic Senate nominee, Newark Mayor Cory Booker—and that those Democrats might have then voted for his challenger, state Senator Barbara Buono.
2. He scheduled the election for a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday. It’s bad enough that the United States holds elections on work days, rather than weekends. But it is even worse when elections are scheduled on different work days than is normally the case.