There's No Such Thing as a Federal Election

by Tim Carney

Republicans in Missouri and Florida have made grave mistakes by appealing to federal courts during elections this month. They have made these appeals on the claim that the elections they were dealing with were "federal elections." There is no such thing as a federal election.

In Missouri, on election day, a state circuit court judge ruled that the polls should stay open late in St. Louis and Kansas City. Before successfully getting that order quashed by a state appeals court, the Bush campaign went to a federal court to get the polls closed. The court rightly denied jurisdiction.

Similarly, a federal court in Florida has denied jurisdiction in a case to stop the hand-counting of ballots.

When one state elects its presidential electors, it is bound by the constitution as to whom it may choose, but beyond that, the state has total sovereignty. If the Republicans' current appeal in the Florida case succeeds, and the federal government takes control over how a state may choose its electors, one of the remaining shreds of state sovereignty – control over its elections – will be destroyed.

As Frank Chodorov said in the pages of Human Events 48 years ago, what we call States' Rights is really Home Rule. Let the Electoral College and a state's control over its elections stand as a last line of defense for home rule against the imperialists in Washington.

November 17, 2000

Tim Carney is assistant editor of Human Events.