The world has marveled at the orderliness of America's "peaceful revolutions" ever since Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans first wrested power from the Federalist Party of Washington and Adams, But how long will voters remain peaceful when their will is cynically undermined by partisan lawyers and willful judges whose lust to see their interests prevail eviscerates any pretense of respect to fair elections?
In California in 2001, 61% of voters approved a state statute to preserve the historical and biological definition of marriage, only to see an activist supreme court rule that measure invalid based on a supposed conflict with the state constitution.
Backers of traditional marriage didn't protest or threaten violence against their political adversaries. Instead, they played by the rules, responding with a constitutional amendment to trump the courts. Attorney General Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown unethically rewrote the ballot summary to tip the scales against the amendment, but 52% of Californians nevertheless approved it.
Now, as supporters of same-sex marriage engage in sometimes violent protests in front of churches, gay activists and the ACLU are asking that same supreme court to invalidate yet another election.
In Washington state in 2004, voters elected Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi by a mere 261 votes, according to election day tallies. A second recount again showed Rossi the victor, this time by just 42 votes. Finally, a third count gave the lead to Democrat Christine Gregoire by 129 votes -- and the counting stopped.
In that election, numerous irregularities in Democrat counties aided Gregoire at each subsequent count. In King County (including Seattle), more than 700 ballots were "discovered" after election day. Some precincts showed more ballots cast than registered voters, while others tallied more votes than ballots. At least 129 felons were allowed to vote, and provisional ballots were mixed with regular ballots before anyone bothered to determine whether those provisional ballots were cast by legitimate voters.
Now we have the ongoing saga in Minnesota, where Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, led alleged comedian Al Franken, a Democrat, by 725 votes after the initial count. That lead slipped to 438 within two days as election officials announced "adjustments" ‹ like finding a box of uncounted ballots that unanimously favored Franken in the trunk of an election worker's car.
Minnesota law explicitly limits the recount to those ballots counted on election day. That means the validity of ballots is decided by citizen election judges who make those determinations at polling places before their judgment can be clouded by knowing who is ahead or by how much.
Not surprisingly, lawyers for Franken, aided by veterans of Gregoire's election heist, want election boards, courts -- anyone -- to allow previously rejected ballots to be scrutinized and selectively added to the count.
Elections can only be legitimate when conducted according to rules stipulated by both sides prior to voting. But Franken's legal beagles could care less about the rules. Their mission is to win even if that means renegotiating the rules in court to strike down laws that, in 20/20 hindsight, adversely impact Franken.
Another of those inconvenient laws, as John Fund reports in the Wall Street Journal, is the federal Help America Vote Act, which requires that provisional ballot votes remain anonymous.
In Washington, a judge allowed lawyers for Gregoire to obtain a list of uncounted provisional ballots. From that list, they gleaned the names of those who voted for the Democrat and engineered the counting of those votes -- but not those who voted for the Republican. By the time Republicans figured out the Democrats' game, it was too late.
Franken's attorneys are deploying a similar strategy in direct contravention of Minnesota's election law and of rules administered by the Democrat secretary of state. They just may succeed in using the courts to steal another election.
When Americans can no longer trust that their votes will be counted under rules established in advance or suspect that judges are all too willing to bend those rules, how much longer will our revolutions remain peaceful?
Mark Hillman served as Colorado senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.