I want to state up front that a John Edwards victory is not my goal. What I strive for is a true democracy in this country with fair, transparent, and accurate elections. Because the New Hampshire primary--with approximately 60% of its precincts counted by the same Diebold optical scanners that were shown to be hackable in Florida--was not transparent, we cannot know if it was fair or accurate. As my colleague Brad Friedman reported on New Hampshire's election night, we have reason to question the fairness and accuracy of the NH primary: polls taken just prior to the election looked to be extremely accurate everywhere but for the Clinton and Obama percentages in the Democratic presidential primary
If Democrats intend for one of their own to be sworn in as President on January 20, 2009, one thing is certain: they need a candidate who will pursue swift and thorough investigation of election irregularities. Barack Obama pulled a 'John Kerry' Tuesday night, conceding first place to Hillary Clinton before the balloons began their descent from the ceiling.
Democrats need their candidates to demand a swift and thorough investigation of the New Hampshire primary election. And John Edwards is in the best position to begin the call. Clinton won't do it (I predict, but I'm happy to be proven wrong) because she's the announced winner. Obama won't do it (same parenthetical comment) for fear of being called a "sore loser." While I believe that Kucinich truly understands the issues and supports the goals of the election integrity movement, given his recent support of Obama in Iowa, I think a Kucinich call for an investigation would be seen by many as a pro-Obama move, not a pro-democracy move. Richardson, having gotten his state of New Mexico to switch from DRE (often called touch-screen) technology to optical scanners that count paper ballots, is unlikely to want to point out the problems with that technology. Late word is that Richardson will withdraw from the race on Thursday. And Gravel simply doesn't have a loud enough voice.
As Kerry's running mate in the 2004 election, Edwards knows the importance of following up on questionable election results. Edwards is believed to have urged Kerry not to concede in 2004. Now he doesn't need Kerry's or anyone else's permission to go after full accountability. He need not even question his announced third place finish in New Hampshire. By demanding an investigation of the New Hampshire Democratic primary results, Edwards can show the leadership Democratic voters want to see on an issue that must secretly eat away at every one of the candidates: What would I do if I get the nomination and the election is stolen from me?
As soon as one Democratic candidate demands an investigation, it will become essential for the others to join in. No Democratic presidential candidate can afford the appearance of indifference to questions about the veracity of election results. If Edwards stands alone, he will win the trust of voters throughout the nation. If his colleagues join him, it'll be a win for the pursuit of integrity of U.S. elections. Without a nominee willing to take bold action for democracy, the Democrats stand little chance of seeing one of their own in the White House next year.
While demanding an investigation into Tuesday's irregularities may not garner him a larger share of New Hampshire's delegates, this courageous action could bring John Edwards and the nation significantly greater dividends.