In the long-awaited trial of Stuart v. Layton & the Election Commission, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood has again ruled to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. Even though acknowledging that hundreds of voters took longer than the state-allowed maximum of ten minutes, as well as acknowledging that the election commission’s procedures for voter identification was inconsistent between various precincts, Blackwood found that since these votes were not cast with fraudulent intent, the election stands.
What Blackwood seemed to be saying is, the laws don’t matter unless they’re intentionally violated with fraudulent intent. Nevermind that the time limits were intentionally disregarded by election officials — because there was no finding of fraudulent intent, it doesn’t matter.
So if you happen to pick up a speeding ticket in your holiday travels, here’s your defense: "Your honor, I didn’t mean to violate the law by not observing the posted limit. I was just trying to reach my destination on time, which I did, so my incidental infraction is justified."
(If this works for you, be sure and let me know. I suspect it would only work in Blackwood’s court, and maybe then only if you cite Stuart v. Layton et al.)
The other thing that bothered me is his acceptance of the election commission’s premise that comparing signatures is an acceptable substitute for voter identification. When you write a check, does the business accept your signature alone as verification that you are who you say you are? Fat chance.
It’s not over, though; there will be an(other) appeal. It’s my understanding that the Court of Appeals’ ruling was that the lower court (Blackwood) should rule on the facts — HOW MANY voters took more than 10 minutes (644, after adjusting for those who required assistance and are allowed extra time), and was that number greater than the margin of the election (119)? The facts were found and proven.
The judge ruled though, on his interpretation, rather than the facts as requested by the Court of Appeals. The next phase could be interesting.