It appears that the judge has heard everything and will make a decision next week.
News and commentary of the trial so far:
- Telegram 1/18/11: Shunned voter’s friend testifies
- Telegram 1/19/11: Man testifies he was barred from voting in disputed 6th District race
- Telegram 1/19/11: Southbridge election worker testifies
- Walter Bird 1/19/11: Alicea, Durant election trial winds down
- Telegram 1/20/11: Durant’s lawyer attacks flaws
What I find most interesting is that there is very little talk of the infamous “spoiled absentee ballot” that nobody knew anything about. Perhaps it’s a very small part of the court case, or perhaps its story just wasn’t considered interesting by the reporters. I wish I could have attended the trial to see it all firsthand instead of relying on these reports.
So, closing arguments are this morning. I do wonder how long the judge will take to make a ruling, and whether the House of Representatives will bother following it.
I haven’t updated this in a while, but the election is still in court, even though the legislative session started yesterday. I briefly turned on the video feed of the state house yesterday in the background while I worked, and during the roll call of voting for the Speaker of the House, they called Alicea’s name. It appears Alicea remains state rep for now. I think there was a court hearing today, although I don’t know if there will news coverage of it.
Of course, the court case is really completely irrelevant, since according to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “The house of representatives shall be the judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications of its own members.” (Chapter I, Section III, Article X) This power has been upheld by the state Supreme Court, that any court order to the House relating to the election of someone to the House is merely a suggestion, and that the House can select whomever it wants to be a member of itself. (Larry F. Wheatley v. Secretary of the Commonwealth & another, 2003)
I do have to wonder what the authors of the state constitution were thinking when they wrote that, since it seems very much against the concept of separation of powers to curtail abuse, since I don’t see any reason why the House would ever choose to listen to the people. Although I suppose if another branch could just take over the House, then no separation would exist at all. Maybe there’s just no way to win.
But since one person’s vote is statistically unlikely to actually influence an election, it’s very discouraging that here, in the one time in my life where my vote might have actually mattered, it seems that it won’t have mattered at all, since the House will just do what it wants anyway. It definitely doesn’t make me want to bother to vote for a State Rep. again.
On the plus side, since the recount in Charlton led to exactly the same results for all Charlton precincts, I now have a lot of faith in Charlton’s town election process.