The Massachusetts Special Election For US Senate
By Jonathan Simon
August 27, 2010
On January 19th, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a Special Election to fill the Senate seat left open by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. It would be difficult to overstate the political implications of this election. Because the seat was the 60th for the Democrats, it carried with it the effective balance of power in the Senate: without it, in a dramatically polarized and decidedly uncooperative political environment, the Democrats would not be able to override a GOP filibuster. As the media let Americans know, everything from the shape of healthcare policy to financial regulation, from energy and environmental policy to critical judicial appointments hung in the balance.
Just as significantly, the victory by Republican Scott Brown over supposed shoo-in Martha Coakley was taken and trumpeted as a “sign:” the political calculus for the upcoming general elections in 2010 and 2012 was instantly rewritten, with the anger and unrest that apparently produced Brown’s victory establishing expectations of catastrophic losses for the Democrats in November and beyond. All in all the political impact of this single, under-the-radar state election was seismic, very nearly “presidential.”
The Electoral System
With stakes that high, citizens not only of Massachusetts but of the rest of the United States would hope to find firm basis knowledge, as opposed to mere faith that the votes were accurately counted as cast and that the seating of the certified winner, along with the massive implications alluded to above, at least reflected the will and intent of the voting constituency. Instead, this is what a citizen seeking such knowledge about the Massachusetts Special Election would find:
Election Defense Alliance