Vol. 2, Issue 37, November 2, 2004
No Valid Votes Cast in Presidential Election
The United States is facing perhaps its most significant constitutional crisis to date, as for the first time in American history a presidential election produced no valid votes.
"I waited in line at the polls for three hours," complained Ted Parker, a registered Democrat who voted in Pittsburgh. "My pay was docked, my co-workers ate all the good doughnuts while I was gone. I might as well not have bothered."
The problem is not that nobody turned up to vote: turnout was at its highest level since 1968. The problem is that an estimated 16.5 million lawsuits, filed before, during, and immediately after the polls closed, have resulted in the invalidation of every ballot cast.
"Now, some states were just out of the running from the get-go; Florida, for example, has been barred from voting in a presidential election until 2101 by the election reform legislation passed in 2001," said political science professor Mandy Koslowski of Columbia University. "And so many problems had cropped up with absentee ballot fraud in the past few weeks that the post office finally received standing instructions to just chuck them all into the furnace. But the sheer quantity of lawsuits on election day came as a surprise."
Both sides are responsible for this phenomenon. Republican activists have sued to block the validity of voters registered in drives targeting youths and minorities, such as MTV's Rock the Vote campaign; Democratic activists have sued to block the mass registration efforts of large southern Baptist congregations.
"It's a perfect storm of litigation," said Koslowski wonderingly. "With microscopes trained on every voting machine and every ballot cast in every precinct, this is the most closely watched election in the history of America, and probably mankind."
Despite the patently spurious nature of some of the lawsuits - one precinct in Colorado had its votes thrown out because of the colors used on the voting booth curtains - not a single vote is considered eligible at this point.
"We are not going to wait for all these cases to wend their ways through the courts," said Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. "With Chief Justice Rehnquist out of the picture for health reasons, we'd be gridlocked through the next millennium. Instead we're turning to the wisdom of our founding fathers for guidance."
Apparently there is a little-known provision in the Constitution for just such an unusual situation, in which the presidency falls to the Postmaster General.
"I can't say I was expecting this in the slightest," said president-elect John Potter, Postmaster General and CEO. "I will say however that I am developing a very attractive platform on strengthening America's economy through cuts in postal rates. Stay tuned!"