- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
GOP scheme to rig PA presidential elections is worst attack on US democracy since the Civil War
Yes, it's as bad as all that.
Pennsylvania Republicans are attempting to steal in plain sight the 2012 presidential election, by rigging the way the state awards electoral votes. The proposed scheme could routinely award electoral vote victories to Republicans who lose the state's popular vote. In 2000, such a scheme could have awarded George W. Bush an electoral vote victory in Pa., despite his losing the statewide popular vote to Al Gore by 5%.
The scheme could award victory next year to another Texas governor, Rick Perry, whether he wins the popular vote or not, with no need to resort to Florida-style vote-counting shenanigans.
The state's current system of awarding electoral votes has been in place since 1836. It can be fairly called a foundation of the state's democracy.
This is not a far-flung conspiracy. It has the support of Governor Tom Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi.
Basically, the scheme has two steps:
1) GOP leaders mercilessly gerrymander the state's congressional districts. They can do this because they control the governor's mansion and the legislature, and because Democratic voters are concentrated in relatively few geographic areas, such as Philadelphia. The GOP's current partisan district-cutting plan carves 12 safe Republican seats out of 18, in a state with a clear Democratic registration advantage.
2) The state secedes from the American democratic process that has stood the test of 176 years of history, including the Civil War, and awards electoral votes piecemeal via the very oddly-shaped congressional districts the GOP just finished gerrymandering.
In a related article, Yale constitutional law professor Akhil Reed Amar says of the Pennsylvania GOP's vote-rigging scheme, "It's something that no previous legislature in America since the Civil War has ever had the audacity to impose."
That article quashes the Pa. GOP's weak argument for their unprecedented power grab, that Maine and Nebraska employ similar systems. Author Nick Baumann notes that those small states have in place mathematical assurances that guarantee the popular vote winner must be the electoral vote winner as well. Pa. obviously would have no such assurance.
I strongly suggest looking at State Senator Daylin Leach's principled dissection of the scheme in the Inquirer. As Leach notes, Pa. Democratic legislatures often, over the past century and three quarters, have been in a position to impose such a vote-stealing scheme on the public (indeed so have countless legislatures in all 50 states over the centuries), but all declined to do so, out of basic respect for American democracy.
Apparently Corbett, Pileggi and other Pennsylvania Republicans are bereft of such respect.
But rigging the system in public is not without risks. Area GOP legislators, some of whom slide by in districts that already lean Democratic, should remember that their scheme -- despite its power-grabbing recklessness -- provides scant protection from voters exacting electoral retribution on those who would snub history and steal their presidential vote.
Voters who catch you rigging their electoral system are apt to use that electoral system against you as best they can, so you can wreak no more havoc on the democracy Pennsylvanians have held sacred for so many years.