January 2013

How to steal an election.

by Pitt Griffin on January 30, 2013 · 0 comments

in Politics

Most people believe that the US is a democracy. If you receive the most votes you win. But we are a Republic, which is sort of like a democracy, but not exactly. And that produces some odd results.

Four times the Presidency has been won by a man receiving fewer popular votes than his opponent. John Quincy Adams was given the job by the House of Representatives. Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and most famously, George W. Bush all became President – despite losing the popular vote – by winning the Electoral College vote.

The Electoral College is one of those Rube Goldberg contraptions that were cobbled together to give the nascent Constitution enough support to get it through ratification. Because the each state receives an electoral vote equal to the number of its Representatives plus its two Senators it gives small states proportionately more influence in Presidential elections.

The nine most populous states account for 50% of the population and have 241 Electoral College votes. The other 41 states and DC comprise the other 50% of the population but have 291 votes. Wyoming receives one Electoral College for each 192,000 of its citizens, but California gets one for each 692,000 of its citizens.

As it stands, all states – except Maine and Nebraska – award all their electoral votes to the candidate that wins that state’s popular vote. There has been a call for electoral votes to be awarded in proportion to the percent of the popular vote each candidate receives. That would certainly be more democratic and make states that are extremely red or blue more relevant in a Presidential election.

But that doesn’t work for the Republicans who have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 elections.

So what to do? The answer lies in Congressional districts.

The Republicans have done a good job at the state level of drawing Congressional districts to maximize the number in Republican control. Take Pennsylvania. When Democrats win congressional seats they do so with as much as 90% of the vote, whereas Republicans do it with more like 60% of the vote. As a result the Republicans hold 13 seats, the Democrats only 5 – despite Democrats receiving 80,000 more votes in Congressional races.

State Senator, Pileggi (R-PA) doesn’t believe in democracy. In his view what the people want is irrelevant.

Gerrymandering is, at least, a traditional American political vice. But the Republicans are so desperate to win the Presidency that they are proposing a new exotic way of counting the vote. Number crunching Republicans, from the Karl Rove school of “do- anything-to-win” realized, that if you awarded electoral votes, in a few battleground states, based on the number of congressional districts won, you open up another avenue to winning the Presidency, while losing the popular vote.

Take Pennsylvania again – in this scenario the Republicans would receive 13 Electoral votes and the Democrats 5, based on Congressional districts won. They would also, in this rovian cabal, win the two votes representing the two Senators. So despite having 80,000 fewer congressional votes and despite Obama winning the Presidential vote by more than 300,000 in Pennsylvania, 15 of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would be allotted to Romney.

That is voter fraud.

Republicans are so eager to steal elections – that they cannot legitimately win – that they have gone to great lengths to restrict the Democratic vote. They have cut back on early voting. They have understaffed and under-equipped polling places, leading to long lines in Democratic precincts. And they have changed voter ID requirements to disadvantage Democrats – in Tennessee you can use a hunting license to vote, but not a student ID.

There is one suggested change in the method of Presidential elections that would not only give more say to voters in deeply red or blue states, but would also render fraud by an individual or group irrelevant. And what is this electoral panacea? Allot electoral votes proportionate with the popular vote.

It’s democratic. It’s elegant. It removes Presidential politics from the grubby hands of local politicians. And it restores the voter to a place of preeminence.

The Republicans hate it.

Obama beat Romney by more than 4 million votes and Democratic House candidates received more votes than Republicans (Republicans won more seats because they drew the districts). But this clear expression of the peoples’ will is irrelevant to some conservatives.

Proposing a different, tortuous way to elect the President – because you didn’t like the outcome of the last election – that is electoral fraud.

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