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ELECTORAL DEFORM: PA Seeking to Change How Votes are Counted to Favor GOP

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is at it again, corruptly using his new found power to try to swing the coming Presidential election in Republican favor by rewriting the laws of how Electoral College votes are distributed in the commonwealth. 

Corbett, former attorney general of PA elected with tea party funds, has done nothing positive to help the people of Pennsylvania since being elected in 2010 except make huge cuts to education and refuse to tax those who put him in power even if it could balance the commonwealth’s budget overnight. Now he wants to pave the way for other rustbelt GOP governors to place similar laws on the books, taking advantage of their ability to redraw Congressional districts after the 2010 census. According to Nick Baumann of Mother Jones:

“Here’s the rub: Each state gets to determine how its electoral votes are allocated. Currently, 48 states and DC use a winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all of its electoral votes. Under the Republican plan—which has been endorsed by top Republicans in both houses of the state’s legislature, as well as the governor, Tom Corbett—Pennsylvania would change from this system to one where each congressional district gets its own electoral vote. (Two electoral votes—one for each of the state’s two senators—would go to the statewide winner.)

This could cost Obama dearly. The GOP controls both houses of the state legislature plus the governor’s mansion—the so-called “redistricting trifecta”—in Pennsylvania. Congressional district maps are adjusted after every census, and the last one just finished up. That means Pennsylvania Republicans get to draw the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts without any input from Democrats. Some of the early maps have leaked to the press, and Democrats expect that the Pennsylvania congressional map for the 2012 elections will have 12 safe GOP seats compared to just 6 safe Democratic seats.”

Currently, only Nebraska and Maine use this plan and interestingly enough Nebraska’s GOP leaders tried to scrap it after President Obama received one electoral vote from the state in the 2008 election. However, now that it can be used in their favor, no statehouse held captive by newly elected Republicans wants to change it. They want to expand it. This is how the current proposed system would have affected Obama in the 2008 election, which he won by 10 percentage points, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

An analysis by the online news service Capitolwire noted that had the proposed distribution process been in place in Pennsylvania in 2008 before the state lost one congressional district due to a population decline in the 2010 census, Mr. Obama would have won only 11 of the state’s 21 votes.

This kind of electoral vote rigging acts as yet another form of GOP voter suppression in that it devalues the votes of certain constituencies, this time not based on economic standing or class, but regionally.

The way around this for Obama is to recreate his 2008 landslide victory. The current political climate does not indicate that as a likely scenario. Obama’s approval ratings are down and the economy is on the minds of all Americans. The overall rejection of President Bush’s policies swept in Democrats in 2006 and 2008 and the same could happen for Republicans if they wind up with a fairly moderate candidate such as Mitt Romney. This election is likely to more closely resemble 2000 or 2004 where many states were tight.

If the president wins the states John Kerry won in 2004 plus Ohio—otherwise enough to give him a narrow win—changing the electoral vote rules in Pennsylvania alone would swing the election to the Republican nominee.

“This would effectively extend the effect of gerrymandering beyond Congress and to the Electoral College.”

It doesn’t necessarily end there. After their epic sweep of state legislative and gubernatorial races in 2010, Republicans also have total political control of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, three other big states that traditionally go Democratic and went for Obama in 2012. Implementing a Pennsylvania-style system in those three places—in Ohio, for example, Democrats anticipate controlling just 4 or 5 of the state’s 16 congressional districts—could offset Obama wins in states where he has expanded the electoral map, like Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, or New Mexico. “If all these rust belt folks get together and make this happen that could be really dramatic,” says Carolyn Fiddler, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which coordinates state political races for the Dems.

Democrats have little power to stop these proceedings from happening as they are the minority in the PA House and Senate. Many other states in similar situations will have the same ease implementing this policy. The only real force to stop this suppressive tide are the citizens of Pennsylvania by uniting to raise their voices against it, but many of those citizens are too busy working or battling o e of the Governor’s other overreaches. It would be a sad moment for America if Obama won the traditionally Democratic leaning state of Pennsylvania only to have the electoral delegates swing the election in favor of the Republicans. This is the United States we currently reside in, however, where what is right does not matter to those with the might.


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