No doubt most of you have heard about the coup in Virginia that is in the process of taking place. In case you had not heard what is happening, here it is in a nutshell:
– With one Democratic state senator missing to attend Obama’s inaugural Monday the Virginia senate rushed through a highly partisan mid-term congressional redistricting that would greatly favor Republicans on a straight 20 – 19 party line vote. It should sail through the house and Tea Party Governor Bob McDonald is expected to sign it. Democrats only recourse seems to be the courts.
– In addition, the senate is planning on pushing a bill that would change the way electors to the electoral college are chosen. Instead of the winner take all system now used in most states, Virginia would move to choosing each elector by the vote in each congressional district. So in 2012 while Obama won the state of Virginia by 3% and thus its 13 electors, under the new system Obama would have received 4 electoral votes (2 CDs and 2 for winning the state) and Romney would have gotten 9 electoral votes.
Since the constitution makes no rule on how states are to choose their electors, just that they get one elector per congressional representative. Thus Iowa gets 6 – for 4 member of the House and 2 senators. Pennsylvania made an attempt to make this same change before the 2012 election, but backed off due to the bad publicity. One might wonder why such a method of choosing electors would so favor Republicans? This is where the old, old practice of Gerrymandering. That is, draw district lines in such a way as to favor one party or another based on demographics. For instance with a congressional district of 750,000 in Iowa we could draw a district that put Linn, Johnson, Scott, Clinton and Dubuque counties in one district. That would box many of the heavily Democratic voters in one district.
The other heavily democratic voters could be divided among the other 3 congressional districts in such a way to make the other districts Republican. Thus even though Iowa has been voting consistently Democratic recently, their congressional delegation would lean Republican. In Virginia, most of the Democratic votes are concentrated around Richmond and Washington D.C. The rest of the state can be carved up to make a great majority of the seats Republican.
Each of the so called “swing” states are readying bills like this. In each case they have Republican legislatures and a Republican governor. Most were first elected in 2010 and were part of a gerrymandering effort to put the Republican party in charge. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin will all looking at changing the way presidential electors are chose. Had this system been in effect in 2012 we would have been very close to having President Romney. With the gerrymandering that has gone on, Democrats may be hard pressed to ever regain control of the US House or individual state legislatures.
But this is only one of the dirty tricks that Republicans have pulled since 2000 to steal elections because they can’t win them fairly. So let’s review:
1) HAVA (Help America Vote Act) paid for electronic voting machines throughout the country. The problem is that programming for these machines remained in private hands. Thus they could be hacked and votes changed and no one could prove it. Throughout the country there have been many questionable results and numerous demonstrations on how easily machines could be hacked.
2) Caging – sending mail to selected people and revoking their voting rights if they do not respond.
3) purging voting roles based simply on name (Katherine Harris did this in Florida 2000.)
4) making it hard to vote by not having enough facilities causing long lines or constant challenges.
5) voter id laws enforced extremely strictly aimed toward minorities. This is what Iowa’s Secretary of State in training Matt Schultz is attempting to do unilaterally in Iowa.
Republicans have learned what Joe Stalin said long ago – it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.
Up top is a chart from thinkprogress that will give you an idea of what might have been.