Gov. Corbett’s Plan to Disenfranchise PA Voters Gains Attention

corbettnewAt some point you’ve got to call a spade a spade. And the facts point to Governor Tom Corbett doing everything he can to make sure Democrats—even if they represent the majority of the state—are underrepresented in elections, allowing Republicans to weasel their way to more representation in the Keystone State and tip the scale nationally.

Yesterday, we wrote in the Daily Grinder, “A Pennsylvania Senate Republican wants to change the way the state’s electoral votes are counted. Instead of a winner-take-all system, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s new bill would have each electoral district elect one presidential elector and two statewide. This bill would of course favor Republicans since the state bookends go Democrat and have handed the Ds the state in presidential elections the last five times, even though Republicans consistently own the Legislature.”

Yeah, the governor is on board with this plan, too.

And the original report in the Post-Gazette has caught a bunch of online news sources’ attention. Going off what we wrote in our little blurb, it should be duly noted that President Barack Obama, while owning (or, if you will PWNING) John McCain by 10 points in the 2008 election, that would, according to Corbett’s plan, net Obama only 11 of the state’s 21 electoral votes. Whereas in most red states throughout the middle of the country, like Texas, the Republican would “take all” the electoral votes. The plan would likely eliminate Pennsylvania’s place as a “vital” or “swing” state.

As Think Progress notes:

Let’s be clear, the Electoral College is a terrible idea. It has, on three occasions, allowed the loser of the national popular vote to enter the White House. It forces presidential candidates to pander to swing states and ignore the needs of the vast majority of the nation.

[…]

If the entire nation were to adopt Corbett’s plan of doling out electoral votes by congressional district, it would eliminate many of the problems caused by our current system.

But when a major blue state’s Republican leadership adopts this kind of reform piecemeal, it is nothing less than an attempt to rig the election.

Gov. Corbett has additionally supported a “Voter ID” bill that would force IDs at the polls, which would disproportionately affect the poor and homeless, who often vote Democrat.

And while this is all happening, he and the Republican Legislature are going to have their way with state redistricting, likely eliminating a Democrat district in Western Pennsylvania and re-configuring the state to make swing districts—like the Seventh, represented by Republican Pat Meehan; and Eighth, represented by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick—solid red for the next decade.

7 Responses to “ Gov. Corbett’s Plan to Disenfranchise PA Voters Gains Attention ”

  1. oldgulph says:

    A survey of 800 Pennsylvania voters conducted on December 16-17, 2008 showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.
    Support was 87% among Democrats, 68% among Republicans, and 76% among independents.By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 81% among 46-65 year olds, and 78% for those older than 65.By gender, support was 85% among women and 71% among men.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA , RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC, HI, IL, CA, NJ, MD, MA, VT, and WA. These 9 jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes– 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    NationalPopularVote.com

  2. oldgulph says:

    Republican legislators seem quite “confused” about the merits of the congressional district method. In Nebraska, Republican legislators are now saying they must change from the congressional district method to go back to state winner-take-all, while in Pennsylvania, Republican legislators are just as strongly arguing that they must change from the winner-take-all method to the congressional district method.

    Dividing Pennsylvania’s electoral votes by congressional district would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system and not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania.

    The district approach would provide less incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in all Pennsylvania districts and would not focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state as a whole. Candidates would have no reason to campaign in districts where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

    Due to gerrymandering, in 2008, only 4 Pennsylvania congressional districts were competitive.

    In Maine, where they award electoral votes by congressional district, the closely divided 2nd congressional district received campaign events in 2008 (whereas Maine’s 1st reliably Democratic district was ignored).

    In Nebraska, which also uses the district method, the 2008 presidential campaigns did not pay the slightest attention to the people of Nebraska’s reliably Republican 1st and 3rd congressional districts because it was a foregone conclusion that McCain would win the most popular votes in both of those districts. The issues relevant to voters of the 2nd district (the Omaha area) mattered, while the (very different) issues relevant to the remaining (mostly rural) two-thirds of the state were irrelevant.

    When votes matter, presidential candidates vigorously solicit those voters. When votes don’t matter, they ignore those areas.

    Nationwide, there are only 55 “battleground” districts that are competitive in presidential elections. Seven-eighths of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

    If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.

    Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

    Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

    A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and guarantee that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states becomes President.

  3. [...] veteran joins GOP senate race in Penn. PhillyClout: Council gets ready for redistricting hearings Phillynow.com: Gov. Corbett’s plan to disenfranchise PA voters gains attention Phillynow.com: Some on right [...]

  4. Mark says:

    I agree with OldGulph that a national popular vote would be the fairest & most democratic way to elect a president.
    I’m not convinced, however, that candidates will visit fewer districts. Just like we have swing states, we’ll have swing congressional districts. If a candidate wants to win, he will have to get his message out. Philadelphia and Allegheny counties will almost always be sure things for Democratic candidates, but if a Democratic candidate wants to be competitive in PA, he’ll have to address the concerns of everything in between. Republicans will not be able to ignore the influence of our two largest cities. Philadelphia and Allegheny counties account for roughly 20% of the state’s population. If they want those votes, they’ll have to work for them.
    As a Pennsylvanian, I’ve never liked the winner take all presidential elections. I know there are lots of disenfranchised voters across the center of the state who feel their votes never count in presidential elections. Until we can get a national popular vote, I feel this is the next best step.

  5. V. Kurt Bellman says:

    NO, a national popular voter is NOT fair. Why? Because voter eligibility (including ex-felons) and early voting and absentee rules vary MASSIVELY from state to state. Therefore a popular vote from Alabama or Florida is NOT interchangeable with one from Pennsylvania. Right now, all a felon has to do is move from Alabama or Florida, where he cannot vote, to Pennsylvania, and presto, change-o, he INSTANTLY becomes an eligible voter.

    Popular votes are not fungible or interchangeable, and therefore electing a President with popular votes IS A CLEAR VIOLATION of the Equal Protection clause.

  6. oldgulph says:

    The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment says:
    “no state [shall] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”

    It has been argued by some that it is not permissible, under the Equal Protection clause, for some states to close their polls at 6 PM while others close at 9 PM ; for some states to conduct their election entirely by mail while other states conduct their (non-absentee) voting at the polls; and for some states to permit violent felons to vote while others prohibit it (absent a pardon). However, the U.S. Constitution does not require that the election laws of all 50 states are identical in virtually every respect. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment only restricts a given state in the manner it treats persons “within its jurisdiction.” The Equal Protection Clause imposes no obligation on a given state concerning a “person” in another state who is not “within its [the first state's] jurisdiction.” State election laws are not identical now nor is there anything in the National Popular Vote compact that would force them to become identical. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II) as well as congressional elections (article I). The fact is that the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution permits states to conduct elections in varied ways. The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and requires each state to treat as “conclusive” each other state’s “final determination” of its vote for President.

    The National Popular Vote bill does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

  7. Janet Wagner says:

    Redistricting my State so that the Republicans can get the electoral votes unfairly is UnAmerican, and disgusting. They already tried to stop people who had the right to vote from voting last year. Caused disgusting long lines so people had to wait long hours. I have never seen so much dishonesty in my life. And the mess they have made in Washington DC, not working with the President is terrible. They will let all of us, the retired, middle income, and poor people suffer more. Many will lose their jobs, their homes, and not be able to live. Myself and several of my friends will never vote Republican.
    Congress should be real proud of themselves for what they are doing to those who pay their wages. The people they are suppose to be working for. They have no business being on vacation, there is work to be done in Washington. Work that should have been done a long time ago. Instead they play games with our lives. They should all be voted out of office. And I’m sure some of them will be.

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