Political Animal


February 23, 2013 3:05 PM That zombie Republican electoral college rigging scam — it lives!

By Kathleen Geier

Bobby Kennedy once allegedly said of Pennsylvania that it is “Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other, and Mississippi in the middle.” These days, Republican elected officials in the Keystone State are hard at work doing everything human possible to eliminate the Philly and Pittsburgh bits.

ThinkProgress is reporting that an exceedingly dodgy scam to designed to deliver the state’s electoral college votes to the G.O.P. is alive and well. Thirteen Republican members of Pennsylvania’s state senate are sponsoring a bill that would allot electoral college votes on the basis of Congressional districts. Due to shameless gerrymandering, in many states (Pennsylvania included) a disproportionate number of Congressional districts are solidly Republican, even though the state as a whole leans Democratic. So the national G.O.P. has been strongly advocating that these states institute schemes that discriminate against Democrats by apportioning electoral college votes by House district, rather than the majority vote in the state as a whole.

Earlier this year, similar schemes were defeated in a number of states, including Virginia and Michigan. But it looks as though latest incarnation of this scam might have a decent shot in Pennsylvania. All the plan needs is for one more state senator to sign on, in addition to the 13 who are already sponsoring the bill. According to a state representative mentioned in the ThinkProgress piece, Republicans “could conceivably ram [the bill] through both houses of the state legislature and have it on [Republican Governor] Corbett’s desk in just four days.” Awesome!

In other states, similar G.O.P. vote-riggning scams were quickly abandoned almost as soon as they saw the light of day, due to a loud public outcry. It is devoutly to be hoped that this is what will happen here. But as undemocratic and gross as these schemes are, there is one positive thing to be said about them, and that is that they reveal the utter craven desperation of the contemporary G.O.P. This is not a confident, proud, surging political party we’re looking at here. On the contrary, they are sweating bullets and seem to realize that their political message lacks popular appeal and that the only way they will be able to hold on to power is if they cheat. Ultimately, that’s a good sign for the forces of progress. But if the Repubs get away with this, the forces of progress will be ruthlessly crushed before they ever get to have a fighting chance at the polls.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • Mimikatz on February 23, 2013 4:46 PM:

    As long as Governors have to run at large, the voters can vent their frustration at anyone who signs one of these nefarious bills. Plus, it alters the calculus of which states and regions the Presidential candidates would pay attention to. These arguments have helped scuttle it in other states. If Corbett wants to run for reelection, this isn't going to help him.

  • Scott Morrison on February 23, 2013 5:01 PM:

    The quote is from James Carville, not Bobby Kennedy, and it was Alabama, not Mississippi.

  • Citizen Alan on February 23, 2013 5:12 PM:

    In 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote but narrowly won Florida (under controversial circumstances) and with it the Electoral College. The American people went along with it, because while it was obviously unfair, most people believed that it was a freak occurrence that the Electoral College should come down to a single state where the vote margin was so close.

    BUT, if a future Republican actually loses a state's popular vote but wins most of its electoral votes anyway and then goes on to win the Electoral College despite losing the national popular vote, there will be rioting, there will be chaos, and there will be some dead Republicans before it's all over.

  • Anonymous on February 23, 2013 5:17 PM:

    on the dead Repukeliscum - i for one am getting fucking tired of this shit, and am wondering why wait?

  • martin on February 23, 2013 5:20 PM:

    You can't keep a good scam down!

  • JH on February 23, 2013 9:24 PM:

    We had this done in our state by the Democratic legislature. I don't think we ought to accuse Republicans of inventing this.

  • Larry G on February 23, 2013 10:42 PM:

    As a Pennsylvanian, I am as concerned as anyone about this prospective vote-rigging scheme. However, you need to read the ThinkProgress article more carefully. In order for the bill to pass, it will require 13 more state senators to support it, not 1 more, as you state. It is disturbing that we have to worry about this kind of chicanery, but I don't think they have the 26 votes to pass it.

  • Citizen Alan on February 23, 2013 11:15 PM:

    What state do you live in JH? To my knowledge, there are only two states that split EVs at all and in neither of them was it part of a Dem scheme to undermine democracy.

  • Jeff on February 24, 2013 7:17 AM:

    Well Obama lost every state with voter ID laws.PA passed theirs and I believe it goes into law this year.So Dems will start losing PA....hate to break your heart but Pittsburgh is by no means a hardcore Dem stronghold.The burbs lean very hard right.I travel there everday for work...I see and hear it all the time.PA will flip one voter id is implemented....guarantee it.

  • MuddyLee on February 24, 2013 7:40 AM:

    There's gonna have to be some project to get IDs for everybody who wants to vote - and we'll have to give some money to support it. We can't let the rich people who don't want to pay taxes have any more influence than they already have.

  • Maritza on February 24, 2013 8:56 AM:

    Actually they don't need just one one Senator but actually 13 more. They are only HALF WAY THERE. There needs to be a majority and there aren't close to a majority since there are 20 Democratic Senators in Pennsylvania.

  • C. P. Zilliacus on February 24, 2013 9:05 AM:

    Bobby Kennedy once allegedly said of Pennsylvania that it is “Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other, and Mississippi in the middle.”[/cite]

    I believe James Carville said that.

  • Ben on February 24, 2013 11:06 AM:

    Actually, what Carville originally said in 1992 was paraphrased to the current form. Here's the original quote: "Between Paoli and Penn Hills, Pennsylvania is Alabama without the blacks. They didn't film The Deer Hunter there for nothing -- the state has the second-highest concentration of NRA members, behind Texas."

  • just someone anonymous on February 24, 2013 5:14 PM:

    People in Pennsylvania are so upset about the selling of the tax payer asset known as the PA Lottery, the threats to privatize the state stores, the threats with the PA Turnpike, that most sane folks say this is a one term governor. The Republican senators and those in the general assembly are bat shit crazy & state workers are upset with Tom, who wants to destroy everything.

  • Dennis on February 24, 2013 10:11 PM:

    Michigan's vote rigging scheme was definitely not defeated. The governor has said now is not the time, but he said that about right to work too. The Michigan bill is definitely still alive and has overwhelming party support: http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/michigan-gop-backs-electoral-vote-scheme