Rig the Vote

Leo Gerard

Rig the Vote is the evil opposite of Rock the Vote. Rock is the campaign by a nonprofit to increase political engagement and register young people. Rig is the campaign by the GOP to suppress political engagement and subvert balloting.

The GOP rigged the vote by limiting registration, demanding specific photo ID at the polls and creating hours-long waits in poor and minority districts. The GOP also connived to re-apportion state electors to the Electoral College. And if six key states had adopted the change, President Obama, who received the majority of the popular vote by a margin of nearly 5 million, would not be president.

All of this was calculated to stifle and sabotage voting by those who lean Democrat, particularly the 47 percent of Americans who Republicans disdain. Republicans, who grovel to the 1 percent, realized they weren’t going to win if they played fair and square by those pesky old American tenets of one-person-one-vote and majority rule. They figured the more Democrats they could prevent from voting, the weightier Republican ballots would become. In this scheme, Republicans wouldn’t have to bother winning the hearts and minds of the majority. Instead, this bull-dozing of democracy would enable rule by the minority.

The minority – specifically Republican Mitt Romney who received only 47 percent of the popular vote – would, in fact, be ruling had the GOP’s Electoral College rigging plot succeeded. Currently, the Presidential candidate who receives the majority of popular votes in a state receives all of its electors, except in Maine and Nebraska. The GOP wanted to change this system, but only in blue states – those that traditionally have voted for Democrats.

Here’s GOP Chairman Reince Priebus endorsing it:

“I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”

“Controlled red” are those states with Republican governors and Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature. In vote-blue-controlled-red states, which happen to be large and densely populated – Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin – the GOP wanted to apportion electors by congressional district. Those districts that voted Republican would get an elector for Romney; those that voted Democrat would get one for Obama. Under this plan, Michigan would have given Romney the majority of electors, 9, while awarding 7 to President Obama, although President Obama won the popular vote in Michigan by nearly 10 points. This enables the loser to win; it facilitates minority rule.

It would work because the GOP had no intention of instituting it in states that traditionally vote for Republicans for President, like Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona. These states would still have given all of their electors to Romney, even though Democrats won a significant number of their congressional seats.

For some reason, the GOP believes this plan is fair only in blue states, not red ones. Oh, yeah: That’s because it’s designed to elect the Republican candidate who receives the minority of votes.

After this scheme was exposed for the vote rigging it is, even some Republicans found it embarrassing. Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, while not ruling it out completely, backed off saying:

“You don’t want to change the playing field so it gives any one party or candidate an unfair advantage over another one.”

Still, the GOP continues to try to persuade controlled-red Pennsylvania to rig its electoral system to favor Republicans.

The GOP has been more successful with other vote-rigging scams. Photo ID is an example. Republicans have insisted over the past several years that voters show specific, state-issued identification to vote.

This supposedly is to prevent in-person voter fraud although the GOP has failed utterly to provide examples of in-person voter fraud. That’s because most states already have a fail-safe. They require election officials to verify a potential voter’s identity by matching his or her registration signature with a signature on Election Day.

The Brennan Center for Justice has noted that studies show 11 percent of eligible voters may not have the specific government-issued photo ID required, and that the percentage is higher among seniors and students and among people of color, with disabilities and with low incomes. These are people who tend to vote Democrat. Disqualify them, and Republican votes count more.

Similarly, Republicans have gone the extra mile to make it more difficult to vote, stopping same-day registration and curtailing early voting days. Republican lawmakers in Montana voted Feb. 1 to end same-day registration. In Maine, Republicans tried for three decades to end same-day registration, and as soon as they took control of the legislature and governor’s office in 2011, they did. The majority of Maine residents showed how they felt about that by immediately restoring same-day registration in a referendum vote.

Cutting back early voting days, as Florida did, lengthened waiting times, and studies showed that those most affected by long lines tended to be Democrats. Among them was Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old North Miami woman, who waited in line for more than three hours to cast her ballot for President Obama.

She succeeded, but the lines defeated others. It’s estimated that 200,000 potential voters in Florida, which had the longest lines, gave up. A New York Times/CBS News poll found 18 percent of Democrats waited at least a half-hour compared with 11 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans.

President Obama says that’s unconscionable. He invited Desiline Victor to his State of the Union address to make the point that voting is a fundamental right in a democracy and must be protected. He said forcing citizens to wait in line for hours “betrays our ideals” and announced formation of a nonpartisan commission to fix the problems.

Its first order of business: Persuade the GOP that vote rigging is unconstitutional and un-American. To be a beacon of democracy for the world, America must Rock the Vote.

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