If at first you don’t succeed, find another way to rig the election

In 2000, the Republicans used Florida to fuck over voters. In 2004, they used Ohio.

They’ve got quite the strategy going here. They seem to have figured out that when you steal an election, the public starts to get suspicious. But when you steal the election in different ways, using different officials each time as your evil pawns, you start to look less liable to the public eye, can just shrug your shoulders and say “hey, that’s a state issue.”

So obviously, for 2008, they had to pick a different state. I mean, Florida and Ohio are still good, and clearly very easy, but we’re watching them, now. That’s how they were able to quietly rig voting machines in Ohio while all of the national media attention was focused on Florida. Sure, there will still be some vote-fixing, some disenfranchisement of minority voters and people turned away at the polls, but it’ll be more low-key and less sanctioned by those at the top, and though absolutely horrid, it will be be all puppies and rainbows compared to what else they’ve got up their sleeve.

You know who the nation won’t be watching on election night or in the long, drawn out months of campaigning leading up to next November? California, of course.

Republican donors are pumping new life into a proposed ballot initiative, considered all but dead by Democrats a month ago, that would alter the way electoral votes are apportioned in California to the benefit of Republican presidential candidates.

Though the financing remains uncertain, the measure’s leaders said Friday that they were confident they would get the signatures required by the Nov. 29 deadline to qualify the initiative for a statewide vote next June. The effort, begun in the summer by a prominent Republican lawyer, lay in peril in October after its top proponents quit over questions about its financing.

Last week, a new organization began raising the roughly $2 million thought to be needed to get the initiative on the ballot. The new effort is being spearheaded by David Gilliard, a Republican consultant in Sacramento, aided by Anne Dunsmore, a prolific fund-raiser who recently resigned from the presidential campaign of Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“You can’t just fold up every time somebody says they killed you,” Ms. Dunsmore, in a telephone interview, said of the effort to resuscitate the initiative.

The initiative would ask voters to replace California’s winner-take-all system of allocating its 55 electoral college votes with one that parses the votes by Congressional district. It has attracted strong opposition from Democrats because it would transform California from a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections by handing the Republican nominee roughly 20 votes from safe Republican districts.

This is what they call the Maine Method — instead of tallying up the votes from each district and granting all of the electoral votes to the candidate who has won the most districts, an electoral vote would be granted to each candidate based on the number of actual districts he or she wins. In the California example, instead of the Democratic candidate getting all 55 electoral votes, he or she would most likely get only 35 electoral votes, while the Republican candidate would get 20.

On the surface, the idea that this ploy might succeed sounds absolutely nuts. I mean, California? Of all places? The legislature already laughed you out of the chambers — do you think that the voters are going to go for it? I’d be ready to dismiss the effort out of hand, if only the Republicans hadn’t already pulled off shit that is far scarier, not to mention far more illegal.

What do all three of the state situations tell us? Well, that we need to get rid of the electoral college all together and revert to a popular vote.

The proposed Maine Method is certainly not the answer, though many will claim it is. I’m all for national voting reform — immediately. Change the damn Constitution, please. But I can’t help but feel that this type of initiative is innately moronic.

Firstly, it’s imminently unfair — probably even more unfair than the current electoral voting system. To do the Maine Method on a state-by-state basis is always going to be unfair to one party. To split up California in this way and not Texas is clearly highway robbery.

If we were to try to institute the system on a nationwide basis, it would still be granting the Republican party free and indefinite control over the country, even when they haven’t earned it. A very quick look at the 2004 election results show that if using a district allocating system, Bush would have beat Kerry with 60% of electoral college votes. The analysis in the linked piece is entirely wrong, though — it doesn’t show how unfair our current electoral college system is, it shows how even more unfair this one would be. Why? Because the popular vote in 2004 was a 50% to 48% split. Doesn’t that seem, oh, I don’t know, a little bit off to you? Doesn’t the unfairness strike you faster than you can say “gerrymandering?”

Of course, the Republicans know this. But using actual facts to make a point, while omitting other facts that directly disprove it is a tried and true method.

As for a popular vote system, yes, there would be some problems for small states, but as someone who isn’t particularly down with the whole “state’s rights” attitude, it seems to me that if your numbers are fewer, you naturally ought to get less say. And in any case, I in no way try to represent “NY” when I vote, I only represent me. As for minority voters, I’m in no way convinced that this is going to harm them — there are probably a lot more minority voters in NY or California than there are in Florida and Ohio combined. A popular vote would require that candidates not just pander to minority voters in one location, but actually take a genuine interest in their issues to get their votes in Blue states as well as Swing states. It would be even more important for those who live in traditionally Red states, where racial minorities are currently openly and guiltlessly ignored. And yes, Bush probably would have won 2004, anyway, if we used the popular vote method. But at least the fucker would have actually earned it.

But back to the original question of what we have on our hands here: a new election scandal, or some rich assholes wasting their time? I’m not convinced either way, yet, but I do know that we can’t say we weren’t warned.

0 thoughts on “If at first you don’t succeed, find another way to rig the election

  1. Shyva

    Yeah, this stupid initiative was getting quite a lot of media time in my local newspaper before I went to college, with your requisite idiots going “This will be more fair! The Democrats are just afraid of not having California anymore!”

    I wonder if these people ever looked at a map of congressional districts. If it wasn’t an option of getting rid of the electoral college, I would support the whole split the electoral votes thing IF a. the whole nation did it at the same time, and b. congressional districts were not arbitrarily drawn based on party lines the way they are now.

    I’m hoping that this is just some rich assholes wasting their time; California voters do tend to be smarter than swallowing that kind of crap. But still, you never know. I’m losing all faith in the intelligence of the American public.

  2. Cara Post author

    In theory, I agree with you. In practice, though, I can’t see how you possibly could draw the lines in a way that would be fair to both parties and accurately reflect the true interests and feelings of voters. It sounds like the world’s largest mess, to me.

    One solution that pops into my head is going by popular vote in the states, tallying up the percentages of how many votes went to each candidate, and then giving the candidates the same percentage of the state’s electoral votes. But then you have the issue that you can’t give a candidate 4/10ths of an electoral college vote, and eventually all of that rounding is going to add up, and you just might run into “swing counties” or “swing regions” instead of swing states, etc.

    Not only is the popular vote idea the most obvious solution, it’s also by far the easiest. Isn’t there some saying about how the most simple solution is usually also the best solution?

    The only reason that the electoral college was invented is because the founding fathers thought that Americans would be too stupid to handle voting on their own. And clearly, they had a point. But as is usually the case, in trying to protect people from themselves (coughsupremecourtcough), we’ve only seen more damage done.

  3. brandann

    yeah…i think it’s called occam’s razor or something like that.

    i just don’t know who the hell to trust anymore this year…and this election is turning into a nightmare. ugh!

  4. rich

    I don’t know how many states support this (I think Maryland already has it as law), but there is great proposal out there where a state decides to give all its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.
    This would require a compact among states whose combined electoral votes are 270 or more, and thus all 270 would be given to the winner of the popular vote, guaranteeing that candidate the presidency.
    It’s essentially rigging the electoral college to guarantee that the popular vote winner takes the presidency.

  5. Cara Post author

    Sounds like an interesting idea and a temporary fix — but still doesn’t rule out the problem of swing states. And it wouldn’t prevent fraud like what occurred in Ohio.

    The way that a pure popular vote would really cut down on voting fraud is that it would stop being worth the risk. I believe that the maximum amount of votes that were stolen in Ohio was something like 16,000. If we were working off of a popular vote system, a specific set of 16,000 votes would not mean very much. In order to commit effective fraud with a popular vote system in America, you would need to rig millions, or at the very least, hundreds of thousands of votes. And that’s obviously a lot more difficult to pull off and increases the possibility of being caught.

    Of course, fraud is not my only concern. But I have to say that I’m pretty bored with all of this fucking swing state business, period.

  6. rich

    The plan I mentioned is equivalent to the popular vote getter winning the election (the proposal calls for giving all electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in the entire country). The effect of voter fraud, like the 16,000 in Ohio like you mentioned, would have the same effect on a popular voting system as it would on the aforementioned proposal. Plus, this proposal would not need to be ratified as national policy through Congress.

    Top 11 states total over 270 electoral votes. Theoretically, the law would only have to pass in those 11 states, for instance, in order to change the voting system to a popular vote, instead of trying to convince Senators and Representatives from across all 50 states to push a popular voting measure through Congress. People have a maniacal fixation on the sanctity of the Founding Fathers. While that may be for good reason, I think the idea of abolishing the electoral college rubs many people the wrong way. This method ensures that the national popular vote getter receives the presidency without doing away with the electoral college.

    On a side note, what’s even dumber about the GOP’s whiny rationale about fairness in Cali. is that they have taken that state 9 out of the last 14 elections! Still, the Democrats have tried the same tactic too, like in Colorado during the last election (failed miserably). The whole thing just points to the stupidity of the current system.

  7. Cara Post author

    Okay, I think that I misunderstood — the proposal is that the states will wait for the tally of the popular vote for the entire country and then give their electoral votes to that candidate? I read it as each state giving their electoral votes to the popular vote winner in their state, rather than choosing the candidate who wins the most districts in their state.

    So that’d be my bad. And that makes the proposal sound like a much better idea — except for the logistical aspect of getting so many states to vote in favor of the same legislation.

    Also, I imagine that the states who don’t participate would mount a Constitutional challenge, and I’m not nearly up to speed enough on Constitutional law to know whether they would win or lose.


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