Maryann Tobin

Republicans have not given up on creative ways to rig the Electoral College before the 2016 presidential election. In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers are planning to introduce a vote-rigging scheme that would give a GOP presidential candidate electoral votes without having to win a majority of the popular vote.

No Republican has won any electoral votes in Pennsylvania since 1988.

The new vote-rigging scheme is a variation of a plan that was floated last month, which would have awarded electoral votes based on congressional district alone. In the new plan, electoral votes would be divided by percentage of popular vote.

For example, if the Republican candidate won 40 percent of the popular vote, they would get 40 percent of the electoral votes, instead of the current system, where the winner of the popular vote takes all of the state’s electoral votes.

Under the new Pennsylvania Electoral College plan, eight of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would have gone to Mitt Romney in 2012, even though he lost the popular vote to Barack Obama by 5.4 percent.

The legislation that would give of portion of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to the losing candidate is being introduced by State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican.

Attempting to change the way electoral votes are awarded in a presidential election is unprecedented in modern American history. Not since the 12th Amendment, enacted in 1804, has any political party attempted to significantly tamper with the Electoral College process.

“Since the Electoral College process is part of the original design of the U.S. Constitution, it would be necessary to pass a Constitutional amendment to change this system,” according to US Government archives.

However, over the past 209 years, state legislatures have changed the way they use their power, and are now expanding it to circumvent the Constitution. Attempts by Pennsylvania lawmakers to alter the Electoral College in 2013 is evidence of that.

Yet Pennsylvania is not alone in its efforts to rig the Electoral College to favor the candidate of a particular political party. Among Republican-controlled swing states, vote-rigging in has become an epidemic. Since Democrat Barack Obama won a second term in the 2012 elections, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan have all considered legislating changes to electoral vote calculations that could alter the outcome of elections, despite a candidate losing the popular vote.

Awarding electoral votes to a candidate with fewer popular votes alters the value of the votes themselves. The changes that have been suggested in Pennsylvania, for example, gives more electoral weight to fewer votes in rural areas, while discounting the power of votes in more populated urban areas.

The Electoral College changes Pennsylvania Republicans want reflects the demographic support of the Republican Party, whose base consists primarily of conservative voters in sparsely populated parts of the country. Simply put, the votes of more liberal voters in big cities would not count as much as they do in the current, winner-take-all system. It’s legislative vote-rigging.

If the candidate who gets the most votes does not win the election, it is a fundamental attack on democracy and the design of the Constitution.

Republican pundits who have tried to brand Barack Obama as a socialist have failed to objectively label their own governing actions, which in the case of Pennsylvania state legislators, is something much worse. Rigging elections is what happens in dictatorships.



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