Elections

Republicans Revive Bold Scheme to Rig Presidential Elections

This was originally published at The Huffington Post.

After Republicans failed to capture the White House in 2012, they dusted off a tried-and-true plan to improve their future electoral prospects. No, they wouldn't moderate their views or expand their appeal to win votes. They would just change the way that the votes are counted!

The plan: to rig the electoral college with the ultimate goal of squeaking out a Republican presidential win, even in an increasingly challenging electoral landscape.

Here's how it was supposed to work.

Before the 2010 election, Republican strategists focused energy and resources on gaining control of state legislatures, and succeeded in flipping party control of legislative chambers in blue states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. This allowed Republican legislatures to draw congressional districts, gerrymandering their states to ensure future Republican gains even in states where Democrats tend to win statewide.

GOP strategists then took it a step further. What if Republicans used their control over these blue states and their favorably gerrymandered electoral maps to make it harder for Democrats to win presidential elections?

Under the Constitution, each state determines how it will distribute its electoral votes to presidential candidates. All but two states (Maine and Nebraska) have a "winner take all" system, in which the winner of the state's popular vote earns all of its electoral votes. The Republican plan would keep the "winner take all" system in big, solidly red states like Texas. But it would change it in big, blue states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, ensuring that a Democratic candidate who wins the popular vote in the state doesn't go home with all of its electoral votes.

For instance, under the plan originally proposed in Pennsylvania after the 2012 election, which would have divided the state's electoral votes up by gerrymandered congressional districts, Mitt Romney would have won 13 of the state's 20 electoral votes, despite having lost the state's popular vote. Last year, the Republican-controlled state house in the presidential swing state of Virginia put forward a plan to do something similar. If the Virginia plan had been in effect in 2012, Mitt Romney would have carried away nine of the state's 13 electoral vote, despite having lost the state's popular vote to Barack Obama.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus made the goal of the scheme clear when he endorsed it last year, saying, "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."

The proposals in Pennsylvania and Virginia sank after groups like People For the American Way got out the word and residents realized the proposals were part of a blatant political ploy. But this month, the scheme was resurrected in Michigan, where a Republican state lawmaker is proposing his own plan to dilute the power of his state's reliably Democratic electoral college block. Under the plan introduced by Rep. Pete Lund, Michigan's electoral votes would be distributed according to a formula tied to the popular vote. It's not as blatant as the original Pennsylvania and Virginia proposals were, but it has the same goal: If it had been in effect in the last presidential election, it would have cut President Obama's electoral total in Michigan down to 12 from 16.

These plans can initially seem reasonable, even to progressives, many of whom are wary of the electoral college system. But this isn't a good-government plan to change the way our presidential elections are conducted. It's a targeted plot to get more electoral votes for Republicans, even when they're losing the popular vote. It's no coincidence that these plans have often been quietly introduced in lame duck sessions, when voters are paying less attention. These measures, if allowed to be passed quickly in a few states with little debate and attention, could have national implications and change American political history.

Voters should be allowed to pick their politicians. But this is yet another case of politicians trying to pick their voters. Like with voter suppression schemes and extreme gerrymandering, the GOP is trying to change the rules of the game for their own benefit. Voters can't let them get away with it.

PFAW

PFAW Action Fund Endorses Young Progressive Candidates in Michigan

People For the American Way Action Fund today endorsed a slate of young progressive candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature. The endorsements are part of PFAW Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program that supports progressive candidates age 35 and younger. The Michigan candidates endorsed today are a diverse mix of progressive leaders who are positioned to make Michigan’s legislature be more inclusive and accountable.

“These candidates are the best and brightest young progressive candidates running for the legislature in Michigan,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “They are people-oriented folks from all walks of life who will fight for social, economic, and environmental justice, and promote equality for all. Their leadership in their communities demonstrates a progressive vision that will benefit all Michiganders.”

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse the following Michigan YEP candidates for 2014:

•         Stephanie Chang – MI House District 6
•         Jon Hoadley – MI House District 60
•         David Knezek – MI Senate District 5
•         Kristy Pagan – MI House District 21
•         Rebecca Thompson – MI District 1
•         Robert Wittenberg – MI House District 27

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People For the American Way Action Fund Endorses Young Progressive Candidates in Michigan

People For the American Way Action Fund today announced its endorsements of a slate of young progressive candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature. The endorsees include a diverse mix of 35-and-younger candidates running for the Michigan state House of Representatives and state Senate, representing a new generation of progressive leaders who will put Michigan’s legislature back-on-track towards a common sense, inclusive, accountable public policy agenda for the state’s future. Their leadership represents a progressive vision that will benefit all Michiganders as they fight for social, economic, environmental justice and equality for all.

The endorsements are part of People For the American Way Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. YEP evaluates and endorses young progressive candidates age 35-and-younger in their bids for elected office around the U.S. at all levels.

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse these Michigan YEP candidates for 2014:

Stephanie Chang – MI House District 6

Running for Michigan’s House of Representatives District 6, Stephanie Chang is a Michigander whose dedication to the community has benefited many. Chang has worked around the state advocating for Affirmative Action, serving as a mentor for Detroit Asian Youth Project, and promoting a fair justice system. Chang’s knowledge and breadth of experience in Michigan make her an important leader for the state as she fights for social, economic, and environmental justice. Visit Stephanie’s page for more details.

Jon Hoadley – MI House District 60

Jon Hoadley is the clear choice to represent Michigan’s 60th District in the state House of Representatives. Hoadley, a small business owner and member of several advocacy organizations in Kalamazoo, is deeply ingrained and in tune with the needs of his community, which makes him the ideal representative. He has already worked to better Kalamazoo advocating for full LGBTQ equality, creating strong and sustainable public schools, and protecting the environment. Visit Jon’s page for more details.

David Knezek – MI Senate District 5

David Knezek is running for Michigan state Senate’s 5th District and has proven that he is the ideal candidate for the position. Knezek is a true leader, having been promoted to the rank of Sergeant during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps. At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, he was elected Student Government President, and in his senior year of college he was elected to be a Michigan state representative. Knezek has proven that he will advocate for his community and improve education, public safety, and job opportunities for Michigan citizens. Visit David’s page for more details.

Kristy Pagan – MI House District 21

Born and bred in Michigan, Kristy Pagan is the ideal candidate for the 21st District of Michigan’s state House of Representatives. She has worked in Washington, D.C. as a legislative aide and a national grassroots organizer. Her determination to serve coupled with her knowledge of and dedication to Michigan will serve the state well. Pagan is a true progressive, and has both the resolve and the passion to reform Michigan’s educational system, advocate for women and children, and improve job growth. Visit Kristy's page for more details.

Rebecca Thompson – MI District 1

Rebecca Thompson is running for election to the 1st District of the Michigan state House of Representatives. Thompson was born and raised in Detroit, and overcame experiences with poverty and homelessness to become a leader in the community. She has worked tirelessly to better Detroit for everyone, using her own experiences to positively impact those around her. Thompson is passionate about affordable education, improving safety, protecting women’s rights, and advocating for her community. Visit Rebecca's page for more details.

Robert Wittenberg – MI House District 27
                                                                                                                     
Robert Wittenberg is running to represent District 27 in the Michigan state House of Representatives. After being inspired by his parents’ and brothers’ work, he is determined to follow in their footsteps and serve his community. As a public servant, he advocates for full equality for the LGBTQ community, increased public transportation, and access to healthcare for all. Visit Robert's page for more details.

PFAW

People For the American Way Action Fund Endorses Lucy Flores for Nevada Lieutenant Governor

Today People For the American Way Action Fund announced its endorsement of Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores for Lieutenant Governor.

Flores, one of the first Latinas to serve in the Nevada legislature, rose rapidly into leadership. By 2013, she was already serving as Assistant Majority Whip, and she now serves as vice chair of the Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus.

“Lucy Flores is exactly the kind of young, dynamic, progressive leader that Nevada needs,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “Her story of overcoming adversity puts her in a unique position to fight for women’s rights and minority rights from a place of personal experience. I am confident she will continue to fight for equal protection under the law for all Nevadans.”

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Flores grew up as one of 13 siblings and struggled as a teenager, ultimately dropping out of high school. But with encouragement and support, Flores put her troubled years behind her, received a GED, and became the first in her family to go to college. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and later a law degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In 2008, Flores served on the Nevada Commission on Minority Affairs, where she was an advocate for the renewal of the state’s ombudsman for minority consumer affairs, ensuring equal protection under Nevada’s consumer protection laws. In the legislature, she passed landmark legislation improving high school testing, protecting consumers from predatory unauthorized practice of law, and protecting survivors of domestic violence from their abusers.

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to support Flores’ quest to “bring a vision and voice to Nevada that hasn’t been heard before.”  Learn more about her campaign for Lieutenant Governor at http://www.lucyflores.com.

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PFAW Action Fund Endorses Derek Cressman for California Secretary of State

People For the American Way Action Fund has announced an endorsement of Derek Cressman’s candidacy for California Secretary of State.

“Derek Cressman has been a consistent progressive leader, standing up against big money in politics and for fairness and the people’s voice,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “He will serve the people of California well as Secretary of State.”

Cressman is one of five primary candidates for Secretary of State.  He served as director of the Democracy Program for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the state PIRG organizations, fighting for the environment, open government, and fair elections.  He subsequently founded Earth Tones, an environmentally friendly communications company that donates 100 percent of its profits to environmental groups.

In 2006 Cressman began working with Common Cause on its groundbreaking voting rights and elections programs, eventually directing the organization’s Citizens United information campaign. While at Common Cause, Cressman led 35 state chapters as vice president for states. During his tenure, Common Cause expanded its coordination of grassroots organizing and advocacy on money in politics across all of its local chapters, pursuing local ordinances and referenda as a strategy to draw more attention to the issue.

Derek Cressman’s positions on women’s health, comprehensive immigration reform, public education funding, equality for all Americans, and money in politics – among other issues – distinguish him as quality progressive candidate for California Secretary of State.  His campaign website is http://www.derekcressman.com.

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'I Don't Want Everybody to Vote' – The Roots of GOP Voter Suppression

The lower the turnout tomorrow, the better Mitt Romney will do. It’s always been this way for Republicans. Anyone who doubts that needs to watch the video below. 

The media frequently reports on right-wing and GOP voter suppression efforts, but they rarely acknowledge the root cause – Republicans do better when fewer people vote. This is the driving force behind the GOP’s draconian voter ID laws and efforts to limit early voting, voter registration drives, and provisional voting.
 
The right wing and GOP have whipped up hysteria around voter fraud, which is virtually non-existent, in order to justify roadblocks to voting for millions of Americans. I’ll let Paul Weyrich explain why.
 
Weyrich is widely regarded as the “founding father of the conservative movement.” He founded ALEC and co-founded the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, Council for National Policy, and Free Congress Foundation, among others.
 
Speaking more than 30 years ago at a right-wing conference in Dallas, Weyrich set out the case for voter suppression. The right-wing and GOP are still acting on it to this day.
 
Watch:
"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

 

Court Rejects Florida's Efforts to Curtail Early Voting

In an opinion affecting 5 counties, a federal court rules that Florida's curtailed early voting would disproportionately harm African Americans.
PFAW Foundation

PFAW: In Ohio, a Resounding Victory for Voters over the Corporate Right

Voters in Ohio today voted resoundingly to repeal SB5, the anti-labor bill pushed through the state’s Republican legislature earlier this year.

PFAW Celebrates Victory of Wisconsin Voters Over Corporate Special Interests

Wisconsin voters yesterday ousted two right-wing state senators who had provided critical support for Gov. Scott Walker's devastating economic agenda.

After 2 big wins, what now? We keep fighting!

In the Wisconsin elections last night, Republicans barely held on to their majority by cashing in on their massive corporate support in the post-Citizens United era. But we changed the game and seized momentum heading into the next battles.

The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress

In this report, we look into the ten scariest newly elected members of the House, all sharing rapidly anti-choice and anti-equality views, enthusiastic support from the Religious Right, and reactionary economic ideas.

Dozens of Congressional Candidates Pledge to Support a Constitutional Amendment Overturning Court Ruling Enabling Corporations to Swamp Elections

Dozens of candidates for Congress have pledged to support a constitutional amendment to overturn a controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling and thereby help ensure that elections are not hijacked by corporations.

Three Young, Progressive Candidates Endorsed by PFAW Action Fund Win in Georgia Democratic Primary

Three young, progressive State House candidates endorsed by People for the American Way Action Fund won their party’s nomination in yesterday’s Democratic primary in Georgia.

Florida Special Election Shows Strength of Opposition to Citizens United

Democrat Ted Deutch decisively won a special election yesterday to fill the open seat in Florida's 19th congressional district. Deutch made his supprt for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

People For the American Way Voters Alliance Endorses Ted Deutch for Congress

People For the American Way today announced that its federal PAC has endorsed State Senator Ted Deutch's campaign for the United States House of Representatives.
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