I have received some harsh criticism over my comment that the Republican proposal to divide up Pennsylvania's electoral votes according to Congressional districts, thereby virtually guaranteeing that two thirds of that state's electoral votes would go to the Republican presidential candidate in perpetuity, even if the popular vote were overwhelmingly Democratic, is nothing more than a scheme to rig the 2012 presidential election. But how can there be any other conclusion?
It is obvious that if Republican states like Texas stay with "winner take all", while normally Democratic states like Pennsylvania have their electoral vote split up by Congressional district, the Republicans would have a virtually insurmountable advantage in every Presidential election. We might as well dispense with having presidential elections.
Nor is this pernicious proposal merely an isolated attempt to suppress Democratic votes. It is part of a larger Republican strategy. Proposals in some Republican- dominated states to limit early voting, stop ex-felons from voting even after they have served their time and paid their debt to society, and, most transparent of all, require a photo ID in order to vote, all attempt to serve the same purpose. Since most, if not all states, charge to issue drivers licenses or other photo ID and the federal government does the same with passports, this requirement has the same effect as the old Southern poll taxes which were designed to keep African-American voters away from the polls.
Under George W. Bush, voter suppression almost became an art form. Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department engaged in a concerted attempt to investigate or sue legitimate voter registration groups over trumped up concerns about "voter fraud". Some of these groups were driven out of existence because they could not afford to defend themselves against this type of legal harassment.
I am not talking here about Acorn, about which there seem to have been legitimate concerns. I am talking about a general policy of attacking even the most legitimate attempts to register minority US citizen voters. Therefore, the Pennsylvania proposal has to be looked at in the larger context of Republican voter suppression attempts. And who can blame them? Any Republican strategist would cheerfully admit that high voter turnout is the worst thing that can happen to the Republicans in almost any election, especially those in swing states.
Attempts to defend the Pennsylvania proposal in response to my comment run along three lines: First, allowing states to choose how to divide their electoral votes is Constitutional. So what? Does that make it a good idea? Many things are Constitutional. Ronald Reagan's amnesty for 2 million unauthorized immigrants was Constitutional. Where are its defenders, especially in Reagan's own party, today? If Congress voted to abolish all immigration restrictions and declare open borders, that would be Constitutional too. Does mean that we should do so? I, for one, would not agree.
The second argument is that the Democrats have done this too, in one or two small states. That does not make it a good idea, either. Attempts to change the electoral voting system in any state without doing the same across the board for the whole country can only distort the nationwide election results, regardless of which party benefits from this form of vote manipulation.
The third argument is an ad hominem one directed against me, namely that I am an incurable Democratic partisan. It is true that I have voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since I was old enough to vote, beginning with John F. Kennedy. I voted, enthusiatically, and with a great deal of hope, for Barack Obama. So, I am quite sure, did many other pro-immigration advocates.
And what has been the result? Not only do I agree completely with ID's assessment of his betrayal of the Latino and other immigrant communities, but anyone who has been reading my own comments can see that I have been highly critical of the man I have called President "Nobama" and whom I have accused of lacking a part of the anatomy that every man takes for granted (the backbone, of course, what else did you think I meant?).
The Republicans themselves have been far from uniform on immigration. Rick Perry, a crude bully in some other respects, has been a lot more pragmatic and realistic about immigration, to his credit. Michele Bachmann, on the other hand, is no less lunatic in her views on immigration than she is on almost all other issues. She wants every state to adopt an Arizona-type immigration law, and she is even reportedly seeking an endorsement from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in an effort to corner the anti-Latino hate vote. If any monkeying around with the electoral vote system puts someone like her in the White House, immigrants are not the only people in America who would live to regret it.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.