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Le Figaro, France

Republican Tricks for Winning Elections

By Jean-Sébastien Stehli

Translated By Laura Napoli

2 February 2013

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken

France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

Back in 2000, we found it hard to swallow the theft of the White House by George W. Bush, aided in his coup by the Supreme Court, led by the very conservative William Rehnquist, who stopped the recount of votes in Florida to announce the historic win of the son of the man who had nominated him for Chief Justice.

We believed that this bad event was an aberration for this otherwise exemplary democracy. In fact, it was only the beginning. What would follow was much worse.

In several solidly Democratic states, the GOP wants to change the rules for awarding Electoral College votes. Up until now, the votes have been allotted to the candidate carrying the largest number of votes in that state. Clear and simple.

The twisted minds of the Republican Party want to change this rule in at least five Great Lakes states, representing 64 Electoral College votes: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Virginia. In the last two decades, outside of Ohio, the four other states have voted consistently for Democratic candidates. The Michigan Republicans’ idea is as follows: Instead of awarding the votes to the candidate in first place, they will be distributed to the candidate carrying the most votes in each of the state’s 16 electoral districts. The result of this sleight of hand: Even though Barack Obama carried 450,000 more votes than Mitt Romney last November, the Electoral College’s votes would have gone to Romney. Thanks to Republicans, the methods used by banana republics will be imported to the U.S., the country with the most vibrant democracy.

The only reason that Michigan did not change its voting law in 2012 is that Republicans, who controlled the state Congress, feared that it would not favor their candidate at the time. We cannot be clearer about the intentions of the sponsors of these twisted projects.

Evidently, Republican initiatives seek to limit the influence of youth, Hispanic and black voters, who are most often clustered in urban centers. Republicans will not stop there. To date, no less than 19 states have passed laws that make it difficult for citizens to vote, such as making people present photo ID or proof of citizenship. Contrary to Europeans, not many Americans possess a passport or ID card outside of their driver’s license. The official justification for these changes is the fight against electoral fraud. But this, according to all of the non-partisan studies that have been undertaken in the last 20 years, is practically nonexistent. Thus, this is effectively a push to erect all sorts of voting barriers, bringing to mind the racial politics of southern states in 1965…

In Florida, Republicans passed a law limiting the number of days during which it is possible to vote in advance — a new practice. The idea is that the long lines at polling places discourage voters, mostly Democrats, of course. According to a study by Theodore Allen, an Ohio State University professor, the law discouraged 50,000 voters in Florida, mostly Democrats.

This month, the Supreme Court is going to examine the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the law that allowed blacks to vote in the South. The question before the Court is whether this law violates the right of each state to establish its own electoral laws. If the Court decides that it does, it will be a giant leap back, opening the door anew to the worst moments of segregation.



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