Virginian Shenanigans Begin Again

by: Kysen

Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 04:20:00 AM EST

Virginia, a beautiful State known for her Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah Caverns and Shenandoah now in the news for her Shenandoahigans. There are currently two underhanded attempts in the works by the State GOP to gain control of power (both at the State and National levels) via the electoral process.


The first, a last minute power grab at the State level via draconian gerrymandering. The second, a blatant attempt to sway National elections by changing the way Virginia's electoral votes are distributed.

While the purposeful abuses of the electoral process are horrifying, there is still a chance that neither will become law. One, it appears, may be too damaging to the Governor's optics, and he may refuse to sign it when it hits his desk... while the other may run afoul of the Voting Rights Act and currently has fellow Republicans stating they will not support it.

In other words...there is yet hope.

Kysen :: Virginian Shenanigans Begin Again
It was not only Martin Luther King was the second inauguration of our first black President. A day to be proud of on so many fronts...and a day that Virginia state Sen. Henry Marsh (D), 79-years-old and a civil rights veteran in his own right, traveled to DC to witness history.

Taking advantage of his absence (making a 20-20 R/D split a 20-19 one), the Virginia GOP Senators forced a mid-term redistricting plan through via amendments to a House bill that had only held minor corrections to existing congressional district lines when written. The move was a surprise to all Democrats, and even caught Republican Governor Bob McDonnell unawares (supposedly).

The bill passed 20-19, and the outcry was immediate. Not only did they take advantage of a civil rights veteran's attendance at our President's inauguration to surreptitiously push through their revised bill...once they passed it, they adjourned in honor of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Yes, on Martin Luther King day, they pushed through a bill to weaken the power of black votes in Virginia and then adjourned in honor of a CONFEDERATE. Oy.

As if state electoral shenanigans are not slimy enough, Virginia is leading the pack when it comes to States whose GOP are trying to alter the way their electoral votes are apportioned. While Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are also trying to pass similar laws, Virginia is furthest along in implementing their plans.

Luckily, the bill is likely 'illegal' when held up to the Voters Right Act. Unluckily, that very same Voters Right Act may well be repealed by Robert's Supreme Court later this year. Double Oy.

But in Virginia, where the plan has advanced the furthest, several voting-rights experts told it could be on shaky legal ground. Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires certain states, including Virginia, to clear any voting changes with the U.S. Justice Department. If the Feds find that the change would have a "retrogressive effect" on minority voters, they can block it.


It seems pretty clear where the plan runs into trouble when existing law is applied:

"Does this change make African-American voters worse off than they were before?" asked Daniel Tokaji, a prominent election-law scholar and a professor at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, laying out what he said was the key legal question at issue. "It's hard to argue it doesn't."


The bill in question would give districts one each of 11 of Virginia's 13 electoral votes. The final 2 votes would go to the Presidential candidate who wins the most districts in the State. Using those numbers, Obama (who won 51.2% of Virginia's votes in the 2012 election) would only have received four electoral votes to Romney's NINE. You can see why the GOP wants to play shady.


In this case, though, it is too shady for even some GOP Senators. Two have said they will not support the plan. Not only does it not have the support of all GOP Senators, but Governor McDonnell has been hesitant to show support as well (he has eyes on higher office and does not want to appear to be a hyper-partisan). So, for now at least, the odds of it making its way to his desk are slim, and the odds of him signing it into law are, perhaps, even slimmer.

That panel tilts in favor of Republicans by an 8-7 margin, but two GOP members - Smith and Vogel - plan to oppose it.

Smith's concern is that changing Virginia's system would put it odds with most other states; only Maine and Nebraska proportionately award electors.

"That would be manipulating the system," Smith said. "I'm partisan, but I very much believe in a level playing field."

A spokesman for McDonnell said the governor believes "Virginia's existing system works just fine as it is."

The Virginian-Pilot

Whether or not either bill becomes law, it is frightening that their passage would be so blatantly attempted.

An astute observer did the math and commented to the Virginian-Pilot article on the matter:

Glad to see some Republicans have a brain
Submitted by absdoggy on Fri, 01/25/2013 at 3:20 pm.

I am glad to see this: one person, one vote, not one district, one vote.

Moreover, there's some very interesting math when you look at what this proposal would have done had it been in effect in 2012:

Obama won 51.2% of the vote. But, under this scheme, he would have garnered only 4 out of the 13 electoral votes.

4/13 electoral votes divided by the 51.2% of the voters he won gives us -


3/5. Yes, that's right, the Republicans would have treated Obama voters as 3/5 of a person. Ring any bells? No wonder they like this.

If the hyper-partisan district lines are allowed to be redrawn, it would pretty much provide a protected and permanent State GOP majority.

If Virginia and the other States attempting to reapportion their electoral votes were to all would become much more difficult for a Democrat to win the Presidency. If their plans were to become the national norm (admittedly, not likely) it would be nearly impossible to elect a Democratic President. Makes me shudder.

What worries me most, honestly, is that Virginia is just one State dealing with such crooked and unethical tactics. Were the electoral votes appointed Nationally the way Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin Republicans are now fighting for...Obama would have lost to Romney by 6 electoral votes (despite having won millions more actual votes).

I would like to believe that such flagrant and shameless abuses of our Electoral process would be rebuked and and cast aside by majorities at both State and National levels...but, I'm no Pollyanna. The GOP has gerrymandered their way to a near permanent majority in the House of Representatives...and they are doing their damnedest to do the same in State Houses across the nation. It is a slow creeping power grab...and thus far seems to be working way too well.

For now we must watch closely and hope that the Supreme Court upholds the Voting Rights Act as a still necessary guardian of civil rights. Watch closely and hope that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's aspirations towards higher office sway him towards governing in a fair and just manner. Watch closely and hope that SANE GOP Senators stand up to their colleagues and refuse to change established electoral law.

We need to watch closely, speak loudly and act quickly...because it is exceedingly evident that the GOP intends to take their plan Nationwide. If they should succeed, Lord help us all.

At least in Virginia, for now, their plans have run into troubles. Let us hope that those troubles continue to plague them and their grand attempts at cheating the system result in nothing but failure.


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Hope I have made sense... (2.00 / 29)
this was written up the wee hours and may be chock o block full of errors (grammatical and otherwise).

Virginia has had a rough couple years politically. There are other issues at the local level that are just as infuriating (I may yet write a diary on the Tunnel Drama Debacle here in Hampton Roads).

Virginia just happens to be the one in the news right now, but she is far from the only State where the GOP is trying to manipulate laws to their advantage.

What does the GOP have up their sleeves in YOUR State?


Excellent reporting, Kysen. (2.00 / 20)
Dirty tricks in the works all over the place. The GOP wasn't so sure mucking with the votes was the way to go back when they thought Romney was going to win, but now they're quite certain. As Demographics shift there's no way for Republicans to consistently win elections fairly unless they change their policies/platform. It just won't be possible as the country grows, changes, and moves forward. And since the GOP is not likely to alter any of its unholy bullshit policy, I guess cheating is the only "logical" way to go from here.

What does the GOP have up their sleeves in YOUR State?

In Alabama, the GOP doesn't need sleeves. Most of their nonsense is safe and effective right out in public view. Not much need for trickery (although they still engage in plenty of shiftiness, just to stay in practice).

ALSO in Alabama... no one can hear you scream.

Ummmm... Kysen?


Waiiiiiiiiiit a minute... you're in Virginia?

But I always thought you were a Senator from KY...??

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

[ Parent ]
/laughing.... (2.00 / 18)
I can't remember who it was on MyDD that wrote me this VERY excited and earnest email about Kentucky politics and wanting to know which Senator I was and what I thought about them.

I almost felt bad telling him that, no, I am not a Senator, in Kentucky or otherwise.

He did not bother replying.


I wish I could remember which article it was I read, but, one of the quotes surprised was from Mississippi's Haley Barbour...and it essentially said that he flatly disagreed with the tactics being used by the GOP to finagle the Electoral College.

So, surprisingly enough...even some of the further to the Right GOP pols have issues with the plan.

One can hope that sanity prevails (though, when it comes to Republicans anymore...I'd surely not bet on it).

GOP Delusional Insanity


[ Parent ]
Haley Barbour, quoted by TPM (2.00 / 13)
While former RNC chair Haley Barbour says he does not agree with [Reince Priebus's talking up a plan to rig the electoral college in blue states to favor the GOP], and is skeptical of how much support it has within the party....he said states have a right to change their electoral college apportionment, noting Maine and Nebraska already award their electoral by Congressional District. t he did not endorse similar proposals in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, saying he was a "traditionalist myself" and that he "would not be for it."


[ Parent ]
Beware of Southern politicians claiming to be "traditionalists". (2.00 / 4)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Kysen, your writing makes PERFECT sense (2.00 / 11)
The underlying shenanigans? Not so much. Thank you for looking beneath the rock and reporting on the icky things that lurk there. I've spent quite a bit of time in Virginia for business, and have seen some things there that strain my ability to give my fellow humans the benefit of the doubt. My only solace is seeing once solidly GOP-voting friends there saying that the party has driven them away with their extremism. Ya think?  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

-- Oscar Wilde

[ Parent ]
One does not have to turn over too many rocks in VA politics.... (2.00 / 4)
to find icky things.

There are many who have been driven from the evidenced by the number of previously GOP lever-pulling voters cast their ballots for Obama. Virginia going Blue for the past 2 elections was not just the result of growth in NorVa and Hampton Roads.

Governor McDonnell's execrable performance concerning the negotiations for a second Mid-Town tunnel (connecting Portsmouth and Norfolk) has done even more permanent damage to the GOP 'brand' in Hampton Roads. I might write on it later this week. It is an example of painful idiocy that has real life harmful effects that will last for decades (nearly SIX decades).

In fact, I have a math problem pertaining to it that is beyond my (admittedly poor) abilities....any resident Mathematically Minded Moose willing to crunch a few numbers for me?


[ Parent ]
Republicans can't win on the issues, and the demographics (2.00 / 23)
are moving in the wrong direction. The only way that they can win is by cheating.  

This really is a big deal. (2.00 / 17)
I hope that lawyers are readying arguments to smote this in the court system.

In states where the Republicans are in charge and have already gerrymandered the state legislatures for the next 8 years, there is not a heck of a lot anyone can do electorally. They have effectively disenfranchised all urban voters and changed the rules.

Dave Roberts' tweet is right. I don't expect shame to work but people need to tell Republicans that what they are doing is wrong.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

They know its wrong (2.00 / 3)
they think their cheating for the good of the country.
"Saving America from itself"

[ Parent ]
I doubt any of these laws will pass now (2.00 / 19)
My bigger concern would be attempts to pass them AFTER 2014. I think we'll see a significant number of them in various states then.

I'm hoping that David Frum is right when he says these will go nowhere and are just another stage of grieving, but I think so much depends on the Supremes' decision on the Voting Rights Act.

I found myself cynically wondering if the reason some Republicans are backing off is the realization that the optics on this would affect Supreme Court arguments on whether the Voting Rights Act remains relevant.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

Rachel did a segment on this last night. Perhaps the most (2.00 / 18)
worrisome state is Michigan whose governor and legislators do not give a rat's ass about what the citizens think.  After voters voted to overthrow the emergency manager's law, the legislature recently passed and the governor signed a new emergency manager law, one which goes not permit voters to reject it again.  I think these clowns will do whatever they want with no fear of anyone or anything.

"I base most of my fashion sense on whether or not it itches"  -- Gilda Radner

[ Parent ]
Which is why, instead of arguing over possible candidates in 2016, (2.00 / 5)
we need to be focused on 2014.  At the local level.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Agreed, wholeheartedly. n/t (2.00 / 4)


[ Parent ]
I don't think it possible to be cynical enough... (2.00 / 4)
when pondering any move by the current GOP.


[ Parent ]
I notice that the sign (2.00 / 15)
saying "Welcome to Virginia" appears to have a number of bullet holes in it.

Just sayin'.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

/grin (2.00 / 4)
While, indeed, it appears as though the sign has been used for target interstate travel experiences have shown that that tends to be common tomfoolery no matter the State.

What is not quite as common, yet, is the type of blatant shenanigans going on in our State government (and only 'yet' because the GOP does not hold control at the State level in every State).


[ Parent ]
Worst case scenario. What will happen if these atrocious laws (2.00 / 12)
are passed before 2016 and a Republican wins the presidency in spite of the fact the Democrat won the popular vote?  I think we as a country are in a far different place than we were in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote but Bush got the presidency.  I fear we would be in an extremely dangerous place although I'd bet the gun crazies who are stocking guns and ammo to defend themselves against the government would probably put their weaponry back in the closet.  After all, their party would control everything.  I'm just a worry wart but this potential change in electoral law really concerns me.

"I base most of my fashion sense on whether or not it itches"  -- Gilda Radner

Teacherken writing on Obamavote=3/5 person on the Orange (2.00 / 10)
As I post. 9:25 am EST. I will type it manually as most people know their way to Orange Swamp. As every time I embed I find some new way to screw up.

On what possible grounds would the courts have (2.00 / 14)
to repeal the Voting Rights Act? That is categorically absurd.

If the Republicans want autocratic, single-party rule, and they want to foist this upon the populace of the United States vis-à-vis gerrymandering districts, I think that they're essentially asking for a state of full civil revolt. I don't think that many (including Independents) would really take that lying down, sorry. They might as well go ahead and declare the U.S. the United Republican States and see how that goes over for them.

I know they probably think they're being subtle/insidious, but honestly, we can see what they're doing.

They're about as subtle as a dog clomping through paper bags.

And for the love of God, do they really want to start acting like dictators? Nothing gets the votes out better than playing like Kim Jong Il II.

Next up: Republicans will claim that, yes Virginia (sic), there really are unicorns in them there hills.


North Korea really is unfortunate. (2.00 / 4)
There was a moment of hope that the new Great Leader would be better than the last, but he is either a puppet of the power structure or as nuts as his dad (probably both).

As madness in the rest of the world continues to recede, NK stands out more and more as a global tragedy. It is head and shoulders above the second most fucked up place on earth, with an infinitely less likely road to Not Doing That. The next most messed up place (pick one), while still being tragic, could be argued to have a way out.

North Korea is a prison with 20M+ prisoners.

Somehow, someday, this has to stop.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I was just talking about this 60 Minutes clip... (2.00 / 5)
it was from an episode a few weeks back.

Heartbreaking...and appalling.


[ Parent ]
God dammit (2.00 / 5)
That just has to stop. It has to.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
This may be showing my political ignorance.. (2.00 / 6)

I do not understand how North Korea was allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. The nation has been run by a lunatic (a string of them...grandfather, son, grandson) since at least the 50s. For all the drama over Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, an already nuclear armed North Korea is far more horrifying, imo.

Also, I don't understand why there has not been some sort of 'accident' that took out their nukes AND their 'Dear Leader'.

The people of North Korea deserve such 'accidents' to occur...even though the transition might be painful for them (so many are plainly brainwashed and unaware of the realities of the world) the long run it would improve their lot on this silly planet.

The 'Three Generations' thing freaks me out. Born into that environment and so completely uneducated that one does not even realize they are lacking an education...believes that that existence is the full of what life has to offer. Fucking disgusting.


[ Parent ]
"Allowed" is a pretty broad term, (2.00 / 3)
I think "managed to get them through the blind eye of China and a US desire to avoid a global holocaust" might be closer.

North Korea is, aside from everything else, an example of how much the US doesn't suck. China - for all the progress made in recent years - is still a country that find North Korea tolerable. China could have stopped NK from getting nukes, and could have ended the 23 years this young man spent growing up in a concentration camp (that would have made Himmler jealous) before it even started.

I argued with some pacifist Canadian friends many years ago that a nuclear strike against NK might be a humanitarian act. While I was being intentionally hyperbolic, that in fact may have been (and may still be) true. The place is everything Hitler dreamed of, and it has been going on for generations.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Yeah, those are the tracks... (2.00 / 3)
that my train of thought was following.

Yes, it would be a horrific event....but, it would be A horrific event that would put end to 50 years of horror.

Dunno, just seems to me like there is something that ought be done...and that by doing nothing we are failing on a grand scale.


[ Parent ]
Every year NK continues as it is, (2.00 / 4)
more than 20 million years of individual human suffering continues.

It is a karmic black hole.

With no end in sight, or road leading there.

In a perfect world China would address the issue. In the real world, it is hard to imagine a way out for the people there.

Then, the century of deprogramming could begin.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Jeez, even Ken Cucchinelli doesn't think the electoral vote thing (2.00 / 7)
is a good idea.  Posturing for a run at Governor?

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

When is he NOT posturing? (2.00 / 4)
But, yes, he is absolutely making a run for Governor (and, as of now, is likely to win the Republican Primary and be their candidate).

He is a creep.


[ Parent ]
I'm getting tired of this crap (2.00 / 3)
Seriously.  The Republicans need to figure out how to win without having to completely rework the rules.  Do these state legislators and governors (the ones not smart enough to walk away from this, as some have) not understand that if they piss off the electorate enough it'll bite them, bite them hard?

In addition, of course, to being the wrong thing to do....

Pavlov is at work. (2.00 / 2)
The party seems to be learning in fits and starts.

But, yes, I am really tired of this crap too.

The false equivalency is that both sides are acting the same. They are not. The GOP has gone full-gunga BizarroMao, shouting "if only we could be More Pure it will all work!"

I'm not sure the American Left has every gone this far in the opposite direction. It would be like the Democrats basing all arguments on the Soviet Model, which I am pretty sure never happened.

At a certain point they have to learn they are just embarrassing themselves, and anyone who would generally agree with them. Embarrasses me, for sure, to say that there are things about basic GOP ideals that I agree with.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]

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