That zombie Republican electoral college rigging scam — it lives!

Bobby Kennedy once allegedly said of Pennsylvania that it is “Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other, and Mississippi in the middle.” These days, Republican elected officials in the Keystone State are hard at work doing everything human possible to eliminate the Philly and Pittsburgh bits.

ThinkProgress is reporting that an exceedingly dodgy scam to designed to deliver the state’s electoral college votes to the G.O.P. is alive and well. Thirteen Republican members of Pennsylvania’s state senate are sponsoring a bill that would allot electoral college votes on the basis of Congressional districts. Due to shameless gerrymandering, in many states (Pennsylvania included) a disproportionate number of Congressional districts are solidly Republican, even though the state as a whole leans Democratic. So the national G.O.P. has been strongly advocating that these states institute schemes that discriminate against Democrats by apportioning electoral college votes by House district, rather than the majority vote in the state as a whole.

Earlier this year, similar schemes were defeated in a number of states, including Virginia and Michigan. But it looks as though latest incarnation of this scam might have a decent shot in Pennsylvania. All the plan needs is for one more state senator to sign on, in addition to the 13 who are already sponsoring the bill. According to a state representative mentioned in the ThinkProgress piece, Republicans “could conceivably ram [the bill] through both houses of the state legislature and have it on [Republican Governor] Corbett’s desk in just four days.” Awesome!

In other states, similar G.O.P. vote-riggning scams were quickly abandoned almost as soon as they saw the light of day, due to a loud public outcry. It is devoutly to be hoped that this is what will happen here. But as undemocratic and gross as these schemes are, there is one positive thing to be said about them, and that is that they reveal the utter craven desperation of the contemporary G.O.P. This is not a confident, proud, surging political party we’re looking at here. On the contrary, they are sweating bullets and seem to realize that their political message lacks popular appeal and that the only way they will be able to hold on to power is if they cheat. Ultimately, that’s a good sign for the forces of progress. But if the Repubs get away with this, the forces of progress will be ruthlessly crushed before they ever get to have a fighting chance at the polls.

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee