Attorney General Eric Holder has a solid record on voting rights, and he’s criticized Republican state lawmaker’s efforts to restrict the franchise in the past — at one point comparing voter ID laws to an unconstitutional poll tax. At a speech in New York yesterday, Holder added a new line to his previous attacks on voter suppression, suggesting that DOJ will respond with legal action if any Republican state lawmakers move forward with their proposals to rig the Electoral College:
Long lines are unnecessary. Shortened voting periods are unwise and inconsistent with the historic ideal of expanded participation in the process. Recent proposed changes in how electoral votes are apportioned in specific states are blatantly partisan, unfair, divisive, and not worthy of our nation. Let me be clear again: we will not sit by and allow the slow unraveling of an electoral system that so many sacrificed so much to construct.
There are two versions of the GOP’s election rigging plans, both of which Republicans want to enact exclusively in blue states. One version would allocate electoral votes in several targeted blue states by Congressional district, rather than to the winner of the state as a whole. The other version, which is currently being pushed by Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R), would allocate electoral votes proportionally — so that Mitt Romney would have won a significant chunk of Pennsylvania’s electoral voters even though President Obama carried the state. As with the congressional districts plan, Pileggi’s election-rigging plan would give away electoral votes to Republicans in his blue state, while still keeping all red state electors in GOP hands:
Holder’s suggestion that he would bring the full weight of the Department of Justice down upon any state that tried to steal the White House is certainly welcome, although it alone will not be enough to stop these election-rigging plans. Ultimately, the Justice Department’s ability to protect voting rights depends on a Supreme Court that is not openly hostile to the franchise — and the Roberts Court’s contempt for voting rights pervades their decisions. If the GOP election-rigging plans are to be defeated, it will require citizens in states like Pennsylvania raising their voice in outrage at this blatant attempt to steal American democracy.