The Federal Aviation Administration is now in day 12 of a costly shutdown caused by House Republicans’ insistence that a measure making it harder for transportation workers to form a union be attached to agency’s re-authorization package. But if that rule were followed in congressional elections, the Republican leading the fight — House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) — wouldn’t even be a congressman.
The rule Mica attached to the package would make it harder to form unions by counting eligible voters who do not cast ballots as “no” votes, as opposed to leaving non-voters out entirely, as is done in the regular election process. According to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the results of Mica’s 2010 election would have been dramatically different with this rule in effect:
Rep. Mica received support from 69% of the voters in his district who cast a ballot in his successful 2010 re-election campaign, amounting to slightly over 185,000 actual votes tallied for him.
However, if you add the over 83,000 voters who voted against Rep. Mica to 312,000 eligible voters who did not participate, then Rep. Mica would only muster 32% of the overall total — falling far short of the majority needed for election. Rep. Mica would lose handily to the 68% of “voters” who chose his opponent or were non-participating voters whose absence was counted as a vote for the alternative.
In fact, the CWA found that if the rule applied to all congressional elections, the United States government wouldn’t have a single member of Congress:
None of the current Members of Congress would have won election in 2010 under this standard. For each of the 435 House races in the 2010 elections, if you added the non-voting eligible voting population in a congressional district to the actual vote total cast for the opponent(s) of the current Member, then not one Member would have mustered the majority of votes needed to win election.
According to the report, only six of the 435 members of Congress would have received more than 40 percent of the vote under this type of election. Mica’s proposal is not an assault on unions — it is an assault on the democratic election process itself.