california dreaming…

Posted on Friday 28 September 2007

Plagued by a lack of money, supporters of a statewide initiative drive to change the way California’s 55 electoral votes are apportioned, first revealed here by Top of the Ticket in July, are pulling the plug on that effort.

In an exclusive report to appear on this website late tonight and in Friday’s print editions, The Times’ Dan Morain reports that the proposal to change the winner-take-all electoral vote allocation to one by congressional district is virtually dead with the resignation of key supporters, internal disputes and a lack of funds.

The reality is hundreds of thousands of signatures must be gathered by the end of November to get the measure on the June 2008 ballot.

Although Maine (since 1972) and Nebraska (since 1996) award electoral votes to the popular vote winner in each congressional district, the California initiative ignited a national controversy with Democratic critics charging it was a power grab by Republicans who are regularly shut out of any California electoral votes by the current winner-take-all system. Democrats have won all the state’s 55 electoral votes in the last four presidential elections.

Nineteen of the state’s 53 congressional districts are currently held by Republicans, giving them a fair chance of winning those electoral votes in a presidential election. The remaining two electoral votes would still go to the state’s overall winner.

The initiative began in July with an air of mystery. Its text and paperwork were filed by a Republican law firm in Sacramento — Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk — but the actual identity of the backers was unknown. Observers noted the initiative would have helped independent candidates because its text specifically provided for third-party or independent candidates to win electoral votes by district.
The last several years have been both disillusioning and enlightening. I recall after 911 when Bush was ratcheting up for Iraq, I was opposed to the war but had trouble with the speculations about oil etc. For his whole first term, I hated what he was doing, but thought the reports of the "right wing conspiracy" were too paranoid to believe. Wrong on both counts – naive trusting boring old man. Even the craziness over the 2000 election with the "hanging chads" didn’t alert me to widespread attempts to mess with the vote. Wrong again. But it took the U.S. Attorney scandal for me to really believe that Karl Rove and friends were really systematically trying to jury-rig the vote using governmental agencies. But, Karl Rove and friends really were trying to systematically jury-rig the vote using governmental agencies.

Learning that it’s not Paranoia when they’re really out to get you has been an uncomfortable process for me. I haven’t liked it. On the other hand, it’s better than gullible. So now, when I read about the assault on the California Vote, I believe what I read. There was a heavy focus on California in their U.S. Attorney firings, and if they could add a change in how the electoral votes are apportioned, the Republicans stood to gain a lot in the Presidential vote. Here’s the key to non-paranoid vigilance when it comes to the vote: "The initiative began in July with an air of mystery."

My guess is that Karl Rove resigned for two reasons. First, he came close to getting caught in the U.S. Attorney Plan. He’s still not totally out of the woods. Second, things got too public, and his schemes weren’t going to work. There are too many of us newly paranoid people out here looking at stuff we never used to even know existed. Here‘s the whole scoop on this California story [GOP electoral initiative dealt major blows]…

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