PA State Senator, Judge, & PA NAACP President Rebuke Electoral College Plan

(Harrisburg, Pa.)-- On Thursday, February 28, State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Judge Nelson Diaz and Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire held a press conference call on the latest attempt by Republicans to undermine Latino and African-American voters. 

Instead of focusing on the issues that Pennsylvanians care about, Republicans are coordinating efforts to make changes to the way Pennsylvania allocates its 20 Electoral College votes.  This latest effort is more of the same from Pennsylvania Republicans. They tried to suppress the vote last year with burdensome Voter ID laws and now they want to rig the Electoral College to dilute the strength of traditionally Democratic constituencies.  They’re not interested in appealing to these voters on the issues. They’d rather find a way to change the rules of the game than make an honest attempt to win these votes.

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans have rounded up 12 co-sponsors for the legislation introduced last week by Senator Dominic Pileggi (R- Delaware).
 
Listen to audio of the call here.  Remarks from the call as prepared for delivery: 

Sen. Vincent Hughes

Last November, Pennsylvanians were presented with a stark choice between President Obama’s vision of moving America forward with a strong middle class versus the Republicans who offered the same failed policies of the past. And we chose President Obama.

Unfortunately, Republicans here in Harrisburg haven’t come to terms that their ideas are out of step with Pennsylvanians. Instead of focusing on the issues that Pennsylvanians care about, they’re more interested in rigging the next election in their favor with a scheme to change how Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral College votes.

This is sour grapes, plain and simple. It’s a partisan ploy designed to benefit Republican Presidential candidates as the expense of the people of Pennsylvania.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Republicans try to rig the election in their favor. In 2012, the Republican Party led a coordinated campaign to disenfranchise millions of voters through burdensome voter ID laws. And it’s no surprise that these laws would disproportionately hurt African Americans and Latinos.

The current proposal would essentially have the same effect. And they are trying to do it without anyone noticing.

The Republicans in the House and Senate could ram this legislation through both houses in a matter of days once it’s introduced. The House could pass it in three days and the Senate could ram it through in as little as 24 hours.

They know they can’t win on the issues, so they’re resorting to underhanded tactics and undermining the majority of voters in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Republicans have made their first order of business to change the Electoral College to benefit their candidates. They’ve rounded up 12 Co-Sponsors for the bill introduced last week by Senator Pileggi.

We’ve seen Republicans ram partisan, divisive legislation though State Houses around the country. The same thing could happen here in Pennsylvania if we don’t stand up and fight for voices to be heard. Undermining the majority of Pennsylvanians is a cynical attempt to avoid having to win over voters on the issues.

J. Whyatt Mondesire

In 2012, African-Americans turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots in last year’s Presidential election. 

They did so despite many efforts to make voting more difficult.

In Pennsylvania, a voter ID law was challenged in the courts and those legal challenges continue. Now, a bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania State Senate that would change how Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral College votes and undercut the voices of people of color in Pennsylvania.

African-Americans participated in the 2012 election in great numbers and their votes were decisive in states all across the country, including Pennsylvania. The plan being proposed in Harrisburg is designed to severely dilute the voice and influence of communities of color in Pennsylvania.

That’s not what elections are supposed to be about.  Politicians should have to address the concerns of all kinds of Americans when running for President. Instead, the plan to change how Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral Votes is designed to minimize the power of constituencies that do not normally vote for Republicans.

If the Republican Party is serious about reaching out to African-Americans, they should focus on reaching out to African-Americans communities instead of dreaming up ways to minimize the impact African-American voters can have on our elections.

Judge Nelson Diaz

Thank you. My name is Nelson Diaz and I am a former Philadelphia city solicitor, a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and General Counsel at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As a Pennsylvanian, I’m very concerned about the changes to the Electoral College being proposed.
In 2012, Latino voters were a key constituency and their participation in the 2012 election was critical to President Obama’s victory around the country and here in Pennsylvania. It demonstrated that Latino voters cannot be ignored and the issues important to Latinos were central to the election.

The plan being put forth by Sen. Pileggi would result in Latino voters being ignored. Diminishing the impact that Latinos can have on Presidential elections in Pennsylvania is not how the Republican Party should be addressing its problems with Latinos.

The Republican Party was on the wrong side of the issues in 2012. It looks like in Pennsylvania, instead of appealing to the growing electorate, Republicans are instead scheming to reduce the impact Latinos can have on elections.

Republicans in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida have all come out against Electoral College vote rigging in their states, including former Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Republicans in Pennsylvania should follow the lead of their colleagues in these other states. If Republicans are not appealing to a broad coalition of voters, they need to look at their policies. Instead, Republicans are looking to change the rules of the game rather than change their party and their policies.

Pennsylvanians will not stand by and watch the Republican Party manipulate our election process. In 2012, Pennsylvanians fought burdensome voter ID laws, which failed in the courts and could not keep millions of voters from standing for hours in long lines to make sure their voices were heard and their ballots cast.

Republicans should focus on the issues Pennsylvanians care about instead of undermining the majority of voters here in the Keystone State.

Contact Lauren Weiner at 202-470-5870 or Jeremy Funk at 202-470-5878 for more information.

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Americans United for Change is a 501c4 issue-advocacy organization established in 2005 to beat back President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security and has been working ever since to advance a progressive agenda in Congress including health care reform, reversing climate change, Wall Street reform, protecting Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security from benefit cuts, minimizing gun violence, and requiring millionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share in taxes.

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