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PA Supreme Court Magically Turns Itself into Legislature

In an anticipated 4-3 partisan decision today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court majority rejected the original and heavily gerrymandered map submitted by the PA Senate Republicans, as well as three heavily gerrymandered maps subsequently submitted in the past week by the PA House Democrats, PA Senate Democrats, and even PA Governor Tom Wolf.

Instead of declaring none of the legislative district maps to be constitutional, because theoretically none of them have met the constitutional tests for compactness and adhering to existing political boundaries, and instead of declaring the governor’s map completely unwelcome because it is not his role to draw voting district maps, the PA Supreme Court has actually drawn its own redistricting map.

No court anywhere has the constitutionally derived role of drawing voting district maps, and no court anywhere can justify doing so. According to the US Constitution, drawing voting district maps is specifically a state legislature role.

I will say that the latest map, drawn by the PA Supreme Court majority, looks better in some ways than the other four maps recently submitted for review. This map is certainly tighter and breaks fewer county lines than the others. In that sense, it is a more reasonable map.

But that is not the question.

The first question is, should Pennsylvania just get on with voting, as we are now running out of time for the primaries, and just use the established map, deficient though it may be?

The second question is, should the US Supreme Court allow the PA Supreme Court to, in effect, turn itself into a legislature, by performing a key function that is specifically relegated only to the state legislature by the US Constitution?

Hopefully, the US Supreme Court will deny the lower court’s power grab, and direct Pennsylvania to go on with the previous voting district map, flawed though it was, the greater interest being in letting voters have a say at all, as opposed to political elites pulling strings to keep themselves in power.

As imperfect as the legislative process is, and as distasteful as the gerrymandering process is, it is what it is, meaning that this is what we’ve got. No court can magically turn itself into another branch of government. So let’s go with the existing map we had six weeks ago, and get on with elections.

 

Charlton Heston – still my president

Watching the Ten Commandments, I’m reminded why Charlton Heston is still my president.

While NRA president, Heston set standards for inspirational leadership. While an actor playing Moses and Ben Hur, he set standards for inspirational acting and portrayal. Heston was a man of faith, inspired by the Master of the Universe, the giver of law and the inspirer of America’s founding fathers.

Because Heston believed in God, he led an exemplary life. He was dedicated to liberty above all else, as he proved by marching with Martin Luther King Jr for black voting rights, and also safeguarding our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.

Leaders are hard to come by. In this age of empty Obama messianism, people like Heston become reminders of what we should expect, what we deserve.

When public officials dodge, dodge, and dodge again

How sad that a private citizen would care more about protecting a public park than the paid public employees entrusted with it. It is amusing, and sad, that a professional or two would find every evasive maneuver literally imaginable (and that is with a very excitable imagination) to avoid doing something that the public very much wants. I guess that at some point, the public will have to find out, and then who knows what they will say about it… Sorry to have to see this and say it.

Did Voter Fraud Occur in Dauphin County? How Would You Know?

Did Voter Fraud Occur in Dauphin County? How Would You Know?

By Josh First

November 1, 2012

PoliticsPA recently mentioned the question raised about voter fraud in Dauphin County during the April 2012 primary election, and as the subject of that question, it is necessary to describe its genesis.

On April 24th, voters cast their ballots in the primary election, in which I ran for state senate, as a Republican, against John McNally and Bill Seeds. The final results were surprising in several ways, encouraging our team to look closely at the numbers. What we found seemed too symmetrical to be coincidental. We were then discouraged to learn that Dauphin County’s voting machines (indeed, all electronic and computerized voting machines) are reportedly easy to tamper with, and that Dauphin County’s machines are stored in a non-secure location where access is neither controlled nor monitored.

When I then asked Dauphin County Bureau of Elections to explain the physical controls surrounding the voting machines, my request was forwarded to Dauphin County’s elected political leaders, the same people who had opposed me in the primary. Their May 31st, 2012, official response through the county solicitor was to reject everything I asked for: “Dear Mr. First, This office has reviewed your letter to the Bureau of Elections, Dauphin County, and we must advise that your request is denied…your request cannot be honored…the information and access requested is not proper.”

Despite voting machines forming the foundation of America, one would think that elected officials would be the first people to instill confidence in the voting process, not undermine it. Here in Dauphin County, you’d be wrong.

What piqued our curiosity back on April 24th were the following factors:

1) Political unknown John McNally received many more votes than voters we surveyed indicated was likely.

2) McNally’s electoral success was contrary to surrounding voter trends, where Republican Party-endorsed candidates Steve Welch and Jenna Lewis were trumped by underdogs.

3) Many other Republican primary candidates have also grossly out-spent their competitors, only to lose, so huge infusions of Party money were no guarantor of McNally’s success.

4) Political unknown John McNally received more votes than Bill Seeds in Lower Paxton Township, where Seeds has been a popular supervisor for 20 years and had every reason and expectation to win big. Similarly, in locations where I had done very well in the 2010 congressional primary race, McNally garnered amazingly high results.

5) McNally appeared to receive one vote for every other vote cast for Seeds and First, in every single precinct but one, a mathematical improbability if not an impossibility. Think hard about this.

6) Simple research indicated that mechanical and electronic voting machines are easily subject to fraud through pre-programming; paper ballots are probably more reliable. All that is needed is five minutes and a device from Radio Shack, and a voting machine will give you whatever results you tell it to give, and unless someone crawls inside the chip’s code, no one will ever know.

7) Given the politics and criminal investigation surrounding the Harrisburg incinerator debt, sufficient motive exists to commit another crime. Whoever wins this state senate seat will have enormous influence on the criminal investigation in Harrisburg.

Now, I am not accusing anyone of voter fraud. We don’t have the evidence. But, enough factors and conditions add up to make me wonder if something happened; it certainly could happen. The subsequent lack of transparency and resistance by county officials didn’t help restore my confidence. After being turned down by the county solicitor, I submitted a Right-To-Know request, which was honored at the end of the 30-day period. To summarize the response, Dauphin County’s voting machines, and the little computer chips that run them, are not treated like the nuclear launch controls they should be treated like. Instead of elected officials from each party having only half of the access, all of the access to the machines and their chips is held by one or two people from one political party. If that’s not a recipe for problems, then what is?

So, if voter fraud occurred in Dauphin County, how would we know? More to the point, will the county adopt strict measures to guarantee that our sacred voting machines cannot be tampered with?

Trust in official institutions is the defining characteristic of American democracy. It’s the centerpiece of the rule of law, which we simply take for granted. Your confidence in public institutions is the cornerstone of our democracy and civilization. When shared institutions are corrupted, or harnessed to serve narrow interests rather than the broad, public interest, then democracy fails. Don’t let that happen.

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