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The New Gerrymandering By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 10, 2004


THOSE WHO SET VOTING’S BOUNDARIES GET THE POWER. This dirty little secret has shaped our politics since 1812, when Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry re-drew the boundaries of state Senate districts to favor the election of his fellow Jeffersonians.

A map of these oddly-shaped new districts resembled a salamander, which wags soon named a “gerrymander,” a name that lives on in infamy as a high political art form.

Gerrymandering defeats democracy by redistributing votes. Imagine three adjoining congressional districts that among them have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. A careful vote count will reveal which precincts and neighborhoods favor one party and which favor the other.

By re-drawing boundaries in exotic ways, a partisan Democratic state legislature can (to use one of three gerrymandering techniques) squeeze a large majority of the region’s Republicans into one district, thereby creating two other congressional districts in which a solid majority of voters are Democrats.

Because of this gerrymander, two Democrats win seats in Congress with a solid 55 percent vote. One Republican wins a seat with a 70 percent majority, but he will not complain because his overloaded GOP district guarantees many years of easy re-election.

The losers are voters whose ability to change things or hold lawmaker feet to the fire is nullified by gerrymandering’s stacked deck. This is why the re-election rate in Congress often approaches 98 percent. The system is rigged by incumbents to favor incumbents.

How far can gerrymandering tilt elections to thwart democracy in our republic? In 1986 the entire difference in ballots cast for Congress nationwide for Republicans or Democrats was only 125,000 votes (about one-quarter of the population of a single congressional district).

Democrats had so rigged district boundaries by gerrymandering, however, that what was a virtual tie vote nationally resulted in the election of 41 more Democrats to the lower house of Congress than Republicans – and continued Democratic monopoly control of the House of Representatives where all taxing and spending bills originate.  Only now is this unfair, anti-democratic stranglehold by Democrats beginning to be broken in states such as Georgia and Texas.

Democrats are now fighting to regain power with a new kind of gerrymandering. Instead of altering lines on a geographic map, they are now seeking to alter the demographics of the electorate by turning new groups of people into voters. Consider some examples:

Children as young as fourteen ought to be allowed to vote, proposed California State Senator John Vasconcellos (D.-Santa Clara) on Monday.  His draft Constitutional Amendment, supported by several fellow Democratic lawmakers, would grant half a vote to 16-year-olds and a quarter-vote to 14-year-olds in state elections beginning in 2006.

The 71-year-old lawmaker calls his idea “Training Wheels for Citizenship.”

“When we gave the vote to those who didn’t own property, then to women, then to persons of all colors, we added to the richness of our democratic dialogue and our own nation’s integrity and its model for the world,” said Vasconcellos.

We logically lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 when 18-year-olds were being drafted to fight in Vietnam. But why stop at 14?  Many years ago I spoke at a conference at Hunter College in New York City on the same dais with famed educator John Holt, who was advocating giving votes to five-year-olds.

(Or would five-year-olds merely serve as rubber stamps, giving their parents additional votes? This would be easy enough when, today, more than 25 percent of votes are cast absentee via mail – and Oregon has moved to cast all ballots via the mails and the hands of unionized, predominantly Democratic letter carriers.)

Today’s internet-savvy 14-year-olds may have more data than did their peers 40 years ago, but they do not necessarily have any more wisdom, maturity, or life experience to immunize them against delusion, demagogues and deceivers.

Vasconcellos’ aim in gerrymandering the electorate by lowering the voting age boundary is obvious.

“Those who are not liberals at age 20 have no heart,” the old saying goes, “and those who have not become conservatives by age 30 have no brain.” By gerrymandering the voting age downward to enfranchise hormone-warped, non-working, non-taxpaying teens who know little more about the world than their unionized Leftist teachers tell them, this Democrat lawmaker wants to skew the electorate farther to the Left.

“If we could vote, politicians would see us as votes, not just kids, and they would take our issues seriously,” a Berkeley High School student told Associated Press. He is correct, and this is precisely why letting 14-year-olds offset the votes of their parents is a terrible idea.

Felons lose their right to vote while in prison in most states and even after release in a few states, including Florida.  In 2000 an estimated 10,000 felons voted illegally in Florida. Where their voter registration was checked, 85 percent of these convicted felons were registered as Democrats.

(This makes perfect sense for them to favor the party of legalized theft, taxing the daylights out of the rich and productive so that the fruits of their labor can be given to the lazy and unproductive. Democratic Party class warfare is the criminal mindset in political form.)

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other Democratic-aligned operatives are lobbying almost frantically to re-enfranchise convicted felons.

If you debate such an advocate, you will hear the argument that felons freed from prisons on parole or after serving their term “have paid their debt to society and deserve to have their rights restored.” Ask the Leftist making this argument if he likewise favors restoring the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms that is now denied convicted felons in most states. You will be told: “Oh, no, that’s different. We can’t have a person with a history of violence or criminal behavior allowed to buy a gun!”  (This liberal, of course, also wants to outlaw your right to buy a gun.)

Ask yourself: how would our politics change if felons everywhere regained the vote. What would it mean if your lawmakers pandered and accommodated his policies to win the lawbreaker vote – the way former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (and doubtless his former Lt. Governor John F. Kerry) campaigned inside prisons, where thousands of inmates are also voters. Do you want your vote cancelled out by the Leftist vote of a felon who has been gerrymandered into your voter list?

The mentally ill in asylums are restricted from voting in many states. Democrats are eagerly supporting the Mental Health Voter Empowerment Project that aims to make voters out of people too mentally distorted to evaluate candidates – or in many cases even to know who or where they are.

It’s not hard to imagine how easily government-employed, socialist nanny-state health workers could fill out each patient’s absentee ballot, or could accompany a patient into the voting booth and direct his hand to every Democratic candidate. 

You need only listen to the irrational rants of Democratic candidates to recognize that this is the political party of voters with low IQs, voters too stupid to understand cause-and-effect, supply-and-demand, freedom and responsibility as flip-sides of the same coin, or that if you tax productivity you get less of it.

It is the party of people who have never attained mental adulthood and want to be taken care of like children. And it is the party of politicians who treat their voters like children, keeping them in a state of government dependency, insecurity and fear.

Democrats are confident that if they can gerrymander the mentally ill onto the voter rolls, a majority of these new votes will be theirs. Their votes will offset yours. What does this tell the rest of us about the Democratic Party?

But in the spirit of social compassion, do we want society guided by the votes of people too mentally incompetent to run their own lives?  Giving the power of the vote to such people could in the long run be harmful not only to the rest of us but also to them.  If they were sane, they would agree.

Citizenship should be no bar to voting, according to University of California Los Angeles scholar Joaquin Avila. Last December he proposed letting illegal aliens and other non-citizens vote in local California elections.  At least 12 California cities have majority non-citizen populations, he argued, and 85 California cities and towns have populations at least 25 percent non-citizen populations.

It is “political Apartheid,” wrote Avila, to deny these non-citizens a vote in how their communities are run.

While Democratic politicians have been Kerry-cautious in outright endorsing Avila’s call for non-citizen voting, they have also been Kerry-cunning in opposing controls that would prevent voting by non-citizens. Democrats sued the Republican Party and, before a Democrat-appointed judge, won a ruling that Republicans be prohibited from hiring private security guards to stand near polling places. This, Democrats argued, might “intimidate” voters who came from Latin American nations where governments rule with a heavy hand.

But why should any American citizen with a legal right to vote feel intimidated by a polling place guard?  And what is wrong with intimidating an illegal alien who might try to vote illegally, as has been documented happening in California elections?  The latter is apparently what Democrats did not want to happen.

(In 2000, Democratic officials reportedly mailed absentee voter applications and a welcoming form letter from Democratic President Bill Clinton to California immigrants with legal Green Cards. This was shocking on two counts. Possession of a Green Card means these people, mostly Latinos, were clearly not yet citizens, although this application form and letter might lead a foreigner to believe himself entitled to vote because they appeared to come from the government. And even more egregious, Democratic operatives, almost certainly illegally, used a confidential list from the Department of Immigration to obtain the names and private addresses of those with Green Cards.)

This new gerrymandering could be said to include many other attempts to re-draw electoral boundaries to bring in new voters. Prior to the recall election in 2003, California Democratic legislators and a soon-to-be-deposed Democratic Governor Gray Davis rushed to authorize valid California Driver Licenses for illegal aliens.

If this official document is presented to identify someone applying to vote, the law prohibits any examiner from questioning the citizenship of the applicant.  An overwhelming majority of Californians recognized this as a Democrat attempt to open the way for voting by millions of illegal aliens.

Other gimmicks such as “Same Day” voter registration make it almost impossible to validate whether someone is legally entitled to vote in a particular district.  This, too, ought to be seen as gerrymandering because it de facto distorts district boundaries.

To be fair, some Republicans have proposed their own ideas to modify our Democracy, although few get framed as legislation. One vague idea, for example, was to give those who were serving or had served in our military two votes. Those in uniform have known and paid the price of liberty more than the rest of us.  But those in uniform also tend nowadays to vote Republican, and Democrats would therefore fight tooth and nail to deny them a double vote. 

Heck, Democratic lawyers in Florida in 2000 were using every technicality they could find to get the absentee ballots of soldiers serving overseas thrown out. Remember how Democrats were high-fiving one another to celebrate their disenfranchising of the military men and women who guard them while they sleep? Democrats were using a cynical kind of legal gerrymandering to take single votes away from the most patriotic Americans.

The Democratic push to bring foreign money into our elections – beginning with the millions collected from Red Chinese generals, Cuban drug pushers, the head of the prostitution racket in Macao, and others during the Clinton-Gore Administration – has effectively allowed foreigners with their own anti-American interests to have a major voice in our elections.

The ultra-Leftist group MoveOn.Org, operating with foreign money as well as funds from international financier George Soros – who has said his goal is to weaken America because we have become too powerful among the nations – is busy with its hit ads and other propaganda attacking Republican President George W. Bush. This, too, is a kind of international gerrymandering of our democratic process.

Hungarian-born George Soros under our Constitution can never become President, but with millions of dollars he is trying to determine who our next President will be – and to elect a Democrat who will weaken our nation.

Early in the Clinton-Gore Administration, Democrats then in control of both houses of Congress rushed “Motor-Voter” into law. This provided that anyone applying for a driver license or other government service – especially welfare – was to be given a voter registration form and encouraged to fill it out.  The aim was to add to voter rolls as many people dependent on government services as possible. 

Welfare recipients in particular tend to register in lower numbers than other citizens. The apparent Democratic goal with Motor-Voter was not only to redress this disparity, but also to boost welfare recipient registration above that of other voter groups. This new gerrymandering would then shift the electorate Leftward.

The Motor-Voter Law also had provisions making it much more difficult to purge improper names from voter rolls.  In Chicago, where the graveyards vote and four out of every two voters cast their ballots for Democrats, this new gerrymandering helped insure that the dead could not be disenfranchised. 

The dead, of course, were the key Democratic voting group that carried Chicago, and with it Illinois, and with it the Presidency in 1960 for the first JFK.

Doubtless the new JFK, Senator John F. Kerry – another Massachusetts boy like Gerry and John F. Kennedy – is hoping that the new kinds of gerrymandering can rig our elections and bring him victory.  (When is the press going to ask Kerry if he supports votes for felons, the mentally ill, non-citizens and 14-year-olds?)

Come to think of it, the very names Kennedy and Gerry morph neatly into Kerry. And he, too, looks like a salamander.

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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