GOP games the system

Republicans in Clark County are busily circulating petitions to recall three members of the Nevada Senate.

None of the three—Joyce Woodhouse, Nicole Cannizzaro and Patricia Farley—have done anything to warrant recall except not vote as Republicans would have preferred. The fact that all three are women is probably not a coincidence, either. Farley offended Republicans by leaving the GOP, but that is hardly an indictable offense. It’s an insider’s issue. It’s also something for Republicans to challenge, if they can, in her next regular election.

If the petitioners dig up 15,000 signatures on each of the three petitions, Clark County taxpayers will be handed the bill for an estimated $153,310 to pay for the recall elections, according to Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria.

This is part of the modern Republican Party’s strategy of trying to win, through administrative manipulation, victories they can’t win in regular elections. Their techniques include using recall elections, voter ID, presidential electors, unscheduled redistricting. All of these knavish tricks are technically legal. They are also underhanded.

In 2002, California Republicans launched a pioneering effort in this field. Literally just days after Gov. Gray Davis was reelected, they began planning a recall funded by a millionaire congressmember. Amid an electricity crisis caused by deregulation and the collapse of the dot-com boom, Davis faced celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger, who campaigned on the issue of the state deficit. Davis lost and Schwarzenegger served two terms during which he failed to eliminate the deficit and handed it off to Jerry Brown, who eliminated it in less than two years.

Reapportionment is normally done every 10 years, after each census. It’s not usually done at any other time, to prevent constant manipulation of the system each time elections are held and legislatures change party hands. In 2003, U.S. Rep. Tom Delay of Texas came up with the idea of reapportioning eight years early because his party had gained an advantage in the 2004 election and wanted to exploit it.

The United States now has its second appointed president in two decades. How healthy can a democracy be when it is saddled regularly with leaders the public voted against?

Around the country, Republican legislative majorities are imposing polling place requirements for voter identification aimed at preventing pro-Democratic groups from voting—senior citizens and minorities, groups which have a lower rate of holding personal identification cards. It may affect only a slender slice of the electorate, but every bit helps. In 2014, for instance, Nevada’s attorney general was elected by just .12 of one percent of the vote. Thus, while good-government folks are trying to get people to vote, Republicans are trying to prevent people from voting.

All of this renders further unstable a political system that is not in great shape and does not command public confidence in the first place. If elected officials must keep looking over their shoulders in concern that superfluous recalls can be launched at any time or that their districts can be eliminated for no reason, they are going to become more political and personally protective than ever instead of governing. We have enough of that already.