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Howard Dean says voting change may give Republicans a political advantage

Governor of Vermont Howard Dean and others from the Democratic National Committee spoke against the Presidential Election Reform Act at a San Francisco press conference on Sept. 19.

The reform act would redistribute voting districts and may swing electoral votes in the future presidential elections.

If passed, the proposal would give rural Republican congressional districts twenty-two of the fifty-five electoral votes allotted to California.

According to the conference, California’s votes historically go to the Democratic ticket, balancing historically big Republican states like Florida and Texas. This was demonstrated in the 2004 election when Senator John Kerry because Kerry won the popular vote in California.

Dean said that he fears passing this proposal will divide votes and shift political favor to the Republicans, since twenty-two votes is higher than the electoral votes in Ohio, a swing state in the elections.

“If this proposal passes, there will not be a Democrat in the White House for many years to come”, Dean said. “This must be defeated.”

The proposed change in vote distribution caused many voters from highly populated areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, to feel short-changed. They said that rural towns with fewer voters will have more say in elections than the larger number of votes produced by historically Democratic cities.

“This change doesn’t really make sense because it does not really fit under the popular vote or electoral college vote. It’s just giving smaller, Republican towns more influence,” said Mills College graduate student Gina Hernandez.

Republicans backing this proposal are labeling it as “election reform” because they feel it is giving individuals more influence during elections.

This partisan proposal has raised eyebrows on both sides of the political spectrum. Dean quoted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he said supports election reform but does not agree with the proposed reform act.

The Republican party is busy gathering the required 433,971 signatures needed to complete the petition. If they are successful in gathering the amount by Jan. 28, 2008, the initiative will appear on the June primary election ballot.

Art Torres, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, said that Republicans planned this turn of events. “They are trying to get it on the ballot of an election that lacks major pull to get the voters out to vote against it.”

The California Democratic Party’s approach to preventing the proposal from reaching the ballot is to educate voters through hitting the streets with pamphlets and going door-to-door explaining what the Party sees as a damaging initiative.

Dean talked to the Northern California “Fraudbusters,” a group of grassroots level opponents to the proposed initiative. “We cannot allow election fraud to damage the democracy our country holds so dear,” he said.