State legislatures used to have a great deal of power in our federal system, electing U.S. Senators until the Constitution was amended to allow for the popular election of U.S,. Senators. Typically, state legislatures make laws for the state, similar to the way the U.S. Congress makes federal laws. Therefore, the state legislatures make their own election laws. This election, state legislatures also tried to impact the Presidential election or as Molly Ball from Politico states: “The push to rig the Presidential election is under way.” She discussed the changes in election laws, legislation directed at overhauling the awarding of electoral votes and Arizona’s proposed law requiring Presidential candidates to show birth certificates aimed at Pres. Obama to name a few. Gov. Jan Brewer did veto Arizona’s legislation. Ball points out: “Few legislators come right out and admit they’re aiming to influence the 2012 presidential race. But they don’t always need to.” However, in Pennsylvania, the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Turzai was blatant or as former Governor Ed Rendell said Turzai was honest. The Majority Leader said the proposed Voter ID law was aimed at getting Mitt Romney elected.
In Delaware County in Pennsylvania, it now only includes a portion of Delaware County and four other counties. The definition of gerrymandering is to draw a district in an unusual pattern as to favor the incumbent. The new district is so bizarre that it includes Lancaster County with the Amish and their horses and buggies, to Philadelphia County, the opposite of horses and buggies. Our former Congressman was Joe Sestak who defeated Sen. Arlen Spector when he ran as a Democrat in the Primary. Sestak was eventually defeated by Sen. Pat Toomey in the General Election. Sestak remains popular in the Congressional district. He was the only Congressman who kept his office open seven days a week. However, experts are saying even Joe Sestak couldn’t win in his old Congressional seat in this newly redrawn district with heavy Republican registration.
The impact of the state legislatures with their voter ID laws kept numerous voters away. It also had some backlash as 160 nonpartisan voting groups, reported by the Committee of Seventy, came out to help register voters in PA. The redistricting by the state legislatures will be felt for years. One need only look at the current “Do Nothing Congress” that was overwhelmingly re-elected, and the Divided Government that we are left with to see the impact of the state legislatures.