J. D. Heyes
November 14, 2012
In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election, there were scattered concerns from across the political spectrum that vote fraud could occur in some sections of the country. While many of those fears did not come to fruition, based on final vote tallies in some polling districts, it’s hard to fathom that some form of fraud did not occur.
Take Philadelphia, for instance – the “city of Brotherly Love” – where, once again, New Black Panther Party members were seen at some of the same polling places they were at in 2008, when charges of voter intimidation were leveled against them. In 59 districts around the city, GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney got zero votes.
Zip. Nada. None.
Granted, in heavily Democratic urban districts in the city, it’s not unusual for that party’s candidate – in this case, President Obama – to win a heavy proportion of the vote. But all of them?
Sure, say analysts. It’s not unusual at all. Nothing to see here.
Saddam Hussein always got nearly 100 percent of the vote too
“We have always had these dense urban corridors that are extremely Democratic,” Jonathan Rodden, a political science professor at Stanford University, told Philly.com, a joint website of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers.
“It’s kind of an urban fact, and you are looking at the extreme end of it in Philadelphia,” he said.
That’s because most large cities are 75-80 percent Democrats, making them practically politically homogenous and much easier to organize than, say, rural areas where folks live far apart, said Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.
“One reason Democrats can maximize votes in Philadelphia is that it’s very easy to knock on every door,” she said.
But isn’t it just as easy to knock on doors in Republican strongholds, even if they are farther apart? And that’s another issue – if we are to believe there are Democratic “corridors,” doesn’t it follow that there are Republican “corridors” as well?
Some GOP officials are asking these very same questions, especially after learning that, in 59 Philadelphia voting districts Obama out-polled Romney by a stunning 19,605 to zero. Even in heavily Democratic Philly, are we to believe that in nearly 60 polling districts there is not a single dissenting voter? The last political candidate in recent member to poll that overwhelmingly was Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
Those districts were concentrated in overwhelmingly black sectors of the city. But again – not a single Romney supporter? Not even one?
That’s a huge stretch, to say the least, says Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
“We believe we need to continue ensuring the integrity of the ballot,” he said, referencing his party’s voter ID initiative that, perhaps not surprisingly, was held off the state ballot for this election.
No such thing as a 100 percent Republican voting precinct
University of Virginia political scientist Dr. Larry Sabato, who has studied voting in African American-dominated precincts, told Philly.com he had occasionally seen instances where 100 percent of the vote went to the Democratic candidate, citing precincts in Chicago and Atlanta which recorded no votes for the GOP’s candidate, Sen. John McCain, in 2008.
“I’d be surprised if there weren’t a handful of precincts that didn’t cast a vote for Romney,” he said.
Still, the high number of zero precincts in Philadelphia deserves examination, he added.
“Not a single vote for Romney or even an error? That’s worth looking into,” he said.
In a city with 1,687 of the ward subsets known as divisions, each with hundreds of voters, 59 is about 3.5 percent of the total, Philly.com reported.
Not much has been made about this voting phenomenon by the mainstream media, but we suspect the outrage and uproar would have been loud and boisterous, to say the least, if there were wide swaths of voting districts where not a single Democratic vote was cast.