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GOP Trying to Change Presidential Voting in States to Gain Advantage

Virginia State Capitol building

In the wake of Republican Mitt Romney’s decisive loss to President Obama last November, Republican legislators in Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and several other states are considering changing the way electoral college votes are allocated to give the GOP a better chance in future presidential elections.

Virginia is the furthest along, with a bill to change the presidential election process already voted out of committee. The bill will be considered as early as next week by the state Senate. This is the same Senate, split evenly between 20 Republican and 20 Democrats, that waited until one of its African-African members, a Democrat, left the state to attend Obama’s inauguration before passing a new redistricting plan by a 20-19 vote earlier this week.

All the states considering the presidential election process changes were won by Obama, but are primarily controlled by Republican legislatures. The Republicans in these states and many others have redrawn congressional district lines over the last few years, giving the GOP a majority of congressional seats. As a result, even though Democrats received a million more votes than Republicans in the November congressional races, Republicans hold a 33-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Now the Republicans in some of these states want to push through a change that would use proportional representation to allocate electoral college votes in a way that is aligned with the congressional districts. In other words, no matter what the outcome of the statewide vote, the Republican candidate would be assured of garnering the majority of the electoral college votes.

In Virginia, although Obama won by 150,000 votes, Romney would have received nine electoral votes and Obama just four, if this plan had been in place last November.

To many Democrats around the country, this sounds like cheating.

State Sen. Donald A. McEachin (D-Henrico) called his state’s proposal one of Republicans’ many “sore loser bills.”

“The bill is absolutely a partisan bill aimed at defying the will of the voters, giving Republican presidential candidates most of Virginia’s electoral votes, regardless of who carries the state,” he said.

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has talked about changing the state’s system, Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party, said, “They can’t appeal to a majority of voters, whether it’s here in Wisconsin or Michigan or in the rest of the Midwest, so they are undermining a majority of voters. The Republicans realize that where they are today, they can’t win a presidential election. It’s an audacious attempt to rig the system.”

But Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, said it was something “a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”

Sean Spicer, a Priebus spokesman, explained further yesterday to The Washington Post: “For these states, it would make them more competitive, but it’s not our call to tell them how to apportion their votes.”

 

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