Posts Tagged ‘Republican electoral college plan’

GOP becoming the party of disenfranchisement

January 24, 2013

Republican-controlled legislatures in key states that voted for Barack Obama are considering proposals to rig their electoral system against Democrats, urban voters and members of minority groups.

Richie_MAPRepublicans in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio want to allocate their states’ electoral votes by congressional district, instead of giving all the electoral votes to the Presidential candidate who wins a majority statewide.  While this doesn’t seem unfair on the surface, the result in the previous election would have been to give a majority of these states’ electoral votes to Mitt Romney instead of Barack Obama.  That is because the congressional districts are drawn so as to dilute Democratic, urban and minority representation and give the advantage to Republican, rural and white voters.

Such proposals are only surfacing in states carried by Obama.  Republicans are content with the winner-take-all system in states where Romney won a majority of the vote.

Each state’s electoral votes are equal to their representation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  The Virginia state senate has reported out a bill that would award the state’s electoral votes by congressional district, and the two remaining votes not to the candidate who won a majority of Virginia voters, but the one who won the largest number of districts.  Under this system, Obama, who won 51 percent of Virginia’s vote, would have got only 4 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.

Meanwhile the voter ID laws and all the other voter suppression measures remain on the books.   It is true that what the Republican leaders are doing is not nearly as bad as the literacy tests, the poll tax and the other ways in which African-American voting was suppressed in the Jim Crow era.  It is true that nobody is being murdered for exercising the right to vote.  But the present vote-rigging and vote-suppression laws are intended to serve the same purpose—denying representation to minority voters.

This represents intellectual bankruptcy on the part of the Republican Party.  If they had a plausible plan for achieving peace and prosperity, they would win votes of African-Americans and urban dwellers.  By adopting their present tactics, they let the Democrats off the hook.  All the Democrats have to do to win the urban and minority vote is to not be Republicans. (more…)

Pennsylvania and the electoral college

September 16, 2011

Pennsylvania Republicans are considering a plan to change that state’s winner-take-all system for awarding electoral votes for President.  Instead of the state’s 20 electoral votes going to whichever candidate carries Pennsylvania, 18 of the electoral votes would go to whoever gets a majority in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts, with the remaining two going to whoever carries the state.

PA congressional districts

Only two states—Maine and Nebraska—award their electoral votes this way.  All the rest go with winner-take-all.  The Pennsylvania Republican thinking is that Democrats normally carry Pennsylvania as a whole, but Republicans carry many individual congressional districts, so that the change would work to their advantage.  In fact, because of the way Pennsylvania congressional districts are gerrymandered, a Democratic Presidential candidate could gain a majority of the state’s popular votes, while the Republican candidate got a majority of the electoral votes.

If it were up to me, I would have each state direct its electors to vote for the Presidential candidate who won a majority of the national popular vote.  But there is a certain rough balance in the present system.  Each state gets a vote in the Electoral College equal to its members of the House of Representaives and the Senate; that is, a number based on population plus two more.  Small states have more representation that their population warrants, but the winner-take-all system makes the large states more influential because a larger bloc of votes is in play.

If Pennsylvania gets rid of winner-take-all, this might be good for the Republican Party nationwide, but it would reduce the influence of Pennsylvania in national elections.  For this reason I don’t think the change is likely to happen.

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