People For the American Way

GOP Electoral College Scheme Advances in Virginia

It’s been less than three months since the presidential election, but GOP leaders unhappy with November’s results are already developing a multi-state plan that would further disenfranchise voters in their quest to achieve victory in 2016. On Wednesday, Republican state senators in Virginia cleared the first hurdle in their push to fundamentally change how state Electoral College votes are allocated. The Associated Press reports that under the proposed bill, Virginia would:

[A]pportion electors according to which presidential candidate carries each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. The candidate winning the majority of districts would receive the two electoral votes not tied to congressional districts.

If this bill had been in effect in 2012, Mitt Romney would have walked away with 9 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, despite losing the popular vote in the state by nearly 150,000 ballots and four percentage points.

These Republican state senators, who are already under fire for their surprise redistricting scheme on Martin Luther King Day, are no strangers to cutting corners in their drive for political power. Alex Pareene at Salon points out a major motivation behind the plan:

You can see why they like this plan: It is effectively the same thing as mass disenfranchisement of minorities, but it doesn’t look as awful and Jim Crow-y. Instead of trying to take votes away from black and poor and Hispanic people — which led to some bad press and a bunch of lawsuits — these new proposals simply ensure that the votes of rural white people will count more…Electoral vote-rigging plans show a Republican Party that is finally acknowledging the reality that a majority of Americans don’t subscribe to its brand of conservatism.

Yet not all Republicans are jumping on board with these new pushes. In Pennsylvania, where a similar bill was proposed in 2011 and looks to be reintroduced later this year, some GOP officials worry that the plan could backfire. Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason, for example, is not sold on the idea:

“I was against it last year, and I am still not convinced it is the way to go. It puts a lot more pressure on the Congress members and could hurt their efforts to hold their seats,” said Gleason, an RNC member, here.

Commentators, such as Jamelle Bouie at American Prospect, see the potential massive political backlash against this electoral system rigging as the real thing the GOP needs be aware of. Bouie says:

[I]t tells you something important about the current Republican Party that—when it comes to winning elections—it’s more interested in changing the game than changing its policies.


Alex Pareene, Electoral College, Jamelle Bouie, Mitt Romney, popular vote, redistricting, Rob Gleason, voter suppression