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RNC Chair Wants Blue States to Split Electoral Votes

Since their voter suppression schemes around the country didn’t prevent the Democrats from winning the 2012 election, the Republicans are now floating a different plan to rig the vote in their favor by splitting the electoral college votes — but only in states that tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections, of course. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus thinks that’s a swell idea:

“I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at,” Priebus said of the plan to change how electoral votes are granted.

Such a system “gives more local control” to the states, he argued.

Ah yes, “local control.” Republicans love local control, except when they don’t. Just like they love federalism, except when they don’t. Republicans in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin have proposed that the electoral votes of those states be split up rather than being a winner-take-all system. Thus, if the Democratic candidate gets 55% of the vote in those states, they only get 55% of the electoral votes rather than all of them.

But why is “local control” better than, say, voter control? If this had been in place in 2012, Romney would have won the election despite losing the popular vote by five million votes. Those states have the ability to pass such a plan; Maine and Nebraska already have similar systems. But doing so in larger states would be nothing more than a naked power grab, a way to rig the system in their favor while ignoring the actual vote totals. Would anyone by at all surprised if they actually try to do it?

Comments

  1. says

    It’s worse than that, Ed. They want to hand out the electoral votes by congressional district, like Nebraska and Maine. Which means that every 10 years they can gerrymander the districts to keep Congressional seats. In places like Pennsylvania, they’d have won something like 13/18 electoral votes – whilst Obama carried the state.

  2. Alverant says

    They don’t want local control, they want district control which they gerrymandered. Real local control is just taking the popular vote in which case they’d still lose.

  3. says

    This sucks cause there’s nothing that the purple states can do about it. We vote Democrat, but gerrymandered districts made our legislatures red. Those legislatures will pass these changes, they will game the system, and we will have Republican presidents from now until the end of the country. I can send messages to my congressmen but they’re all Democrats anyway.

  4. dmcclean says

    Any politician advocating this scheme should be asked why they don’t support signing the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote, commonly called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It’s a pretty easy way to highlight their hypocrisy and motivations and to cut through rhetoric about how the popular vote is more fair. (It may or may not be more fair, but it certainly isn’t fair to have it in some states and not in others on the basis of whether those states are solidly Republican or not.)

  5. mikeyb says

    If they seriously try to do this, we must take to the streets. Implementing this would be the end of whatever shambles of democracy we have left. Everyday I’m more and more convinced that parlimentary democracy is a far superior system – that more closely reflects popular sovereingty.

  6. erichoug says

    Again, why is it we don’t just go to a national popular vote? Doing so would mean that Ohio would cease to be the single most important place in the world, along with New Hampshire & Florida.

    I think that’s something we can all get behind.

  7. Randomfactor says

    Here in California where you can buy your way onto the ballot, this has been proposed at least once I can recall by initiative process. The morons who surround me in this redneck part of the state would go for it in a hot second. And they’d see nothing wrong with Obama losing with 5 million more votes–“his votes should only count 3/5 anyway.”

  8. John Hinkle says

    The republicans sure do spend a lot of time working on ways to rig the system, rather than change their platform to coincide with what most people would support. Makes you wonder what their true motivation is (no it doesn’t).

  9. says

    But the electoral college was put in the Holy Constitution by the Founding Fathers, who were taking dictation from Jesus Himself!
    Why do the Republicans hate the Constitution and George Washington?

  10. says

    “I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at,” Priebus said…

    In other words, “If the majority vote Democratic, but we’ve managed to gerrymander the House districts in our favor, let’s tie the electoral votes to our successful gerrymandering schemes, and extend our subversion of majority rule to the Presidential level.”

  11. eric says

    I have no problem with the idea if it’s applied across the board. Its probably unconstitutional for the fed to demand the states assign their electoral votes representationally, but as a voluntary state decision, so long as pretty much every state does it at the same time, I’m okay with it.

    I’m obviously not okay with targeting states of a specific color and doing it only to them.

    I can envision something like an alternative to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Of course we would have to decide which of the two systems we wanted (district-by-district electoral votes, or block vote for national vote winner) because they’re mutially exclusive.

  12. scienceavenger says

    So let me get this straight:

    Rational proposals for limiting what weapons citizens can own – justification for armed insurrection
    Jiggering of our democratic system so that the minority wins – hunky dory.

    The next GOPer that says the word “treason” with regard to the president in my presence is going to get an earful.

  13. says

    @eric:

    You are aware that the districts have been gerrymandered, right? In many of the purple states, every vote that goes towards a Republican Representative is equal to multiple votes for Democratic Representatives. If the entire nation was a district-by-district vote, we wouldn’t be 4 days from Barack Obama’s second inauguration, we’d be 4 days from Mitt Romney’s first inauguration – despite his being 5 million votes less popular.

  14. dugglebogey says

    Aren’t all of these things pretty transparent efforts to limit the effectiveness of votes from urban areas….in other words, Republicans saying “is there a way we can legally make black votes count less?”

  15. ildi says

    What annoys me no end is that there was a constitutional amendment on the Ohio November ballot to get rid of gerrymandering (Issue 2) and it was voted down by a significant margin supposedly because of the success of ads saying it would just generate moar big unaccountable government.

  16. shouldbeworking says

    The rethuglicans can talk about this in public and the majority of the voters in some districts would still vote for them? Doesn’t say much for the voters’ love or knowledge of democratic government.

    This proposal makes the Canadian parliamentary system look much more sane than yours.

  17. steve84 says

    Winner-takes-it-all is indeed a massively stupid system that needs to go and be replaced with proportional representation. But that reform needs to take place everywhere at once. Not just where it’s convenient.

  18. iknklast says

    is there a way we can legally make black votes count less

    Yes, but it’s not just that – it’s liberal votes in general. Plus, cities also tend to have higher concentrations of women. They can kill two birds with one stone.

    Right now, with the electoral college, the midwest is already heavily weighted. The amount of electors vs. the number of voters in a state isn’t really all that fair. A vote in Nebraska counts several times the weight of a vote in California, when you consider how many voters each elector represents. In spite of that, they weren’t able to pull off their planned defeat of Obama. So now they want to shift it even more.

  19. jaranath says

    I just want to underscore the mindset we are dealing with here. This is not just hypocrisy for many conservatives, this is deliberate suppression:

    In discussing the electoral college and popular vote with a generally honorable conservative friend, I tried getting him to justify his opposition to replacing the EC with popular vote. He stated it was because it would disadvantage conservatives. Thinking he might not be seeing the big picture, I pressed for clarification, pointing out that under the current system his vote was worth much less than the vote of some other states’ residents. He firmly stated he was fine with that sort of disproportional representation as long as it favored conservatives.

    He has no idea how lucky he is that I value our friendship so much.

  20. John Hinkle says

    If every state moved to proportional electoral votes – based on the popular vote, not by congressional district – then why not just eliminate the EC?

    Also, if all states’ electoral votes corresponded to the winners of congressional districts, then why not have the House of Representatives elect the president and VP?

  21. freemage says

    fifthdentist @11: Oh, they don’t want to get rid of the electoral college itself–just control how it works. After all, if we went to a pure popular vote, those large rural states would suddenly suffer an implosion of import, as they lost all those tasty, tasty, Senate-representation-derived electoral votes.

  22. Michael Heath says

    eric writes:

    I have no problem with the idea if it’s applied across the board.

    I’m not sure you understand their objective even if it was extended to all the states. The end result would not lend itself to an effective substitute for a popular election, but instead even more disproportionately among voters than we have now. Their objective would result in rural voters’ vote counting even more than they do now relative to urban voters.

  23. says

    I know gerrymandering has been taken to the courts on more than one occasion already, and it’s gotten nowhere, but isn’t there a group out there developing new legal strategies to fight this sort of thing on constitutional grounds? After all, what’s more fundamental to equality than the concept that everyone’s vote is of equal value?

  24. says

    shouldbeworking “This proposal makes the Canadian parliamentary system look much more sane than yours.”
    Even if true, the Canadian system wouldn’t survive in DC. For one thing, the snow forts would melt in the spring, summer, and fall.*
     
    * “Spring”, “summer” and “fall” are the seasons in between “winter” and “winter”.

  25. dcsohl says

    They should expand the Electoral College membership to 150 million people instead of just 538. Then we can talk about splitting the vote.

  26. says

    The republicans sure do spend a lot of time working on ways to rig the system, rather than change their platform to coincide with what most people would support.

    They can’t. Literally.

    Thanks to gerrymandering, most republicans on both the state and local level are more afraid of facing a primary opponent who is even more bat shit crazy than they are afraid of losing in the general election. So, they have no choice but pander to the crazy if they want to stay in power.

  27. Michael Heath says

    tacitus writes:

    After all, what’s more fundamental to equality than the concept that everyone’s vote is of equal value?
    [emphasis mine – MH]

    I really like your use of fundamental here. I agree, and yet we have a Constitution which does not protect this fundamental right, but instead provides powers which result in enormous disproportionality among voters on the federal level.

    I happen to live in the state of Michigan, a state which voted twice for Barack Obama; and yet our state legislature has a filibuster-proof Republican majority. We see this in other states as well, I believe Pennslyvania’s another example of a big state with the same result.

  28. matthewhodson says

    Anyone in the major parties advocating for instant run off (preferential voting), for all levels of government?
    No?
    How about proportional voting for representative houses so that half the seats are locally elected representatives but the other half are regionally proportional – this helps curb the effects of gerrymandering.
    How about adding in a non-partisan procedural approach to district boundaries.
    I cant wait till democracy gets out of beta.

  29. eric says

    Katherine @15:

    You are aware that the districts have been gerrymandered, right?

    Of course. Just as I’m sure you’re aware that gerrymandering per se does not favor republicans, it favors whichever party is currently/locally in power. Currently republicans dominate via gerrymandering, but for most of the 20th century, it was democrats that benefitted from it. GOP gerrymandring has contributed to them winning 8 of the last 10 congresses. In contrast, democrat gerrymaneding contributed to them winning 30 of the 32 congresses before that. So now, you tell me which party gerrymandering has generally favored.

    The point I’m making here is, gerrymandering is a structural problem. Its somewhat separate from the issue of who would reap the benefits from a district voting scheme now. Its not a ‘republican’ tool, its a political tool wielded by both parties.

    Heath @25:

    Their objective would result in rural voters’ vote counting even more than they do now relative to urban voters.

    You both give good arguments for why a popular vote would be more representative. I do see gerrymandering as a different issue that needs to be fixed in and of itself (and when it is, district voting becomse reasonable), but I see your point. District voting is a system which is fair in principle, but given the realities of gerrymandering, is less fair in practice than other options we could implement. A fair-in-theory system should generally not be favored over a fair-in-practice system..

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