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News/Politics, The Liberal Complaint

Republicans Sore Loser Bills Would Undermine U.S. Democracy

After Republicans lost an election that they could have easily won, there was a lot of speculation about what they would do to correct their issues.  There was a lot of finger-pointing and blaming within the party.  The immediate reaction seemed to be an internal Republican meltdown.  Many of us hoped that this would lead to a restructuring of the Republican party that would include a move away from extremist politics.  Unfortunately, Republicans have decided that, if they can’t win enough votes to win the election, they will simply find a way to make traditionally Republican areas count for more.

At least four states that President Obama won in this election have new proposals that would change how the state’s electoral votes are divided in an election.  Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania all have proposals in their state legislatures to change the distribution of electoral votes.  Instead of the votes going to the candidate that wins the state, the votes will be divided by congressional district.  To some, that may sound like a fair way to distribute the votes in a state, but the reality is that they are trying to make the votes of less populated districts (which often go Republican) count for more than the votes of urban areas.

Here’s how this would work in Virginia.  Virginia currently has 13 electoral college votes.  The winner of the popular vote for President in the state receives all 13 of their votes.  The proposed changes would lead to one vote going to the winner of each of the 11 congressional districts and the remaining 2 votes going to the winner of the most districts.  In last November’s election, this would have changed the outcome of the votes dramatically.

Under the current system:

  • President Obama won the popular vote in Virginia by 149,298 votes.
  • Per the will of the majority, he received the 13 electoral votes for Virginia.

Under the new proposal:

  • President Obama won the popular vote in Virginia by 149,298 votes.
  • Because of the gerrymandered districts in Virginia (which coincidentally has a Republican controlled legislature), Romney would have won 9 of the electoral votes.

The problem with this system is that it is giving much more weight to the votes in sparsely populated areas.  The justification given by the bills sponsor is that his “constituents were concerned that it didn’t matter what they did, that more densely populated areas were going to outvote them.”  Take a second to let that sink in.  They are upset that they are in a minority and that areas with more people will have a greater effect on the election.  Simply stated, they don’t like the fact that 1 person equals 1 vote.  They believe that, because there are less of them, that their votes should count for more.

If the results of the last election are applied using the Virginia proposal, the votes for people in Republican areas would be weighted as heavily as 2.4 votes for Democrats.  Much of the time I spend arguing with Republicans is an attempt to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.  Many of these Republicans like to tell me that they are tired of the minorities trying to determine what the majority does.  I guess that belief doesn’t translate into votes.  If they are losing elections, they are more than willing to impress the will of the minority on the majority of voters.  If these bills pass, they will undermine the entire election process, and our democratic system as it stands.  It’s unfortunate that Republicans are willing to make a mockery out of our system simply because they are sore losers.

Update:  One day after this article was posted, these bills were killed in three of the states.  Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan have all killed the bills in their states.  In Virginia, the bill was “passed by indefinitely” in committee.  In Ohio, both the governor and secretary of state (whom I believe is one of the worst in the country) came out condemning the proposed changes.  A similar condemnation was given by Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who had previously stated that he was “open-minded” about changing how the state’s electoral votes were divided.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Republicans Sore Loser Bills Would Undermine U.S. Democracy

  1. I have always been a proponent of voting changes, especially within the electoral college process. If a state has 13 congressional districts then each district should have 1 vote, not the final two given to the person who won the most districts. It works for Congress why not the Oval Office?

    Posted by Sean Fitzgerald | January 28, 2013, 8:21 pm
    • Because it weights the votes of the people in rural areas much heavier than those of the urban areas. By this theory everyone who lives in an urban area could vote for one person as President, making the popular vote for President a massive landslide, but another person could win because the minority of people living in sparsely populated areas cover more districts. The Presidential race should be even. 1 person = 1 vote. No weighting…particularly when that weighting is of gerrymandered districts meant to steal an election for a party that can’t win on its outdated ideals.

      Posted by Dean Spencer | January 29, 2013, 1:53 am
  2. Why not use Congressional Districts, however I don’t like the 2 votes going to the winner of most districts, should be allotted equally for each district.

    Posted by Sean Fitzgerald | January 28, 2013, 8:23 pm
  3. The Electoral College exists to give smaller states and rural areas a vote. If it was 1 person, 1 vote, then all a candidate would have to do is visit the most urban/population dense areas to win. There are areas/states he would never have to set foot in. That would be unfortunate.

    I am an active Republican in Virginia. The bill was verbatim, to the letter, that Democrats had submitted time and time again when they controlled the State Senate. So we have hypocrisy to begin with. Yet this element went unreported until mentioned in passing by the Richmond TImes-Dispatch reporter in his twitter feed yesterday.

    The bill was dead on arrival when multiple Republicans said they wouldn’t approve such a bill, beginning two weeks ago. Yet up till and including the day of the Committee vote, Democrats continued to harp on the issue (fine, whatever) but inexplicably, the media granted them an audience and publicized their feigned outrage!

    The electoral college bill was exactly the same scenario that played out for the past decade under the Democrat-controlled State Senate and Democrats in the house. Submit a bill that has no chance, it gets ZERO coverage from anyone, and dies in committee.

    So why cover it now?

    Part of it is the slowly dying nature of print media in their desperation to compete with a 24-7 news cycle and a hunger for neverending news. Part is the clear liberal bias in the media, to be sure. This electoral college nonsense puts the contrast clear as day, despite Democrat-sponsored bills in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, etc changing the electoral college, there was no significant coverage given. But the first time Republicans submit a bill that’s clear to be dead on arrival, it’s stop the presses time.

    The bill died two days ago, yet even today the Virginian-Pilot reported a ‘news conference’ with 18,000 petitions against redistricting and, yep, you guessed it, changing the electoral college.

    And all this press coverage does is fuel the Democratic machine. Despite electoral college bills dying in Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin, Democrats are blasting out fundraising appeals to their base with facts rooted in overhyped media coverage on bills that don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.

    Posted by MGK | January 31, 2013, 12:25 am
    • Thank you for your comments. First, I will say that the electoral college may partially exist today for the reasons you stated, but that was not the intention of the founding fathers. It was created to ensure that a group of informed persons would be able to cast ballots for appropriate presidential candidates. The worry was that an uninformed population would vote simply for a “favorite” from their own state. They also worried that, because of this, no candidate would come out of the election with a sufficient majority. The electoral college served its purpose at the time, but is long past its retirement age. It should be put out to pasture.

      On the issue of the bills dying, please note that they actually died the day after the article. I will post an update to the article with this information. Thank you for pointing that out.

      As far as press coverage goes, it is important that bills like this are covered in the press. People need to know when legislators are attempting to pervert our election process. I would write an article just as condemning of Democratic representatives who did the same thing. Even if the bills are dead, we need to know what our representatives are proposing. It’s important that the people are informed so that we don’t need an electoral college to make our decisions for us.

      Posted by Dean Spencer | January 31, 2013, 3:47 am
  4. I look forward to reading your follow-up article. Just wanted to make sure that you and your readers knew the real (Democrat sponsored for 10+ years) history of the bill in Virginia that you were condemning.

    Posted by MGK | January 31, 2013, 7:03 pm

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