A state senate committee Tuesday all ended the threat of a Republican-sponsored initiative that would have apportioned electoral votes in Virginia by congressional district. It was one of three “swing states” from the 2012 presidential election to rule out plans today to do what many deemed to be rigging the Electoral College for the benefit of the GOP.
ProgressVirginia was the first to report this afternoon that Senate Bill 723 was “passed by indefinitely (killed)” by an 11-4 vote in the Virginia Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee. A report indicated that prior to the bill’s defeat, its author, Republican state senator Charles “Bill” Carrico, Sr., had offered to amend the bill so as to award electoral votes proportionally according to the popular vote. The bill had become comic fodder for its brazenness, so much so that even the state’s Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, spoke up against it. To boot, it may have been illegal. MSNBC reported last week that Senate Bill 723 may have violated Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Ohio’s Republican governor also made it clear that he’s not into rigging the Electoral College, releasing word that he is not pursuing similar legislation to eliminate the “winner-take-all” electoral college system. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that spokesmen for Governor John Kasich, State Senate president Keith Faber and Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder conveyed to the newspaper that they will not go down that route.
Also chiming in was Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who said, “Nobody in Ohio is advocating this.” (Husted had followed up controversial, failed efforts to limit early voting in the Buckeye State shortly after November’s election by advocating exactly this.)
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, was once “open-minded” to the possibility of awarding his state’s electoral votes–16 in the 2012 election–by Congressional district. However, Snyder denounced the idea today in an interview with Bloomberg, published online today:
AL HUNT, Bloomberg: There is a move in your state by some Republican legislators to change the presidential electoral system from a winner-take-all to doing it by congressional districts. If that happened last November, Barack Obama–who carried this state by a huge margin, almost double-digits–would have won only 4 of the 14 congressional districts. It would tilt the tables tremendously in the Republicans’ favor. You have said you wanted to look at it, let’s see what it is. Gov. McDonnell of Virginia, Haley Barbour and others have said it’s a bad idea. Are you still neutral or are you becoming convinced it’s a bad idea?
GOV. SNYDER: I’m very skeptical of the idea and the time frame that would be done, because I really view it as a question of you don’t want to change the playing field so it’s an unfair advantage to someone. A lot of ways, we want to make sure we’re reflecting the vote of the people, and this could challenge that. So in many respects, the right time to do it is if people are looking as, we should do it before census is taken and before redistricting takes place and it should be a bipartisan effort.
HUNT: So if you do it, you do it much later.
SNYDER: Yeah. I don’t think this is the appropriate time to look at it.
Speaking on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Virginia state senator Henry Marsh called the redistricting (or “gerrymandering”) Republicans passed last week an “annihilation of the Constitution.” They did so as Marsh attended Inauguration Day ceremonies in Washington, depriving Democrats of their tying vote–and then later in the week, advanced Carrico’s electoral college bill.
Whether or not Republicans in Virginia and elsewhere actually agree with Marsh that electoral-vote gerrymandering is unconstitutional remains to be seen. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is on record backing it, though–and GOP operative Jordan Gehrke is teaming up with former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to try to make gerrymandering the electoral college a national movement. “There are 40 states that say, ‘What are we? Just chopped liver?’” Blackwell told the Plain Dealer today.
This isn’t over.
See below the rest of Sunday’s MHP coverage of gerrymandering and the electoral college, including host Melissa Harris-Perry’s interview with State Senator Marsh.