Inevitable: Wisconsin Republicans Mull Pennsylvania-Style Electoral Vote-Split Plan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 12 2011 4:25 PM

Inevitable: Wisconsin Republicans Mull Pennsylvania-Style Electoral Vote-Split Plan

Prepare to be shocked. In Wisconsin, Republican Rep. Dan LeMahieu is asking his colleagues to sign onto a bill that would change the state's method of picking electoral college electors -- a plan identical to the one alive, if losing some steam, in Pennsylvania.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"This bill would change Wisconsin to a state using the Congressional District Method," explains LeMahieu in a letter to colleagues. "Each congressional district would choose their own Electoral College vote based on the popular vote in that congressional district and the 2 at large votes would be decided by the popular vote of the entire state."

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His dear-colleague missive comes with some fresh rationales for the split. "This method would better protect the votes in each congressional district," LeMahieu writes. "If I live in a congressional district that votes for a candidate that loses the statewide vote this method would allow my district to cast a vote for the candidate the majority of the voters in that district supported. This method would also decrease the incentive for fraud because you would only be affecting the outcome of one congressional district and the two at large votes, instead of all ten votes."

In the 2008 election, a vote-split wouldn't have made much of a difference for Wisconsin's electors. Barack Obama took the state by 14 points, winning all but one of eight fairly un-gerrymandered congressional districts. But had this been in place four years earlier, John Kerry would have won only six of ten electoral votes -- two statewide, one for each district. And Wisconsin hasn't gone Republican since 1984, when Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale by 9 points.

Can it pass? Wisconsin Republicans have a solid 59-38 majority in the Assembly, but thanks to the recall elections driven by anger at the Budget Control Bill, they have a slim one-vote majority in the state Senate. Enough to pass the bill, maybe, as long as there's no voter anger.

The bill is right here; according to LeMahieu's office, the bill has two co-sponsors so far.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.