Virginia Republican Senator Wants to Gerrymander the State's Electoral College Votes

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 10 2012 4:25 PM

Virginia Republican Senator Wants to Gerrymander the State's Electoral College Votes

Via Ari Berman, this is sort of disturbing -- a proposal to split up Virginia's electoral votes by congressional district. This is the text of SB723.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Provides that the Commonwealth's electoral votes shall be allocated by congressional district. Receipt by a slate of presidential electors of the highest number of votes in a congressional district constitutes the election of the congressional district elector of that slate. Receipt by a slate of electors of the highest number of votes in a majority of congressional districts constitutes the election of the two at-large electors of that slate. In the event no slate receives the highest number of votes in a majority of districts, receipt by a slate of the highest number of votes statewide shall constitute election of the two at-large electors of that slate.

This might be the worst version of the "reform" I've ever seen. Pennsylvania's abandoned EV-split plan assigned votes to the winner of each congressional district and the winner of the statewide popular vote. SB723 would further reward the candidate who got "highest number of votes in a majority of congressional districts." Got that? First you win the gerrymandered districts (most of the Democratic vote in Virginia is packed into the D.C. suburbs and Richmond), then, as your reward, you win the statewide electors. In 2012, Mitt Romney would have lost Virginia and won 9 of Virginia's 13 electors.

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Here's how State Senator Charles Carrico explains it.

People in my district — they feel discouraged by coming out because their votes don’t mean anything if they’re outvoted in metropolitan districts. It can go either way — it doesn’t necessarily mean that one political party is going to be favored over another.

This is so damn stupid that you've got to be charitable and assume Carrico is just making up a rationale under pressure. Voters in Virginia, a swing state in both 2008 and 2012, were worried that "their votes don't mean anything"? No. Their votes were, potentially, more pivotal than the votes of New Yorkers or Californians or Texans. They might get "outvoted in metropolitican districts"? Sorry, but what about the people who live in the metropolitan districts who'd suddenly realize that they could never push their candidate to a statewide win?

To recap: Ohio's Secretary of State mused about, then backed off, on a less heinous electoral vote split. Pennsylvania's state senator leader wants to consider splitting the state's electoral votes by popular statewide totals, because the "go by the once-a-decade gerrymander and essentially rig the election" plan backfired last year. A back-bencher in Virginia wants to pass the worst plan yet. The election was only one month ago.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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