Virginia State Senate Moves Ahead on Electoral College-Rigging Bill

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 23 2013 3:24 PM

Virginia State Senate Moves Ahead on Electoral College-Rigging Bill

158959667
Congressional clerks open certificate envelopes from different states during a joint session of the 113th Congress to count the Electoral College votes January 4, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

These guys are swiftly becoming my favorite state legislative body. From the AP:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Virginia's Republican-ruled legislature has taken the first steps toward ending the state's winner-takes-all system of apportioning its 13 presidential electoral votes. A Senate subcommittee recommended Sen. Bill Carrico's bill on Wednesday on a 3-3 party line vote.
Advertisement

I interviewed Carrico about the bill last month, asking why he added a provision that makes this even less democratic than other vote-split schemes. Most of these bills assign one electoral vote for every congressional district, then give the two at-large districts to whoever wins the state. But the Carrico bill would assign the final two electors to whoever won the most districts.

"We're still not sure we're going to leave it at that," he told me. "If we tweak the legislation somewhat to allow those votes to the statewide winner, the metropolitan voters may understand that their vote is going to be heard."

Not quite. The new language:

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.

Look at the map from 2012. Mitt Romney won the 1st (53%), 4th (50%), 5th (53%), 6th (59%), 7th (57%), 9th (63%), and 10th (50%) districts. Barack Obama won the four remaining districts -- the 2nd (50%), 3rd (79%), 8th (68%), and 11th (62%). Had the Carrico plan been in place in 2012, Romney would have won nine of Virginia's electoral votes, and Obama would have won four -- even though Obama won the popular vote of the state by nearly 150,000 ballots and four percentage points.

It gets worse. You'll notice that the 2nd, 4th, and 10th districts were squeakers, with margins between 4,000 and 5,000 votes. Carrico's theory is that an electoral vote split would make rural areas more vital. But these districts cover the Tidewater region and the exurbs of Washington, D.C. One: Had Obama campaigned to win them, in particular, he wouldn't have necessarily focused on anything that didn't work statewide. Two: Had he won them, he would have taken eight electors to Mitt Romney's five. Winning Virginia wouldn't have been worth 13 votes. It'd have been like taking New Hampshire or Rhode Island. That's because this reform is designed to disenfranchise Democrats, not make the state more important.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM Where Pregnant Women Aren't Allowed to Work After 36 Weeks  
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.