Sunday, January 27, 2013

Richmond Times-Dispatch Slams Virginia GOP's Electoral College Plan

For non-Virginians, the Richmond Times-Dispatch is generally among the most conservative larger newspapers in Virginia.  All too often it acts a a cheerleader for the Republican Party.  But in its main editorial today, the Richmond Times-Dispatch slams the Virginia GOP's attempt to reallocate the way Virginia's Electoral College votes are distributed and calls the effort for what it is: an effort to disenfranchise large numbers of Virginians.  Rather than jettison the GOP's losing message and policies - and offend the extremists at The Family Foundation and the Tea Part element of the party base, the anti-democracy forces in the Virginia GOP want to change the rules so that candidates not even receiving a majority of votes in Virginia could "carry the state" nonetheless.   Here are editorial highlights: 

Efforts are under way to change the way states allocate their electors. In 2012, President Barack Obama carried certain battlegrounds while losing congressional districts in those states. In Virginia, for instance, he claimed four of the state’s 11 districts. Republicans want to switch from a winner-take-all formula to a system that would award electoral votes by congressional district. They even would deny a state’s two at-large electors to the winner of the popular vote but would give the two electors to the candidate who won the most districts. If the approach had applied to Virginia in 2012, Mitt Romney would have won nine of the commonwealth’s electoral votes, despite losing the statewide popular count to Obama. If other states adopted similar proposals, Romney might have won an electoral majority — and the presidency, despite receiving about 5 million fewer popular votes than Obama received.

A president elected in those circumstances would lack legitimacy.

Gerrymandering suggests partisans would draw lines not only to maximize their congressional share but also to boost their presidential tickets. The changes contemplated in Virginia would disenfranchise large numbers of voters.

Both parties have toyed with the Electoral College. When Republican presidential candidates routinely carried Virginia, Democrats promoted changes similar to those promoted by Republicans today. They did not enact them, which is something serious Republicans ought to remember. Although Democrats are not clean, the immediate threat comes from Republicans. The drive to change the rules is a sign of immaturity and fear. A confident party would not try to rig the process. It would rededicate itself to winning — earning, to be precise — a greater portion of the ballots cast by all voters. Moves to reapportion Virginia’s electors give minority citizens another reason to shun the GOP. Real conservatives will reject these mischievous gimmicks. Gov. Bob McDonnell is right to oppose the change.

Surprisingly, even the generally insane Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli opposes the Virginia GOP's effort - perhaps because to do otherwise would be most unhelpful to his gubernatorial campaign.

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