Michigan Republicans Want to Rig the Electoral College

We’re in that dangerous time in politics known as the lame-duck sessions. Some of the worst legislation is passed every two years between the election and the swearing in of the new legislators and here in Michigan, a Republican wants to rig the electoral college through gerrymandering:

Rep. Pete Lund (R) told Bridge Magazine that he plans to introduce a bill during the lame-duck session that would change the way electoral votes are counted. The new plan would make it more likely that a Republican could win the presidency, even though, as Bridge reports, “overall state voting patterns trend Democratic.” Twice before, Lund introduced bills that would achieve the Republican skew by changing how the electoral college works. Rather than having all 16 of the state’s electoral votes for president go to the candidate who gets the most state votes, as the system does now, the these proposals would give each congressional district one presidential vote, plus two extras for the winner.

The problem, as Bridge explains, is that “[b]ecause of the way the state’s congressional districts are drawn, Republicans dominate the vast majority of districts” despite state voting patterns that favor Democrats. In other words, the plan would magnify the impact of congressional gerrymandering designed to maximize Republican wins in Congress so that it would also shift the outcome of the presidential election.

This isn’t just a Michigan initiative. Over the past few years, several Republican lawmakers have coordinated behind a plan that would rig the Electoral College by shifting to plans like Michigan’s in several key blue states, while maintaining the current rules in red states.

Here’s how this plan would have affected Michigan, if it had been in place in 2012. In that year’s presidential election, President Obama won the blue state by nearly ten points. But if the new plan had been adopted, “Gov. Romney would have received 9 of the state’s 16 electoral votes because he received more votes than the president did in nine of the state’s congressional districts,” Ian Millhiser explains in a Center for American Progress report. “In other words,” he adds, “the Republican candidate would receive more than half of the state’s electoral votes despite being overwhelmingly defeated in the state as a whole.”

I’d be fine with allocating a state’s electoral votes by the popular vote totals — get 55% of the votes in the state, you get 55% of the electoral votes. But this is only reasonable if every state does it at the same time. If only the states that tend to vote one way for president do it and not states that tend to vote the other day don’t, the results clearly undermine the will of the people — as does this plan to do it by congressional district.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • D. C. Sessions

    If only the states that tend to vote one way for president do it and not states that tend to vote the other day don’t, the results clearly undermine the will of the people — as does this plan to do it by congressional district.

    That’s only true if you count “people” who aren’t Real Americans™.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Scupper the electoral college entirely.

  • steve84

    It’s completely nonsense, because election districts are irrelevant for a state-wide or nation-wide office.

    That said, if there needs to be such a stupid thing as the electoral college, all states should use proportional representation. Winner takes it all is the most undemocratic voting system there is. However, given the insanely stupid idea to let states decide their own voting systems for a federal election, it’s not going to be changed everywhere, but only where it suits the party in charge.

  • lpetrich

    There’s a reform that’s gradually making its way through state legislatures: National Popular Vote — Electoral college reform by direct election of the President If enough states agree, then the agreeing states will award all their electoral votes to the popular-vote winner.

    So far, it’s been the most successful among the blue states, with limited progress among purple and red states, especially battleground ones.

    More seriously, why doesn’t anyone ever consider proportional representation? That will make gerrymandering much more difficult — or even impossible.

  • dhall

    It sure is telling that the Republicans think that the only way to win elections is to rig the process. Apparently, that’s way better than changing their party platform to genuinely attract voters. Y’know, give the people what they genuinely want and need, and actually represent their best interests . . .

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    More seriously, why doesn’t anyone ever consider proportional representation?

    Simple. Because American elections are run by the states, and the majority political parties in those states have nothing to gain from a change to the voting system that will loosen their grip on power.

    Partisan control of the American electoral system has become one of the most anti-democratic forces in the nation. At both the state and federal level it actively thwarts the will of the people time and again.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    dhall “It sure is telling that the Republicans think that the only way to win elections is to rig the process.”

    Well, it’s not the only way. But until blacks, gays, single women and other minorities stand up, cast off the Democrats and start voting for the party that hates them, it’ll do.

     

    “Apparently, that’s way better than changing their party platform to genuinely attract voters. Y’know, give the people what they genuinely want and need, and actually represent their best interests . . .”

    Change their platform? Why? It’s perfect as is. It’s the messaging that’s not working. Next election, I hear they’re going to try whispering “slut” and “moocher” quieter. That should pick them up a few minority votes.

  • Chelydra

    The latest proposed Michigan bill is somewhat more confusing than the earlier, obviously gerrymandering versions. This one gives 9/16 of the votes to the winner of the popular vote, but apportions the rest between the winner and the runner-up differently depending on how many points the winner won by.

  • http://sotonohitoblogs.blogspot.com sotonohito

    Fortunately, there’s an effort in place to end all possible gerrymandering of the electoral college by rendering it obsolete: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

    They’re doing it by getting states to pass laws under which, once states commanding 270 votes pass the law and not until then, the states give 100% of their electoral votes to the candidate who got the most votes nationwide. It’s perfectly legal and constitutional, and the end result will be a genuine national popular vote for President. So far they’ve gotten states with 165 total electoral votes onboard, about 61% of their way to the goal.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    lpetrich@4:

    More seriously, why doesn’t anyone ever consider proportional representation? That will make gerrymandering much more difficult — or even impossible.

    I think you answered your own question.