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.