Virginia Republicans Move Forward with Mass Disenfranchisement

James Madison University

Virginia's congressional districts.

This morning, I wrote on an emerging Republican plan—in swing states won by President Obama—to rig presidential elections by awarding electoral votes to the winner of the most congressional districts. Because Democratic voters tend to cluster in highly-populated urban areas, and Republican voters tend to reside in more sparsely populated regions, this makes land the key variable in elections—to win the majority of a state’s electoral votes, your voters will have to occupy the most geographic space.

In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state.

For this reason, I didn’t expect Republicans to go forward with the plan—the risk of blowback is just too high. My skepticism, however, was misplaced. In Virginia, a local news station reports that just this afternoon, a state Senate subcommittee recommended a bill to end Virginia’s winner-take-all system and apportion its 13 electoral votes by congressional district.

Unlike similar proposals in Pennsylvania and Michigan, this one wouldn’t award the remaining electoral votes to the winner (Virginia has 11 districts). Rather, the winner of the most congressional districts would get the final two votes. If this were in effect last year, Obama would have gotten just 4 of the state’s votes, despite winning 51 percent of its voters.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Charles W. “Bill” Carrico, says the change is necessary because Virginia’s urbanized areas can outvote rural regions, weakening their political strength. In other words, Carrico thinks winning land is more important than winning people when it comes to presidential elections.

It should be said that this scheme, if carried out on a large scale, will guarantee an explosion of recounts. In any district where there is a narrow margin between the two candidates, there will be every incentive to challenge the results. Republicans present this as a way to streamline elections, but in reality, it would complicate them, and drag out the process for weeks—if not months. It would be Florida in the 2000 election, multiplied by 435.

It should also be said, again, that this constitutes a massive disenfranchisement of African American and other nonwhite voters, who tend to cluster near urban areas. When you couple this with the move on Monday to redraw the state’s electoral maps—eliminating one state senate district and packing black voters into another, diluting their strength—it’s as if Virginia Republicans are responding to Obama’s repeat victory in the state by building an electoral facsimile of Jim Crow.

Comments

There's another reason to end this "voter disenfranchisement" farce---it's ILLEGAL. No, not because it disenfranchises voters---that's just EVIL. ILLEGAL, though, was that the redistricting was rammed through overnight WITHOUT THE 24-HOUR NOTICE THAT RE-DISTRICTING ALWAYS REQUIRES IN VIRGINIA. THAT'S what makes it illegal. The State Supreme Court should declare the re-districting ILLEGAL BECAUSE NO NOTICE WAS GIVEN. And should they fail in that, then the US Supreme Court should take up the matter REAL QUICK. Or we'll be left without a country.

The American constitution and government both are and have always been a democrat's nightmare, by design. It is no surprise that the conservative forces it disproportionately empowers are using their power to strengthen their power.

I really can't believe that this kind of bill is being considered in multiple states. I thought, in the past decade, we were heading the opposite direction. It seemed like people were finally starting to think about doing away with the electoral college. I can even understand some of the arguments in favor of the electoral college, but this makes no sense. It shows how quickly people are willing to give up on democracy in favor of winning.

Not trying to be dramatic here, but I hope the GOP has given some thought to the "law of unintended consequences." In this instance say that a Democratic Presidential candidate won the popular vote in VA, MI, and PA and the total of those three states electoral votes were sufficient to elect the Democrat president.

But wait, if this nonsense is permitted to stand let's say the votes are allocated according to some GOP formula that ignores the popular vote and allocates electoral votes based upon gerrymandered districts that are essentially rigged to always favor the Rs. Because of the allocation in these three states the R candidates for president win in the electoral college.

How many times would a presidential election have to be stolen in this manner to tee off enough people that some might ponder as one GOP candidate once put it "Second Amendment" remedies? I mean, do you really think people are going to remain quiet and passive while their government is literally and repeatedly stolen from the popular and majority will of the people? This is how revolutions begin.

Had they been in place for this past election, Romney could have won depending on the states.

That's how scary this plan is. Romney could have won the election despite losing the popular vote by 4 points. That's taking democracy and kicking it straight in the nards.

This should be called for what it is: An attempted coup-d'état by the right.

Had they been in place for this past election, Romney could have won depending on the states. It is no surprise that the conservative forces it disproportionately empowers are using their power to strengthen their power. Its like they are making stock picks.

I am about to complete a university thesis on this topic and your post has helped me with the facts and figures I needed to accomplish it. Cheers!
Mark

I like the way you described the topic with such clarity. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time and you really captured the essence of the subject.
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This is THE political story of the next 4 years. It’s entirely plausible that a Republican will win in 2016 with 45-46% of the vote. Revolting.
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Virginia’s urbanized areas can outvote rural regions, weakening their political strength. In other words, Carrico thinks winning land is more important than winning people when it comes to presidential elections.
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