Republicans are Seriously Considering a Plan to Rig the Electoral System

If Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and other states had gone in a different direction on November 7th, yesterday would have been the first day of President Mitt Romney’s term, and Republicans would have been on the road to repealing Obamacare, approving the Keystone pipeline, sanctioning China, and implementing the Ryan plan.

As it stands, the combination of changing demographics and a good-enough economy gave President Obama a solid win, and another four years in the White House.

For some Republicans, this defeat is an opportunity to reevaluate the party’s message and better appeal to key demographics like Latinos and women. Others have taken a different approach. Instead of changing their posture or reevaluating their policies, these Republicans are making a push to change the rules, so they can have their cake (win the next election) and eat it too (keep their Tea Party policies). Here’s the Associated Press with more:

From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Barack Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state’s popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too. Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the idea this week, and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum. There are other signs that Republican state legislators, governors and veteran political strategists are seriously considering making the shift as the GOP looks to rebound from presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Electoral College shellacking and the demographic changes that threaten the party’s long-term political prospects.

This would take the existing malapportionment of our political system—rural states have more representation relative to their populations—and amplify it by an incredible extent. A state like Pennsylvania would move from reliably Democratic to solidly Republican, since the majority of voters are packed into a small number of urban congressional districts. It’s a full-scale assault on the principle of “one person, one vote.”

If implemented on a large scale, this scheme would result in mass disenfranchisement, and rival Jim Crow in the number of people it (effectively) removed from the electoral process. And given the states in question—Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan—a large number of those disenfranchised would be African Americans. In Virginia, for example, Obama received more than 300,000 votes from Richmond, Norfolk, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Newport News—urban areas with large black populations.

These votes put Obama over the top and, in the current system, gave him all 13 of Virginia’s electoral votes. But under the alternative scheme proposed by Republicans, Obama would win just 3 electoral votes, even as he won 51 percent of the popular vote—all because these cities (and those voters) are packed into a handful of congressional districts.

In a single move, Republicans would have diluted the voting strength of African Americans—making their overwhelming support irrelevant to Democratic chances—and tilted the field towards rural whites. And this would be true in every state where Republicans made this move.

Indeed, if you need a reason for why this probably won’t happen, it’s the massive political backlash that would come from rigging the electoral system to deprive nonwhites and urban dwellers of political power. Still, it tells you something important about the current Republican Party that—when it comes to winning elections—it’s more interested in changing the game than changing its policies.