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GOP wants to change electoral college rules

In this Aug. 28, 2012, file photo, Chairman of the Republican National Convention Reince Priebus addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win. 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. Priebus endorsed the idea and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum.

In this Aug. 28, 2012, file photo, Chairman of the Republican National Convention Reince Priebus addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win. 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. Priebus endorsed the idea and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum.

BOSTON — After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win.

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.

"It's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at," Priebus told the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, emphasizing that each state must decide for itself.

Democrats are outraged at the potential change.

Obama won the popular vote with 65.9 million votes, or 51.1 percent, to Romney's 60.9 million and won the Electoral College by a wide margin, 332-206 electoral votes. It's unclear whether he would have been re-elected under the new system, depending upon how many states adopted the change.

While some Republican officials warn of a political backlash, GOP lawmakers in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are already lining up behind proposals that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district or something similar.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he "could go either way" on the change and doesn't plan to push it. But he said it's a reasonable issue to debate and that he prefers that leaders discuss it well before the next presidential election.

"It could be done in a thoughtful (way) over the next couple years and people can have a thoughtful discussion," Snyder said.

Republican leaders in the Michigan Statehouse have yet to decide whether to embrace the change there. But state Rep. Peter Lund, a Republican who introduced a bill to change the allocation system two years ago, said some Republicans might be more receptive to his bill this year following the election.

"We never really pushed it before," he said, adding that the bill wasn't designed to help one party more than the other.

Democrats aren't convinced. And they warned of political consequences for Republicans who back the shift — particularly those governors up for re-election in 2014, which include the governors of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, among others.

"This is nothing more than election-rigging," said Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer.

Each state has the authority to shape its own election law. And in at least seven states — Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina — Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor's office.

Already, Maine and Nebraska have moved away from a winner-take-all system to one that allocates electoral votes based on congressional district.

"This is a concept that's got a lot of possibility and a lot of potential," said Washington-based Republican strategist Phil Musser, acknowledging that the debate would "incite different levels of partisan acrimony." Musser also predicted that more pressing economic issues would likely take priority in most Republican-led statehouses.

In Pennsylvania, Senate Republican leader Dominic Pileggi this week renewed his call for the Republican-controlled Legislature to revamp the way it awards electoral votes by using a method based on the popular vote that would have given Romney eight of the state's 20 votes.

Democrats quickly criticized it as partisan scheme.

"It is difficult to find the words to describe just how evil this plan is," said Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat. "It is an obscene scheme to cheat by rigging the elections,"

Gov. Tom Corbett, who supported a related proposal from Pileggi last year, had not seen the new plan and could not say whether he supports the new version, the Republican governor's spokesman Kevin Harley said.

In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has said that changing how electoral votes are allocated was an "interesting idea" but that it's not one of his priorities nor has he decided whether he supports such a change.

It's gotten a lukewarm reception in the Republican-controlled Legislature as well. No proposal has been introduced yet and no lawmaker has announced any plans to do so, but the state Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, first proposed the change back in 2007.

"I am open to that idea," Vos said in December as lawmakers prepared for the start of their session. "But I would have to hear all the arguments."

All 10 of the state's Electoral College votes went to Obama last fall under the current system. If they were awarded based on the new system, the votes would have been evenly split between Obama and Romney.

Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett sent an email plea urging people to sign a petition against the change: "We can't sit silently by as they try to manipulate the democratic process for political advantage," Barrett wrote. "We can't let them attack the very democratic institutions and rights that others have sacrificed so much to gain — just because they don't believe they can win in a fair election fight."

So far, Republicans have only advocated for the change in states that have supported Democrats in recent elections. The view is predictably different in states where the Republican nominee is a cinch to win.

"The Electoral College has served the country quite well," said Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere, who doubles as a national party vice chairman.

He continued: "This is coming from states where it might be an advantage, but I'm worried about what it means down the road. This is a system that has worked. That doesn't mean we can't talk about changes, but we have to be very careful about any actions we might take."

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 6 months ago

I completely agree with the idea of proportionally dividing the electoral college votes from states based on the state's final tally. It only makes sense and still captures the spirit of why the electoral college exists in the first place. After all "the founding fathers could not have imagined the way this are today..........yadda yadda."

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Let's do away with the electoral college all together. Simple and easy. It looks like the right wingnuts are proposing going to a super-county unit election system which will not pass constitutional review unless the court reverses it positions in various cases decided by the Supreme Court in the 1960s, notably Wesberry v. Sanders, Reynolds v. Sims, and Baker v. Carr.

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pettibone 1 year, 6 months ago

My words are becoming true. I have taught my children and community that in America, Black people follow the rules only White people change the rules when they don't or can't win.

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Sally_O 1 year, 6 months ago

If Black people follow the rules, then why do they have so many in jail and in prison? Why do so many abuse the welfare and food stamp system?

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mrcvsjr 1 year, 6 months ago

Fact, there are more whites on the welfare and food stamp system than blacks. So please do away with that argument. Here is a link for you to look at to validate that. http://demomemo.blogspot.com/2012/01/facts-about-food-stamps.html

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Sally_O 1 year, 6 months ago

1) Per capita, the black people have more of that. If there were as many black people in the U.S. as White People, you would find that there would be more blacks on welfare and food stamps than whites. You will also find that some of these whites hang out or live with blacks and live just like them. Some people call them whiggers.

2) When I mentioned welfare and food stamp abuse, I was not refering to how many are on welfare or food stamps, I was referring to those that use food stamps for use other than what they were intended for. Like selling their food stamps for cash, liquor, drugs, cigarettes etc.

Pay attention to what you read and no I will not do away with my argument so put that in your crackpipe and smoke it little boy.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 6 months ago

There are more Blacks PER CAPITA, in fact 4 times more Blacks per capita, than any other demographic on food stamps. Fact.

If a school of 1000 students (900 White and 100 Black) gave a test and 100 White kids failed the test and 50 Black kids failed the test........would we be talking about "more White kids failed the test than Black kids failed the test"? Or would we be saying "50% of the Black kids failed the test and only 11% of the White kids failed the test......there is something bad wrong with the test".

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VSU 1 year, 6 months ago

Isn't Obama trying to change all the rules? What rules does Obama follow? Obama wants to change everything....and not for the better of this country.

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 1 year, 6 months ago

You taught your children that? May God help us.

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ScubaGolfJim 1 year, 6 months ago

There should be no Electoral College. People do not need the Electoral College anymore. The reasons for the Electoral College included a major factor of the time in which our Founding Fathers created it. No one could know anything about the people running for President. You 'elected' a local person whom you believed had your 'best interest' in mind. They would represent the citizens of your area and go to Washington and meet the candidates and learn their positions and ideas. Then they would 'vote' for you.

We don't need that anymore. Haven't needed it since the majority of Americans had a radio. Now we've had TV coverage, or saturation, since 1960. We should have a simple majority vote of the National tally. THAT is the only true way one vote in Georgia equals one vote in California or any other state.

The problem is, it will never pass as an amendment to the constitution because politicians ever considering running for the office of President would derail it. They don't want to have to visit every state. Just the "swing" states.

In National Elections, there should never be a "Blue State" or a "Red State." Even 'proportional' divisions are subject to the gerrymandering of the political parties od the various states.

No Electoral College. Whole state or proportional. One person, one vote. Popular vote is the ONLY way to achieve this.

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jgreen_93 1 year, 6 months ago

Honestly, this entire system needs to be revamped anyway or better yet we should do away with it and implement a national popular vote. As it stands now the Electoral College is already very flawed. It gives swing states to much power and disproportionate influence in electing our President and Vice President. Twenty-one states do not have laws that compel electors to vote for their pledged candidate which leads to faithless electors, this situation has occurred over 150 times. Besides the only reason we have an electoral college was because James Madison it would be difficult to attain a consensus with slavery being so prevalent here in the South.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

"Besides the only reason we have an electoral college was because James Madison it would be difficult to attain a consensus with slavery being so prevalent here in the South." What? Where did that come from. What does that mean?

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TrixibelleBento 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree. Get rid of the Electoral College. We re-visit this conversation after each election. This crazy system can at times elect a different person than who received the Popular Vote. Let the President be elected by a popular vote PERIOD. This way, every vote counts the same amount. I'm tired of the votes of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and California residents counting more than mine. My boyfriend didn't even vote in this last election, because he knew that the state was already going red and his vote would not have impacted the election at all.

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Ihope4albany 1 year, 6 months ago

They did not say this when they stole the election from Al Gore!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Gore shot himself in the foot at least 3 times. 1. He should have campaigned and won in his home state of TN and he would have won without FL. 2. He should have allowed Bill & Hillary Clinton to campaign for him, at least in FL. Remember Clinton even though he had been impeached and acquitted was riding a very high level of favorability. 3. He should have asked for a recount in the entire state of Florida and the count would have more than likely been in his favor.

I voted for another candidate (neither of the major parties) so I really didn't care who won. Gore was an awfully arrogant candidate who did not deserve to win. The point could be argued that he would have made a better president but as far as the facts go he did not deserve it IMO. He just thought he ought to be president and a lot of people just don't like that.

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