Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reject changes to Wisconsin's electoral vote allocation

The move to allocate based on district winners is entirely political

The recent push for states to change how they allocate their electoral college votes should be soundly rejected. The move is nothing more than an attempt by Republican lawmakers to diminish the outcomes that are favorable to Democrats while empowering their own electoral achievements. 

Were it any different, were this truly a sincere gesture toward ensuring districts hand out votes in a fair way, we would be seeing this move enacted in state legislatures where Republicans are the clear winners instead of battleground states. Why don’t states like Texas, with 34 Electoral College votes that typically all go to the Republican candidate year after year, have similar legislation being proposed?

The answer is because the Republicans aren’t interested in fairness. Instead, we’re seeing this plan hashed out in swing states where the races have been close but won by Democrats in recent elections. The move allows those votes to be split, while Republican-leaning states that would also be split under a similar model remains intact, with a winner-take-all system of allocating votes still the preferred method.

The move is clearly political. And it’s not just happening in states like Virginia or Pennsylvania -- the Badger state is a target, too.

Gov. Scott Walker, himself a Republican, has called the idea “intriguing.” Current Assembly Speaker Robin Vos previously co-sponsored a bill in 2007 that would have allocated Wisconsin’s electoral votes along these lines. And current GOP national chair Reince Priebus, formerly the chair of Wisconsin’s Republican Party, publicly backs the change in how battleground states should set their votes out.

If Wisconsin become the next state to do encourage this change, and if it is successful, it will diminish our state’s importance in future elections. With the electoral votes split up, candidates would no longer feel the need to come to our state but rather travel to other states that have kept the old way in place -- it makes more sense, after all, to spend more time in a state where a winner-takes-all system would get them more votes. Campaigning in either Madison or in Waukesha, on the other hand, would each only grant you one electoral college vote if you influence minds there.

Of course, the ultimate goal should be eliminating the electoral college altogether. The president should be elected by a system that allows every vote to count, to hold equal weight to another individual’s choice, whether they be from the same state or otherwise. Only through a popular voting mechanism is this possible.

But until that goal is realized, splitting up the electoral votes in one state while keeping the winner-takes-all system in others only lessens the importance of the former. And it works entirely to the advantage of a single party alone -- the Republicans.

This is nothing more than a power grab by the GOP. It should be rejected by any decent legislature, vetoed by any governor with half a spine and even an ounce of moral judgment.

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