National Republicans, frustrated with their failure to win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections, are pushing to change the electoral allocations only in states Obama carried. With control of the state governments in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and elsewhere, they are hoping to pass legislation to ensure that most of those states’ electors go to their 2016 nominee — even if he or she does not carry those states.
Sen. Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr. (R) is the author of Senate Bill 723, which would allocate Virginia’s 13 electoral votes by congressional district, rather than the current winner-take-all system. With the state’s GOP-gerrymandered Congressional districts, Republicans hold eight of the 11 Virginia House districts. Even though President Obama won Virginia by four points, under this plan vast majority of Virginia’s electors would have gone to loser Mitt Romney.
Though the Privileges and Elections committee is also Republican controlled — an eight-to-seven majority — the 40 member Senate is evenly divided, with Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling breaking ties. Assuming the bill passes from the full committee and comes up on the floor, if all 20 Democrats vote against it and Vogel abstains again, it will fail.
An earlier version of this story relied on an erroneous report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which falsely claimed Vogel had voted against the bill and that the full committee was split 10-5. The Virginia Senate Clerk’s office told ThinkProgress that Vogel had, in fact, merely abstained.
Sen. Vogel told ThinkProgress that she is not currently in favor of the bill and abstained only as a courtesy to her colleagues. “I abstained because I was chair of the subcommittee and did not want it to leave my subcommittee with a failing vote,” she explained, “but I am generally not in favor right now of the bill and it’s very unlikely that I will vote for it in full committee or the Senate floor.”