As the Virginia Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee prepares to take up a bill to rig bill the state’s electoral college vote, Democrats and even Republicans are distancing themselves from the effort, calling it “a bad idea,” “skewing,” and a “partisan bill aimed at defying the will of the voters.” A ThinkProgress analysis of Virginia voter demographics reveals another major flaw with the proposal: it would significantly dilute the influence of minority voters.
The 2012 Virginia Congressional maps, authored by Delegate Robert Bell (R) based on the 2010 U.S. Census, divided the state’s estimated 8,001,024 people into 11 Congressional districts. Though the state population is more than 20 percent African American — and more than 31 percent non-white — just one Congressional district contains a majority of non-white voters (the Third District, which is majority African American). Though white non-Hispanic Virginians makeup just 68.6 percent of the population, they comprise at least 58 percent of the population in all of the other 10 districts.
While many of the electoral college-rigging schemes being pushed by Republicans nationally would still allocate two electors based on the popular winner in the state — the Virginia plan would not even do that. State Sen. Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr.’s Senate Bill 723 would allocate 11 electors based on the popular winner in each of the House districts and two to whichever candidate won the majority of those gerrymandered House districts.
So, with more than one-fifth of the population, African American Virginians would go from having about 20 percent of the say to just controlling one-thirteenth of the state’s electoral votes under the Carrico plan. And racial minority voters overall would go from having about 31 percent of the say, to also controlling just 7.7 percent of the state’s electors.
And while African American voters would of course have some say in districts where they do not make up a majority, more than a quarter of them them are packed into the 3rd district, meaning the remaining 73 percent would be in districts where they comprised, on average, just about 16 percent of the population. This would be a significant retrogression of influence for minority voters. Given Virginia’s history of racial discrimination and the fact that much of the state remains a Voting Rights Act covered jurisdiction, this maneuver might well be not just anti-democratic, but also illegal.