A Republican plan to place an enormous thumb on the electoral scale in favor of Republican presidential candidates is back, and if one Florida lawmaker has his way, it will be law by 2016.
In the last couple of years, several top Republicans rallied behind a plan to rig the Electoral College by ensuring that many of the electoral votes that went to President Obama in the last two elections would instead be awarded to the Republican candidate. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) proposed rigging presidential elections as early as 2011. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus called for one set of rules in red states — to ensure that Republicans get all of the electoral votes in those states — and another set of rules in blue states to ensure that GOP candidates get some of those votes as well. In Priebus’ words, the election rigging plan is “something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”
And now, Florida state Rep. Ray Pilon (R) introduced a bill to bring this election rigging plan to Florida. If Pilon’s bill had been law in 2012, Romney would have won 15 of Florida’s 29 electoral votes, despite the fact that President Obama won the popular vote in the state.
Under current law, most states allocate all of their electoral votes to the winner of the state as a whole. The Republican election rigging plan works by reallocating these votes so that they are awarded one by one to the winner of each congressional district within a state, with an additional two votes going to the winner of the state as a whole. Because many states’ congressional districts are already gerrymandered to maximize Republican victories, the plan would virtually ensure that a Republican would win most of the electoral votes in several states regardless of who won the state as a whole:
Though several Republicans floated rigging future presidential elections last January, the plan appeared dead in most states after several high profile Republicans came out against it. Pilon’s effort to revive it, however, comes at a time when Republicans appear increasingly emboldened to use any means necessary to force their policies to become law.
Last Thursday, for example, at the same time that House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government unless President Obama agrees to dismantle his signature achievement, those same Republicans released a similar threat to cause the United States to default on its debt unless Congress essentially enacts Mitt Romney’s agenda. The price of not destroying the American (and potentially, the world) economy includes delaying Obamacare, implementing Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) tax policies, increased oil drilling, less environmental protection, a GOP veto over Obama Administration regulations and numerous other items on the GOP’s Christmas list. When asked why he would support such brinksmanship, Ryan explained that “[t]he reason this debt limit fight is different is, we don’t have an election around the corner where we feel we are going to win and fix it ourselves. . . . We are stuck with this government another three years.”
So Republicans are willing to respect the outcome of an election when that outcome favors them, but they will threaten the full faith and credit of the United States government to get what they want when they lose. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that many of them are also willing to rig a presidential election in order to place a Republican in the White House.