Purple States Push Drastic Electoral College Changes

Republican-controlled governments in states where Obama won want to change how they elect presidents.

Del. Charles Carriso, R-Grayson, gestures during a meeting of the Senate courts of Justice Committee at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. The committee voted to kill Carrico's bill relating to prayers provided by State Police chaplains.

Then-Del. Charles Carriso at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., in 2009.

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The RNC Chairman and Republican-controlled legislatures across the country are considering tweaking the electoral college system to improve their party's presidential prospects, often in ways that would have led to an easy victory for Mitt Romney.

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Leading the electoral college reform effort is Virginia, where Barack Obama won in both 2008 and 2012, something a Democrat on the presidential level hadn't done since 1964. The House of Delegates, which is majority Republican, will soon vote on a measure divying up electoral votes by congressional district, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Instead of giving all of Virginia's 13 electoral college votes to the winner of the state's popular vote, state Sen. Bill Carrico's proposal would give an electoral vote to the winner of the state's 11 congressional districts. The remaining two would go to the candidate who won the most districts. The bill passed the state's senate 20-19 along party lines on Monday, while one Democratic Senator, an African-American former civil rights lawyer, was in Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration and Martin Luther King Day.

Virginia's plan and others like it would increase the voting power of rural areas, which are traditionally more conservative. Districts with relatively few voters would be hold the same electoral power as urban districts with millions.

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Had this revised system been in place this past election, Mitt Romney would have won nine electoral votes and Obama just four, despite winning the state by more than 150,000 votes.

By the Huffington Post's calculations, if every state instituted a split electoral vote system, Romney would have won 273 electoral votes to Obama's 262, resulting in a very red electoral map.

Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, endorsed the states efforts on the split electoral system.

"I think it's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled by red ought to be looking at," Priebus said.

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Republican leaders in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin appear to agree. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would not rule such a proposal out, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "it's an interesting concept, it's a plausible concept."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder gave a similarly tepid response when asked about such a system by The Associated Press.

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

In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers last year discussed several other plans to tip the state red in presidential elections. State Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi proposed a change in December that would divy up electoral college votes according to the proportion of total votes each candidate received. Under this system, a candidate like Obama, who won 52 percent of the state's popular vote, would receive 52 percent of its electoral votes, or 12 of the 20 total.

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"Anyone who voted for Governor Romney, and many Pennsylvanians did, does not have any reflection of that vote in the electoral college vote," Pileggi told Bloomberg News. "This is a proposal that is not party specific or partisan in any way, but just an attempt to have the popular vote reflected in the electoral college vote."

Following the election, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted hinted at splitting the state's electoral votes as well, but later reconsidered.

Maine and Nebraska already split their votes, though Obama won all five of Maine's and Romney all four of Nebraska's last year.

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