Sunday, December 16, 2012
Editorial: A reform that is not
A bill to allocate electoral votes by district would make some voters more equal than others.
From the RoundTable blog
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State Sen. Charles Carrico is worried that voters in the mostly rural, mostly Republican 9th Congressional District are feeling irrelevant since Virginia's winner-take-all electoral votes helped to re-elect President Obama in November.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney won handily in the 9th -- with 63 percent of the vote. But sparsely populated Southwest Virginia was overwhelmed by the Democratic vote in the commonwealth's metropolitan areas.
To right this perceived wrong, Carrico has prefiled a bill (SB 723) for the 2013 General Assembly to allocate Virginia's electoral votes by congressional district. This, the Grayson County Republican reasons, would more accurately reflect the will of the state's voters.
What baloney. The change would have the opposite effect: In a presidential election, downstate voters could dilute the ballots cast in populous Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond. Thus, a minority of the electorate would be able to thwart the will of the majority of voters in the commonwealth, making a mockery of the one-man, one-vote ideal.
Virginia's heavily gerry-mandered districts were tailor-made by incumbents to protect incumbents in Congress, the majority of whom now are Republicans. Yet in this year's statewide races, for president and U.S. senator, Democrats prevailed.
The Electoral College, which actually decides presidential elections, is made up of electors from each state equal to the sum of its House and Senate delegation. Carrico would award 11 of Virginia's 13 electoral votes according to the winner in each House district, and give the remaining two to the candidate with the most congressional districts.
This year, that formula would have given Romney nine electoral votes, Obama four. Even the at-large electors would not have reflected the will of the majority of voters.
We join Carrico in lamenting Southwest Virginia's waning influence as its population steadily declines and other regions' explode. But partisan rear-guard action won't stanch the flow. The regional economy has to adapt to changing reality, and quickly, or workers and future generations of workers will continue to leave. They will have to.
The region needs a champion of education and infrastructure investments to move forward. Partisan maneuvering might delay a decline in influence, but not for long..