( – promoted by lowkell)
If at first you don’t succeed, propose legislation that disenfranchises Virginia voters to achieve your own petty political ends.
Not exactly a catchy mantra.
But that hasn’t stopped Republican state Sen. Bill Carrico from trying. While we probably won’t see this verbose phrase appearing on bumper stickers around the Commonwealth anytime soon, Carrico is hard at working trying to codify this equivalent of a temper-tantrum into law.
In anticipation of the 2013 General Assembly session (which kicks off on Jan. 9) Carrico has introduced legislation that would completely change how presidential elections are conducted in Virginia.
The bill, SB723, would demolish the winner-take-all approach that we currently practice, and replace it with a system that apportions votes according to congressional districts. Currently, only Maine and Nebraska have adopted this model.
The other 48 states employ an archaic and wholly outdated method of apportioning votes: population and numbers.
Here is Richmond Sunlight’s description of this wrong-headed bundle of legalese:
“…The Commonwealth’s electoral votes shall be allocated by congressional district. Receipt by a slate of presidential electors of the highest number of votes in a congressional district constitutes the election of the congressional district elector of that slate. Receipt by a slate of electors of the highest number of votes in a majority of congressional districts constitutes the election of the two at-large electors of that slate. In the event no slate receives the highest number of votes in a majority of districts, receipt by a slate of the highest number of votes statewide shall constitute election of the two at-large electors of that slate.”
Did you get all of that? Need a Tylenol? A moment to lie down? If you’re still with me after that, then please consider the practical ramifications of Carrico’s theoretical model:
Had this method been in place during the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney would have won nine electoral votes to Obama’s four.
That’s right. Although the President won a clear majority in Virginia, Carrico’s plan would have allowed Romney to ignore popular will and saunter off with an overwhelming victory in the Old Dominion.
And if that isn’t a clear-cut case of voter disenfranchisement, I don’t know what is.
Of course, Carrico has been quick to point out that his bill is in no way an attempt to sabotage the political process. On the contrary, the Republican senator argues that his bill is a courageous defense of rural voting rights. But even a sixth grader in civics class will tell you that when you introduce a law that allows the guy who received the most votes to lose, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Luckily, Carrico’s attempt to enshrine sore loserdom into Virginia election law, even as he seeks to pass it off as a means of rural social mobility, is a painfully obvious one. You see, political overreaching tends to illuminate one’s ulterior motives. And Carrico’s bill is so extreme, so fueled by defeat, that his ulterior motives are on display for all to see. As the old saying goes, “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and it seems Carrico forgot to close the window.
But then again, are we surprised? He may claim to embody the Jeffersonian paradigm of the disinterested citizen-politician, but this is the same man who introduced costly legislation to test unemployment recipients for drugs, sought to increase concealed-carry rights on school grounds, and perhaps most egregious of all, asserted that bullets produced in Virginia are not subject to federal law.
And now we are to believe that Carrico purged himself of his extreme partisan considerations for the sole purpose of drafting this bill?
Even as an idealist, I have my doubts.
We can all agree that empowering an electorate and increasing involvement is always a positive step. The problem is, the senator’s bill doesn’t do any of that. Subverting the will of the majority in order to appeal to a small base of supporters isn’t increasing equality, it’s strengthening disparity. And that’s anathema to the ideals Carrico claims to support.