Home Virginia Politics State Sen. Bill Carrico isn’t a Big Fan of City Voters

State Sen. Bill Carrico isn’t a Big Fan of City Voters


( – 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The other 48 states employ an archaic and wholly outdated method of apportioning votes: population and numbers.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.

  • ir003436

    I think we all recognize this proposed legislation for what it is, which the author of this diary explained quite clearly.

    However, the details of this proposal are not the question.

    The question is:  Will this legislation pass??  Given the GOP control of the General Assembly and the governor’s mansion, it’s not unthinkable that this thing will pass.

    We as individuals and the DPVA need to get out in front of this thing, publicize it, argue against it, and do our best to make it Dead On Arrival.

  • pashin

    This is a logical extension of the Congressional district gerrymandering that took place in 2010. It is the next move in the Rethug attempt to hold onto power wherever they can, however they can. I confidently predict that we will see such laws introduced in any State where the outcome would be favorable to them. And I’ll bet that this is not the last bill or constitutional amendment we see in Virginia this session aimed at locking in – or even expanding – their current skewed level of control.

    I share the fear that sunlight, transparency, and exposing hypocrisies will not be enough. If they have the votes to pass it, they will. Given the power grab in the Senate (the history of which should be sufficient to convince any doubters that the teahadists are all about power, not principle), I am not at all sanguine about being able to stop this bill in this session – unless our Senators are willing to leave the state to deny a quorum – as the Wisconsin State Senators were. Such a move could delay matters until we have a chance to change the political balance in Richmond this coming November.  

    Because, as Lowell noted, the only permanent solution is electoral.   1st step – win the Gov and the Lt. Governor races this year.  The Lt. Gov gives us back control of the Senate. 2nd step – a two cycle (2013/2015) plan to win back the House. This means candidate recruitment and support – including through aggressive national fundraising (again, the Wisconsin example is instructive) – to encourage candidates in long-shot districts to take the risk.

    An ambitious strategy, I admit. But I don’t see any other way to keep Virginia in the Blue column in 2016.

  • mtv dem

    I think Vivian Watts introduced legislation similar to this last year.  Any ideas about why she thought this would be a good idea?

  • oldgulph

    Obvious partisan machinations like these should add support for the National Popular Vote movement. If the party in control in each state is tempted every 2, 4, or 10 years (post-census) to consider rewriting election laws and redistrict with an eye to the likely politically beneficial effects for their party in the next presidential election, then the National Popular Vote system, in which all voters across the country are guaranteed to be politically relevant and treated equally, looks better and better.

    Most Americans don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it’s wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    A survey of Virginia voters showed 74% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    By age, support for a national popular vote was 82% among 18-29 year olds, 75% among 30-45 year olds, 75% among 46-65 year olds, and 68% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support for a national popular vote was 82% among women and 65% among men.

    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 79% for a national popular vote among liberal Democrats (representing 17% of respondents), 86% among moderate Democrats (representing 21% of respondents), 79% among conservative Democrats (representing 10% of respondents), 76% among liberal Republicans (representing 4% of respondents), 63% among moderate Republicans (representing 14% of respondents), and 54% among conservative Republicans (representing 17% of respondents), and 79% among Others (representing 17% of respondents).

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes- enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential

    candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM- 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.

    Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


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