Republicans float Electoral College changes

Politics | Whitney Williams

Republicans float Electoral College changes

Republican National Convention Chairman Reince Priebus
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, File

After losing two consecutive presidential elections, Republicans in key battleground states are working to transform the way the country elects its presidents.

As of now, many state laws give the winner of a state’s popular vote all its Electoral College votes too. But GOP officials, including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, argue that it makes more sense to divide Electoral College votes proportionally.

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“It’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at," Priebus told the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

But not all conservatives agree the fight is the best use of the GOP’s time.

"Obviously states have the right to decide how these election laws will function, and it might be a debate worth having,” said Jordan Powell, GOP consultant and founder of RedRight Strategies. “However, as a party, we have to be careful not to change the rules just because we don't like the outcome of the last few elections. We should be focusing on our message, outreach, and other important issues first.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told The Associated Press on Tuesday he “could go either way” on the change and doesn’t plan to push it, although he believes it’s a reasonable issue to debate.

Republican leaders in the Michigan Statehouse remain undecided on whether or not to embrace the change there. But State Rep. Peter Lund, who introduced a bill to change the allocation system two years ago, said some Republicans might be more receptive now, considering the outcome of the 2012 election.

“We never really pushed it before,” he said, adding the bill wasn’t designed to give one party an advantage.

But Democrats aren’t convinced.

“This is nothing more than election-rigging,” said Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer.

Maine and Nebraska have already moved away from a winner-take-all system to one that divvies up electoral votes based on congressional district.

In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker called it an “interesting idea” but said it wasn’t one of his priorities, nor has he decided whether he supports such a change in electoral vote allocation.

All 10 of the state’s Electoral College votes went to President Barack Obama last fall under the current system. If awarded based on the new system, the votes would have been spread evenly between Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Nationwide, Obama won the popular vote with 65.0 million votes, or 51.1 percent, to Romney’s 60.9 million. Obama won the Electoral College by a wide margin, 332-206 electoral votes. It’s unclear whether he would have been reelected under the new system, depending upon how many states adopted the change.

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