Republicans are flirting with changing the basic American principle of "one man, one vote," into something a little more flexible — something like "one man, one to three votes." While leaders at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting are making speeches about reaching new voters, state lawmakers and lobbyists are working to ensure that their old voters — white, rural Americans — count more than everyone else. Starting in swing states that voted for President Obama but have Republican legislatures, they're floating apportioning electoral college votes by congressional district, instead of the winner-takes-all system that most states (except for Maine and Nebraska) currently use. There have been some murmurings about rolling this concept out nationwide — which would at least give it the chintziest veneer of democratic legitimacy — but so the only states proponents have targeted are the ones where Obama won in 2012 in a rather bald attempt to turn a 3.9 percent popular vote loss (that is he received 4.97 million more votes than Romney) into a victory. But even if this scheme was applied in all 50 states, it would only reinforce an imbalance that already exists in America's political system: rural whites are overrepresented in Congress because of gerrymandering and geography. That is why even though House Democratic candidates received a million more votes than House Republicans in the 2012 elections, Republicans retained a majority. This scheme would be worse: There is no way to extract this plan from past attempts to suppress the minority vote. It's a plan for the minority to steal elections.
In November, Obama won all 13 of Virginia's electoral votes by beating Romney by a 3.8 percent vote margin. But the proposal supported by many Republicans in Virginia is not to award electoral votes proportionally so that the loser loses a little less badly, like say giving Obama 7 electoral votes and Romney 6. Based on their scheme, the result actually turns the loser into the winner: going by congressional Romney would have won 9 electoral votes, and Obama would have won 4, all thanks to the gerrymandering that packs Democrats into a handful of districts. (State legislatures draw Congressional districts every ten years, and the party in power — in Virginia's case, Republicans — typically comes up with a districting plan that gives them the most seats.) Do the math and that means an Obama vote would only count as three-fifths of a vote — a creepy historical coincidence, given that slaves counted as three-fifths of people in the Constitution's original three-fifths compromise.