Republicans are trying to legally rig elections, again

Following sweeping victories in the 2014 elections, the GOP wasted no time in introducing a series of bills in blue states under their legislative control that would break up electoral votes by congressional district.

According to backers of these bills, this would actually be more representative of the nation’s electoral preference, because conservative voters in blue states wouldn’t be drowned out by urban (read: black) voters.

But don’t tell that to Republican legislators in Nebraska, one of the two states that actually use this system to cast their electoral votes. Looking to avoid a repeat of 2008, when John McCain won 57% of the state’s popular vote but lost an electoral vote to President Obama, they’re moving forward on a bill that would award the state’s electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis in 2016.

Said the Nebraska Republican Party chairman, J.L. Spray:

It’s obvious that the majority of citizens of the state of Nebraska are Republicans…They want to have the maximum voice in the Electoral College.

Congressional seats are perhaps the least representative way to determine the national will. In 2012, Republicans won 54 percent of House seats with 49 percent of the two-party vote for members of Congress. But that has nothing to do with why the bill’s sponsor, Beau McCoy, is moving it through the legislature. He and Spray have both endorsed other (blue) states allocating electoral votes by congressional district; they just want to make sure that Republicans “have the maximum voice in the Electoral College” by any means necessary — that means winner-take-all allocation in red states and congressional allocation in blue states.

As I’ve written before, rigging elections has been steadily moving from behind-the-curtain hijinks to a plank on the Republican Party platform, and has been embraced by conservative intellectuals as a perfectly viable way to maintain their hold on political power.

This is dangerous in the long-term, as democratic stability relies in large part on the rules of the game not becoming a partisan issue. If one faction decides that voting isn’t always a good thing, and spends a large chunk of its time and energy making sure that certain people’s votes either don’t get cast or don’t matter, they have the potential to undermine the entire system.

This move in Nebraska is but the latest example of pervasive Republican anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic) gamesmanship — and they aren’t even bothering to disguise it as principled or sensible policy.

As long as they don’t do it while at the same time calling themselves “patriots.” Oh wait…


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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