Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Inauguration that may never have happened


January 21st 2013 was not only the observance of Martin Luther King day but also the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.   Mainstream conservatives must now at least acknowledge the legitimacy of his agenda but some on the right still question whether he should have won a second term. 

Consider the endorsement of RNC chairman Reince Preiebus for a plan in a number of Republican controlled state legislatures to change how their votes for the electoral college are counted.  The plan already adopted by a few states would change the electoral college voting from a winner take all approach to a one that would divide electoral votes based on popular vote percentages. 

There's a belief by some in the GOP that if such an accounting change were in place today we may well have seen the inauguration of a President Romney instead of a second term for Obama.  Barack Obama captured 51.1 percent of the popular vote but under such a change could have lost the electoral vote thus  echoing the election of 2000.  An outcome the popular electorate would rather not repeat but the President's opposition would welcome.  

On its surface the plan seems reasonable and in theory would be a more accurate representation of the popular vote on the electoral college.  All things being equal, that would be true until you factor in the work by largely conservative legislators to gerrymander entire districts to their advantage.  The results of which have diminished the voting power of traditionally Democratic leaning populations by reapportioning them into smaller or more conservative leaning districts.

Remember that electoral college electors are selected by political parties and not popular vote.  Population is the only commonality with the figure determined in the same manner as the number of  representatives to the House from each state.  Using election voting percentages per district to assign electoral votes could effectively negate the popular vote of a state while still appearing to be reflective of it.

Perhaps it is indeed time to rid ourselves of the electoral college as its weaknesses appear to be the latest target for abuse by those who seek to invalidate the popular vote.