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Will Weatherford, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
Will Weatherford, speaker for the Florida House of Representatives, stands against his party's efforts to
skew the will of voters by rigging the electoral college to favor the GOP.
While Republicans ponder their plans to rig the system so that a Democratic presidential candidate who wins a state's popular vote in 2016 won't win a majority of the Electoral College votes in that state, two prominent members of the party in Florida are saying no way. If the system had been arranged in 2012 the way leading Republicans intend for the future, Mitt Romney would now be sitting in the Oval Office despite having lost the popular vote by nearly five million ballots.

Republicans in states where they hold majorities in the legislature but where President Obama won the popular vote, and thus the electoral college vote, want to award the latter's votes by how things went in GOP-gerrymandered congressional districts. If that system had been in place last year in the six target states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Virginia—it would have shifted as many as 64 electoral college votes, yielding a close victory for Romney. Republicans are most definitely not proposing to introduce the same plan in states like Texas. There Obama lost the popular vote but would have gained 12 additional electoral votes if the Republican congressional district plan had been in effect.

This isn't some phantom threat of election theft. It's been endorsed by many Republicans, including Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus. It's not the sleaziest ace-up-the-sleeve trick Republicans have ever played, but it ranks high on the list.

However, there are a few Republicans who think the plan reeks:

Virginia State Sen. Ralph Smith (R) has come out against a proposal to apportion electoral votes in the state by Congressional district, warning it could set off a chain reaction of similar schemes around the country. Smith sits on the closely divided Privileges and Elections Committee that is examining the bill, meaning his opposition likely ensures the proposal doesn't reach the floor for a vote.
And Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford doesn't like the idea, and he isn't alone among the state's party leaders who take that stand:
"To me, that's like saying in a football game, 'We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and the beat us in the fourth,'" Weatherford [...] told the Herald/Times. "I don't think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better." [...]

Not only is Weatherford opposed to the idea, fellow Republican and Florida Senate President Don Gaetz is decidedly cool to it. When asked about changing the way Electoral College votes are apportioned, Gaetz thought the entire system should be scrapped.

"I think we should abolish the Electoral College but nobody in Washington has called to ask for my opinion," Gaetz said. "If James Madison had asked me, and I had been there, I would have said a popular vote is a better way to do it." Gaetz said the electoral college shrinks the presidential campaign to a handful of states as it did in 2012.

That puts Gaetz in line with what many progressives say. The National Popular Vote project takes a kind of backdoor approach to breaking the back of electoral college with a system in which state legislatures enact laws guaranteeing that the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide gets the state's electoral votes, too, if enough states sign onto the compact. So far, states with a total of 132 electoral votes have signed on. Once the project encompasses enough states to reach electoral 270 votes, the system is activated.

If Gaetz and Weatherford are serious about their views, they ought to propose it formally in the Florida legislature. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has also spoken in favor of the popular vote approach, could encourage her state legislature to do the same. Together, those states would bring the National Popular Vote project up to 172, nearly two-thirds of its goal. Making the NPV a success would stop this crooked scam in its tracks and turn the electoral college into an anachronistic appendage.

Join us in supporting Interstate Compact on a National Popular Vote.

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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:29 AM PST.

Also republished by DKos Florida and Daily Kos.

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