3/5 of a person. That should be familiar. It is how slaves were counted for purposes of representation (and taxation) in the U. S. House in the original Constitution:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.And as one could read about the proposal in Virginia to change how the state awards its electoral votes, in A Message To The Virginia GOP From A Plantation<?a>, a blog post by Paul Bibeau earlier this week,
This plan counts the votes of Obama supporters, or Democrats, or "urban people" - Have I used the right code words here? Do we know who we're talking about? - less than other Virginians.H/T to Charles M. Blow, who references the Bilbeau post in his NY Times column today, titled Rig the Vote, which is worth reading ....
But you need to do the actual math. No one on your side - at least I hope no one on your side - has crunched the numbers. Last election, Barack Obama won 51.16% of the vote. Under the new bill he would have won four of the states 13 electoral votes.
And do you know how much it counts an Obama voter as? (It's 4/13 divided by 51.16%. I'll wait. Do it. Get a calculator. You'll crap yourself.)
IT IS ALMOST EXACTLY THREE FIFTHS.
This bill counts an Obama voter as 3/5 of a person. I don't know if that fraction rings a bell with you. It was kind of a big deal, way back when. Women in fancy dresses, guys in gray - a lot of gray was in style. Is the light coming on now?
and please continue below the fold for just a few words more.
Blow's final two paragraphs, which come immediately after referencing Bibeau, read as follows:
That is because, as Talking Points Memo says, “Obama voters would have received almost exactly 3/5 of the electoral vote compared to their actual population — 30.7 percent of the electoral vote over 51 percent of the popular vote.”The bill will not become law in Virginia. A key Republican state senator opposes it, so it might not even get out of committee in the state senate; the Lt. Gov opposes it, and since he has already said he will not break 20-20 ties that are strictly partisan (and the senate is split 20-20 between the two parties) even if it reached the floor he seems committed to killing it; and the Governor opposes it, so even were it to reach his desk he seems committed to vetoing it.
This is not where we should be in 2013, debating whether to pass bills to reduce urban voters to a fraction of the value of other voters and hoping that someone with the power to stop it thinks it’s a “bad idea.”
It is worth noting that unlike the two states that now distribute electoral votes by Congressional district (Maine which has never split, and Nebraska which in 2008 gave on e EV to OBama) and as far as I know ALL other current proposals, rather than giving the two EV votes equivalent to the two senators to the candidate winning the statewide total, the Virginia proposal would award the final two EVS to the candidate winning the majority of the Congressional districts, not the majority of the state's votes. Those districts were heavily gerrymandered, because in 2008 the Dems had won 6 of the state's electoral votes, and even though Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher were defeated in 2010, the Republicans were taking no chances and redrew the CDs to make them more Republican friendly. Obama actually won one CD represented by a Republican.
The proposal came from a state senator whose intention seems racist - he wants rural (for which you can read "white") voters not to be outvoted by urban (for which you can read "black" and to a lesser degree "Hispanic") voters.
It will not go anywhere.
It is ironic that the vote distribution turned out to so closely match the ratio of the 3/5 Compromise.
But then, part of the pushback against Obama has from the beginning been because he was Black.
Odd that the ratio would now increasingly include young people and women as well as people of color.
Again, it won't happen in Virginia.
It seems like the parallel in Florida is also dead, because the Republican heads of the two chambers of the state legislature are opposed to splitting the electoral vote.
But let's be clear - the intent of such proposal is not merely to steal states for Republicans that they might not otherwise win, it is to diminish the value of the votes of minorities and expand the power of angry old white men.
Like the attempts this past cycle at voter suppression through voter-id laws and limiting access to early voting, this will produce a backlash.
Perhaps those pushing such proposals really do want to make Obama voters count for only 3/5.
In the process what they might be demonstrating is that they themselves have only 3/5 the intelligence and moral character of those whose votes they seek to diminish.