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There is a lot to worry about in the GOP's latest election-rigging scheme: changing the electoral vote rewarding process in blue states from winner-take-all to reward by district. Based on the widely exposed mass voter-suppression tactics the GOP embraced prior to the last election, and gerrymandering of all the congressional districts to hold more seats than they should by proportion, it is clear they are willing to go to any lengths to ensure that they stay in office. There is every reason to believe that the GOP will resort to these tactics if it looks like it'll favor Republicans, but not a lot is being forwarded as ways to oppose the GOP. Ostensibly, what they are doing in constitutional, but regardless, we should be looking at every avenue possible to either defeat their plans, or use it to Democratic advantage.

Another DKoser makes a similar point in a recent diary: Why GOP Congressional District Electoral College Plan May Backfire on the GOP. To paraphrase, GOP efforts to split the EV could turn out to work in the Democrat's favor. There are a lot of factors that both supporters and opposers haven't completely worked out, so it's fair to say both sides are speculating far more than is supported by evidence. Obviously, the GOP effort should be portrayed as the power-grab that it is and every effort should be made to oppose these plans, but at the same time, we should look at using it to the Democrat's advantage.

One issue I always think about is this: it is possible that having the Election Day on a Tuesday/weekday still represses a lot of Democrat votes, and that moving Election Day to the weekend (maybe both Saturday/Sunday?) may increase the vote overall, but especially Democrat votes. If the GOP are insistent on changing the EV reward system, it is fair for Democrats to add an amendment to those bills moving Election Days to the weekend (or expanding the number of days in general).

Reasoning below the fold

Why do we have US elections on Tuesday? The only reason I can think of is tradition. Over a century ago, there were logical, logistical reasons for holding the Elections on a Tuesday, however those reasons are no longer valid in the society we now live.
I do not consider tradition, if it is the only or best reason for maintaining some aspect of the status quo, as a valid justification. If anything, tradition is always what stands in the way of more progressive values.

Why do I think changing the Election Day (or any other change that increases overall voter turnout) would increase Democrat votes specifically? (Without having any data to support this assertion) I believe there is still a sizeable number of people who find it incredibly difficult to vote and these people primarily make up a Democratic demographic. The type of people who find it difficult to vote if it's on a workday, even including absentee voting and early voting and extended hours. Why? Because they are working long hours, at more than one job, taking care of kids or other family members. They might not have their own transportation, they might not be educate enough to know what voting options are available. I believe these are more likely to be the blue collar type; a higher-class worker is gonna have many more ways to find time to vote (on a lunch break, calling in sick, just asking for time to leave work), than a more blue-collar worker, who probably can't even take a sick day without a supervisor breathing down their neck and threatening to cut hours. Weekends are probably the only days that these people can find the time to do any form of luxury, like voting. I believe there is reason to believe that moving Elections days to the weekend (the whole weekend? a whole week) would increase voter turnout, and favoring Democrats or not, I feel strongly that progressives should also stand by the ideal of increasing voter turnout regardless.

This is the reason the GOP spent so much time trying to suppress the vote in the last election, after all. Because they know that any barrier to voting disproportionately works against Democrats.

Finally, why do I think changing the Election Day, to improve Democratic turnout, would be an effective counter to the GOP plan to split the Electoral Vote?

First of all, I cannot say that definitively. I'm just speculating. Then again, so are the GOP legislators who think splitting the EV will work in their favor. However, I do have some hunches based on the numbers that I do have.

In today's DKos Elections Morning Digest, the EMD provided some data for Virginia based on the 2012 elections. According to their data, Romney would have won 7 districts, compared to Obama, meaning Romney would get a total of 9 EVs (the 2 according to Senators go to whoever wins the most) and Obama would only get 4.

However, in some of the districts that went to Romney, the vote margin was especially slim. According to DKos's data, there was less than a 2% margin in two districts, and less than an 8% margin in another two districts.

So if Democratic turnout was increased by just 1% in two districts, Obama would have had 6 districts to Romney's 5, meaning 8 EVs for Obama and only 5 for Romney. If Democrat turnout was increased 4% in those other 2 districts, it becomes Obama 10 Romney 3.

To get an idea of how many more votes were still out there, Virginia as a whole only had a 56% voter turnout. That's only the percentage of registered voters who voted on the President. Imagine how many people didn't even register, because they didn't think they could have voted.

Would this apply to the other states proposing the change in EV, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin? Probably. I will see how time-consuming it is to do an analysis like DKos did on Virginia, and try to provide updated numbers here.

The other question becomes: If states that went to Romney also implemented this system, how many EV's would have gone to Obama instead? What if Arizona implemented this system, which had an overall margin of 9% for Romney and 11 EVs up for grabs, or Georgia, with 8% margin and 16 EVs, or North Carolina, with only a 2% margin and 15 EVs. Imagine if voter turnout policies were enacts so Democratic turnout was increased even more in addition to this?

Obviously, there's a reason the GOP are only proposing to do this in the states that Obama won, and not the states that Romney won. But how could the GOP argue on principle that changing to this system in some states is any more democratic than changing them in the other states?

I'm not saying changing the EV like the GOP want is definitely a blessing in disguise for Democrats. And I'm not saying this should be the only tactic used to try to combat the GOP's plan. However, it's worth figuring out how bad it might be, or how good.

Edit: Dkos
fortunately did the congressional district numbers for all the states

Will post some updated numbers in a bit.

10:00 PM PT: After using the Dkos data, here's what I found (back of the envelope-level calculations)

If the entire country went to a split the EV by CD district, here's how the last election would have gone (Assuming 2 senate EVs go to most CDs):
Obama = 245. Romney = 288.

So that's not surprising. Here's what is:
Here's what would happen if Democrat votes increased by only 2% (meaning a 4% change) in districts that Romney won:
Obama = 271. Romney = 260. (Wisconsin split so I didn't reward the last 2 EVs)

In other words, if the entire country went split-the-Electoral-Vote, as long as Democrat voter-turnout was only increased 2%, just in red districts, Obama would still win.

10:57 PM PT: It's worth mentioning that a split EV system could give Dems in the districts that are closely contested more incentive to vote, regardless. After all, in the winner-take-all system, Dem's in the red districts can rely on the other districts to carry the Presidential vote. A split EV system gives Dem's in red districts more incentive to vote than a winner-take-all system.

Of course, the same could be said of Republican voters, so the argument devolves again into whether or not the Democrats can overcome the difference.

Originally posted to The Progressive Atheist on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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