Election-rigging scheme stumbling in Virginia?

Virginia state Sen. Ralph Smith (R)
Virginia state Sen. Ralph Smith (R)

We’ve been focusing quite a bit lately on Republican efforts to rig the 2016 presidential election by changing how electoral votes are allocated in several key states. Slowly but surely, this burgeoning political crisis has captured more attention, culminating this morning with a front-page piece in the Washington Post.

The larger fight, however, is anything but static. GOP leaders in Florida’s legislature are already announcing their opposition to the scheme, and in Virginia, where the Republican plan to rig the election is an immediate threat – a vote may come as early as next week – GOP unanimity is starting to crumble.

My colleague Laura Conaway noted yesterday that Virginia state Sen. Jill Vogel (R) is “generally not” in favor of the plan, and this morning, another key Virginian joined her.

If a bill to reapportion Virginia’s presidential electoral votes by congressional district is a Republican plot, someone forgot to tell state Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Bedford County.

Smith said this morning that he opposes the legislation, calling it “a bad idea.” Smith sits on the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, which will hear the bill next week. Without Smith’s support, it’s unlikely the bill could get to the Senate floor. The Privileges and Elections Committee has eight Republicans and seven Democrats.

“What if all states got to skewering it to their advantage?” Smith said in an interview this morning.

Given furious Democratic opposition to the scheme, and the closely divided nature of the Virginia Senate, any Republican opposition is likely to kill the proposal.

Smith’s conclusion that this is a “bad idea,” in other words, is absolutely critical to its demise, and one can assume he’ll be the subject of intense lobbying from his party between now and the upcoming vote.

Before we move on, I just have to mention this quote from the Post’s article.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson County), said he wants to give smaller communities a bigger voice. “The last election, constituents were concerned that it didn’t matter what they did, that more densely populated areas were going to outvote them,” he said.

“This is coming to me from not just my Republican constituents,” added Carrico, whose district voted overwhelmingly for Republican Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential election. “I want to be a voice for a region that feels they have no reason to come to the polls.”

It’s important to realize this is insane. Carrico is arguing that some voters feel like they’re outnumbered by other voters, so there’s an expectation that Republicans will create an unlevel playing field – on purpose – so the candidate who gets fewer votes is allowed to win.

It’s as if democracy itself no longer has any meaning to some folks. It’s why, in response to public rejection, they’re prepared to cheat rather than improve.