David Frum

02.04.13

Democrats Shocked by Democratic Idea

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Liberals and Democrats are today aghast at Republican schemes to rewrite voting rules to strengthen their position in the Electoral College. Republicans are suggesting that states switch from winner-take-all to a district-by-district allocation of electoral votes.

Jonathan Chait fumes in New York magazine:

"That a party would even contemplate such a blatant scheme to rig the rules so that it might win elections, when any remotely fair standard dictates it ought to lose, boggles the mind. "

Appalling. Wherever did Republicans get such an idea?

Oh yeah:

In the November 2004 United States election, one of the issues up for a vote in the state ofColorado was known as Amendment 36. It was a ballot initiative for an amendment to the state constitution. It would have changed the way in which the state apportioned its electoral votes. Rather than assigning all 9 of the state's electors to the candidate with a plurality of popular votes, under the amendment, Colorado would have assigned presidential electors proportionally to the statewide vote count, which would be a unique system (Nebraska and Maine assign electoral votes based on vote totals within each congressional district). The amendment did not pass. …

The amendment is deeply intertwined with the 2004 presidential election, in which Republican George W. Bush ran against Democrat John Kerry.

As Colorado was expected to lean towards Bush, the passage of this amendment (generally favored by Democrats and opposed by Republicans), could have taken some electoral votes from Bush and assigned them to Kerry. Had such an apportionment been in place in 2000, Al Gore would have won the electoral college vote and become president.

However, as November 2004 neared, Colorado began to look increasingly like a swing state in which it was possible that Kerry would win. Many Democrats who had pushed for Amendment 36 therefore began to have second thoughts and withdrew their advocacy for and support of the amendment.

Moral : when it comes to setting the rules of the game, there are no angels.