Reprinted with permission from American Independent
President Joe Biden won five swing states in the 2020 election that had voted for Donald Trump four years earlier. Republicans are now pushing to rig the system to make sure that no Democrat can repeat that feat in the future.
Biden's 306-to-232 Electoral College victory was earned by holding every state Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and also winning Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, while picking up one elector in Nebraska. Trump tried unsuccessfully to get Republican state legislatures in those states to illegally overrule the voters and declare him the winner.
Now, rather that focus on nominating a less unpopular party standard bearer next time around, Republicans are instead pushing to rig their states' electoral votes for future elections.
Arizona state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, the chair of the state House Ways and Means Committee, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would give the Republican-controlled state legislature the power to revoke the secretary of state's certification of individual electors "by majority vote at any time before the presidential inauguration." It would also entitle anyone contesting the results of an election to a binding jury trial to determine who won Arizona's 11 electoral votes.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) denounced Bolick's proposal as a "Democracy killing bill" and vowed to mount a referendum campaign to overturn it should it be enacted by the legislature.
Republicans in Michigan and Wisconsin are exploring another option: changing the way the states allocate their electors to mirror their gerrymandered congressional maps.
A bill filed by Wisconsin state Rep. Gary Tauchen earlier this month would change the allocation of the state's 10 electoral votes so that just two go to the statewide winner and the rest are awarded by the candidate who got the plurality of votes in each House district. Though Joe Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes in November, such a system would have given six of the state's electors to Trump and just four to Biden.
"Doing it by congressional district is actually a terrible idea, because what it will do is amp up the partisan efforts to draw those districts to favor one side or the other," University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of politics Barry Burden told the Wisconsin Examiner. "It's already an ugly process, but it will be on steroids if those districts affect not only control of Congress but also control the presidency."
In Michigan, Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga is pushing for state legislators to do the same thing. In a post to his campaign page on Facebook earlier this month, he noted, "If Michigan were to end the winner take all system of electoral college votes and instead break it up by congressional district, it would make campaigning in our state much more balanced. This would remove Detroit's outsized influence and encourage candidates to compete for votes in each congressional district across the entire state, not just the big cities."
Had the states changed their rules prior to the 2020 election, they could have cost Biden 25 electors, putting Trump just 13 votes shy of a second term.
Both Wisconsin and Michigan currently have Democratic governors who could veto any changes to the electoral system, but both are up for reelection in 2022.
Republicans in Georgia, which gave Biden 16 electoral votes, have so far been focused on another way of ensuring Democrats don't win statewide again: suppressing minority voter participation. They have introduced several bills that would make it harder to vote, especially for Democratic-leaning segments of the population.
Even without such voter-suppression efforts, Republicans already enjoy structural advantages that make it hard for Democrats to win the presidency.
Though Biden won the popular vote by more than 7 million in November, his narrow majorities in three swing states meant that a shift of just 44,000 votes could have cost him the Electoral College majority.
While Democrats have won the popular majority in seven of the last eight presidential elections, Republicans have won the White House three times — thanks to the Electoral College.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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