Gaming the electoral college, and an unfortunate fraction

Sen. Bill Carrico’s proposed revamping of the way Virginia’s electoral votes are awarded has generated a predictable amount of hyperbole. But tinkering with the numbers — or gaming the system — is a practice that is almost as old, and bipartisan, as the Republic:

So everyone has done it — Republicans, Democrats, even Federalists.

And the bill may fail in the Senate on its own, as both Ralph Smith and Jill Vogel have voiced their opposition. But if their objections aren’t enough, one sure-fire way to kill this idea is if a peculiarity in last year’s votes becomes the new narrative:

Obama’s 51.15 percent of Virginia’s popular vote would have earned him roughly 31 percent of Virginia’s electoral votes if the Carrico bill had been law.

And when the latter figure is divided by the former — creating a proportional reduction in the strength of his popular vote tally — the result is that a vote for Obama would only have the weight of three-fifths of each vote he received last year.

A quirk, a fluke, an anomaly. But also one with enough historical baggage to make Carrico’s bill deader than Marley.

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