Around the country, Republicans are trying to change state laws to make it easier for them to win presidential elections. In Washington, Senate Democrats are trying to rein in the chamber’s hallowed filibuster rules to make it easier for them to prevail.
Both efforts, fueled by President Barack Obama’s re-election victory, naturally are drawing flak from the other party and so far producing mixed results.
In states that Obama carried in November but which have Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures, GOP moves are afoot to modify state laws that now give the winner of a state’s popular vote all of its Electoral College votes.
The changes being considered would award electoral votes proportionately, based on which candidate wins in each congressional district rather than on a statewide winner-take-all basis.
Such moves are under way in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Maine and Nebraska already have such laws.
Republican party chief Reince Priebus endorsed the idea this week, saying it “gives more local control” to the states.
In Virginia, such a GOP-backed bill advanced this week in the state Senate although it still faces major hurdles.
Democrats see the efforts as an election-rigging tactic benefitting Republicans by giving more clout to sparsely populated rural districts, which generally lean Republican, at the expense of densely packed urban districts that tend to vote Democratic.
“It would have disastrous and unfair consequences,” says former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat.
Meanwhile, the Senate voted Thursday to modestly scale back the ability of minority-party senators to sink bills and nominations with filibusters and other delaying actions.
In recent years, threats of filibusters have increased dramatically, creating legislative logjams and frustrating efforts of majority-party Democrats to get their way. But the changes fall far short of those most Democrats had sought.
Even so, Obama said he hoped they would speed up legislative action. “We cannot afford unnecessary obstruction,” he said.
Democrats control 55 Senate votes. It takes 60 to stop a filibuster.
Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum
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