Over two months following the presidential election, Republicans in several states are considering changes to election laws. While one state’s changes are aimed at correcting procedural issues, others are looking at fundamental changes in the way results are applied.
In Florida, a Jan. 17 statement issued by Gov. Rick Scott's office appeared to favor an increase in Early Voting locations, as well as placing limits on the length of the ballot. Florida’s 2012 ballot was the second longest in the nation, trailing only California.
"We need shorter ballots. We need more early-voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day. And, we need more early-voting locations.” – Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), in a Jan. 17 statement.
Those comments came after leaders across the Sunshine State called for yet another round of election reforms. In late October, voters endured long lines for Early Voting and in one instance, a judge countermanded Scott’s instruction to not extend voting hours. On Election Day, several South Florida precincts reported that voters waited in line as long as eight hours to cast their ballot. The problems outraged prominent Democrats, including former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio who, as Hillsborough County’s Supervisor of Election, helped design now-rescinded reforms implemented following the botched 2000 President Election.
“To have to wait 6 to 8 hours to vote is completely unacceptable in today’s modern society.” – former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
While Florida considers procedural reforms for its polling places, Other states are now considering how they apply the election results with respect to their Electoral College votes. With urban voters considered key to President Obama’s win, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among several states now considering changing the current “winner-take-all” rule, where the winning candidate receives every electoral vote, to a system similar to that used in Nebraska and Maine. In those states, electors are individually allocated on a proportional basis.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sees the change as an opportunity to change a system which he believes has put too much power into urban areas which traditionally vote Democratic. Priebus told the Lansing State Journal Thursday that the use of an allocation-by-elector system is a concept which could have some merit, and help rebalance the scales.
“It’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.” - RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, speaking to the Lansing State Journal.
Governors in those states are walking a tightrope on the issue, fearing a backlash. Governors in both Wisconsin and Michigan expressed no desire to push the issue, while Democrats have shown extreme resistance to the idea. Party chairman Mark Brewer told the Associated Press the idea amounted to “nothing more than election rigging.” In Pennsylvania, another state considering the allocation idea, Democrats expressed outrage over the proposal. State Sen. Daylin Leach, in his statement to the AP, blasted the whole thing.
"It is difficult to find the words to describe just how evil this plan is. It is an obscene scheme to cheat by rigging the elections."
Whether the concept becomes law in the states may depend entirely on the political will of party leadership. Interestingly, all of both Nebraska and Maine’s were awarded to Barack Obama.