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January 15, 2013

Another View: Electoral College reform could give Republicans an advantage

By Meredith N. Springer

In the Jan. 8 Press Herald, columnist Dana Milbank described the electoral lock that the mostly white minority of Americans who vote Republican has on the U.S. House of Representatives because of gerrymandered House districts ("In the House, the deck is stacked for a Republican majority").

Behind his numbers, which show that the Democratic Party would need a 9 percent (!) vote margin to achieve a slim majority in the House, lurks an even more serious threat to American democracy.

Mr. Milbank cites three states carried by President Obama in 2012 in which Republicans have overwhelming majorities of House seats. In Pennsylvania, Democrats have only five of 18 seats; in Virginia, three of 11 seats, and in Ohio, four of 16 seats.

The really serious threat to our democracy comes from proposals in those states to have the electoral vote for each congressional district go to the candidate who gets the largest vote in that district, as is now the practice in Maine.

Doing so would drastically increase the Republican electoral vote, thereby compounding the distortions already created by gerrymandering. It would allow a Republican nominee to be elected president with a significantly smaller percentage of the popular vote than the Democratic one. I fear the consequences for the political stability of our country if a president were to be chosen in this fashion.

We must reform our congressional redistricting process, which in the past has been abused by both parties. We cannot allow this possibility to threaten us.





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