James Taranto is not persuaded by some of the arguments against the GOP plan to change Virginia’s method of awarding electoral votes from winner-take-all to allocating votes based on the winner of each congressional district and awarding the remaining two votes to the candidate who wins the most districts. Nonetheless, he opposes the plan because he believes it “would be likely to promote cynicism and confusion.” Larry Sabato goes farther, labeling the plan “a corrupt and cynical maneuver to frustrate popular will and put a heavy thumb — the whole hand, in fact — on the scale for future Republican candidates.” Even if, as Taranto notes, there’s no guarantee that the new plan would permanently benefit Republicans, there’s not even a pretense here that there is some principle independent justification for the switch — which is reason enough to reject it.
No proposal to reform election laws or procedures, however well reasoned, is authored behind a veil of ignorance as to its likely partisan effects. So it’s no surprise that partisan positions on the merits of individual reforms are inevitably influenced by partisan interests. This makes it difficult enough to push sensible election law reforms in today’s hyper-partisan environment. Naked power plays like that proposed in Virginia only make this problem worse. Republicans need to (re)learn how to win elections by appealing to voters, not rigging the rules in their favor.