Recently Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Virginia introduced legislation to make the distribution of electoral votes for president dependent on the votes in each congressional districts instead of statewide results. Legislation to that effect has been introduced in Michigan, Wisconsin, andVirginia, and there are serious discussions in Pennsylvania. Legislators in states like Florida and Ohio also may introduce similar legislation. Currently, only Maine and Nebraska (a state with a unicameral, bipartisan legislature) allocate their electoral votes in a similar fashion. Most critics of this plan identify it as a scheme by the GOP to rig the election to improve its chances to elect a president. But there are a number of reasons to object to this proposal beyond its partisan intent or impact. Significantly, it would import into the presidential election process the dysfunction that plagues the congressional districting process. The problems with redistricting include not only partisan gerrymandering but also citizen exclusion from the redistricting process, imbalanced districts based on prison-based gerrymandering, and chronic problems with Census undercounts.
An increasing number of congressional districts also reflect calculations by those in power about how they can best preserve their power. Incumbents carve the citizens of their state into districts for maximum personal and partisan advantage. Democracy suffers while neighborhoods are split, competing candidates are drawn out of districts, and groups of voters are ‘cracked’ or ‘packed’ to manipulate their voting power. Most recently we saw single party legislative control of the redistricting process in most states – Democrats controlled redistricting in 6 states and Republicans controlled redistricting in 17 states. Some of the most egregious plans came from Republicans in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Michigan; and Democrats in Illinois and Maryland. In all of those states, partisans manipulated districts to disproportionately benefit the party drawing the lines; it would be an injustice to use those same district lines to determine the allocation of electoral votes in a presidential election.