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Mark Yzaguirre Headshot

A Test for Texas Republicans

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President Obama's crushing defeat of GOP nominee Mitt Romney in last November's Presidential election has forced many Republicans to reconsider how they approach various policies and issues. Some Republicans have suggested that the Republican Party should improve its outreach to minority voters. Others are arguing that taking conservative stances on social issues may be damaging to the party in a general election. And some Republicans have come up with another response -- they suggest that GOP legislators should change the rules regarding the allocation of electoral votes in certain states (namely, states that generally vote Democratic in Presidential elections) so as to increase the amount of electoral votes for the GOP.

This is certainly a creative approach to the GOP's political woes. Admittedly, not all Republicans are on board with this strategy. But the issue is being debated in states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, which President Obama carried but which also have substantial Republican-leaning districts. The specific plans vary from state to state. For example, the Los Angeles Times story linked above states:

In Virginia, a state Senate committee advanced a plan last week to divvy up the state's electoral votes in the future according to congressional district results. Obama carried Virginia's popular vote by almost 4 percentage points in 2012, but Mitt Romney would have claimed nine of the state's 13 electoral votes had the GOP plan been in effect. On Friday, however, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and several GOP lawmakers came out against the measure, effectively killing it. In Pennsylvania, the state Senate majority leader plans to introduce a measure that would give two electoral votes to the winner of the statewide vote and divide the remainder according to the percentage of the popular vote each candidate receives. Under that plan, Romney would have won eight of the state's 20 electoral votes, according to Republican Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the sponsor.

Needless to say, this suggestion has many Democrats concerned. While some have argued that in practice such a change wouldn't necessarily have the end result that many Republicans would like, it would definitely change the rules of the game and that change would probably help the GOP in the short run.

So let me make a suggestion. If Republicans support some form of Electoral College reform that would move us away from winner-take-all to some form of proportional representation based on the popular vote in a given state or based on congressional district results, let's start in a state where that could really make a big difference immediately -- Texas.

While Texas is a strong GOP state in the electoral vote count, there are lots of Democrats in Texas and they are clustered in Texas's major cities and border areas. A move towards proportional representation in the Electoral College would give them more of a voice. Both houses of the Texas Legislature are run by Republicans and the Governor of Texas is a Republican (Rick Perry -- remember him?), so any reform will have to be approved by Texas Republicans at the very least, if not led by them.

Therefore, I ask my Republican friends in Texas to take up this challenge. If you believe that the Electoral College system needs to be changed from a winner-take-all system to some sort of proportional or district-based representation, all in the name of democracy of course, the place to make that happen is Texas and the time is now. Legislation should be introduced in the Texas Legislature in its upcoming 2013 session to reform the electoral vote system in Texas. If it's a good idea for Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan, it's a good idea for Texas. Let's make it happen.