President Obama easily carried Washington state last year with 56 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 41 percent. That granted Obama all of the state’s 12 Electoral College votes.
But some Republican state lawmakers want to change the rules in a way that would have peeled off some electoral votes for Romney.
The proposal, House Bill 1091, would divvy up Washington’s electoral votes by results in each of the state’s 10 congressional districts, with the remaining two votes going to the statewide winner.
In 2012, that would have given Obama nine electoral votes from Washington while Romney would have taken three.
Supporters say that would be a fairer result for more conservative parts of the state that are constantly outvoted in statewide elections by the Seattle area.
“A lot of voters today feel disenfranchised and feel like their vote doesn’t count,” said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, the prime sponsor of the bill.
Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, a cosponsor, said the proposal was about “trying to balance the interests of state that is very diverse, politically.”
The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in Olympia given Democratic Party control of the state House and governor’s office.
But similar proposals are being pushed by Republicans in many states, including battlegrounds like Ohio and Virginia, as part of a national GOP strategy to gain a potential advantage in future elections. Only two states, Maine and Nebraska, currently apportion their electoral votes by congressional district.
Democrats have cried foul, accusing Republicans of trying to rig a game they can’t win under the current rules.
Washington State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz pointed to an analysis showing Romney, despite losing the national popular vote, would have defeated Obama if the apportionment by congressional district had been in place nationwide in 2012.
“The Republican Party has a choice. Are they going to listen to the changing demographics of America and pay more attention to people of color or women? Or are they just going to steal the election?” Pelz said.
Not all Republicans are enthusiastic about the idea either. Asked about the proposal last week, Rob McKenna, the former attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate, said, “I think it would be wiser to focus on what we [Republicans] need to do to be more competitive across the country.”
House Bill 1091 is scheduled for a public hearing at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.