Va. Senate panel votes to kill bill on electoral college change

January 29, 2013

A Senate panel voted Tuesday to kill a GOP plan to change the way Virginia allocates electoral college votes.

The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections voted to bypass the bill indefinitely. The bill’s sponsor, Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson County), had proposed a substitute that he said would have made his proposal more fair.

Some opponents of the original legislation, including state Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier), said they might be open to that version, which would have divided electoral college votes in accordance with the popular vote.

“I represent a district that feels it’s been left out of these last elections,” Carrico said.

But a majority of the committee voted to kill the bill.

As he tried to persuade the committee, Carrico noted that Democrats, including Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), a committee member, had proposed similar measures in previous years.

“Do you support all of my bad ideas?” Petersen replied.

Sen. Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke) said he would have supported the legislation if similar changes were made nationwide.

“All 40 members of the Virginia Senate are partisan,” he said. “There’s no independents here. But I believe members of this body want to play fair. I want a level playing field on a national basis.”

The measure appeared headed for defeat after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) came out against it Friday, as did two GOP senators who sit on the committee that would decide the bill’s fate.

Earlier Tuesday, McDonnell said during a televised interview that he was “afraid people will ignore Virginia” if the commonwealth switched to an electoral college system that picked winners by congressional district.

The governor told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the winner-take-all system most states use is the way to go, and that splitting up electoral votes by congressional districts is a “bad idea.”

Errin Haines contributed to this report.

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