State lawmakers to take on how Electoral College votes are allocated

Published: Jan. 7, 2017 at 7:40 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2017 at 4:29 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - During this year's General Assembly session, state legislators will consider changing the way Virginia's Electoral College votes are allocated.

This comes after many voters are frustrated that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote nationwide, while Donald Trump won the presidency.

It was just a few weeks ago that Virginia's 13 Electoral College delegates cast all of their ballots for Clinton because she won the statewide popular vote for president.

Now three Republican legislators are proposing bills to change the way those electoral votes are divided.

Currently, Virginia's electoral votes, like most states, are winner take all.  But many counties in Virginia voted Republican, leaving some voters feeling their votes didn't count.

"Our constituents are scratching their heads, saying, 'What just happened?'" said Sen. Amanda Chase (R - Midlothian).

Chase is one of three legislators proposing duplicate bills this term that would give Virginia's first two electoral votes to the Presidential ticket that wins the statewide popular vote.  But the other eleven would be determined by the popular vote in each Congressional district.

"So you would always see a split vote," explains Chase.  "I think it's more representative.  Winner take all is not truly reflective of the popular vote."

NBC12 Political Analyst and VCU professor Dr. Deirdre Condit makes this observation on the proposal: "If you look at how the vote happened in the state of Virginia, we can certainly see how impact is going to occur based on urban or rural parts of the state and how communities and congressional districts fit together."

Condit asks what many Democrats are asking: Is this perhaps a Republican strategy to gain electoral votes?

"Because it means that Republican voters in rural, predominantly Republican congressional districts would have more impact," she said.

However, Chase says that there was bipartisan support for a similar bill that was proposed, though ultimately rejected, in 2013.

Two other states, Maine and Nebraska, have switched to casting electoral votes based on congressional districts, and several other states have considered it as well.

Meantime, Del. Marcus Simon (D - Falls Church) is proposing a bill to have Virginia enter a pact with other states, the "Agreement Among the States To Elect the President by National Popular Vote," and award all of its electoral votes to the ticket that wins the nationwide popular vote.

But Chase says she opposes using a nationwide popular vote.

"If that were the case, the rural counties would be disregarded," Chase explained.  "When you have presidential candidates, they're going to go toward the large cites and basically not go to the more rural areas."

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