Voters stand in line in Florida in 2012. Virginia was finally called for Barack Obama hours after polls closed because voters in Obama-leaning counties had to wait in long lines to cast their ballot. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz.)
Republicans have been busy since Election Day—working to make sure voters of color don’t have another opportunity to impact state politics as dramatically as they have in recent elections. But yesterday, one of the more notorious efforts was finally blocked, as a bill died that would have fudged the state’s electoral college math to water down the influence of black voters.
State Senator Charles “Bill” Carrico tried to push through a bill that would have divvied up Virginia’s 13 electoral college votes according to congressional districts won, rather than popular votes, with two at-large votes awarded to the candidate who wins the most districts. If this had been law during the November 2012 election, Romney would have won nine electoral votes and Obama four, even though Romney lost the state by 150,000 votes.
Sensing his bill’s death, Carrico attempted a last-minute adjustment so that electoral votes would be split according to the percentage of popular votes won across the state. It still failed, with many of his own Republican colleagues rejecting it.
The whole move was a pure case of election losers deciding they were going to hate the player and the game. But instead of being real game-changers, by coming up with effective policies that would win more voters, they went for an Ocean’s 11 to rob the game. But Carrico claimed afterward that his intentions were only pure. He told reporters, “I did this because so many people in my district feel the current system—winner-take-all—is not fair, and they want to see some fairness to the process.”
So, let’s talk about fairness in the process. Like the fact that those 150,000 votes that Obama won the state by mostly came from voters in Fairfax and Prince William County, many of whom waited up to five hours in line in frigid temperatures to vote. The last recorded vote in Prince William was at 10:46 p.m., almost four hours after polling was supposed to close. Voters in Fairfax reported not getting home until midnight. As of 9 p.m. on Election Day, Romney was leading in Virginia, but that was because Prince William and Fairfax hadn’t reported yet—because their voters were still waiting to vote out in the cold.
Virginia wasn’t called for Obama until after midnight, when those two counties could finally be tallied. Obama’s 150,000-vote win was owed almost purely to those voters, many of whom were African Americans and Latino Americans.