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RNC backs radical electoral-vote schemes

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
RNC Chairman Reince PriebusGetty Images

The Republican National Committee is restricted by a 30-year consent decree from targeting racial and ethnic minorities in its efforts to end fraudulent voting. Calling the anti-intimidation decree "antiquated," RNC lawyers asked the Supreme Court to lift the order, but yesterday, the justices turned down the appeal without comment.

The RNC, however, is not without other offensive ideas.

The head of the Republican National Committee believes Wisconsin and other battleground states should change the way they allocate their Electoral College votes, but he said he is not inserting himself into how states decide to proceed.

"It's not my decision that can come from the RNC, that's for sure," said Reince Priebus, the RNC's chairman.

Gov. Scott Walker recently said he was intrigued by the notion of Wisconsin divvying up its electoral votes by congressional district, but that he had not made up his mind on whether to back the idea.

We've discussed this before, but for those just joining us, Republicans in a variety of states -- including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio -- have raised the prospect of changing the way their states' electoral votes are allocated in presidential elections. Instead of winner-take-all contests in which the candidate who wins the most votes in the state then wins that state's electoral haul, some in the GOP want district-by-district races.

That way, in a state like Wisconsin, President Obama can beat Mitt Romney by over 200,000 popular votes, but when it came time for the electoral college, Obama and Romney would split Wisconsin's electoral votes, five to five. Expand this to the national level and Obama would have finished 2012 with 5 million more popular votes than Romney, but Obama still would have lost the election thanks to gerrymandered districts.

As Rachel explained on the show last month, Republicans "are talking about crossing a Rubicon that has never been crossed before." GOP officials, with the national party's blessing, are looking for ways to rig presidential elections in Republicans' favor, and have settled on this scheme as a possible solution to the problem of American voters preferring Democratic candidates.

And while we're on the subject, let's also not forget that voter-ID laws are poised to get worse, too.

While the voter-suppression tactics were originally intended to prevent Obama's re-election, Republican policymakers still hope to use voter-ID schemes to rig elections in their favor going forward.

The national battle over voter ID laws that roiled the presidential campaign for a time then fizzled before Election Day is set to rage again in 2013.

This year promises a flurry of new voter ID legislation across the country as well as reignited court battles in states where the laws were blocked last year and a Supreme Court ruling on part of the Voting Rights Act. [...]

"There are a number of states where there's clearly active legislative attempts to make their voter ID laws more restrictive," said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, which has been involved in court challenges to a handful of the voter ID laws around the country. "This is not an issue that has gone away."

Among the states likely to consider voter-ID proposals this year: Alaska, Arkansas, New York, North Carolina, Missouri, Montana, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

These tactics failed to prevent Democrats from having a good year in 2012, but it appears Republicans aren't prepared to walk away from the "war on voting" anytime soon.