LANSING, Michigan — A Republican lawmaker on Thursday proposed scrapping the way presidential candidates pick up electoral votes Michigan, saying the winner-take-all system should be replaced by one that divides the votes proportionally.
Under Rep. Pete Lund's bill, a candidate who wins the statewide vote would get at least a majority, 9, of the state's 16 electoral votes. The winning candidate would be awarded an additional electoral vote for each 1.5 percentage point increase in their margin of victory over the second-place finisher.
Only the top two candidates could receive electoral votes.
"It forces the people running for president to be concerned about Michigan. That's what this is all about," Lund told The Associated Press. "Right now, Michigan is a flyover state. They don't campaign here."
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder opposes making any changes to Michigan's electoral college system now, making it unlikely Lund's bill will become law. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Snyder again questioned the timing of the proposed changes and said it would be fairer to wait until after the 2020 Census, when "you don't have one side or the other viewing it as favoritism."
A change "can have merit but not in the timeframe we're talking" about, he said.
Republicans have not won a presidential race in the state since 1988. Democrats blasted the legislation as nothing more than election-rigging in a reliably blue presidential state and contended that it would diminish the incentives for candidates to compete here.
"If people want to have a discussion about changing the Electoral College system, it should be done nationally — not just picking and choosing states where Republicans perform poorly historically in presidential elections and better in off-year elections," said Rep. Brandon Dillon, a Grand Rapids Democrat. "The public will see it for what it is. It's just a brazen attempt to rig the political system so that people who vote for Democrats in presidential elections will have their votes minimized."
Lund, of Shelby Township in Macomb County, said he listened to criticism of his 2011 bill that would have allotted electoral votes according to the results of the presidential election in each congressional district.
Because of Michigan's gerrymandered House seats, Mitt Romney would have collected 9 of 16 electoral votes despite losing Michigan to President Barack Obama by 9 points. Under the new measure, Obama would have secured 12 to Romney's four.
"Right now, Michigan is irrelevant in the presidential election. If they start paying attention to Michigan, they'll pay attention to Michigan issues," Lund said.
Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger, who supports the bill, would "like to see this debate move forward before the end of the year," said his spokesman, Ari Adler.
"Rep. Lund's bill would help protect Michigan and its voters because, unlike during the past several presidential campaigns, neither candidate could abandon Michigan," he said. "This would make Michigan's voters matter more nationally. ... The will of Michigan's voters would be more clearly represented under Rep. Lund's proposal."
Maine and Nebraska are the only states to not have a winner-take-all system, splitting electoral votes based on congressional district.
In recent years, some GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Virginia got behind proposals that would have allocated electoral votes by congressional district or something similar, but the measures went nowhere.
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