Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 15, 2013

Local legislators mum on electoral proposal

BY MICHAEL WALTON mwalton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Mum’s the word for some local Republican lawmakers on a proposal to drastically change the way Michigan awards electoral votes in presidential contests.

State Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, recently confirmed plans to sponsor a bill that would allocate all but two of Michigan’s 16 electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote in each state congressional district. Electoral college votes presently are awarded in a winner-take-all fashion based on the statewide popular vote.

Lund introduced similar legislation in November 2011, but the law never moved passed its committee assignment.

Lund’s proposed change gained support at Michigan’s Republican Party Convention last month, where delegates overwhelmingly approved a resolution based on the proportional plan by nearly a 10-to-1 margin.

One local legislature, Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, voted in favor of the resolution at the convention. Proportionally allocating electoral votes by congressional district is fairer than a winner-take-all system, Booher said.

“If you don’t win all the state, you at least get credit for the ones you do win,” Booher said.

Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, also attended the convention, but did not recall casting a vote on the resolution. Schmidt said he was there to help select the Republican Party’s next leader.

Schmidt said he neither supports nor opposes the proposed changes.

“I haven’t really thought about it much,” Schmidt said. “It’s not really big on my agenda yet.”

Schmidt, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he is occupied with transportation issues.

The proposed plan to change electoral college allocations has not been introduced as legislation, Schmidt added.

“I’ve got to spend time figuring out how to fix our roads and bridges and railroads,” Schmidt said. “If there is not a bill introduced and it’s not being discussed, I shouldn’t be thinking about it.”

Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, did not attend the Republican Party Convention, but he, like Schmidt, contends he has no opinion on doling out electoral votes by congressional district.

Walker said he needed to further research the topic.

“I like to be well-versed before I form an opinion,” Walker said, adding, “I’ve thought about it in a cursory way, but I have not done any in-depth research.”

Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama did not return multiple calls for this story.

Mitt Romney would have won a majority of Michigan’s electoral votes last November under a proportional electoral college system, despite President Barack Obama winning the statewide popular vote by almost 450,000 votes.

Republicans in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Virginia also discussed ditching the winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes. Each of those states, like Michigan, has Republican-majority state legislatures and Republican governors.

Only Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district.