While this could be a little bit of inside baseball for a number of readers, the Maryland Republican Party is slated to consider a different proportional voting method at its upcoming Fall convention next weekend. This voting comparison serves as a guide to what will change.
In prior years, the voting strength of each member was dictated by a formula that took the proportion of each county’s registered Republican voters to the overall state total and multiplied that by 141, which is the total number of Delegates in our General Assembly. As an example, Wicomico County (which I represent on the state’s Central Committee) has 19,380 of the state’s 925,027 registered Republicans. When you take that 2.1% and multiply it by the 141 Delegates statewide, our local voting strength is equal to 2.954 total LCD votes out of 141 – thus, far from “one man one vote”, my actual vote counts as 0.422 of a Delegate (as 1/7 of our Central Committee.) The entire nine counties of the Eastern Shore add up to 15.529 LCD votes – compare that with 18 or more LCD votes apiece held by Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Montgomery counties.
Something that we’ve contended for quite awhile is that the Eastern Shore counties (among others) should be rewarded for outperforming our actual registration numbers. There are a lot of Democrats who stay registered that way but vote Republican more often than not in this end of the state, so this suggestion was brought up for consideration that the voting strength be recalculated based on the votes in the most recent race for President or Governor. With that, the Eastern Shore’s aggregate strength would increase by some extent to 16.676 LCD votes. However, the region which takes a large hit is the western end of the state, along with Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Those same three counties I discussed earlier would continue to outrank the entirety of the Shore although we practically would balance out Prince George’s under the new calculation. (On a percentage basis, the biggest gainer is Somerset County, which moves out of the rankings basement to overtake Kent County. Still, neither county would even manage 1 full vote.)
But can this proposal pass, particularly as it affects one of the heavyweights and an entire region of the state? I did a calculation based on the existing numbers, and if you use an assumption that each gaining county’s full delegation votes in favor and each county which declines in strength has their delegation voting no, the result is that the motion would fail by a margin of 68.68 LCD votes for and 72.31 LCD votes against. So the forces in favor would need to convince at least some members of the recalcitrant county delegations to put aside their temporary loss of strength and vote for the betterment of the party as a whole. (Perhaps the best candidates to switch are Talbot County, which is the lone Eastern Shore loser under the plan, and dependably Republican Carroll County, which will probably return to form in 2010.) As a group, the decliners stand to lose 6.31 votes so some counties would be more difficult to convince than others.
All this could make for a contentious Saturday morning this weekend. As I said, this is inside baseball to a degree but perhaps the LCD rules are the most fair way of sharing power amongst the disparate regions of the state. I’m one of those who thinks this is a solution that rewards those counties who turn out their voters as we regularly do on the Eastern Shore.