Liberal watchdogs have blasted a Virginia state senator's proposal to change how the state awards its electoral college votes, describing it as an attempt to disenfranchise voters.

Republican state Sen. Bill Carrico's bill would replace the current winner-takes-all system with a system that allocates most of Virginia's 13 electoral college votes to the winner of each congressional district. Two additional electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who won the majority of congressional districts.

The new system would ensure that Republicans pick up electoral college votes from Virginia's conservative districts, while diminishing the role of the state's more liberal and highly populated districts.

"Had this method been in place during the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney would have won nine electoral votes to Obama's four," Eric Steigleder wrote at Blue Virginia. "That's right. Although the President won a clear majority in Virginia, Carrico's plan would have allowed Romney to ignore popular will and saunter off with an overwhelming victory in the Old Dominion. And if that isn't a clear-cut case of voter disenfranchisement, I don't know what is."

Josh Israel of ThinkProgress noted that similar legislation had been proposed by Republicans in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"Indeed, if this plan to rig the Electoral College had been law in several key Republican-controlled states that President Obama won last month, America would now be looking at a very different future," he wrote. "Had the Carrico plan been instituted for the 2012 elections in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, it is quite likely Mitt Romney would be the president-elect despite President Obama’s 51-47 majority."

But Carrico has insisted his proposal is about giving rural Virginians a voice -- not about partisan politics.

“If it’s going to continue winner-take-all — it doesn’t matter which side is running — it’s going to all come down to how many people vote in the metropolitan areas and it doesn’t matter what the rural voters do,” he told the told The Roanoke Times.

[Image via Flickr user D.H. Parks, Creative Commons licensed]