Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Electoral College

I have never written about the Electoral College before because I was not sure that I disapproved of it.  Its initial reason for being was to give the small states some extra power, which when one considers states instead of voters is not necessarily a bad idea.  It also undercut a direct democracy, which all of our Founding Fathers wanted to do.  Of course, the reason that folks want to do away with it today is that it is not “one person, one vote,” which bothers me some but not that much as I think that some folks ought not to vote at all (yes, there is someone out here who does NOT want everyone voting, at least not until they are prepared to vote, are responsible enough to vote).

But now I am with the “Kill the Electoral College” folks.  And my reasons are three-fold.
  1. If I live in a reliably blue (or red) state, my vote won’t count as my state is voting blue anyway (or red), so I may as well stay home.  It makes my vote … unnecessary.
  2. If I live in a small population state, my vote will be worth more than if I live in a large population state (For example, Wyoming has 3 electoral votes and a Census 2010 population of 563,626 [1 electoral vote per 187,875 persons], while California has 55 electoral votes and a Census 2010 population of 37,253,956 [1 electoral vote per 677,345 persons].  So, a Wyoming vote is worth 3.6 times what a California vote is worth!  (Every state has two electoral votes that are not based on population but rather on its count of Senators, which is always two; a small state’s slice of that two votes of additional pie is always bigger than for large.).
  3. Our state-level voting systems are called “winner-take-all.”  In a winner-take-all system, the single candidate with more popular votes than any of the other candidates captures all his state’s electoral votes, and in a ten-man race, that may be as low as 15 - 20% of the popular vote.  It is not at all rare that the candidate who won the electoral votes from a state did not win a majority of its popular votes, not even close.  Winner-take-all amplifies or diminishes my vote, depending where I live (“battleground” states are therefore always more important than more predictable states).  The hated two-party system is the legitimate child of Winner-take-all.  Kill winner-take-all, replace it with Instant Runoff Voting (see essay in my book,) and the two-party system shares the grave with the Electoral College.
If we kill the Electoral College, which after all impacts only the Race for the Presidency, the above problems vanish.  THAT is why I now support “Kill the Electoral College.”

And, no, my thinking has nothing to do with the presidential election of 2016.  The rules were in place, both major parties knew the rules and acted accordingly, so fine (establishing the honesty of a vote count is an entirely different issue, and each state has its own rules on that question.  Besides, it’s fun stretching out Election Day for another two months, for late night comics anyway).