Friday, June 23, 2006

New Whining About the Electoral College

New noise from the likes of California and other large population states about the unfairness of the electoral college. They have a new suggestion though that falls with in the constitutional rules. I'm not sure it's exactly what you'd call a fair solution though.
My interest in the problem was renewed when I watched a program on C-Span with former Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., and former presidential hopeful John B. Anderson, R-Ill., among others. They proposed an elegant solution that does not require amending our Constitution.

In a nutshell, the idea they put forth is to have each state legislature pass an act to ensure that all their electoral votes would be cast for the candidate who receives the largest number of popular votes in all the states. This should not go into effect until the electoral count of the states going along with the plan reached 270, a majority.

As I see it, the main objections to this idea will come from the major political parties, which save a lot of money by funneling all their resources and tailoring their message to a few swing states while ignoring the others.

Yes, it's an issue of the political parties and not large states trying to overwhelm the smaller states. By this method, the political parties would have more interest in spending money in the large populations states and ignoring other smaller states since they want to get the largest number of votes per advertising dollar.

The Electoral College is more than just a way of forwarding the votes. The college ensures that a state gets a minimum vote irrespective of the population. They get three votes minimum, and they gain more votes once their population reaches a landmark. At present seven states benefit from this control.

This method of parsing the vote is interesting, and apparently within the rules of the electoral college. I wonder though how a states population would feel if their majority voted for one candidate and their electoral votes went to another candidate.

And, wouldn't this cause all state's votes to be contested? If only the volume of votes count, then every ballot would be in contention and the voting irregularities would become a huge cost to the states. Unless you do what some states have in requiring the candidate calling for recount to pay for that recount.

In any case, this really strikes me as a half measure. I'd think it would be easier and faster and fairer to go to an amendment to move to a popular vote at this time. I don't know how you'd guarantee fairness to the small states, but that would have to be part of the debate.


Granted said...

I saw a report on this. It's bloody idiotic. They had some Democratic schmuck gleefully pointing out how Gore would have won 2000 while ignoring the fact that California would have gone to Bush in 2004. This is one of those "it's a great idea as long as it goes our way" kind of things. They'd be whining like stuck pigs when entire states swapped over to the other side.

Rob said...

He probably ignored the 2004 election because if Gore had won the 2004, then the Bush/Kerry election in 2004 never would have happened. It was a moot point.

Nylarthotep said...


It's not a moot point because the reality of the situation is that Bush did win in 2000, making the talking points of 2004 election relevant.

Until a concensus as to how to update the electoral process all voting issues are appropriate for discussion.