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The obvious solution to the Electoral College mess

 
 
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 08:55 pm
I hate the idea that my vote could be overridden by the winner-take-all archaic electoral college system.

Why don't each of you start an uprising in each of your states to get your legislators to change from winner-take-all to proportional vote allocation? That way, at least your vote will be counted and awarded to your candidate. That will go a long way towards correcting our no longer functional electoral college system that will be impossible to get rid of at the federal level.

BBB
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 3,177 • Replies: 36
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 09:12 pm
I hadn't considered it before, but it sounds worth doing. Heavily Republican states will be har to pursuede, though.
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 09:25 pm
Nah. I like seeing all those red states Smile Smile Smile
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 09:37 pm
BBB,

Think harder. You live in a small (in terms of population) state with just a few electoral votes. The present winner-take-all system compels each candidate to campaign in each state and to pay attention to what the voters in each state want. With a proportional system the candidates need only pay attention to the most densely populated states where with less effort they can reach more voters.

What you propose to do will make your vote irrelevent.
0 Replies
 
A Lone Voice
 
  0  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 09:51 pm
Actually, this is a good idea. Why should a state that has a large number of illiterate, uninformed, ignorant individuals who never vote be allowed to have Electoral votes based on population?

California, for example, has 55 EC votes. But based on the large number of non-voting residents, they should only have, let's say, 16 votes.

Virginia, on the other hand, has a somewhat more intelligent electorate, and has a pretty decent number of it's citizens vote in each election. Instead of 13 votes, let's give them 20.

Arizona? Very high voter turnout. Let's up them to 18 instead of 10.

States should be given EC votes based on the percentage of their voter turnout. States shouldn't be rewarded for having a large % of non-registered, non-caring, non-voting residents.
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 07:22 am
I was surprised to learn that in the past 200 years there have been 700 attempts made to abolish the EC - all failed.

Only Nebraska and Maine are the exceptions to the winner-take-all system.

(The candidates are currently tied in Maine, for those who like to keep track of these things) Smile
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 10:04 am
George
George, I'm so disappointed in your thinking on this matter. Do you really think that candidates care what the people in each state wants? Candidates, if you listen to their speeches in several states, use the same stump speech with slight variations of the theme. Reporters covering candidates' campaigns say the hardest part is hearing the same speech ad nauseum.

In today's modern media system, candidates don't have to ignore any state and the voters can get all the information need without having candidates appear locally. Campaigns visit the so-called battleground states (ignoring all the others) to energize their activist bases to get out the vote.

To make it easier and less expensive to get candidates' messages out to voters, we need to force TV station station owners to provide free time to at least the major candidates. The Media won't do this voluntarily because they make billions of dollars from TV ads. If you want to get money corruption out of politics, this is one of the first things I would do to reduce the need for huge sums of money for ads.

The Electoral College was devised to give small, largely rural and agricultural states more power. If I recall my history correctly, this was done mostly to heal the nation after the Civil War. These states have learned very cleverly to maximize their control over the nation's processes way out of proportion to their populations to the detriment of other states.

Its time to end this hijacking of our electoral process by having each state change its laws to require proportional electoral college voting. At least that way, my vote won't be voided by the winner-take-all laws, which were enacted to benefit the Republican Party. State by State action can achieve something good for the nation. It will restore the popular vote notion that is more democratic than what we not have.

Bring back one person one vote! The Electoral College winner-take-all results in one person, no vote if you are not in the majority. Terribly undemocratic, don't you think?

BBB
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 10:12 am
Just Wonder
Just Wonder, Colorado has a ballot initive this year to get rid of winner-take-all voting and replace it with proportional voting. Let's hope the voters will be smart and change the law.

BBB
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 10:46 am
BBB - I think there's been some real opposition to the proposal in Colorado, but we'll see.

Most political scientists think it's virtually impossible (changing the system now) mostly for reasons stated by EdgarBlythe above (too many states would oppose it vigorously).

Right now, I'm thinking that the present system is ok, but I know I need to study the "proportional voting" aspect a bit more to be certain in my own mind.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 10:48 am
Minority of states will decide presidential election
This is what happens when you have electoral college winner-take-all instead of proportional voting. I guess the non-battle ground states voters can lounge in their underground Bush terror fear shelters until all the fun is over while the other 1/3 of voters decide their fate without them. ---BBB

Posted on Fri, Sep. 10, 2004
Minority of states will decide presidential election
By Steven Thomma
Knight Ridder Newspapers

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire - As the 2004 presidential campaign enters its decisive weeks, a relatively small number of undecided voters in 19 states will decide who wins the White House.

These so-called "swing states" are divided almost evenly and arguably are still within reach of either President George Bush, the Republican, or Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrat. The remaining 31 states are already solidly Republican red or Democratic blue.

The swing states are in all four corners of the country, from Florida to Washington, Maine to Arizona. They include small homogenous states such as New Hampshire and large diverse states such as Pennsylvania. They include such industrial cultures as Ohio and Michigan and rural ones such as Iowa.

Most have one thing in common, however: They are experiencing cultural, demographic, technological or economic changes that are pulling them away from their traditional political moorings.

Industrial states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania have lost manufacturing jobs and people. Lower taxes and high technology have made much of southern New Hampshire a suburb of Boston. The Southwest and Florida are bursting with new arrivals from other states and from Latin America.

"They're all changing," said William Frey, a demographer at The Brookings Institution, a mainstream Washington public policy organization, and a professor at the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center.

Take Florida, second home to many Americans. Puerto Ricans arriving in central Florida rival the Cubans of South Florida. Suburbanites, white and black, crowd into suburbs around the state. Retirees from the Midwest settle on the Gulf Coast, balancing the retirees from New York and New Jersey on the Atlantic Coast. A younger, more diverse Florida is up for grabs.

Or consider Ohio. It's losing college graduates who are looking elsewhere for better jobs, and retirees who are looking for a more comfortable environment, but it's not attracting many new immigrants.

That leaves a state where more than one in three voters is white, age 45 or older, and has no college degree. Pulled toward the Democrats by economic concerns, drawn toward Republicans by conservative social issues, they put Ohio in play.

"These swing voters make up big chunks of these battleground states," said pollster Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon, which is conducting a series of polls of likely voters in 10 of the most important swing states for Knight Ridder and MSNBC. The first poll results will be reported on Sept. 19.

In each of these swing states, one party is striving to hold onto power while the other is looking for ways to take advantage of the new environment.

The new migration has already altered Electoral College votes. The electoral map was redrawn after the 2000 election to reflect changes recorded by the 2000 census. Some states in the Midwest and Northeast lost votes; others in the South and Southwest gained.

That means that if Bush won the same states this year that he carried in 2000, his Electoral College margin would grow to 278-260 from 271-267.

Bush enters the fall with a solid base of 166 electoral votes from 20 states - Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

Kerry has a solid base of 168 electoral votes from 11 states - California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont - and Washington DC.

That leaves 204 electoral votes up for grabs, from 19 states: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The list will change and perhaps shrink as the election season unfolds. The two campaigns will expand their efforts in some states and quietly concede others.

Each side has the same amount of money to spend - $75 million - and neither will keep spending in any state that seems lost when money could be sent somewhere else where it might make a difference.

Democrats are haunted by the notion that Al Gore stopped spending money in Ohio in the final weeks of the 2000 campaign - he lost the state by only 165,000 votes out of about 4.5 million cast - thinking that he might have carried it and won the presidency had he spent more there.

Kerry this week bought television time in 10 states - Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Advisers said he'd reserved time for additional ads in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri and North Carolina.

"Our options are still open in all these states," said Kerry's chief campaign strategist, Tad Devine. But he didn't pay for the extra time yet, and wouldn't run ads in those states before October, if at all.

The Democratic National Committee bought television time in four additional states: Maine, Minnesota, Nevada and Washington.

Republican ad-buy plans were not available.

By the end of October, the battleground could shrink to as few as four states, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"If we win three out of four of those," said Devine, "it is very, very difficult for the president to put this thing together."

Matthew Dowd, Bush's chief strategist, countered that "the good news for us is that we are actively engaging in more Gore states than they are in Bush states."

Indeed, a key barometer to watch is whether Bush is winning away states such as Pennsylvania that went for Gore in 2000. Bush is courting the state heavily. On Thursday, he visited there for the third time in a month.

Kerry visited there again Friday.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 11:02 am
Every close election has it's share of discussion over the effectiveness of the electoral college. It seems that the losers are always the ones to complain the loudest.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 11:14 pm
BBB
How can anyone think it democratic to apply the winner-take-all system in the following example:

votes for candidate A: 1,000,000

votes for candidate B: 1,000,001

Candidate A wins all of the electoral college votes. The votes of 1,000,000 voters are inullified One voter caused the other 1,000,000 voters to lose not only the intent of their votes, it caused the 1,000,000 votes to be shifted over to the candidate they didn't support and did not vote for. Even the most partisan citizen can see how undemocratic that is.

In a proportional voting system in the above example, each candidate would receive 50 percent of the electoral college votes representing the popular vote equivalent.



BBB
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 03:26 am
one man/woman, one vote. the electoral college is based on the idea that the average citizen isn't intelligent enough to make a decision. that in itself is enough for me to want to change it.

would mean america becoming a true democracy, rather than a republic, though...

which makes me wonder. how can we be in the business of exporting democracy, when we...
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 03:28 am
BBB
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
one man/woman, one vote. the electoral college is based on the idea that the average citizen isn't intelligent enough to make a decision. that in itself is enough for me to want to change it.

would mean america becoming a true democracy, rather than a republic, though...

which makes me wonder. how can we be in the business of exporting democracy, when we...


Changing from winner-take-all to proportional allocation of electoral college votes would not change the US government to a democracy; it would still be a republic.

BBB
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 08:03 am
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
one man/woman, one vote. the electoral college is based on the idea that the average citizen isn't intelligent enough to make a decision. that in itself is enough for me to want to change it.

would mean america becoming a true democracy, rather than a republic, though...

which makes me wonder. how can we be in the business of exporting democracy, when we...


No it is not! It is based on the fact that the United States is more than New York and California. It has nothing to do anyones intelligence. Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 08:08 am
I shudder ever to agree with McGentrix, and can only plead that i do so elliptically.

There were two mechanisms by which the "small states" (in 1787, lead by New York and New Jersey) were convinced to reach a compromise in the constitutional convention. The first was the creation of the Senate with equal representation from each state, and vested with the powers of collective sovereignty. The second was the electoral college, which assured the small states that the most populous states (as Virginia then was) would not dominate the House and the Presidency, simply by weight of numbers. That old "don't trust the electorate" chestnut is nothing more than historical myth.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 08:09 am
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
the electoral college is based on the idea that the average citizen isn't intelligent enough to make a decision. that in itself is enough for me to want to change it.

That would make me want to keep it.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 09:10 am
The key benefit the electoral College has provided is that it has consistently delivered unambiguous outcomes in our Presidential elections, while preserving the democratic character of the process. This is a very significant benefit and we should not thoughtlessly put it at risk.
Only one U.S, Presidential election has resulted in denying the Presidency to a candidate who won a popular majority. There have been about two instances in which the winner of a popular plurality lost the election through the Electoral College process, the 2000 election being the most recent of them. Even there Bush won with about 47% of the vote, defeating Gore who had about 48.5%. Considering that Clinton was elected in 1992 with about 42% of the popular vote, this doesn't seem bad at all.

An election based solely on the popular vote would have several bad effects, the most prominent of which are;

The incentive for candidated to pay attention to the interests of states with low or low density populations would be seriously diminished. A little extra effort in (say) California or Florida could easily deliver the same number of votes probably at much lower cost and effort than would be required to get them in (say) New Mexico. As a result Presidental politics will becomr hostage to the interests of our large cities to the exclusion of everything else.

A popular vote selection will increase the payoff for corruption of the electoral process in large population centers. In a close election a "fix" in only one large city may be enough to swing the election. To some extent this is also the case now, but the payoff is less and the effort required is greater with an electoral system - one must have many "fixes" in many states to win. If the split between the candidates is extremely close as, for example in the 2000 election, then even with an electoral college this provblem still exists, but in any case the problem is magnified in a popular vote system.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 10:20 am
George
George, sadly, I must insist that I think you are wrong on all points. The arguments you raised are the weakest you could have chosen. You maintain that the smaller states would be harmed, but you don't admit the harm done to the larger states.

In addition, you continue to argue that the electoral college should not be eliminated. That is not my proposal as I see little chance of it happening at the Federal level.

If you want to debate, at least debate the proposal I made, not your diversion: the individual states should pass laws eliminating the winner-take-all provision and replace it with proportional voting. This is the democratic solution that does not threaten the status of large or small states. It merely reflects the concept of one person-one vote.

BBB
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 10:40 am
Setanta wrote:
I shudder ever to agree with McGentrix, and can only plead that i do so elliptically.

There were two mechanisms by which the "small states" (in 1787, lead by New York and New Jersey) were convinced to reach a compromise in the constitutional convention. The first was the creation of the Senate with equal representation from each state, and vested with the powers of collective sovereignty. The second was the electoral college, which assured the small states that the most populous states (as Virginia then was) would not dominate the House and the Presidency, simply by weight of numbers. That old "don't trust the electorate" chestnut is nothing more than historical myth.


Thanks for reminding me of the history of the Electoral College. When I referred to it's impact on the pre and post Civil War era, I seem to recall that the small southern slave states used the Electoral College to their advantage not only against the larger states, but against the best interests of the US at large.

BBB
0 Replies
 
 

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