Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: The Electoral College debate, once more with feeling

Published: Sunday, Aug. 12 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: Utah is a "victim in denial" from Electoral College abuse. Other than serving as an ATM for Mitt Romney, our voters are once again ignored in this election. According to Electoral College Primer, Utah is one of the six states with the least voting power in national elections. Because of our unique and valuable characteristics, Utahns would receive extra attention from presidential contenders unobstructed by the college.

Webb: The Electoral College works for all states, not just the swing states. Presidential candidates don't spend time in Utah (except to raise money) because we (and they) already know who we support. We know we're being well-represented by the candidate of our choice. He is in tune with us and cares about our issues. If our favorite ever stops representing us well, that opens the door for a challenger and we then get more attention as a swing state. We're not being ignored because we don't matter. We simply require less attention because our choice is clear. Nevada, a state smaller than Utah, gets attention because it's still trying to make up its mind. The Electoral College ensures that when we get upset with our candidates, we get attention. Candidates compete state-by-state, ensuring state relevancy and political viability. Eliminate the Electoral College and candidates no longer care about states. They consider only population centers and demographic groups.

Is there an actual possibility that the Electoral College could be eliminated or drastically modified?

Pignanelli: More states may implement elector selection by congressional district, but this guarantees redistricting nightmares. On several occasions, Congress came very close to sending a constitutional amendment to the states for ratification. Should Romney win the popular vote but lose the electoral process, there will be an army of GOP converts pushing the amendment that best reflects the ultimate desires of the Founders.

Webb: Small states won't ratify an amendment and render themselves irrelevant.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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