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Comments about ‘Jay Evensen: Electoral College must stay, no matter what happens Tuesday’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Changing the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment. This will never happen because several small states would have to agree to it. Since the small states are over-represented in the electoral college, they would voluntarily have to cede power. No one willingly cedes power in our country.

a bit of reality
Shawnee Mission, KS

The electoral college does a couple of things. First, it makes individuals in small states more valuable than voters in large states—effectually, an individual voter in California gets 1 vote, an individual voter in Wyoming gets 3 votes, and voters in other states get a number of vote that scales between those two ends. People tend to really like that aspect of it.

The other aspect is that it's winner-takes-all at the state level. That means if you are from one of about 10 swing states your marginal vote matters, and if you are a voter in any one of the other 40 states, your marginal vote doesn't matter at all. I don't see how it is good for the nation for candidates to spend hundreds of millions of dollars pandering to the voters in Ohio and Florida, while ignoring the voters in New York, Kansas, and Utah.

If you wanted to make every vote count for something, but also give smaller states a louder voice, just give folks from smaller states a louder voice by weighting their votes more heavily. But if you want to effectually disenfranchise voters from 40 states, keep the current system.

isrred
South Jordan, UT

"Changing the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment."
While factually true, many states are passing laws that would simply make the electoral college irrelevant without a Constitutional amendment. There is a movement among states passing laws declaring that, once enough states pass the same law to reach a majority of electoral college votes, those states would all agree (by their own law) to award their votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Roland's point is cogent but Jay's point about big vs. small states is part of a distant past.

Overall, I think the electoral college should go. Yes it was designed to make sure that smaller states would not be overlooked in a national election - that they would retain relevancy despite the larger population in their "rival" states. That hasn't happened. At least not in my lifetime.

There are still states that matter and states that don't. But it is not the small or the large states - it's the "purple" states. Reliably red or blue states don't matter and don't get a lot of attention. Only the swing states matter and are the focus of the campaigns (not that I am sure they relish the attention).

I used to defend the college but I find it increasingly difficult to do. Can anyone tell me what the benefits are for a non-swing state? I am looking for a discussion not an argument.

Noodlekaboodle
Millcreek, UT

@Twin Lights
Moving to a popular election would help some states, but still not Utah. A small state(3 million people) that vote mainly republican isn't going to get any national attention. California and New York would benefit, because their massive population would be needed to win the election. I guess my argument against the popular election is that it give the small states even less power, Utah for example, has 1% of the electorial votes, 6 out of 538 in a popular election Utah has 3 million potential votes out of 350 million votes.

isrred
South Jordan, UT

"Moving to a popular election would help some states, but still not Utah. A small state(3 million people) that vote mainly republican isn't going to get any national attention. "

I'm not sure I agree. Think about it: this year whether Romney wins Utah by 1 vote or by 1 million votes the payoff is the same. However, if this were a popular vote election then they would have very strong incentives to get every single vote they could from a place like Utah. It's easier to put effort into getting people who already agree with you to actually vote than it is to try and convince someone to agree with you and THEN get them to actually vote.

John Marx
Layton, UT

"Simply put, it keeps the emphasis on states and the issues that matter to them. In a far-flung and diverse nation, it keeps someone from getting elected by pandering to the interests of one populous region to the exclusion of others."
Thanks to the Electoral college, the swing states are the ones that get pandered to. And Why? Because of a demographic quirk. Because their states happen to be divided about 50/50. The states that are dominated by one party are largely ignored both big and small.
In the current circumstances large populous regions can be excluded if they happen to be in a state where the vote is already determined. In the current system a state like Colorado holds more weight than California, because they are part of the few states that end up deciding the election. How is that fair? How is that better?

John Marx
Layton, UT

"If you require the winner to have at least 50 percent, plus one, the country would mire itself in runoff elections."
I for one love to see a system that actually allowed third parties to compete. Doesn't seem like they could do much worse than the two parties that have led us to the edge of bankruptcy. In the current system if an issue isn't raised by a republican or democrat it doesn't get mentioned at all.

one old man
Ogden, UT

A state may decide on its own to make their electoral college votes proportional to the popular vote in that state.

It will never happen in Utah until the GOP monopoly is finally broken.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Funny.

Now that it looks like Mitty is gonna lose the Electoral College but win the popular vote, repubs have suddenly flip flopped to be hating on the Electoral College. What a huge flip flop from just a few years ago. Had we gotten rid of the Electoral College a few elections ago, our country would have been saved from the tragedy that was the worst administration in our country's history. Deaths, economic stagnation, growing of our government, torture, war, and trillions of dollars of debt.

Too bad indeed.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Why is it that those who "say" they support and defend the Constitution,
are almost always the one who think it's broken and want to "change" and "fix" it?

Believe me, I dispised the fact GWBush lost the popular vote, but somehow won Electoral votes by chad.
But he won, and I had to bite my lip and support him as President regardless while he trashed America -- because I truely love and defend the Constitution - as is!

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Noodlekaboodle,
I am not specifically concerned with Utah but rather the nation (states and people) as a whole.

One Old Man
I understand that states may decide how to allocate their electoral votes. But that just creates a fractured system and only partially addresses some of the issues with the college (such as voting “weights” varying by state of residence).

The Real Maverick
My issues have nothing to do with this particular election. It has been something I have been thinking about for a long while.

All
The larger question still remains. If the college does not solve the problem of only a few states getting all the attention (it just shifts which states those are) then is it doing its job? If not, then should we not be looking for a different model? Also, are their other good options other than a simple popular vote?

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

>Twin Lights
I haven't really thought about the electoral college, because I think that's a constitutional amendment without a constituency. Since no such amendment will ever pass, why worry about it? But I do take your point about purple states.
To me, a much more important issue is ideological polarization. I genuinely believe that most Americans are moderate politically, and would prefer compromise and problem solving, rather than partisan name-calling. But gerrymandering rewards extremism. There's no political advantage to be gained in taking middle-of-the-road positions.
I think that's a reason why people despise Congress, while rather liking their own Congressperson. I'm also concerned about the caucus system by which candidates for office are chosen. Caucuses are decided by whoever shows up; they're also kind of boring. So the people who do show up are people who care a whole lot about politics, which means, often enough, ideologues.
To much of our system rewards folks who take extreme positions. Not sure how to fix it.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Eric Samuelsen,

Yes, such an amendment would be without a constituency (especially because the winners have no incentive to change it). But I am enough of an idealist to tilt at a windmill or two when time allows. I just think we need a system that makes more of the country relevant and (hopefully) engaged.

Ideological polarization does have a solution. It is called war - or at least a common enemy. During the Cold War the parties held their fire a bit. There was an underlying concept of a "loyal opposition". Maybe (and I am just guessing here) some of this came about as a reaction to McCarthyism.

I, like you, am very concerned about the current polarization. To some degree a democratic republic such as ours depends on the good will of the people - that each feels at least somewhat enfranchised and that their issues are being dealt with fairly (if not always the precise way they would like). I think we are beginning to lose some of that and that (frankly) scares me.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

As one who believes that in the current world the only person in government that even might represent all the people of the United States is the president, I believe that president should be elected by popular vote without regard to states.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Politicians campaign in States most evenly split.

No reason for Mitt Romney or any other GOP candidate to show up and campaign in Utah except milking for money$$$.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "LDS Liberal" didn't Michelle Obama come to Utah to milk it for some money? Didn't Obama have fundraisers in ultra liberal California locations to milk them for money? Why is it wrong for Romney to attend fundraisers in states that support him, while you have no problem with Obama doing the same thing?

I am getting the feeling that you just hate conservatives, regardless of their actions. You also show that you are a liberal lemming because you have never found fault in Obama, and may never see the destruction that he has caused.

Ute in NV
Henderson, NV

I have often thought the some of the problems with the Electoral College could be resolved by allotting to each state 1 electoral vote per representative in the House of Representatives, rather than allotting votes also for Senators. This would resolve the problem with Wyoming's voters essentially counting for 3 votes for every 1 California voter.
Then, each state's electoral votes would be awarded based on the number of districts won by the candidate in that state. This would lead to candidates visiting more states to campaign in those districts where they could be successful, even though they wouldn't win all districts in the state.
Still not a perfect system, but these seem to me to be a couple of simple tweaks to the system to respond to some of the imperfections in the current Electoral College.

Kevin J. Kirkham
Salt Lake City, UT

Let me stir the pot a bit -

Those who want to get rid of the college should likewise favor getting rid of the US Senate. If the states have no special standing in the vote, why should they have special standing in the legislative branch?

Here's an idea - Since the legislative branch gives equal weight to the Senate and the House, perhaps we should give equal weight to the popular vote and also to the results of each state. We could take the percentage of the popular vote each candidate receives and then add the percentage of the states that each candidate won. The candidate with the highest combined score wins.

This system would encourage the minority party members in non-swing states to actually vote. Obama would campaign in Utah and Romney would campaign in New York. The swing states where the vote is close wouldn't attract as much attention because winning it or losing it would only mean a 2% difference in the 50% portion that deals with the states.

Candidates wouldn't dare concentrate soley on population centers for fear of losing the 50% portion that deals with the states.

It provides balance marginalizing no one.

dalefarr
South Jordan, Utah

I have voted in all the presidential elections going back to 1968. I have voted for Republican, Democrat and Libertarian candidates. Not once has my vote or the presidential votes of any Utahns had an iota of effect in choosing our nation's leader. That's because, not once were Utah's electoral votes necessary to decide the outcome. I still vote in presidential election but only because candidates for other offices are on the ballot.

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