Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT
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.
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.
"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.
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.
@Twin LightsMoving 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.
"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.
"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?
"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.
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.
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.
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 -
Noodlekaboodle,I am not specifically concerned with Utah but rather the
nation (states and people) as a whole.One Old ManI 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 MaverickMy issues have nothing to do with
this particular election. It has been something I have been thinking about for
a long while.AllThe 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?
>Twin LightsI 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.— About comments