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Richard Davis: Ways to make the Electoral College more fair

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  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 25, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    The electoral college is an anachronism from a time when the United States was a republic that was wary of democracy. The American Revolution had been led by a native aristocracy that included those who feared democracy was an open door for rule by the mob. The founders were elitists before the term elitist took on the pejorative connotations it carries today.

    Thank heaven the electoral college has generally concurred with the will of the people. If the times it hasn’t had been more numerous, it probably would have been done away with by now. The electoral college is useless when it does its job and dangerous when it does not. If only the majority of the founders had as much faith in the people as James Madison did in 1787.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    Jan. 24, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    Proportionate allocation by congressional district is rigging the system because of gerrymandering. Proportional voting based on percentage of popular vote would be fine with me. Romney would have won the election with proportionate allocation by congressional district even though he lost the popular vote by several percentage points. How can any rational person think that is fair or just? The current Republican proposal to have proportionate voting by congressional district in states that voted for Obama, but not in states that voted for Romney is an attempt at a naked power grab and the legislators trying to do it should be ashamed of themselves.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 24, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    I have no problem with either going to a popular vote, or allocating electoral votes proportionately.

    But, it has to be done nationwide. Doing this selectively in states strictly for an advantage in national elections is unconscionable.

    We need fair elections, regardless of who wins. What is being proposed is not fair.

  • djc Stansbury Park, Ut
    Jan. 24, 2013 12:38 p.m.

    I think this is foolish and short-sighted. The party that lost this time under the current rules, could be the party that loses next time under a new set of rules. Then what will the losing party propose? We have enough gerrymandering now. The only way I personally would approve of a change to a split electorate is if redistricting was done in a non-political way so that all districts were randomly drawn solely based on population and not party. It is just plain foolish to continue to try to game the system.

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Jan. 24, 2013 11:17 a.m.

    In 2008, of the 25 smallest states (with a total of 155 electoral votes), 18 received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. Ohio (with only 20 electoral votes) was lavishly wooed with 62 of the total 300 post-convention campaign events in the whole country.

    Now presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states, that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters. Support in smaller states: AK -70%, DC -76%, DE --75%, ID -77%, ME - 77%, MT- 72%, NE - 74%, NH--69%, NE - 72%, NM - 76%, RI - 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT - 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

    Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Jan. 24, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation's votes!

    But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.
    Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Jan. 24, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    A desperate attempt by four white guys in rural Illinois to demean or outright cancel the votes of a hundred black people in Chicago.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Jan. 24, 2013 12:07 a.m.

    @Tyler Macarthur:
    "What you are proposing is a proportional representation system a la the gridlocked and fragmented parliaments of states such as Belgium, Spain and Israel."

    He is not proposing that. Israel (the example that I am most familiar with) has a system where the majority main party gets other parties to join their coalition to form a majority coalition in parliament. That forces a major party whicn is closer to the mainstream to pander to the extremist parties on the margins.

    I agree with the proposal. I understand the small state vs large state reason for the electoral college and I have supported the electoral college most of my life for that reason. I think that it is time for a change. It would restrict candidates from pandering to swing states. They would pander to all of us.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 7:52 p.m.

    For far too long, the Republicans of Utah and other red states have manipulated the electoral college in order to discount all Democratic votes. This is not only shameful, it is un-American.

  • red state pride Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    I think atl134 made a valid point but I tend to agree with this concept. How many Republicans were frustrated by the importance of Ohio? I'm totally against a direct popular vote because it does make states like Ut and Wy basically irrelevant. The bottom line is that candidates who win a significant number of popular votes are still going to by and large win the election but ask yourself this- how much pork goes to Ohio (from both parties) to buy some "swing state" votes? I'm a conservative but I do think we need to either redraw State lines or make some changes to the electoral college.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Jan. 23, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    re:JCSpring

    Now in CA redistricting is not done by the party in power. It is done by a panel--evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, plus 4 non-affiliated voters.

    Additionally:
    Each political party has the option of allowing decline-to-state voters to vote in their Presidential primary.

    As of June 2012, California will start using the Top Two Candidate Open Primary system for statewide offices.

    All candidates for a given state or congressional office will be listed on a single Primary Election ballot.
    Voters can vote for the candidate of their choice for these offices.
    The top two candidates, as determined by the voters, will advance to the General Election in November.

    CA's process is significantly more "open" than UT.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 23, 2013 3:43 p.m.

    I am all for proportional distribution of electoral votes. This winner takes all stuff is a corrupting force in our politics. It is the only way that every vote counts. As the system runs today, only 50.01 percent of the votes matter.

    One old Man... the funny thing, under the proposed changes Obama would have still won. The only thing this would have changed is that Bush would have lost to Gore. Now wouldn't that have spun things into a tizzie.

    I actually think Bush did a good job responding to the events of 9/11.... it's what happened in Iraq that damaged our nations reputation for generations forward. Preemptive wars are ugly beast.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    I am fine with changing the Electoral vote. I am a Democrat and I voted for President Obama both times.

    In the 2012 election President Obama won the Electoral vote...

    and, the popular vote.

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Jan. 23, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

    A survey of Utah voters showed 70% overall support for a national popular vote.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by state law.

    Utah, along with 80% of states and voters that are ignored by presidential campaigns now, would not be ignored.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every election. Political reality, that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows, is that when and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere. Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics.

    Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count.

    The candidate with the most popular votes in the country would get the needed 270+ electoral vote majority from the enacting states.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes, and been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 needed.

    NationalPopularVote
    on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Jan. 23, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the system.

    An analysis of the whole number proportional plan and congressional district systems of awarding electoral votes, evaluated the systems "on the basis of whether they promote majority rule, make elections more nationally competitive, reduce incentives for partisan machinations, and make all votes count equally. . . .

    Awarding electoral votes by a proportional or congressional district method fails to promote majority rule, greater competitiveness or voter equality. Pursued at a state level, both reforms dramatically increase incentives for partisan machinations. If done nationally, the congressional district system has a sharp partisan tilt toward the Republican Party, while the whole number proportional system sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives.

    For states seeking to exercise their responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to choose a method of allocating electoral votes that best serves their state’s interest and that of the national interest, both alternatives fall far short of the National Popular Vote plan . . ." FairVote

    A second-place candidate could still win.

  • dave4197 Redding, CA
    Jan. 23, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    Abolish the electoral college! In today's fast communication world, we can know which candidate won the popular vote (the vote that counts in a democracy) within hours of the last poll closing. Only in 2000 did the (attempted mis-)counting process take longer. We don't need to discuss the vote count. We don't need to convene a group to re-vote the popular vote count. We do not need the electoral college. If this requires an amendment, let's do it!
    Attempts to make the electoral college vote more closely reflect the popular vote are good and worthy only if we cannot eliminate this dinosaur method altogether.

    Next up, make the Senate a truly representative body. And I've got more good ideas!

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    I tend to favour one person one vote.

  • JohnH Cedar City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    The Maine-Nebraska allocation method is worth careful consideration. The trouble is that it's going to be hard to convince states that are solidly Democrat or Republican to go for it. The popular vote would result in the center of the country being even more of an electoral wasteland that it already is. We are pretty much ignored now, and we'd be ignored completely under a direct popular vote. Now THAT is real disenfranchisement.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 8:06 a.m.

    The closest thing for people to being represented in the affairs of government of this nation is the presidential election. The best way to enhance that representation would be to rid ourselves of the electoral college and elect the president by a simple majority of the popular vote.

    The state and local governments, often touted as being closer to the people, are over powered by the size and power of commercial enterprises, and are actually the least controlled by their citizens.

    It is extremely unlikely that the commercial politicians would give up their advantage and control over the voting. The only possible way to enhance the vote of people over commercial interests is to have a national referendum and even amend the Constitution.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 7:37 a.m.

    Funny. The GOP opposed any changes to the Electoral College.

    Until they lost again.

  • Doug10 Roosevelt, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    The literal one party system in Utah does okay for the local population.

    If there were a single party in Washington each state could then hold their reps and senators personally responsible for the reprehensible fiscal mess the country is in.

    Currently the 2 party system allows each party to blame the other while they each sit up to the trough at our countries expense.

    One federal party with a max limit of 4 years for senators and congressmen and no expense account and $100,000 annual check and no retirement would attract people who want to make a difference instead of making a mockery of our election system.

    Right now I would say the system is broke or the country is broke as a result of the system.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 7:24 a.m.

    For far too long, the Democrats of California and New York has manipulated the electoral college in order to discount all Republican votes. This is not only shameful, it is un-American.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Jan. 23, 2013 6:34 a.m.

    I have a very simple plan, toss out the electoral college and elect the man for president who gets the most votes.

    Anytime one party proposes a complicated election plan it makes me nervous.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 5:33 a.m.

    The facts are these: in the 2012 election President Obama received 4.97 million more votes than Governor Romney.

    And even though nationally Congressional Democrats earned 1.1 million more votes than Congressional Republicans, state GOP gerrymandering of districts resulted in another GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

    The plan Davis suggests would have given the electoral vote victory to Romney.

    What Davis advocates is nothing less than a gerrymandering of the presidential election, and is a transparent attempt to subvert democracy in our nation. Shame on him!

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 2:38 a.m.

    "If it also reduces the likelihood of the public’s will being thwarted by the electoral vote, then that is even better"

    It'd increase it. Obama probably would've lost the election had this been in place. Democratic house candidates nationwide got more votes than Republicans but didn't take the house. Presumably most districts would vote in a similar pattern. Obama could've won the popular vote by 4% and lost the election we just had. And I'm supposed to pretend this switch increases the likelihood of the popular vote selection winning? Hah, maybe if every state was mandated to have non-partisan district boundary maps so that neither side could manipulate the outcome. But they don't and Republicans (with 35ish governorships) had control over the redistricting this go around. Conservatives might find this appealing now but it can turn around if the 2020 census/redistricting were to be controlled by a host of Democratic governors.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 2:31 a.m.

    This would just encourage states to gerrymander their seats even more than they already do. It actually would've likely led to a Romney win (Democratic house candidates got more votes than Republicans but didn't win the house because of massive gerrymandering like in PA where it's 13-5 Republican in their House delegation despite Democrats getting more votes overall).

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    Jan. 23, 2013 1:13 a.m.

    The current situation of winner takes all is, in my opinion, an abomination because it does disenfranchise voters in States that are either mostly Republican or Democrat. Dividing up the electoral votes, based on how a candidate did, would not only make for a more exciting Presidential race, but also make voters feel like their vote really does count.

  • Tyler McArthur South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 23, 2013 12:44 a.m.

    The electoral college is republicanism institutionalized and has a great moderating effect on American politics. It forces candidates to campaign in the center rather than appealing to the radical wings of both parties for votes. A popular vote for President would lead to greater polarization and fragmentation. What you are proposing is a proportional representation system a la the gridlocked and fragmented parliaments of states such as Belgium, Spain and Israel. I cast my vote for the electoral college - for level-headedness, bipartisanship and moderation.