Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Theoretical Politics

This is a political post that has nothing to do with today's election in particular, but everything to do with the US Presidential election system in general. It's adapted from a comment I made to a friends-locked post elsewhere.

As I hope everyone reading this knows, in most states (Maine and Nebraska being the exception), we have winner-take-all electoral voting. That is, whoever wins the state in first-past-the-post voting (that is, whoever has more votes than any other candidate -- not necessarily a majority) gets the entire state's haul of electoral votes.

I am somewhat troubled by this system. Even if it cost my own side votes in this election, I'd think a somewhat more proportional system would be more fair, such as the Maine-Nebraska method of one elector per congressional district (plurality takes the EV), plus two bonus votes for the candidate with the most votes statewide. (There are problems with that plan as well, I know, starting with gerrymandering of districts.) This is the one that can be implemented by statute in each state, for the US Constitution doesn't specify how states allocated their electors. (That's why Maine and Nebraska don't necessarily vote all the same way.) I expect that if you used this system in California, something like one-third of the state's 55 EV would probably switch sides. (California has a significant geographical "red-blue" split of its own, mostly, but not completely, in the form of "urban-rural," and California has a lot more rural area (not people) than many people realize.)

We could just abolish the Electoral College entirely, which would require a constitutional amendment. I once supported this, but I'm now lukewarm about the idea unless we could simultaneously introduce Instant Runoff/Single Tranferrable Vote to the election. If we had an IRV system, "third party" candidates would certainly get more votes, as far fewer people would think they were "throwing their vote away."

I don't forsee the electoral collage ever going away. You'll never get 3/4 of the states to ratify a constitutional amendment that would have the effect of removing the existing over-statement of electoral power in the smaller states. As I said elsewhere, who would ever vote to remove one's own franchise?

Update, 16:45: Correction to minor point noted in comments.
Tags: politics
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