Thursday, June 01, 2006

Electoral College Proposal

This is an interesting proposal that has been coming up in several states regarding the electoral college. It has been proposed in the past, but has never gained much traction. Each state would award its electoral votes to the overall popular vote winner instead of each states individual winner. It has both its benefits and it draw backs. It would make a candidate run a 50 state campaign instead of only really hitting the swing states. But, it would also give large urban populations more pull than rural areas. Either way, the current electoral college is not what the founding fathers envisioned anyway, so taking a look at how to correct the problem is not a bad idea, even if many of the ideas may not pan out in the end.

Bill to Bolster Election Clout Gains
By Nancy Vogel, Times Staff Writer
May 31, 2006

SACRAMENTO — Seeking to force presidential candidates to pay attention to California's 15.5 million voters, state lawmakers on Tuesday jumped aboard a new effort that would award electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide.

As it is now, California grants its Electoral College votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state. Practically speaking, that means Democrat-dominated California spends the fall presidential campaign on the sidelines as candidates focus on the states — mostly in the upper Midwest — that are truly up for grabs.

Under a bill passed by the Assembly, California would join an interstate compact in which states would agree to cast their electoral votes not for the winner in their jurisdictions but for the winner nationwide. Proponents say that would force candidates to broaden their reach to major population centers such as California.

The bill is part of a 3-month-old movement driven by a Bay Area lawyer and a Stanford computer science professor. The same 888-word bill is pending in four other states and is expected to be introduced in every state by January, its sponsors say. The legislation would not take effect until enough states passed such laws to make up a majority of the Electoral College votes — a minimum of 13 states, depending on population.

"This is a bill that would allow California to be able to play a role in presidential elections," said Barry Fadem, the Lafayette, Calif., lawyer spearheading the drive. Now, because the state is largely ignored, he said, "A vote in California is not equal to a vote in Ohio, and everyone would concede that."

The bill — AB 2948 by Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) — cleared the Assembly 49 to 31 with a single Republican vote from Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico). To become law, it must be passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.

Fadem said he was surprised by the partisan divide in the Assembly vote. In the New York Legislature, Republicans introduced the bill, he said, and they support it in Illinois, Missouri and Colorado.

But Republican Assembly members warned that the bill would empower big cities — whose residents tend to vote for Democrats — at the expense of small states.

"Small states suffer here," said Assemblyman Michael Villines (R-Clovis). "Yes, California is a big state. But I don't want a candidate to go to 10, 12 big urban centers, win a majority and walk away with the presidency."

"This would simply say if you're in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Boston … you can elect the president," Villines said.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) argued that the Electoral College was created by the drafters of the U.S. Constitution after great debate and thought, and he said it should not be altered lightly.

(Full Story)


tommy said...

Never happen, it would give the entire election over to the large states, why would anyone campaign in wyoming, or alaska?

With the amendment rules for our constitution it's DOA.

Dingo said...

I am not saying that it will take or that it is perfect. But the current system doesn't work, and doesn't work the way the founders intended to.

Pedro said...

I agree with you that the electoral college system is a bit irrational, and could stand some improvement.

But here's my question: if the electoral votes go to whomever wins the national popular vote, why even keep the electoral system in the first place? Why not just have a popular vote, and leave it at that?

(BTW, that might be a good idea. Or it might let politicians forget rural areas. I don't know.)