Sunday, August 29, 2004

Another voice joins the chorus of stupidity
Ok, so maybe that's a little bit harsh, but it seems that The New York Times wants to Abolish the Electoral College.

I don't have the time to elaborate now, but, as I've said before, abolishing the EC would result in nationwide recounts and law suits like those seen 3.5 years ago in Florida. Every district in the country will be besieged by lawyers and talking heads, and we'll never elect another President without the involvement of the courts again.


Anonymous said...

but the reason people dont like the EC is because it takes away the significance of votes. everyone says "you're vote counts!!" when it REALLY doesnt. so it makes sense for people to want their votes to make a difference...

RFTR said...

You're absolutely right.
It makes perfect sense.
It's a logical emotion, and one that everyone should want to support.

EXCEPT that it doesn't work. It's completely infeasible, and, as I said, will prevent us from ever electing another President.

Anonymous said...

well, then it has to be made clear to people that every vote does NOT really count or maybe the EC voting based on percentages of the people's votes is in order for there ever to be an end to people wanting the EC abolished...

Gerry Canavan said...

I completely disagree.

The Electoral College is broken. The system is simply unfair, granting undue influence to small states and institutional advantage to the GOP. The vast majority of voters in this country effectively have no voice at all.

Something has to be done, in the name of basic democracy. If it's not "Abolish the College", then what is it?

If you're so afraid of another Florida, consider this: what do you think the reaction will be if Bush or Kerry wins the EC but not the popular vote? Or through more 2000-style shenanigans?

If you're so afraid of another Florida, consider this: a nationwide direct-vote system discourages that sort of manipulation, not encourages it. Remember, Gore won by 500,000 votes nationwide. He lost in Florida by 537, and with it, 25 EV and the presidency. The GOP couldn't have pulled off a Bush "victory" in a direct vote. (I know you're "Running For The Right," so maybe that doesn't bother you--but the fact that the rightful winner of the election was denied the office bothers me).

The difficulty of fixing the system doesn't mean that the system ought not be fixed. We've got to do something, and "Abolish the College" seems to me to be the best bet.

RFTR said...

BUT 500,000 votes is an average of only 10,000 per state. In Florida alone there were significantly more than that contested, so if you expand nationwide, you're going to fight in every state in the hopes that you'll pick up a few more than 10,000 in some states, and a few less in others.

And I disagree that the system is entirely broken. I think, perhaps, we need to find a way to distribute the electoral votes differently (maybe add a hundred and distribute them according to population), but abolishing it will create a whole new set of problems. It's throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and that dog just don't hunt.

Tanstaafl said...

Of course it favors the small states. That was the whole point. The framers were just as afraid (and rightly so) of a tyranny of the majority as they were of a dictatorship. Furthermore, the small states wouldn't have signed up for the Constitution in the first place if they didn't get undue influence. Why should they join a union in which they would get drowned out and over-ruled? And while you're thinking about it, do you think that the States will ratify an Electoral College scheme that potentially takes away some of their electors. "And there is no interest higher than making every vote count." Well if that's true, why don't we scrap the Constitution, and redesign this place as a Democracy instead of a Republic. Oh, and by the way New York and California don't always go for Democrats, and Texas and Georgia don't always go for Republicans.

Anonymous said...

The right likes the Electoral college because it currently favors them, at least in theory. You say a straight popular vote would create nationwide lawsuits.


Florida was insanely close, 537 votes. Gore won the popular vote by more than a half million votes. The chances of one election out of 50 small elections being extremely close is MUCH, MUCH greater than the chances of one big election of 100,000,000 votes being close. If there was no Electoral College, there would have been zero lawsuits at all, because the amount of disputed ballots was never anywhere near 500,000.

The Electoral College today also pervertedly favors small states, much more than the framers had intended it to. Originally, the size of the House grew with the population-that is, each House member representated the same number of people. The problem is, there would be like two or three thousand house members if that formula was kept, so, it was frozen at the current numbers. If California had 150 House members, the two bonus electors the small states get from their senators would be less of an issue. Right now, a voter in Wyoming has a vote that's worth three or four times in EC votes than a Californian. One man, one vote my ass. Plus, all the Electoral College does is make CLOSE (not small) states worth while. Somebody running for president can completely ignore the needs of Hawaii, Alaska, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Utah as well as Texas, California, and New York, because those states are all guaranteed to go one way or the other. Only Florida and Ohio and maybe a dozen other states matter at all. It's wrong, and you know it (or you are a complete idiot).

Tanstaafl said...


Reader Dave Undis makes another good point:

If it became law, the Colorado Electoral College Reform Initiative increases the chances of having the type of controversy we saw in Florida 4 years ago--even if the Colorado race wasn't close.

With 9 electoral votes up for grabs under the proposed Colorado system, a candidate has to get at least 1/18th of the popular vote (5.55556%). For each additional one-ninth of the popular vote (11.11111%) a candidate would get one more electoral vote.

Assume Bush routs Kerry in Colorado, with Kerry getting only 16.666667% of the vote (5.55556% plus 11.11111%). Then Kerry would get 2 electoral votes. But if Kerry had received .00001% less in the popular vote (or one vote less!), then he would get only 1 electoral vote.

With a winner-take-all system, there is only one close outcome (a virtual tie) in Colorado that could cause a statewide recount. With the proposed new system, there would be nine of them.

Let's hope this bad idea doesn't spread to other states with even more electoral votes."
I think that might prompt a few more court resolved elections, don't you?

Tanstaafl said...

And "anonymous" if you're going to engage in name calling, why don't you sign your name?