[EM] Re: Electoral College

Alexander Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Sun Jan 27 11:29:28 PST 2002

Forest's example of 3 states with 48, 49, and 3 votes was good, but I think
the 51-49 case isn't quite as good, because it's just a case of majority
rule.  Probably a better case of a state with zero power would be this:

3 states have 4 votes, 1 state has 3 votes, total of 15 votes.  The state
with 3 votes has NO power, since 8 votes are needed for a majority and only
2 states with 4 votes can raise a majority.

The Electoral College isn't a worthwhile target for election reform.  Small
states will not agree to abolish it, because intuitively it SEEMS like they
have more power per person than California and Texas.  Proportional
allocation won't likely catch on, nor will the Nebraska/Maine system.
Swing states lose their power if they can only swing a few votes, and "safe
states" aren't about to give a few of their votes to the other side.

I see only 2 ways to get rid of the EC:  The first is for a strong third
party to win some electoral votes, so nobody has an electoral vote
majority.  The House of Representatives would vote among the top 3, each
state delegation casting a single vote, until one got a majority of the
states.  That would prompt cries for reform.

(Of course, a strong third party won't emerge on the national scene until
we get rid of plurality voting in local, state, and Congressional races.
Perot was a flash in the pan.  I assume that most people here want to get
rid of plurality voting to bring in additional parties.  If I were
satisfied with only 2 feasible choices I'd shrug off spoilers, saying that
those voters chose not to participate, as is their right.)

The second way is for a Republican to win a popular _majority_, and a
Democrat to win the electoral vote with undisputed _majorities_ in each of
his states (not by a few hundred dangling chads or whatever).  I specify
majorities so that nobody can blame spoilers for the outcome.  There is the
perception that the EC favors the GOP, and that shapes many people's
opinions.  The split decision that I describe would disabuse the GOP of
that illusion.  Of course, then the Dems might oppose popular elections.
Oh, well, who knows?

Alex Small

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