[EM] Re: Electoral College

Blake Cretney bcretney at postmark.net
Mon Jan 28 17:26:33 PST 2002

Jurij Toplak wrote:

>It seems strange to many people that the smallest states have 3 votes in
>Electoral college although they should not have them according to the "one
>person - one vote" rule. However, all the federal countries tend to give
>small states some more power than they should have. There is a good reason
>for that.
>Consider federal country of Yugoslavia (the new one, FRY). It is a
>federation of only two parts - one is large (about 90% of the population -
>Serbia) and one is small (less than 10% of the population - Montenegro). Do
>you think that there should be one-person one-vote rule when they are
>selecting president? Then the Montenegro will never get their man in the
>office. Also in the parliament Serbs will always outvote them. To give both
>parts equal power is unfair, too. Then serbs would be unhappy. So something
>in the middle is needed. And this is what Electoral college is doing, too.
I'm not sure I entirely disagree with you.  On the other hand, what's to 
stop me from arguing that any arbitrary 10% of the population is 
hopelessly outnumbered, and really should be over-represented, just to 
be fair.  Maybe when there is some major ethnic/religious conflict the 
division isn't arbitrary.  But the current set up of US states seems 
like a historical accident.  Certain parts of the country formed large 
colonies, others formed multiple small colonies.  The ones that formed 
multiple small colonies are now over-represented.

I could look at the top 1/10th of California, and claim that this is 
only a small fraction of the US, unlikely to have much influence unless 
their power is made disproportionately high for their population.  But 
wait, under the electoral college, this region is not only small, but is 
under-represented based on their population (at least according to 
conventional wisdom).

So, as I say, I actually think it might be desirable sometimes to give 
an embattled minority more representation than their numbers deserve. 
 But I wonder what criteria you would suggest to determine which small 
sections of a country deserve over-representation, and which may be 
justly under-represented.

Blake Cretney

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