[EM] 01/29/02 - Re: Electoral College Debate:

Richard Moore rmoore4 at cox.net
Mon Jan 28 21:18:36 PST 2002

Donald Davison wrote:

 > Consider the following math:
 > 1) The president is not elected on only the basis of `one man one vote',
 > the states also have votes, two Electoral votes each, that was the deal.
 > 2) Most states, 37 of 50, have less than the average population of the
 > fifty states.
 > 3) Very few of the 37 below average population states are going to give
 > up their side of the deal. The two Electoral votes give each of these
 > states an extra edge in the election of the president.
 > 4) These 37 states have 168 members in the House of Congress.  While it
 > would take 137 of these 168 members to stop an amendment in the House, it
 > could be done.  If the amendment is not stopped in the House, the below
 > average population states will have an easier time of stopping it in the
 > Senate.
 > 5) Only 17 states are needed to stop an amendment in the U.S. Senate.
 > (that too was part of the deal)
 > 6) Only 13 states are needed to stop an amendment from being passed by
 > the states.
 > (also part of the deal)
 > That's the math. (Read it and weep)

Wow, what an incredibly defeatist argument!

Fortunately Don is way wrong (or unfortunately, given how his argument could
be used to mislead people).

This argument assumes that it is in the interest of those 37 small states,
or of their representatives and senators, to maintain the status quo. In
fact, this is not in the interest of those states or those lawmakers.

Remember that these 37 states are not all in political alignment with
each other. Even if they were all aligned, they could not choose a President
without the assistance of one or more larger states.

What's more, if a certain large state is needed to elect a particular
candidate, and the race is very close in that state, then a small number
of voters in that large state will be a big factor in determining the
election's outcome. Fortunately, that has never happened yet. Oh, wait a
minute, *IT HAS*!

So maintaining the EC does not confer an advantage to small states. There
may be a misguided perception that it is, but we don't have to go around
reinforcing that error.

 > If you really want to improve the US presidential election, then your
 > first step should be to change this policy of `Winner take All' that most
 > state have.  We would not have had the problems with the last election if
 > no state had the policy of `winner take all'.

While no one (to my knowledge) has argued that this change wouldn't be
an improvement over the current system, this change would be much more
difficult to enact than simple abolition of the EC.

Suppose the change were to be implemented on a state-by-state basis. Each
state would then reason: If we select our electors on a proportional basis,
then we dilute our influence on the outcome of the election. The change 
against the interest of the majority political faction in that state. Few
state legislatures would be inclined to enact such a change unilaterally
(and in fact, few states have).

OTOH, suppose the change were to be mandated nationally, by a constitutional
amendment. Then the larger states would argue that, as compensation for the
reduction in their influence, the number of electors from each state should
be directly proportional to that state's population, in compensation. The
smaller states would argue for maintaining the current disproportionate
allocation of electors. Without support from both groups, such an amendment
would fail. But, even if it did succeed, the argument about whether a small
state such as Wyoming should get 1/18 or 1/54 the number of electors of
California (a state almost 69 times as large) will be perpetuated. That is
because "states' rights" has always been used as a rationalization of the
EC, and that rationalization has never provided a satisfactory resolution to
the apportionment problem.

No, the problem of the unfairness of the EC must be attacked at its source,
and that source is the EC itself. By removing the EC, the "states' rights"
argument becomes moot, the debate on apportionment is ended, and power is
allocated equally to the voters.

Why should reform efforts be wasted on preserving an archaic institution?

 > Your next step is to support some good plan inside a state that will 
 > all the voters, candidates, and parties equally, like the following plan:
 > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - -
 > Instant Runoff Voting and the Electoral College: by Donald Davison -
 > January 15 2001 Draft:

Don is still in denial about the serious problems of this method, I see.

   -- Richard

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