[EM] Electoral College-Pragmatic approach

Richard Moore rmoore4 at cox.net
Wed Jan 30 18:37:39 PST 2002

I think the EC is actually an obstacle to election method reform.
The EC can take an FBC-compliant method and make it non-compliant,
for instance. Suppose one large state selects a Green slate of
electors by Approval, and this causes the Republican candidate
to win because that state, that usually selects a Democratic slate
of electors, went Green. If some of the voters in the Greens >
Democrats > Republicans camp had not voted Green then they would
have improved their outcome.

It would be harder to make people see the advantages of a new
method if adopting that method fails to bring those promised
advantages. So abolishing the EC is either a prerequisite or a
corequisite to getting a better method in place.

  -- Richard

Alexander Small wrote:

> It's one thing to give a minority of the population (e.g. the small states)
> a veto against the exercise of power, and quite another to let them
> exercise power against the popular will.  The latter can happen when the
> President is elected against the popular will (we can debate which method
> best ascertains the popular will) and nominates a judge or implements a
> treaty with the consent of Senators representing a minority of the
> population.
> The only small states vs. big states arguments that I'm aware of in US
> history occured at the Constitutional Convention.  The most polarizing
> issue after the Convention was slavery, and there were large and small
> states on both sides.  Some might point to debates over land use in the
> Western US, where a great deal of land is subject to federal rather than
> state control, but many of those federal laws were approved by
> environmentalists in states like Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, Vermont,
> etc.
> Nonetheless, there is a perception that the EC protects small states, and
> that will make abolishing the EC an uphill battle.  Some uphill battles are
> worth fighting, but the list of anomalous elections is small (1824, 1876,
> 1888, maybe 1960, and 2000).  As long as we have a 2-party system the EC
> will function fine with only occasional flukes due to spoilers and/or super-
> close races.
> Pragmatically, there's no point in fighting the uphill battle until we have
> a major third party, sending many Presidential elections to the House.
> Anomalous elections will then be frequent and we'll have a powerful
> argument for popular elections.
> As everybody on this list knows, plurality voting promotes a 2-party
> system.  Regardless of what you think about the EC, it will be with us for
> some time to come until a long series of anomalous elections occurs, and
> that will not happen until we have a different election method.  Since
> there seems to be a consensus on the list that Approval Voting is superior
> to plurality and is also easy to implement, that is the best target for
> immediate action.
> Btw, I like the argument that "I could decide that the upper 1/10th of CA
> is under-represented and needs protection."
> Alex Small

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