[EM] Electoral College (was Re: Voting by selecting a published

Alex Small alex_small2002 at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 23 19:00:49 PDT 2006

  Although I'm not a fan of the EC, I admire your proposal.  Personally, I would prefer full proportional allocation, but I realize that no state has an incentive to go over to that.  In "safe" states, the majority faction has no incentive to toss some of their electoral votes to the other side.  In close states, they would never want to give up their coveted battleground status.
  Your proposal would leave battleground states as substantial prizes, unless the margin was exceptionally close.  If the threshold is less than sampling error in polls, then nobody will be able to tell in advance whether winning Florida will mean you get 1 extra vote (13-12) or 25 extra votes.  So Flordia and other swing states will retain their coveted status.
  I'm not a big fan of vesting so much power in swing states, but I am not a big fan of high stakes recounts either.  Your proposal would respect the status quo, and hence have a chance of passing, but it would also reduce the stakes of really tight recounts, and hence solve a problem.

Steve Eppley wrote:
  2. Electoral College (was Re: Voting by selecting a published
ordering) (Steve Eppley)
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2006 16:18:06 -0700
From: Steve Eppley 
Subject: [EM] Electoral College (was Re: Voting by selecting a
published ordering)
To: election-methods at electorama.com
Message-ID: <444C0B2E.4030300 at alumni.caltech.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Antonio Oneala wrote:

> The electoral college already allows candidates to withdraw their support and give it
> to other candidates. 

That "support" would be non-binding on the Electors.

Also, some states have passed a law requiring their Electors to vote for the state's 
winner. I don't believe its constitutionality has been tested in court, but until it's 
found unconstitutional or repealed it will act as a deterrent against Electors voting for 
the "right" candidate. Uncertainty about this could deter potential candidates from 
running, too.

> Actually, this is probably one of the main reasons the founders
> wanted an electoral college. The main thing that messed up here was the at-large
> allocation of votes that most states chose - therefore, a person with a plurality
> usually gets a landslide in the college, and no redistribution is necessary.

Some people don't consider the Electoral College winner-take-all within most states to be 
messed up. Here are 2 reasons to prefer winner-take-all:

1. If states allocate their Electoral College delegates proportionally, then every state 
would be a campaign battleground. The cost of campaigning would be much greater.

2. There would be an incentive to ask for recounts in all states.

What I propose the states do is tweak the winner-take-all formula so that instead of a 
sharp reversal when a candidate's total goes from 50% - 1 to 50% + 1, there'd be a linear 
change within the 49% to 51% region. For instance, if a candidate receives 51% or more, 
she'd win all the state's Electoral College votes. If she receives 50%, she'd win half 
the state's EC votes. 50.5% would win 3/4 of the state's EC votes, etc. With a formula 
like this, recounts within a state wouldn't swing the state's allocation by more than 
about 1 EC vote, so there'd rarely be an incentive to ask for a recount.

That's not a general formulation; it assumed only 2 candidates competing. But it can 
easily be generalized so that the allocation of EC votes would be linear when the top 2 
candidates are close to each other, and otherwise all would be allocated to the top 
candidate. (Apologies if I'm still being unclear.)

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