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

Jan Kok jan.kok.5y at gmail.com
Sun Apr 23 18:26:32 PDT 2006

On 4/23/06, Steve Eppley <seppley at alumni.caltech.edu> wrote:

> 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.

Well, the other side of that coin is that the "safe states" get
totally ignored.  Is that fair?

However, if electors are allocated proportionally, state by state,
then small states with an odd number of electors would often still be
safe states.  There are currently 8 states with 3 electors and 5
states with 5 electors.  Also, small states with an even number of
electors, that are significantly biased away from a 50-50 D/R vote mix
would also be safe states.  There are 5 states with 4 electors and 3
states with 6 electors.

So state-by-state proportional allocation might still result in some
states being safe and ignored.  But probably there would be fewer such
safe states, and it would be a somewhat different set of states.

>  The cost of campaigning would be much greater.

Oh, boo-hoo. :-)  Maybe the major candidates would spend the same
amount of money, but just distribute the money more evenly across all
the states.

Meanwhile, the alternative candidates might concentrate their efforts
on the large states where they have some finite chance of picking up
some EC votes.

BTW, considering the hundreds of millions of $ spent on the
presidential elections, can you imagine the pressure that would fall
on the alternative party electors, if they held the balance of power? 
I sure wouldn't want to be one of those electors!

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

Only if the EC votes were nearly tied.

With state-by-state proportional allocation, then there would be a
call for recounts only in those states that were close to a threshold
for changing the number of EC votes.

If the EC electors were allocated proportionally to the overall
popular vote, then, yes, there could be a call for recounts in all
states if the EC votes were nearly tied.

> 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.)

Clear enough :-)

- Jan

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