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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Tue Apr 25 15:36:56 PDT 2006

On Sun, 23 Apr 2006 16:18:06 -0700 Steve Eppley wrote:

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

A bit misleading - while the US Constitution does not forbid that particular activity, 
it is MUCH less restrictive:  "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the 
Legislature thereof may direct..."

In New York most slates of electors are nominated by party State Committees, presumably 
expected to vote for the party's candidates for President and VP:
      I was on such a slate once, without making any promises - apparently did not 
matter for our third party had no danger of winning.
      Four years later, without much danger of winning, we got more formal:  We drafted 
a pledge for electors to sign (to vote for our candidates if that mattered, to be free 
from that promise if candidate had no chance to win, but to not vote for the enemy major 
party anyway).  Then potential electors signed and our slate was composed of those who 
had already signed.

Seems like a Legislature that appointed a single slate of electors whose task, then, was 
to study quality of available candidates and vote as they saw fit - would be inside the 

>>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.
> -snip-
> 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.

HUH?  Being a safe state is a disadvantage:
      The candidate who does not have to make any promises to help win, can evade making 
promises to that state that could be a problem later.
      The candidate who is sure to lose need not make any possibly embarrassing promises 
to that state.

BUT, such a state cannot afford to go proportional by itself - that would be a gift to 
the losing candidate who presently gets no electoral votes from that state. 
A constitutional amendment that made all states proportional would be a  possibility.

Not clear just what effect all this has on cost of campaigning:
      Proportional - need to campaign everywhere. for this can affect votes in every state.
      Safe states - no need to invest money in safe states.  However, can and must 
campaign harder in swing states.

Fair accounting with more than two serious candidates needs proportional to make 
electoral college count more like popular vote count.

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

Not really.  You first consider which states tend to get different counts after recount. 
  Then you consider which states are best prospects for a profitable change:
      Safe states:  Don't waste time on safe states, but invest in others if worth the 
      Proportional:  Populous states such as NY are good prospects.  If a state such as 
Alaska or Hawaii just barely offered enough votes for one member of electoral college, 
recount is very unlikely to help - and could even lose that one.

> 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.  ...

Looks like a loser:
      Many safe states remain such.
      Swing states make the two percent a BIG issue for more contentions in recount, for 
gaining one vote on a near tie has 50 times the effect of gaining one vote in the 
proportional world.

Digging deeper, I see that Steve claims:  "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."  Disagreed:
      Conceded that likely profit from one optimum recount shrinks.
      BUT, needing N gains, likely need to recount more states to try to get there.

Note - Steve did recognize there could be more than two candidates, requiring more 
detailed rules.
  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
  Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
            Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                  If you want peace, work for justice.

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