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

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Apr 25 19:01:05 PDT 2006

At 06:36 PM 4/25/2006, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>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.

At any given time the electoral college and the all-or-nothing system 
standard in nearly all states gives the party with a distributed 
majority an advantage. This party will resist reform of the system, 
and, since it is the party with a power edge, and since voting on 
amendments to the constitution is similar: voting is state-by-state, 
with each state all or nothing, and requires a three-fourths majority 
of states for the amendment to pass, it is unlikely that such an 
amendment, just like that, will succeed. This is a variation of the 
general Persistence of Power Inequities Effect that I've described 
many times: power inequities tend to be preserved, because removing 
them removes power from those who enjoy an edge due to the inequity.

However, there is a point of vulnerability. In some states at some 
times, the prevailing party actually does not have a majority, it 
only has a plurality. It is possible that a coalition of the other 
parties, independents, and some within the plurality party interested 
in long-term equity, could outvote even a determined effort on the 
part of the plurality party to block a reform. What could this reform 
look like?

I was gratified to see, recently, proposals in the news that somewhat 
resemble what I had earlier proposed: state-by-state action to reform 
the College, in a way that does not disadvantage the state passing the reform.

It is clear that reforming simply one state, by itself, simply to 
produce proportionality in that state's electors, would not be fair: 
it could easily award the next election, unfairly, to the minority 
party in that state, because the proportional electors would no 
longer balance out non-proportional electors from other states. To 
some extent, the present inequities, state by state, balance each other out.

However, a reform could be much more sophisticated. As one example:

A state could select electors pledged to vote in such a way as to 
balance out the *national* Electoral College vote toward 
proportionality. This could mean awarding all the electors, in fact, 
to a side which did not win in the state, but this would only happen 
if other states were disproportional in the opposite direction. It 
appears that the Constitution allows just about any method of 
choosing electors that a state wishes to follow: this, indeed, is the 
source of the problem, for it led inevitably to all-or-nothing, since 
that benefited the majority party in each state.

If a Uniform Elector Pledge Code were written, it could provide 
effective coordination of state-chosen electors in such a way that, 
if adopted by all states, the result would be an Electoral College 
vote proportional, quite closely, to the popular vote.

Personally, though, I would do something entirely different. I would 
suggest that electors run for office. Personally. I would take the 
Presidential candidates off the ballot entirely. I would use the 
College much more closely to how it was originally intended! What 
would be on the ballot would be the names of the electors. Not the 
names of those whom they have pledged to support.

And then I would use something like Asset Voting to actually choose 
the final electors, so that they would be, effectively, proxies for 
the voters of the state. Asset Voting, ultimately, could sidestep the 
party system, independents would have a real chance of being elected 
as electors.

This would make the vote in the Electoral College something that 
could not be predicted until it actually voted.... which, again, is 
how it was designed!

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list