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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Wed Apr 26 22:06:03 PDT 2006

On Tue, 25 Apr 2006 22:01:05 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> 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.

Echoing what I said above:
      Neither TX nor NY can afford to go proportional alone.
      Proposing that both go together looks much better.
      As you note, an amendment does not require approval by ALL states.

> 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.

You did not explain how any state would agree to such destructive action.

> 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.

If the electors are to perform as originally intended there is no point to 
their getting elected by the people - the legislature can appoint those 
who will meet as a committee and interview prospective candidates.  There 
is nothing in this for electors to campaign intelligently.

> 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!

  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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