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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Wed Apr 26 22:44:31 PDT 2006

On Wed, 26 Apr 2006 07:06:00 -0700 Steve Eppley wrote:

> Hi,
> Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>On Sun, 23 Apr 2006 16:18:06 -0700 Steve Eppley wrote:
> -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 
>>>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.
> First, that argument does not appear to address my point in #1 above about the increased 
> cost of campaigning if the Electoral College were allocated proportionally.
> Second, I consider it an exaggeration to claim the candidates ignore the safe states.  For 
> the most part, the issues the voters consider most important, and the voters' positions on 
> those issues, have a lot in common in the safe states and in the battleground states.

Candidates have to cover national issue, which get heard everywhere.

> Third, I'm curious how one can distinguish between these two cases:
>     1.1  A candidate has a safe lock on some state, and therefore
>          does not pay much attention to the policies preferred by
>          the voters in that state.
>     1.2  A candidate has a safe lock on some state, and has been
>          paying so much attention to the policies preferred by the
>          voters in that state that that is why it is a safe state.

What one election does does not define safe states - in your second case 
the candidate did not treat that state as safe.

Now come to NY, where the Dems have demonstrated ownership by winning the 
last 5 elections.  Having 31 EVs, this has to be why:
      They do not bother to campaign here.
      They do not bother to campaign about our local issues.

Try TX, with 34 EVs, where the Reps have demonstrated ownership for the 
last 5 elections.

> -snip-
>>>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 effort.
>  >      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.
> I assume that by "safe states" Dave meant the states that are safe under winner-take-all, 
> since under proportional rules it would be rare for a state to be so safe that a recount 
> couldn't change the outcome there.  He and I appear to be agreed that there is no point in 
> asking for a recount in safe states under winner-takes-all.  In winner-take-all states, 
> the vote totals would need to be nearly tied for there to be a reason to believe a recount 
> would have any effect.
> What I wrote in #2 above was only about states that are proportional.
> Don't forget that what can lose an EC delegate for one candidate can gain one for the 
> other, so one or the other would have an incentive to ask for a recount there.  True, in a 
> tiny safe state such as Hawaii or Wyoming, a recount is very unlikely to change the 
> outcome.  So I should make a minor revision of my statement in #2.  Instead of writing 
> there would be an incentive to ask for recounts in all states if all states were 
> proportional, I should have written there would be incentives to ask for recounts in 
> nearly all states, assuming the election was not a national landslide.
> My point about proportional allocation leading to many recounts still stands.
> I don't intend to dwell on the Electoral College.  It currently is not a big problem.  It 
> doesn't interfere with the ability to make a significant improvement in how the President 
> is elected, one which would lead to multiple candidates competing to be the best compromise.
>>>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.
> How could gaining one vote gain more than one Electoral College delegate, assuming this 
> proposal were adopted?  Voter turnout would have to be near zero in some state.

I was talking about the power of one vote - not suggesting that that would 
be huge.

> What were the various counts and recounts in Florida in 2000?  The changes in the 
> candidates' percentages were tiny.  It's implausible that a recount would gain more than 
> one EC delegate in any state.

With 25 EVs, 4% would be an EV, .08% or about 4750 for a state such as FL 
near a tie with your modified proportional.  Hard for a recount to change 
more than that much, but worth a fight to try if the national total was 
close to a tie.

>>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.
> The number of states in which a recount might make affect the state's Electoral College 
> allocation would be small in most elections.  Few states would be in or near the 49% to 
> 51% range.
> The Electoral College totals before the recounts would have to be nearly tied, much closer 
> than under the current system, for recounts in those few states to have a chance to change 
> the outcome.
> By the way, the range 49% to 51% that I proposed is not set in stone.  If someone thinks a 
> smaller or slightly larger range would be better, I'd welcome hearing the reasons why. 
> Also, perhaps it would be better if the size of the range depends on the size of the state.
>>Note - Steve did recognize there could be more than two candidates, 
>>requiring more detailed rules.
> Not significantly more.  If I gave the impression that more than 2 candidates might share 
> a state's EC delegates, that was unintentional, and I apologize for that.  Here's the 
> general proposal:
>     The percentage of Electoral College delegates awarded by
>     a state to its leading candidate decreases incrementally
>     from 100% to 50% as the lead decreases from 2% to a tie.
>     The rest, if any, go to the candidate in second place.

Now disagreed:
      Who is third in a state could be a serious contender in others.
      EVs for a minor candidate COULD be pledged as to who to vote for if 
their primary candidate lost.
  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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