Monday, February 27, 2006

How to Elect a President

I tend to write a lot about voting. (see here and here for examples) The reason is simple, I want my vote to count and I want to feel like I have some control over the govenment.

If I lived in New York or Texas I wouldn't have a vote in the presidential race. That's because those two states are hardcore Blue and Red states. No matter what happens, no matter how hard I try and "get out the vote", those states will go Blue and Red. The electoral college the way it is set up ensures this. To get elected, a president only has to concentrate on a small number of states. These states are the ones that can go either way and have significant number of Electoral Votes. This is really no way for us to pick a candidate. We need to go to a popular vote.

But that is hard to do. Each state has to go along with this plan and there are all kinds of complexities when changing the constitution. If we ever tried to change it, it would take years. So what can we do?

There is a group/movement called the "National Popular Election of the President" (catchy huh?) that has a wonderful plan that will work and that we can help make work. The plan is simple. Each state at their leisure and if they want to participate in electing the president by popular vote simply passes this law: "we the state of XXX will award all of our electoral votes to the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia." In addition they add to the law that "This law would only come into effect only when it has been enacted, in identical form, by enough states to elect a President—that is, by states possessing a majority (270) of the 538 electoral votes."

In a sense it's a total hack, but guess what.. It can work. So your assignment is to write your local state legislators and lobby them to implement this bill. I know I'm going to.

3 comments:

FlagrantAmerican said...

I like the idea. But I can also see where it could be attacked as the oppression by the majority to subvert the electoral system and equal protection arguments and such. To avoid it being such "a hack" the threshold should perhaps be 404 votes before it is effective which is the 3/4 threshold used to amend the Constitution. It certainly would represent a sense of what people want. Finally, a really useful loophole.

trace said...

Well in either case, the general theorey is that no matter what possible outcome, the democratic process essentially mandates that the people should get what they want. So on a state by state basis (built on the previously ok system of the electoral college) we should let the people decide.

DemocracyUSA said...

Well said.

There's a topnotch new report showing just how much worse the current Electoral College system has become at www.fairvote.org/presidential