Tuesday, January 15, 2008

dropping out of electoral college

From In These Times: Dropping Out of Electoral College by Martha Biondi summarizes a rather clever plan devised by a Stanford University computer scientist named John Koza to do an end run around the electoral college without having to overhaul the U.S. Constitution. It’s called National Popular Vote (NPV), and in April, Maryland became the first state to pass it into law. It works as follows: according to the Constitution, states have the right to determine how to cast their electoral votes. So instead of awarding its electoral votes to the top vote getter among that state's voters, under NPV a state would award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. As soon as the measure passed in enough states, the electoral college would technically still exist, but for all practical purposes we would be able to directly elect the president. Pretty sneaky sis.

For another interesting idea on tweaking the election system in the interests of greater democracy check out Common Dreams: The Glories of the ‘Single Transferable Vote’ by Ari Savitzky and David Segal

1 comment:

joreko said...

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President arises from the winner-take-all rule (currently used by 48 of 50 states) under which all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state. If the partisan divide in a state is not initially closer than about 46%-54%, no amount of campaigning during a brief presidential campaign is realistically going to reverse the outcome in the state. As a result, presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the concerns in voters of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Instead, candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. As a result, 88% of the money and visits (and attention) is focused on just 9 states. Fully 99% of the money goes to just 16 states. More than two-thirds of the country is left out.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill is enacted in a group of states possessing 270 or more electoral votes, all of the electoral votes from those states would be awarded, as a bloc, to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The National Popular Vote bill has 366 legislative sponsors in 47 states. It has been signed into law in Maryland. Since its introduction in February 2006, the bill has passed by 12 legislative houses (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, New Jersey, and North Carolina, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, and California).

See www.NationalPopularVote.com