Thursday, February 23, 2006

Electoral College Daze

I’ve never understood how this nation in the 20th (and now the 21st) century still clings to the antiquated method of electing presidents by Electoral College votes. From the day I first learned of this goofiness back in grade school, I’ve always thought it a really bad idea. Of course, what happened in the 2000 election only cemented that opinion.

Now I’m glad to see someone is trying to do something about it and that effort is starting right here in Illinois:
A coalition of former congressmen is launching a campaign to change how Americans select their president by reforming the Electoral College system, saying campaigns for the White House should be reliant on the nationwide popular vote rather than simply the outcome in a handful of swing states.


The plan, called the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, will be unveiled in Washington by [former Sen. Birch] Bayh; former Rep. John Anderson, R-Ill.; and other former members of Congress. The effort begins in Illinois, where legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly, followed by California and other states.
Ironically, I once voted for John Anderson for president (1980) and he got exactly zero electoral votes under our current system. Not that he had a chance of winning the popular vote either but those of us who voted for Anderson were completely shut out of the Electoral College system.

I’m not optimistic about this effort succeeding but it’s certainly something I can get behind. I think the biggest impediment is this:
Democrats may stand to gain more from enacting such reforms, considering candidates could increase their margins in heavily populated urban areas that typically favor their party. The reforms also could lend an advantage to independent candidates.
Which means Republicans will be totally against this and will likely kill it. To be fair, if the tables were turned, Democrats would likely oppose it too. Still, in the interest of real and fair elections, I wish everyone could see past the partisanship and move to give each person one vote in deciding who leads the nation.

And please, no one tell me “we live in a Republic, not a Democracy”. If I live in a house with a leaky roof I fix it, not just sit there and say, “Well, I live in a leaky house not a dry one.”

Hat tip to Kos.


Anonymous said...

After reading your post I poked around and found a website about this plan:

This tells a little more about it. I notice the IL bill is sponsored by a D, R and I in the State Senate.

I'd like to hear more about why you think this plan will help Democrats? And don't give me the line about campaigns only going to big cities and that helps Dems. There might be some truth to that idea but what about all the folks in rural American (roughly a third of the country) who don't get inspired to go to the polls since the outcome of their state is well known in advance of election day?

Plus, candidates going to a certain state is one thing, but it seems to me under a popular election at least campaigns will be active in each state. Right now if people in Illinois want to be active in a presidential campaign we schlep off to WI or IA in order to have any impact. It would be good to be able to get involved no matter where you live. No?

Dave said...


Good points.