Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ditch the Electoral College?

Since Republicans are trying to move California away from a winner-take-all electoral state, perhaps it's time to seriously think about doing away with the electoral college altogether. This isn't a new question. There have been proponents of a move to deciding elections for POTUS by popular vote for as long as I can remember. But considering the popular vote would've spared the U.S., and indeed the world, a George W. Bush presidency these last 7 years, that idea sounds like one deserving of some thought.

Just think, Al Gore would probably be in his second term right now. Thousands of soldiers and possibly millions of Iraqi civilians who were alive in 2000 would still be alive today. Our country would be involved with peaceful, constructive plans of action for stability in the Middle East, and not the cause of further unrest. Millions of people around the world who either looked favorably towards the United States or at least were neutral would not look upon our country as the instigator of war and suffering. And thousands of people who have decided to devote their lives and the lives of their children to terrorism against the United States and its allies would likely be going about their business every day without giving us more than a second thought.

On the homefront, the city of New Orleans would likely be well ahead of where it is now in their recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. We would've never seen thousands of mostly poor, African American faces wandering around on I-10 bypasses wondering why no one seems to care as their loved ones suffer from thirst and dysentary, and their homes lay under water.

There would've never been an Attorney General John Ashcroft, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, or a Patriot Act restricting the freedoms of average Americans, while giving their government overreaching powers that could turn freely elected leaders into tyrants and dictators. There would have been no Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to send our troops into action without all proper equipment and forms of protection. Corporations like Haliburton wouldn't have their own hotline to the Vice President giving them a very large say in our nation's foreign and domestic affairs. And maybe, just maybe the people responsible for 9/11 would be apprehended and dealt with long ago. Or maybe there would've never even been a 9/11? I don't know if that's fair to say or not. But an America led by Al Gore would not be in the quagmire it is today.

Yes, deciding the winner of the 2000 presidential election by popular vote sounds good indeed.

Every other elected office in this country is decided by popular vote. So why not POTUS? I understand the need for every state to ensure that it has some level of importance in deciding our leader. It should be a 50 state process with all 50 states getting to see the candidates up close and personal. But when you see how the polarizing tags of "red state" and "blue state" diminish the importance of some states by one party or another, I'm not so sure that we wouldn't be improving things by going to the popular vote.

I found the National Popular Vote website via BuzzFlash. According to them, these Georgians are amongst the hundreds of politicians nationally that support their effort.

My Common Cause bretheren have been supportive of this movement for a while too. Maybe it's time I considered joining them?

9 comments:

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% (as is the case in Georgia), no amount of campaigning during a brief presidential campaign is realistically going to change the winner of the state. As a result, presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the concerns of voters of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Instead, candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of �battleground� states. 88% of the money is focused onto just 9 closely divided battleground states: Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and New Hampshire.

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).

A national popular vote is the way to make every person�s vote equal and to guarantee the White House to the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states. 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 would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The National Popular Vote bill has 320 legislative sponsors in 47 states. It has been signed into law in Maryland. Since its introduction in February 2006, the bill has passed by 11 legislative houses (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, and North Carolina, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, and California).

See www.NationalPopularVote.com

Button Gwinnett said...

Thanks for the info. joreko. I'm glad that I found this website. It's good to see that we have 6 outstanding leglislators from Georgia that have introduced a bill for us here. I hope this will be an issue that gets a lot more attention both here and nationally.

Drew said...

It's worth noting that even systems like those of Maine and Kansas (the same one Republicans are pushing in California), where electoral votes are awarded by Congressional district, fall victim to the same flaws as the electoral college - it still gives disproportionate power to smaller states, and it still leaves the possibility that the candidate who wins the most votes overall will lose.

In 2000, for example, had such a stystem been in place in every state, Gore still would have lost, and by a larger number of electoral votes, because he won a smaller number of Congressional districts.

The plan advocated by National Popular Vote is really the only way to go, short of a Constitutional Amendment.

Button Gwinnett said...

Drew, I wondered what the effects of doing that in all 50 states would do, but hadn't done any research into it.

I remember there being a discussion on dropping the electoral college after the 2000 debacle. But I think I was so disgusted with what happened that I probably just tuned it out.

Steve said...

It would help by leaps and bounds, and 2000 wasnt the only time the system was opened for hanky panky. I dont know how to do it, but your idea is something that should be implemented.

Button Gwinnett said...

Steve, I'm not sure if you noticed it or not, but there is a link on their website to a book that can be read online for free.

I don't know if it's realistic that anything can be done before 2008 nationally. Perhaps in some follow up reading I'll find some more qualified opinions on that than mine. I know there is opposition to this movement. And what the Republicans are trying to do in Cali seems much easier and less time consuming to accomplish. I'm very worried about that.

Steve said...

I've given up hope on electing people and hoping they solve problems based on promises they make. As a body of people, we are either going to have to form a new political party, take direct action through other means or just stop worrying about it and accept what we have.

Steve said...

I've given up hope on electing people and hoping they solve problems based on promises they make. As a body of people, we are either going to have to form a new political party, take direct action through other means or just stop worrying about it and accept what we have.

Larry said...

The way the Electoral College is set up, the smaller states really do not matter.

I would like the entire vote to be by popular vote, but what California is doing is designed to sway the election there to the Republicans.