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Common Sense Electoral College Reform

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2004

Common Sense Electoral College Reform.

Reader comments

RobertApr 21, 2004 at 6:50PM

An interesting map in its concept. Its major flaw is that its makers seem to know a great deal about certain areas (the northeast) and desperately little about others (the west, “plains” especially).

JohnApr 21, 2004 at 9:15PM

Even though I live in an urban area, I think the best thing about the electoral college is the overrepresentation is gives to rural states. It is a good way of balancing the diffuse interests of the largest geographical swathe of America with the concentrated interest of city dwellers.

Though there may be more people jammed into the big cities, I think it is in keeping with the great compromise that allowed the constitution to be written in the first place to give somewhat greater weight to states with smaller populations. Yes, it’s undemocratic, and that’s a good thing.

barlowApr 22, 2004 at 12:05AM

Another mistake in the attempt to “reform” the system is that it removes the elitism that is the very point of the system. The framers were probably more frightened of mob rule than of having another king; direct democracy was never the goal with the American experiment.

JoeApr 22, 2004 at 1:56AM

Obviously, this is just an academic excersie. This would need a constitutional amendment to go anywhere, and why would the smaller states ever vote to go along with the scheme?

Also, doubtless the various borders would be be gamed enough to defeat the intent of the scheme anyway, especially when the population shifts. Sort of like talk about a new draft - does anyone really think that a new draft will result in a more fair distribution of the population in the military?

Kip IngramApr 22, 2004 at 9:33AM

John’s right on; the whole point of the electoral college system, as well as the House/Senate structure of Congress, was to ensure that both populous and not-so-populous states had some measure of fair representation in our government.

The reform proposed here would eliminate the states as meaningful entities; if they were “redistricted” every census then they would have no real significance except as bookkeeping devices. How many of us feel any real association with our congressional district?

Our government was designed to realize not a single, homogeneous nation, but a federal republic of independent and different states, each of which had the freedom to pursue its own approach to various issues. We’ve centralized a lot since then, but do we really want to take that process to its ultimate conclusion? I don’t.

This idea is worse than throwing out the baby with the bathwater; it’s throwing out the baby and keeping the bathwater.

I’d be much more likely to support a pure popular vote process for selecting the President. The small states would still have significant power in the Senate, which has to confirm Supreme Court justices.

jkottkeApr 22, 2004 at 10:01AM

I’m not entirely sure, but I think the electoral reform map is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Loving Hands? Land O’ Lakes? Nice Weather? I think someone’s having a bit of fun.

spygeekApr 22, 2004 at 10:35AM

I don’t see how the electoral college really gives less populous states any advantage. It’s still based on population. It means nothing to win Wyoming, Idaho, and Kansas if your opponent wins New York, California, and Texas.

donald tettoApr 22, 2004 at 10:52AM

kottke, I took it to be tongue-in-cheek as well.

That said, I support the popular vote system, even though the electoral college has only betrayed it a scant few times. It’s often cited that this would shift bias somewhat toward more populus areas, that’s only because there are more people there. I’ve never really understood where geography logically comes into the argument — I realize rural areas have their own rural interests, but the Presidential election is an all or nothing game. The President is equally President of everyone in the country — so how can anyone say that Wyoming’s 480,000 (potential) votes should count differently than those of 480,000 New Yorkers?

dowingbaApr 23, 2004 at 8:30AM

The only way to get smaller states to agree to join the union was to set up a system where they are equally represented compared to the bigger states. Why would a smaller state want to join if they were going to have no power over their own government?

spygeekApr 23, 2004 at 10:35AM

Actually, we have a bicameral legislature to appease both small states (Senate) and large states (House). You know, the Connecticut and Virginia plans?

Wow, you never know when you get to trot out what you learned in high school history class!

AdamApr 24, 2004 at 10:01AM

Many of you seem to have left your senses of humor in the latrine. Better go look before someone flushes ‘em away forever! Yikes!

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.