Larry Bradley’s Ezine #370 How Can We Make the Electoral College Better for Voters?

Weekly Ezine Number 370

What Other Reforms Do We Need?
How Can We Make the Electoral College Better for Voters?

Notice: The thoughts offered in this Ezine are not intended to either support or oppose any individual candidate for the 2016 election. The thoughts are, instead, (as always) intended to demonstrate the inadequacy of our current election processes and offer solutions to make those processes better.

What Other Reforms Do We Need?

We saw something else this week we need to change about our elections. Two lawsuits have been filed in Missouri to disqualify two candidates for the State legislature who were nominated by the August Primary. The lawsuits in and of themselves are not the issue. The lawsuits challenge whether the candidates do actually reside in and are registered to vote in the districts they are seeking to represent. We think the criteria should be met or the candidates disqualified.

The issue we have with the lawsuits is that if the candidates are disqualified, then it appears State law does not have a means for a Political Party to nominate a replacement candidate. Disqualifying the candidate means there will not be an opponent for voters to choose from in the General Election. That flaw needs to be fixed. Here is a link about the lawsuits.

How Can We Make the Electoral College Better for Voters?

Today (as advertised from a while ago) we’re going to use Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” publication to show you how our Electoral College reform proposal would be fairer and more effective for voters than the system we’re using now. Please be advised–this Ezine will be longer than others in order to completely cover the topic. We will not, however, publish an Ezine over the Labor Day weekend.

Larry Sabato is a very well-known Political Science Professor at the University of Virginia. He is a go-to expert for journalists who want an explanation of what is happening politically. His “Crystal Ball” publication is a synthesis of polling results showing likely election outcomes.

Here is a link to one of his latest editions.

Map 2 at that link shows his Electoral College Ratings. We point this out because this is a handy reference for how many Electors each State is authorized. Sababto shows the results under the Election current rules. We note that fact for two reasons. First, the current rules are of interest to us because we think those rules should be changed. Sabato’s data helps us point out the need for those changes. Second, we can only work with what we have, but we will portray what might happen this year if our rules were in effect.

Under the current rules, in 48 out of the 50 States, the Presidential candidate who has the largest plurality of the popular vote in the State gets 100% of the State’s Electors. Presidential candidates are not required to get a majority of the vote to get the State’s Electors.

In the other two states (Maine and Nebraska), the Electors are split. There is one Elector for each Congressional District. The other two Electors represent the Electors authorized by the State’s two U.S. Senators. Winning Electors in the Congressional Districts and the two State Wide Electors still do not require a majority of the vote to be awarded. The Electors are awarded based on having the largest plurality of the popular vote. Note that on Sabato’s map that two Electors are in play because of this system. More competition is good.

What we want to do is have each State change how the Electors are awarded. First of all, we would use Ranked Choice Voting to determine the top two Popular Vote getters among the Presidential candidates. What that would mean to you as a voter is you would get to rank your top three choices for President. That could mean that you could mark a vote for one or two or three candidates whose name is printed on the Ballot and you could write in up to three candidates. While write-ins are possible, they would also be highly impractical and unlikely to succeed. Our method means no longer will you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

At this point, our proposal is that the Electors be allocated to the two top vote getters according to the percentage of the popular vote they received. So, if a State has ten Electors and Candidate A gets 60% of the vote, then Candidate A would get 6 Electors. Candidate B, with 40% of the vote, would get 4 of the Electors. Obviously, rounding rules would be required because the voting results are highly unlikely to be as neat as this example.

So, let’s see how our proposal would work using data at the link. We’re going to use Blue State California and Red State Texas as examples. From our example, you can easily see how to apply the methodology to any other State that interests you.

Returning to the link, scroll down and you will find Table Two. Table Two is the percentage of the vote in each State that has gone Democratic from the years 2000 to 2012. Obviously, if a State (as California did on average) voted so that 58.8% voted Democratic, then 41.2% voted something else, primarily Republican. Similarly, if Texans voted on average for Democrats 41% of the time, then they voted for (primarily) Republicans 59% of the time.

If our rules were in place, then, the likely Elector distribution would be as follows. California would send 32 Electors for the Democratic Candidate and 23 Electors for the Republican Candidate. Under the old rules, 55 Electors would go for the Democratic Candidate.

Similarly, Texas would send 16 Electors for the Democratic Candidate and 22 Electors for the Republican Candidate. Under the old rules, 38 Electors would go for the Republican Candidate.

So, what we would have, in effect, would be an Elector hostage exchange. Republican voters from California would be represented in the final Electoral College tallying, as would Democratic voters from Texas.

What’s more, look at the final total. Under the old rules, the total count between the two States would be Democrats 55 and Republicans 38. With our method, the total count would be Democrats 48 and Republicans 45.

This increased competitiveness will completely change the dynamics for Blue voters in Red States and vice versa. The attitude of “What’s the use?” under the current rules will change. The new attitude will be, “We may not get the majority of Electors in our State, but we may win the one Elector who makes a difference at the end when all the Electors are totaled.”

Our system does away with a plurality of the electorate being able to dominate the other segments of a given State’s electorate. In addition, voters will be able to vote for their first choice Presidential candidate without fear that doing so will enable the candidate they oppose the most to win.

The resulting leveled playing field and revised attitude is likely to bring increased voter turnout and better acceptance of the Election process and its results.

There is one other dynamic we mentioned earlier we want to discuss now. The polling results in Sabato’s Crystal Ball are driven by the rules as they are. Those rules make voters reluctant to vote for third parties such as the Libertarian or Green Party. They also have kept candidates like Ron Paul, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders from mounting a campaign outside their normal Party. These rules would change things for voters and, therefore, for candidates. Candidates would be free to attempt to run as Independent Candidates.

Similarly, voters would be free to vote for Independent candidates without fear of penalty. (As we pointed out, however, in our Ezine #367, Political Parties and their candidates are better for achieving results. ) If voters choose an alternative candidate, but fail to have the numbers needed to achieve a majority, then their votes can be redirected to their second or third choice.

This, in our opinion, has three very positive impacts. First, we sort out the top two candidates and the final tally in the Electoral College is substantially more likely to represent the will of the majority. That will is not distorted as they are today with the current rules with their plurality winner take all results.

Second, this process very clearly demonstrates what the electoral majority wants versus what they don’t want. The winner is very clearly going to be able to say the majority voted for their policy proposals and not for their opponents’ policies. This will be a powerful argument in the aftermath of the election as policy is debated and implemented.

Woe be to those candidates who are elected based on policy proposals they make who abandon those policies once elected.

Third, this methodology will require candidates to focus on policy differences rather than personal attacks. Campaigning will be much more positive as a result.

Our challenge to you is this. When you hear discussions of the Election, turn the conversation away from the discussion of candidates and who to vote for. Turn the discussion towards how our voting system is restricting voters’ choices and how our changes could make things better. Forward people this Ezine. Encourage them to subscribe for themselves. Suggest they check out their candidates for their State government. More on that shortly.

If you don’t, then the next Election will be as screwed up as this one. Don’t let the next Election be like this one.

Have a great holiday weekend.

See you next time.


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One comment on “Larry Bradley’s Ezine #370 How Can We Make the Electoral College Better for Voters?
  1. Michael Morrison says:

    Very good. More choices will help, immensely.
    But we also need a much better informed electorate.
    And we desperately need governments limited in what they do. And how they’re funded.
    Term limits is also vital.
    And we need to eliminate the obscene pensions and other perks and bennies politicians reap merely for conning a majority of voters.
    Thank you for your ideas and thank you for letting me comment.

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