Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Founder's Electoral Vision?

In one of the most interesting articles on electoral college reform/ideas I've ever read, Idaho Values Alliance executive director Bryan Fischer proposes an even more traditional approach to the electoral college than we currently use. How so? Instead of people running for President all year, we have 538 separate races for Presidential Elector (2 per state overall and one per Congressional District). Each elector would either run on a platform to endorse a specific candidate or could say, "I don't know who I would vote for yet." It's an interesting proposal and, while I still like the Nebraska-Maine idea of split electors based on Congressional District, it's an interesting idea. Here's a quote --
These candidates for Elector would spend the campaign season – preferably each in their own congressional district, with two at-large Electors (representing each state’s senators) campaigning statewide - telling us why they should be trusted with the enormous responsibility of selecting the next leader of the free world, and then we would choose those Electors who in our view were determined to select someone with the public policy convictions we want in a president.

One candidate for Elector might say, “I can’t tell you at this point who I will vote for, but my pledge to you is that I will vote for the man (generic use) who in my judgment will most effectively work for smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation, a strong national defense, and traditional moral values.”

His opponent might say, “I will vote for the candidate who has the most confidence in government programs to solve social ills, and who will enlarge the role of government intervention in society.” Then the people pick which of the two (or more) electoral candidates they most trust to vote for a president on their behalf.
In practice, it would be a crazy race and, could actually help third party candidates as they could run their own electors as they do Congressional candidates or try to woo the electors after the fact. It would also cut back the Presidential race to six weeks...and be limited to only those 538 people. It's the traditional government model that I appreciate. It's the effect that overturning the 17th Amendment may have -- if the state legislature was appointing your Senators, you'd pay VERY close attention to your state legislative races and much more than the average person pays today. Read the article and think about the idea. It's interesting to say the least.


S said...

Much more promising presidential election reform is the National Popular Vote bill.

It would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

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 comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill is currently endorsed by 1,181 state legislators — 439 sponsors (in 47 states) and an additional 742 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


S said...

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people were merely spectators to the presidential election. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.