Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Problem with National Popular Vote

The electoral college is broken, States like Wyoming that have a tiny population still get three electoral votes giving them far more electoral power than they deserve based on their population. Blue Oregon pointed out that we nearly had two consecutive elections in which the winner of the popular vote lost the electoral vote. In response a group called National Popular Vote has begun a campaign to convince States to agree to send their electors to the winner of the popular vote, bypassing the Constitutional Amendment process that would be needed to get rid of the electoral college. They seem to have convinced an Oregon legislator to introduce a bill sending Oregon's electoral votes to the nationwide winner.

This is a bad idea, because it means that Oregonians get less of a voice than anyone else in the Presidential election. By agreeing to send our electors to vote for whoever won the National popular vote, Oregon's concerns will be tossed aside for the concerns of voters in all the other States. If a candidate wants to win Oregon's electoral votes, that candidate needs to be able to convince Oregonians that he's the best candidate, and that he shares Oregon's values and concerns. His policies need to reflect the policies that Oregonians want enacted. By doing this, Oregon would in essence be agreeing to throw away the votes that are cast be Oregonians.

I don't believe that the electoral college is a good idea, but in order to chance it we can't go looking for the easy way out as this does, it undermines the voting rights of the resident's of the State who get nothing in return. If its going to be changed it must be done by Constitutional Amendment. Personally I favor removing Senators from the equation to calculate electoral votes, which would mean that while some States might still be overrepresented, their overrepresentation would be minimized. If only Representatives comprised the electoral votes then Gore would have recieved 227 electoral votes (assuming I counted right) and Bush would have won 213 electoral votes. Al Gore would be the President if Senators (which every State has two of) were not included in the formula for determining electoral votes. Bush gained 19 electoral votes over Gore by winning smaller States than Gore did. This is the hard way, because it requires a Constitutional Amendment, but it is also the right way because unlike the plan being offered for Oregon it doesnt take away one State's voting rights. There are other plans that would be reasonable as well, but any of those plans would also require a Constitutional amendment.

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