After the 2012 Presidential election – thank every deity it is over – you may recall that only a handful of states were crucial to the decision – Ohio! Florida! Virginia! The Democratic “blue” states – New York, California – were not in play, nor were the Republican “red” states such as Texas. Candidates didn’t campaign in those because of most states’ “winner-take-all” mechanism when it came to the Electoral College. All the electoral votes of a state would go to one candidate. (The upside is that I missed the vast majority of the political ads.)
So the recent Republican plan to change states from winner-takes-all, the way every state, except Maine and Nebraska, does it, to awarding electoral votes by Congressional District, seems to be more fair. And it would be, if Congressional boundary lines were drawn equitably.
But as Arthur@AmeriNZ noted a few weeks ago, “Republicans… worked hard, and spent large amounts of money, to win control of state legislatures in 2010 precisely so that they could write the congressional district maps to ensure Republican victories — they now even admit that was their plan all along. This gerrymandering by Republicans is the reason that they control the US House of Representatives even though they received fewer votes than Democrats did. Now, they want to do the same thing to presidential elections.
“Were it not for gerrymandering, the Republican plan would be closer to a proportional system for electing a president than the current winner-takes-all approach allows for.” That’s why I had originally thought of such a solution, which seemed obvious at the time, years ago. “However,” and I also noted this at the time, “because of gerrymandering, it instead cynically twists that goal to ensure Republicans win the presidency even if they lose the popular vote—something that could very well happen every election under the Republican plan. So, what we’d end up with is something far less democratic than what we have now.” Which is not very democratic at all.
“If the US were to pass a Constitutional Amendment requiring all states to use truly non-partisan commissions to draw the boundaries of Congressional Districts based solely on population—and forbidding them from taking party voting history of areas into account—then it might be possible to make the Republican plan credible.” This, of course, will NEVER happen. In New York, there were lost promises of having nonpartisan boundaries drawn. “However, most state legislatures would never give up their power to draw the maps, and Republicans aren’t about to walk away from the one thing that could ensure their minority party retains power for at least the next decade…
“The best possible solution would be direct popular election of the president — abolish the Electoral College altogether.” That would be true in the abstract. But the sad fact is that in the real world, I don’t know if I want my vote in New York State, in a close national election, compromised by voter suppression in Pennsylvania, incompetence in Florida, or outright fraud in Ohio.
Arthur noted that, in the current system, “small states are overrepresented,” and of course, that is accurate, but also intentional. A state such as Wyoming has one member of the House of Representatives, so three electoral college for the one House seat, plus the two Senate seats. New York has 27 members of the House, so 29 electoral votes. Wyoming has in fact about 3% of the population as New York; changing it to direct vote would, in fact, make the folks THERE less likely to cast a ballot. No small state would pass a Constitutional amendment to make their voters have less impact.
What IS the solution to a fairer voting process? Failing the suggestions put forth, such as fair reapportionment, which simply won’t happen, I have no idea.