Some thoughts on the Electoral College

by Roxeanne De Luca | November 13th, 2012

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Some thoughts on the Electoral College

Judge Pos­ner defends the Elec­toral Col­lege in Slate, cit­ing, inter alia, the broad appeal of swing states, ensur­ing that can­di­dates cam­paign in all regions (not just urban, for exam­ple) and cer­tainty of results. (Hat tip: Volokh.)

Judge Pos­ner neglects to men­tion that states do not have to set up a “win­ner take all” sys­tem for their elec­toral votes: they can fol­low the lead of Maine and Nebraska, which award votes based on Con­gres­sional dis­trict, and the remain­ing two votes going to the win­ner of the pop­u­lar vote in the state.

Such a sys­tem puts the state — or at least part of the state — into play. Obama could have picked up elec­toral col­lege votes along the south­ern bor­der of Texas; Rom­ney could have cam­paigned in MA-​4 and MA-​6. If your state is being neglected dur­ing Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign sea­son, you have no one but your own state to blame.

Note as well that such a sys­tem pre­serves many of the desir­able attrib­utes of the Elec­toral Col­lege, pro­vided that the Con­gres­sional dis­tricts are not ger­ry­man­dered into insan­ity. Such a sys­tem pre­serves the vot­ing strength of rural areas, demands that can­di­dates appeal to dif­fer­ent indus­tries (e.g. fish­ing, in a Con­gres­sional dis­trict along a coast­line), and elim­i­nates the night­mare sce­nario of need­ing to recount the votes entire United States in case of a tie or near-​tie.

Update: DTG I’m a big fan of the Elec­toral col­lege and I don’t have a prob­lem with Roxeanne’s sug­ges­tion but I guar­an­tee you states will be “ger­ry­man­dered into insan­ity” if it makes the dif­fer­ence elec­torally for one party or the other.

Judge Posner defends the Electoral College in Slate, citing, inter alia, the broad appeal of swing states, ensuring that candidates campaign in all regions (not just urban, for example) and certainty of results.  (Hat tip: Volokh.)

Judge Posner neglects to mention that states do not have to set up a “winner take all” system for their electoral votes: they can follow the lead of Maine and Nebraska, which award votes based on Congressional district, and the remaining two votes going to the winner of the popular vote in the state.

Such a system puts the state – or at least part of the state – into play.  Obama could have picked up electoral college votes along the southern border of Texas; Romney could have campaigned in MA-4 and MA-6.  If your state is being neglected during Presidential campaign season, you have no one but your own state to blame.

Note as well that such a system preserves many of the desirable attributes of the Electoral College, provided that the Congressional districts are not gerrymandered into insanity.  Such a system preserves the voting strength of rural areas, demands that candidates appeal to different industries (e.g. fishing, in a Congressional district along a coastline), and eliminates the nightmare scenario of needing to recount the votes entire United States in case of a tie or near-tie.

Update: DTG I’m a big fan of the Electoral college and I don’t have a problem with Roxeanne’s suggestion but I guarantee you states will be “gerrymandered into insanity” if it makes the difference electorally for one party or the other.

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