Cutting That Baby in Half
Most interesting and strangest twist on the Electoral College:
Colorado's ballot measure (Actually a proposed Constitutional Amendment, #36) to change the allocation system in the Electoral College, will be voted on Nov. 2, the same day as the 2004 Prez election.
But, because the certification of electoral results, and "convening" of the EC, takes place weeks after the election, Amendment 36 would actually affect the outcome of THIS ELECTION. (Although...)
The bottom line is that under the current system, whoever wins Colorado on Nov. 2 gets all the EC votes, because in all the states except two (Maine and Nebraska) there is a "winner take all system." Colorado has 9 votes this year, based on the national reapportionment after the 2000 Census. IF the Amendment passes (and it may), in other words, the winner (right now, looks like Bush) would get 5 EC votes, and the other "loser" would get 4 EC votes.
1. Interesting strategic voting experiment: suppose you favor Bush (recent polls give Bush at least 3%, sometimes 8% or more, lead). Would you vote for the Amendment, knowing that the Amendment's passage would likely hurt Bush? Or would you vote strategically, voting "no" on the Amendment even though you favor a proportional system in principle? On the other hand, suppose you are a Democrat, but oppose the amendment. Given that the overall EC race may be close, would you vote for the Amendment, strategically, hoping that it would cost Bush 4 EC votes? Obviously, taking four EC votes for Bush and giving it to Gore would have made Gore President in 2000, with Gore receiving 270 and Bush 267.
2. I was on a radio show with Colorado's Gov the other night, and he made an excellent point. Even if the proportional system were a good thing, as a national system, Colorado is giving up all its leverage if it (to use Owens' words) "unilaterally disarms."
3. People seem to think that the Maine / Nebraska system (allocate the two Senate seat EC votes at large, and then split the rest of the votes based on who wins within each of the state's geographic Congressional Districts) is a compromise. But this is dead wrong. Our congressional districts are so gerrymandered that less than 10% of districts are competitive. In fact, only about 30 of the 435 districts are really and truly up for grabs. Why would we want a system that locks in the political cartoon drawing that redistricting has become? Maine / Nebraska is an absolute disaster.
4. Since there is no movement toward a national transformation, we are probably best off with the current system. Colorado may fall on its sword, but when other states see that Colorado has simply taken itself out of the game (if #36 passes) then that will be the end of it. No national movement, no big transformation at the state level. I had a long conversation on email with Betsy Newmark, and she convinced me this should just be a nonissue, no matter excited I am (was) in principle about the proportional system.
a story, and another, and another