Electoral College vs the Popular Vote
The Electoral College was established in the Constitution by the founding fathers as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
The term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors,” but not to the “electoral college.”
If we wanted to end the Electoral College process it would be necessary to pass a Constitutional amendment to change this system, since it is part of the original design of the U.S. Constitution.
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Any state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators.
Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation.”
The question is what method is best for the United States, the Electoral College, Popular vote or possible proportional representation.
Under the Electoral College process all states have some say in who is elected as our President. The number of electoral votes per state is determined by their population.
If we were to go to the popular vote most Presidential candidates would concentrate their campaigns in the states with the highest population thus leaving out the lower populated states. These states then would have less of an impact on who is elected thus the theory is the states with lower populations would have very little say in who is elected our next president.
The urban areas would have a large say in who is elected so presumably the candidates would promise and possibly deliver the wish lists of these states and urban areas.
Is this what we want as Americans?
Here in Michigan we see that the urban areas have a big say in who is elected not only as President but as Governor, State Treasurer, Attorney General and any other state wide positions. Basically elected positions that are not tied to a district.
We often hear how a candidate will win most districts in a state but end up losing the election because they did not win the districts with the highest amount of the state’s population. Do you want certain districts to have the final say in who is elected President and who is elected in our state wide elected positions?
This brings us to proportional voting. Proportional voting is a method of voting by which political parties are given legislative representation in proportion to their popular vote. Michigan has 16 electoral votes and we are a winner take all state. Which means if the Presidential votes comes down to one candidate winning 50.1% of the vote and the other wins 49.9% of the vote the candidate who won 50.1% of the vote would be awarded all of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. What if our electoral votes were awarded via the popular vote? If you win 60% of the popular vote in Michigan you receive 10 electoral votes and your opponent who received 40% of the popular vote would be awarded 6 of our electoral votes. This seems fair to me.
I think we should sincerely look at proportional voting in all 50 states, which I believe would better reflect what the American people want. It is a mix between the Electoral College and the popular vote. If we were to go to proportional representation more Americans would believe that their vote truly counts.
What are your thoughts?
Update: A caller to my show today suggested that I add a 4th option to elect our President. Her proposal was to add proportional voting via congressional district. Meaning a presidential candidate would have to win the popular vote within each states congressional district to then win the electoral vote that comes with that district. So it is essentially a popular vote via district within each state not the entire state.
Let’s talk about this today on The Live with Renk Show which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. To let me know your thoughts during the show please call (269) 441-9595.