The Republicans are on to something. For all of the wrong reasons, of course, but at least they are opening up a debate about the Electoral College.
There is a move afoot to manipulate how electoral votes are cast from states that tend to award their Electoral College votes to the Dems. The Republicans would like to imitate the Maine plan that awards Electoral College by Congressional District instead of awarding all of a state's votes to the highest vote getter.
While we have railed against the winner-take-all approach to elections for years, we don't see much value in the Republican model. Partially, because it is a piecemeal plan being presented for partisan gain, only being pursued in places which would benefit the GOP.
Now, if it were being introduced as a national system that would require all states to award their votes in the same manner, we could seriously consider it as a meaningful reform. Except that the other problem with the plan is in its method of allocating the Electoral College votes. As long as we have the current sick method of drawing Congressional Districts (and state legislative and other districts, for that matter), anything based on those districts is beyond questionable. It is downright unfair.
A better method for proportional representation of state's Electoral College votes would be mathematical. A strict ratio of Electoral College votes to votes cast on Election Day, as many states, including New Mexico, instruct the parties to use when voting at a Presidential Nominating Convention.
To take a real life example, we look at the state of Florida in 2000, the aftermath of which involved Supreme Court intervention, the blame game (how dare Ralph Nader run for President?!?), and unmitigated drama. How much simpler if Florida allocated its 25 Electoral College votes proportionally? 12 for Bush, 12 for Gore, 1 for Nader. No lawsuits, no drama, just a fair representation of the will of the voters.
The other option that bears mentioning is a national popular vote plan, advocated by FairVote and other good government groups. Abolish the Electoral College, count the votes, declare the winner. A much simpler and fairer plan, which, using Ranked Choice Voting, would ensure a winner with majority support even in the typically crowded field of Presidential candidates.
The key to success here is not the piecemeal plan advocated by Republicans for their own gain, but a national strategy that ensures fair representation of the will of the voters, encourages voter (and candidate) participation, and is transparent and easily understood. Yes, the Electoral College and winner take all systems need revision. Determining the best improvements is a national dialog that can result in an improved Democracy.
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