Thursday, August 31, 2006

Getting Rid Of The Electoral College

California starts the process:

SACRAMENTO — Lawmakers sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill Wednesday that would make California the first state to jump aboard a national movement to elect the president by popular vote.

Under the legislation, California would grant its electoral votes to the nominee who gets the most votes nationwide — not the most votes in California. Get enough other states to do the same, backers of the bill say, and soon presidential candidates will have to campaign across the nation, not just in a few key "battleground" states such as Ohio and Michigan that can sway the Electoral College vote.

"Frankly, the current system doesn't work," said Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico), the only Republican to vote for the bill. "Presidential candidates don't bother to visit the largest state in the nation…. California is left out."

If Schwarzenegger signs the bill — AB 2948 by Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) — California will be the first state to embrace the "national popular vote" movement, though legislation is pending in five other states: New York, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Louisiana.

The California legislation would not take effect until enough states passed such laws to make up a majority of the Electoral College votes — a minimum of 11 states, depending on population.

The governor's office said Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill.

Many Republicans spoke against the legislation, arguing that it was an "end run" around the U.S. Constitution and would drive presidential candidates to campaign in big cities and ignore rural areas.

"Those who are running for president," said Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), "are going to talk to Los Angeles and San Francisco."

It's an interesting idea. I haven't thought it all the way through yet. What do the rest of you think? Should we get rid of the archaic Electoral College and elect our presidents by national popular vote?

We should get rid of it, but this is not the way to do it.
It sounds a bit like Australia's referendum system where a propose constitution change must be passed by a an overall majority, as well as a majority of States.
It represents a Historically it makes it very difficult to pass a referendum question, which is essentially a yes/no choice.
The same approach could work well in a presidential race where the alternative isn't no, but an actual person.
I note the comment about not campaigning in rural areas. It is a tough question, but anything short of one vote, one value is a gerrymander. The vote should not be skewed to any sectional interest.
pt, I think I agree with you. The only problem is, you'll never get the necessary votes to amend the constitution as long as one party (in this case, the GOP, but it would be true if it were helping Dems too) knows the electoral college is an advantage for them.

cartledge, as a city dweller and a New Yorker I am a little biased, but I am sick of candidates ignoring NYC and NYS every presidential election because they assume the state is blue (hasn't voted red since Reagan in 84, I think.) I don't know what the answer is here, but I do have to say that I'm not much of an electoral college fan. Still, the way caulifornia is going about the change is problematic.

I dunno. I guess I'll just have to think about it for a while longer.
I agree with praguetwin. It's outdated. We should get rid of it, not sidestep it.
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