Sunday, 24 March 2019

Getting Rid of the Electoral College

Over the past twelve months, this topic has picked up a lot of steam and is regularly discussed via social media and the news networks.  So it's worth going back to the 1760s to discuss why it became so important.

The US population, in this period of 1776, was the size of San Diego county, California of today.  Roughly 2-to-2.2 million residents.  Around 75-percent were white, and a quarter were slaves.

Two of the US states were considered 'dominating' in terms of population (votes).....Virginia with around 600,000 and Pennsylvania with 400,000.  From the remaining 11 states (in the beginning), South Carolina (200,000), North Carolina (350,000), New York (300,000), Maryland (280,000), Massachusetts (340,000), and Connecticut (200,000) were considered 'semi-dominating'.  The rest were all less than 200,000.  In particular, Delaware stood barely at 50,000.

The effect of the roughly 500,000 slaves that existed in 1776?  They had to be counted as part of the Census, but debate led to a number being invented out of thin air (the three-fifth's rule).  This rule hindered Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina in terms of their population domination.  Add to the 'gimmick' that they couldn't vote, but they could represent taxation and Census numbers.

So from the very beginning, there was fair in the smaller states (Delaware, Georgia, and Rhode Island for example) that their vote didn't matter much against the big states of South Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  They also saw population gains likely over the next three or four decades.  Smaller states and the ones further north....weren't going to be the 'gainers'.

The Electoral College was a creation to ensure some method of fairness to lesser populated states.  It didn't matter if you had 100-percent of the votes from Virginia and North Carolina going to George Washington for President.  Once you got to 51-percent, you got the max number of votes (based on your population distribution 'number'), and that was the 'win'.

If you dumped the situation today?  I would offer these observations:

1.  There's no real need to run a state by state primary....spread out over five months.  You might as well run a one-month primary with six to fifteen states each week having a primary.  Two weeks after that, run your convention, and then a hundred days after that....have the national election.  Using this scheme, since we'd be dumping the Electoral College, you might as well flip the date of the inauguration and the election day as well.  Set the election day to early August, and the inauguration 30 days later.

2.  The no Electoral College landscape?  You would basically cross off fifteen states with marginal population or limited urbanization (Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Montana, etc).  I would advertise to some degree, but I wouldn't show up and campaign in any of these.

3.  I would concentrate all my funding and show-up time....mostly in NY City, central California, the entire state of Florida, Dallas/Austin/Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, Philly/Pittsburgh, Boston, Seattle, Tucson/Phoenix, Denver, the entire state of North Carolina, Charleston, and probably Nashville.  Cities like Reno or Mobile, or Dayton?  They wouldn't matter.

4.  You would notice after two of these non-Electoral College elections, that people in rural areas or no-show regions....would begin to lose interest and not show up to vote (not just for President, but for Governor, Congressmen, Senators, or even local city council folks).

5.  In the space of twenty years, you'd come to realize that only around one-quarter of the population are actively involved in voting.  Some Senators would be arriving in DC, who received only fifty-percent of the normal 'win-vote' that occurred during the Electoral College-era.

All of this chatter, if you haven't figured this out....requires a change to the Constitution.  Your two methods?  Two-thirds of both the House and Senate would propose and pass the change.  Or you'd have two-thirds of the states to propose the change.  The likelihood of either happening?  ZERO.  That's the comical side of this.  As much as intellectuals, journalists and Democrats talk about this scenario, they can't reach either method to change the Constitution.  It's just 'chatter'.

Should we modify the system?  I would propose three alternate changes:

1.  Cut loose the state by state voting, and distribute the Electoral College vote to each district.  There are 435 districts across the nation.  This forces the candidates to look upon each district as mattering.

2.  There are 3,142 counties in the US.  Let each have one single Electoral Vote, and force the candidates to view the bigger picture of individual counties.  This would mean that 3,142 Electoral Votes would be necessary.

3.  Rewrite the voting age to 21.  No one has shown any data to say that 18 is a level of maturity.  In fact, we've written enough of the booze suggest that they aren't mature enough to drink.

All of this wasted chatter?  Yes, that's the amusing thing to this discussion.  We aren't about to dump the Electoral College.  Face it.