Ditch the Electoral College
April 17, 2007 Leave a comment
Honestly, it seems awfully pointless and lame to whine about the electoral college when VT is so much on my mind, but I've been meaning to do so for a while. We just had a speaker on campus yesterday (Rob Richie, director of Fairvote.org) who argued quite compellingly for abolishing the Electoral College. I've long been ardently opposed to the Electoral College. It is hugely anti-democratic (small “d” mind you). I lived in Ohio in 1996 and my vote was desperately sought by both parties. Four years later, I did not even see a single ad for president while living in Texas. Are the votes of Ohioans or Floridians intrinsically more valuable than the votes of Texans, or New Yorkers, or Californians? Of course not, to suggest so is ludicrous, but that is exactly what the electoral college ends up giving us. Richie was quite optimistic about future prospects for the National Popular Vote legislation which bypasses the Constitution to end the electoral college on a state by state basis. EJ Dionne had a column on it last week:
The American way of electing presidents is antiquated, impractical
and dangerous. It is odd indeed that in 2000, a nation devoted to
spreading democracy throughout the world gave power to a man who
received 543,895 fewer votes than his opponent. Under our system,
George W. Bush's disputed 537-vote margin in Florida was deemed more
important than Al Gore's half-million-ballot advantage nationwide.
please, dear Republican friends, don't shout “Get over it!” Think back
to 2004, when Bush defeated John Kerry by 3 million votes nationally.
If just 59,300 people in Ohio had voted for Kerry instead of Bush,
Kerry would have won the electoral college and become president. You
can write the scripts for the Fox News commentaries about Kerry
stealing the White House.
It does not have to be this way. As
someone who lives in Maryland, I am proud that my state may pioneer a
process that could lead to popular election of the president. The state
Senate passed a bill last Wednesday that would commit Maryland's 10
electors to voting for the winner of the nationwide popular vote. The
bill is expected to pass in the House of Delegates this week, and Gov.
Martin O'Malley has said he would sign it.
The law would not take
effect unless states representing a 270-vote electoral college majority
pass similar laws. The idea is to create a compact among states
genuinely committed to popular rule…
Here's hoping Maryland sets off a quiet revolution that brings our
nation's electoral practice into line with our democratic rhetoric.
Individual citizens should have the right to elect their president –
Here's hoping National Popular Vote legislation is coming to a state near you.