An Electoral College Proposal

An Electoral College Proposal

The Electoral College gives undue weight to small states – the method of apportioning Electors, senators plus House members, results in state Electoral vote shares unequal to their population percentage share.  For instance, California is 12% of the nation but only 10% of the Electoral College; the relationship is flipped for small states as their Electoral College vote share exceeds the percent of the country that lives within their boundaries.

Furthermore, and more importantly, the winner-take-all (WTA) Electoral Vote allocation leads to outcome quite far removed from popular vote realities.  Take 2000: A margin of a few hundred votes (out of nearly 5,000,000 cast) resulted in George W. Bush receiving 25 Electoral Votes and Al Gore zero.  The WTA systems prevents elections from being thrown to the House of Representatives – a noble goal – but in doing so, fails to reflect vote choices by denying Electoral College representation to large factions.

Proportional representation within each state would ensure that Electoral outcomes reflect state wishes.  Federalism would still thrive because the election is not determined by the national popular vote.  Large states would not bully small states as margins would not be 55-0 as they are now in California.  Candidates would campaign across the country to drive out turnout even in states they will lose in order to boost Electors at the margins.  This would create a truly national campaign where no people are forgotten.

Here is my proposal: 1,000 Electors divided between the states in accordance to their population percentage, found by simply multiplying a given state’s population share by 1,000 and rounding to the nearest whole number.  Each state’s Electors are then proportionally allocated to all candidates receiving at least 15 percent of the vote in the state (thus preventing extremist parties from denying a candidate an overall majority, plunging the election into the House of Representatives).  Electoral votes would be divided based on vote share of viable candidates – in other words, should two third parties receive 5 percent of the vote each, viable candidates would earn Electoral Votes based on their share of 90 percent of the vote (100 percent lessed nonviable votes).  Rounding would be to the nearest whole number and vote distribution would match, as closely as possible, a 1:1 ratio.  In the case that conventional rounding results in a distribution greater than the number of Electoral Votes a given state has (ie, candidate A would have 12.8 Electors and candidate B 6.9), rounding up priority will be given to the state victor with the lowest-placing viable candidate rounding down.  Similarly, if the sum of the rounded numbers is lower than the state’s Electoral Votes, then the state’s victor gets the Elector.

Under this plan, the Electoral College distribution would look like this:

electoral college

And the 2016 results like this:

electoral college 2016

Such a setup would create truly national elections with candidates traveling the country to persuade and mobilize voters in all states in order to win Electors at the margin.  Federalism would remain intact while still ensuring that results match the national popular vote.  Close state results would reward both candidate rather than unnecessarily punishing a candidate who loses by hundreds or thousands out of millions.  It creates a fair system where, for the most important election in the country, “one person, one vote” defines the voting system.

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