Monday, April 10, 2006

Circumventing the Electoral College

Tired of watching the presidential election go to candidates who don't get the most popular votes? Or how about watching presidential candidates campaigning only in key "battleground" states while ignoring the rest of the population?

If so, a group called National Popular Vote may be of interest to you.

Rather than try to pass a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College, which would be unlikely to happen, NPV is trying to get states to allocate their EC votes to the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, rather than the candidate who simply wins the most popular votes in that individual state. If NPV is able to get states whose EC votes add up to 270 on board with the plan, it will effectively end the Electoral College.

While some people in small states may complain that circumventing the EC would lessen their stature in elections, the fact is most of the country is already ignored in presidential campaigns.

As Jonathan Chait from The New Republic points out: "Presidential candidates almost never campaign in the mountain West--it was huge news when Bill Clinton made a stop in Montana in 1992. In fact, campaigns ignore most of the country. Candidates spend precious little time in California, Texas, the Deep South or New England (outside of New Hampshire)."

By making presidential elections about the popular vote rather than the EC vote, everyone's vote in every state would count regardless of whether the popular vote in each particular state was close.

The plan was announced in late February and so far five states have introduced legislation to make it happen--Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, California, and Louisiana. No word on whether Wisconsin will join the group, but I'm doubting it's likely since it appears Wisconsin may be one of those exclusive battleground states in 2008.

Neverthelesss, I think the plan is a good one and something Wisconsin should join.

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