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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Another Anti-Electoral College Scheme

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Yet another article that misrepresents the United States as a "democracy" offers up a "fix" for the not broken electoral college system. Unlike the (purposely) cumbersome method of amending the Constitution or the (fortunately) slow process of gaining new members for the (probably unconstitutional) "National Popular Vote" interstate compact, the purported selling point for this proposal is that it could be put in place quickly. That is, to (probably) effectively bypass the Electoral College (at least in 2020), changes to the voting systems of only a few purple "battleground states" would be necessary:

2000.jpg
Image via Wikipedia, public domain.
Where should reformers focus? It's hard to say exactly how many states and just which ones would need to adopt this reform before 2020 in order to make a difference in the outcome of the next presidential election. But as a practical matter, the race is likely to come down to only a few battlegrounds. The Cook Political Report [PDF] identifies five "toss-ups": Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If ranked-choice voting were employed in these five states, but nowhere else, the Electoral College winner would be highly likely to be the same candidate who would have prevailed if a ranked-choice national popular vote were held. In fact, it's possible that this could hold true if even a single pivotal state adopted ranked-choice voting -- think Florida in the 2000 election.
I have a generally favorable opinion of ranked choice voting, but not a firm one: I am open to arguments against it. That said, let's assume for the sake of argument that ranked-choice voting is a good idea for more reliably and efficiently registering which candidate should win an election. Circumventing a method purposely designed to give all parts of the nation a choice in the presidential election is absolutely the wrong reason to promote this method.

The piece interestingly describes how the "National Popular Vote" compact could "backfire" -- by handing the Presidency to someone winning only a plurality of the vote. (Unsurprisingly, this is called the "Howard Schultz Problem.") I will add that this proposal would also only offer an ephemeral "workaround" to the Electoral College. Furthermore, if every state adopted ranked-choice voting, this would ultimately leave the Electoral College alone, as I think we should. And it would remain possible to elect a President who loses the (fictitious) "popular vote".

-- CAV

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