General Question

Cruiser's avatar

Should the "Winner Take All" rules in the Electoral College be modified?

Asked by Cruiser (40393points) December 29th, 2016

@JLeslie made a comment today that the election count in her state of Florida was close as it gets yet Trump got all the EC votes. This also happened in most of the swing states.

Would modifying the all or nothing rules in each state be better way of doing things in the EC?

How about lifting the restrictions “faithless voting” in the EC to allow more wiggle room for the Electors to change their allegiance in the event an out of left field Candidate like say a Donald Trump gets elected.

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12 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Modifying the all or nothing rules such that the electoral votes went to each candidate in proportion to the way the voters voted within the state (like NE and ME already do it) would better serve the will of the people by making it closer to a popular vote, but I think we may as well go to a popular vote at that point.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The odds of amending the Constitution are nil. Republicans lost 6 of the past 7 presidential popular votes. They need the electoral college and they have virtual veto power over any amendment.

Any changes would have to be made within states.

Or among some states (see the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact )

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m not for eliminating the EC but keeping it fair may mean going beyond the state level and increasing the resolution to the county level. An entire state should not be carried simply because there is one huge city with the majority of the population or smaller urban areas that get run over by the rest of the state.

Zaku's avatar

I think I understand the reasons for the number of votes per state and the allocation of all of a state’s votes to the winner. It makes sense if you consider it important to add weight to the voice of individual states and smaller and less populous states, in consideration that they are important to the nation and deserve consideration for things other than their number of actual votes.

I think more important things to address are the voting system itself (people need to be able to vote their actual preference amongst multiple candidates, or else it’ll always be mainly a contest between two main-party candidates getting vastly more attention and votes than they deserve), and gerrymandering and eliminating votes that sound like they might be felons (falsely cancelling many minority votes).

zenvelo's avatar

Nebraska and Maine choose electors by Congressional District, with the statewide winner getting the two electrons representing the Senators. I always liked that. But then it would really playing into gerrymandered districts.

I am in favor of the National Popular Cote Compact cited by @Call_Me_Jay.

Cruiser's avatar

Thoughtful answers…thanks all.

CWOTUS's avatar

As @zenvelo and @Mariah correctly note, the distribution/apportionment of a state’s electoral votes is not federally mandated. The way the state chooses to apportion its Electoral College votes is up to … the state. And yes, that is susceptible to potential gerrymandering, as always. That’s not a new issue, but again it’s a state issue unless a case can be made that the state’s political leaders consistently – and unfairly, illegally – favor one party over another and tilt the playing field accordingly. And in that case the federal government has an interest in ensuring a fair electoral and representation process. (But that is also subject to corruption; everything human is always subject to unfair influence.)

I have no idea what @Zaku is speaking about, unless that’s a complaint about the primary system, but that’s in the hands of the parties themselves, I believe, and the state election laws determining whether a primary is “open” (to all voters regardless of party affiliation) or “closed” to registered voters from the party holding the primary election. I see no reason why parties should not be able to close the primary to registered party voters, since it’s that party attempting to select the candidate for that state’s party. In the general election there is no closure; any candidate can be voted for (that is, any “presidential team” candidate; it’s not possible to vote for one person to be president and a completely unrelated person to be vice-president). So I’m confused by the complaint.

But to take issue with one thing that @Mariah stated, apportioning the states’ electoral votes along the popular vote split for the state would not be the same as going to a nationwide popular vote count being the end of things. (For one thing, I think that such a system would tend to bring out more voters overall. Just the same way that candidates know that in the current system there would have been little point in Hillary Clinton campaigning in Oklahoma, Alabama or Wyoming – because she was never going to win those states now – there is little incentive for marginal Republican or Democratic voters in those states to vote, because the state’s tilt is unmistakable, a foregone conclusion. If “all votes matter” in a popular vote count, then more people would probably vote. Typically, for example, I have refrained from voting in Connecticut because it’s been a pure waste of my time to vote against the prevailing current. I’m not at all alone in this reasoning.) But more to the point, it’s still a fact, even if it’s one that some are uncomfortable with, that Wyoming Electoral College votes for President “matter more” than the EC votes from California. That’s not a flaw; it’s a feature. It’s how we say in this small-r republican system that “states matter”.

Finally, to @ARE_you_kidding_me‘s point about county representation, all I can say to the complaint is that “counties” are not necessarily – in fact “not as a rule” – congruent with representative districts, and that’s how the EC votes: by district, not by county. However, it’s easier for people to find themselves on county maps than on ‘representative district’ maps. (Don’t forget how many voters can barely even find their own state on an unlabeled map of the USA.)

rojo's avatar

Yes. All votes and electors should be on a proportional basis and all States should be required to follow the same format.

But, the electors should still have the ability to look at a candidate and say “This is a narcissistic, capitalist baboon who is in it only for his own benefit and will drive the country to ruin and therefore I cannot in good conscience vote for Putins’ Bitch”.

rojo's avatar

One of the most questionable parts of the process is that, as I understand it, the “Two Parties” each choose a slate of electors and who is actually an elector is determined by who is deemed to be the winner. Should not a slate of electors be selected beforehand without preference to party since there are more than two? Should we not be more concerned with the nation rather than the party? How have we managed to allow what amounts to two factions, Democrats and Republicans, of the same party, that of corporate America to write the rules, particularly when those rules make it almost impossible for the emergence of a third party??

Zaku's avatar

@CWOTUS I’m talking about the first-past-the-post single-vote system in races with more than one candidate and two de-facto “only viable” parties. This system has us always voting for the lesser evil from two money-drenched parties. So even if we have a good candidate, the (D) and the® candidate will have a ridiculous advantage. Moreover, it just doesn’t allow us to express our actual preferences, and there’s no practical reason (other than ignorance, inertia, lack of understanding, and difficulty of changing established voting systems) that it shouldn’t.

Say 70% of the people don’t actually approve of either the D or R candidate, and there’s an independent that 60% of people think seems pretty good. They have to choose D, R or I with the media and conventional conversations repeating that a vote for I (if they even mention that is a possibility) is a wasted vote, or even claiming that a vote for I is a vote for or against the D or the R. Well, if the voting system let you vote Approve or Disapprove (or no opinion) for each candidate, or to list the candidates in your order of preference (called Instant Run-Off voting), then the candidate people actually prefer might have a chance, and more independents could have a chance, instead of always voting for the D or R money-backed candidates. You would not be helping one party candidate over another backwards of your D-vs.-R preference, if you could vote for whomever you really liked first, and put your D or R preference just somewhere before the D or R you didn’t prefer.

As it is, we’re practically always going to have a tyrrany of the D and R candidates. If we had instant run-off or another such system, we wouldn’t need to have primaries eliminate secondary candidates, because they could all be listed and we could vote the order in which we actually prefer them, and/or vote actually against the candidates we find unacceptable.

For example, I’d also like to be able to say DISAPPROVE to some candidates, and I think there should be a threshold (50%? 40%) above which if that percentage or more of the voters vote DISAPPROVE for that candidate, they can’t win. I.e., in the 2016 election, both Clinton and Trump might have been ineligible due to negative approval ratings – if they’d both got as many people voting DISAPPROVE as they polled disapproving them in November, neither would have been allowed to be president. That makes a whole lot of sense to me for a supposed democracy. If the vote is allowed to measure how many people actually think each candidate should be president, as opposed to simply the lesser evil race, then I’d hope that would mean something.

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