I agree with Professor Volokh that this is a bad idea, but then again, I’m a proponent of the Electoral College system – anyone else have any thoughts?
Perhaps even some of the Biotest guys, given that CO is the corporate HQ?
Eugene Volokh, August 18, 2004 at 1:14pm] Possible Trackbacks
Colorado elector-splitting proposal
might swing the outcome of the Presidential election – and might yield yet another controversial post-election lawsuit. Lawprof Peter Shane has a detailed piece on this
here’s an excerpt:
On August 2, 2004, the Colorado Secretary of State approved for inclusion on the November, 2004 state ballot a measure that would revise Colorado's allocation of electoral votes. Under the proposed measure, Colorado would become the first and only state to allocate its electoral votes proportionately among the Presidential candidates. Maine and Nebraska, the only states that currently depart from the winner-take-all unit rule, allocate an elector to the victor in each congressional district, with a bonus of two additional electors going to the plurality winner of the overall state vote. Under the terms of the Colorado initiative, the new rules would, if approved, take effect with the casting of electoral votes in the 2004 election. Championed chiefly by Colorado Democrats, this initiative -- if approved and upheld -- could well be enough to swing the presidential election. Colorado is currently rated in the independent Cook Political Report as "leaning Bush." If the state's nine electoral votes, however, split 5-4 with Bush over Kerry, Bush's Colorado victory might be insufficient to offset Kerry victories in the winner-take-all states. For example, had the initiative been enacted prior to the 2000 Election, Al Gore would presumably now be running for re-election. Of course, there is no way of guaranteeing what the impact of a Colorado change might be. Senator Kerry might actually win Colorado outright, but lose in Oregon -- a current "leans Kerry" state with a 7 electoral vote prize. Under such a scenario, limiting Kerry's Colorado electoral vote edge to a single vote might swing the election to Bush. . . .
Go here for more analysis, including a brief discussion of some of the legal objections that could be raised to this.
Coloradans who are interested in maximizing the power of Colorado, by the way, should certainly vote against the proposal: By making the likely swing in the Colorado vote just 1 elector (5-4 vs. 4-5, which would be the case so long as each candidate gets over 3.5/9=roughly 39% of the vote), it will make candidates pay almost as little attention to Colorado as they do to the states whose outcome is a foregone conclusion. Under the current system, though, if Colorado is at all close, the potential swing would be 9 electors, which is pretty significant.
Of course, Coloradans could also vote from a perspective of maximizing the likely success of their preferred presidential candidate, in which case pro-Kerry voters should vote yes and pro-Bush voters no. Finally, Coloradans could vote from a perspective of what’s the theoretically morally right answer – but I agree with Prof. Shane that even if this is a sensible question to ask on the national level, I doubt that it makes sense on the state level, since whatever one thinks is the theoretically best result, having one state change its views won’t really bring us closer to that result (except insofar as the state can start a cascade among other states, but I doubt that this will happen).
Naturally, all this supposes that voters are thinking “How should I vote assuming my vote will make a difference” – a not uncontroversial position, given that the chances of any particular vote making a difference are vanishingly small, but I don’t want to get into that debate again now.