T Nation

Colorado Electoral-Vote-Splitting Proposal

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?

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2004_08_14.shtml#1092849277

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
http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/elections_pres10.html
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.
http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/elections_pres10.html

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.

I agree that this should be addressed on a national rather than state level. I think it’s a great idea, but it does seem to diminish Colorado’s impact. Maybe if it passes there other states will follow suit and eventually it will become a national issue. I support the electoral college system, but I also think that the “winner take all” approach is outdated and broken.

Wyoming only has 3 electoral votes and is solidly enough Republican that there won’t even be any campaigning here (which is good), but it also means that my vote basically doesn’t count.

I’ve never liked the electoral college system.

My personal feeling is that the electoral college was a compromise that allows the general sense of a state’s voting to carry weight in the election, without having to count each and every vote cast.

Essentially, once the lead candidate has a margin that exceeds the number of votes remaining to be counted, you know exactly where ALL the electoral votes go. At any given point in time, each candidate WILL receive the number of votes that have already been counted, and MAY receive each and every vote remaining to be counted.

As time went on, and we got better at counting votes, we could divide this up into individual districts. This made things much more “fair” in the sense that a state’s electoral votes went were apportioned among the candidates in the closest reasonable approximation of the popular vote.

Today, there is no good reason why we can’t simply calculate the popular vote. We can securely pass financial data around the globe in seconds. We could, if we wanted, calculate the popular vote IN REAL TIME. You could vote, and see the totals change on the board mere seconds after you pulled the lever or pushed the button.

So, in my opinion, the electoral college is obsolete. It solved a problem that no longer exists. The popular vote should determine the winner. Period. Then candidates might actually care about what the people want, instead of what big business and state governments want.

[quote]CDarklock wrote:
So, in my opinion, the electoral college is obsolete. It solved a problem that no longer exists. The popular vote should determine the winner. Period. Then candidates might actually care about what the people want, instead of what big business and state governments want.[/quote]

As with many of your post I agree.

However, you do realize that G.W. would not be the current president if the electoral college didn’t exist?

Not that is matters much. I’m sure Al Gore would have fucked things up as much as Little Bush has…just in his own special way.

[quote]DPH wrote:
However, you do realize that G.W. would not be the current president if the electoral college didn’t exist?
[/quote]

It’s unfortunate that sometimes doing the Right Thing results in me not getting the results I would prefer, but that’s a trade-off we all have to make in our lives. You just have to decide which principle is more important, and I think it’s far more important to have a fair election process than it is to have the President for whom I personally voted.

I also don’t agree that G.W. wouldn’t be the current president without the electoral college. If there were no electoral college, I’m pretty sure the candidates would have used different campaign strategies.