The Renaissance Man (unixronin) wrote,

Electoral reform, Colorado style

The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Senate has just voted to, effectively, abdicate from Presidential elections.

The Senate voted Monday to award the state's nine electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationally - regardless of whether that person takes the popular vote in Colorado.

The proposal, by Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, is part of a national movement that would essentially scrap the Electoral College without having to change the U.S. Constitution.

The movement is intended to ensure every vote counts, Gordon, D-Denver, said.

That's a funny way of accomplishing it.  This bill, if it takes effect, would completely disenfranchise Colorado voters in Presidential races, unless the national popular vote is so close that Colorado voters can swing it one way or the other.  So far, it has not been passed by Colorado's House, and in any case, would not take effect unless also passed by sufficient states to sum to 270 electoral college votes.  The bill has so far been presented in 45 states.

The biggest problem with this is that it's still first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all.  Sen. Gordon says this measure "makes every vote count".  What he should have said was, "every vote that agrees with the majority of the rest of the US."  Under this bill, if, say, Hillary Clinton ends up running against John McCain in 2008, and McCain has 50.1% of the US popular vote and Hillary Clinton has 99.7% of the Colorado popular vote, Colorado will still award all nine electoral votes to McCain — even if he doesn't actually receive a single vote in Colorado.

You say you want to "make every vote count"?  You say you want to actually represent your voters?  Fine:  Award the state's electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote in the state.  If a candidate gets 22% of the vote, he or she gets 22% of your state's electoral votes.  If you specify that any fractional electoral vote gets rounded down as long as there are electoral votes remaining and rounding down would not reduce a candidate to zero votes, you even pretty much guarantee that at least one third-party candidate will receive at least one electoral vote.  Frankly, given the current virtual two-party lock on the system, that can hardly be a bad thing.

Gordon, however, argued that "what this bill does is make every person's vote ... equal."  He said candidates focus their time and money on four or five key swing states.  Large states that traditionally vote with one party as well as states with few electoral votes are ignored, he said.

"Right now, any Republican in New York might as well not show up.  Any Democrat in Dallas might as well not show up.  And they don't," he said.

Explain to me, Sen. Gordon, exactly how you think this bill is going to change that?  This is just going from bad to worse, because it will make no tangible improvement, but once it passes, the major party leaderships will be able to point to it and say, "But we fixed it!  What more do you want?"

This is just politics as usual in the latter-day American mold:  being "seen to do something" that gets lots of press, but doesn't actually fix the problem.

(Crossposted to neph_politics)

Tags: electoral reform, politics
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