My take: proportional representation modification for the Electoral College
Anchor Staff Writer
Last week, I wrote an article in which I explained what the Electoral College is. From how it works, proposed alternatives/modifications and common terminology to arguments heard in discussions about it. In discussions about the Electoral College, one of the proposed alternatives mentioned was modifying it to adopt the proportional system that Maine and Nebraska use, but for every state when allocating their electoral votes. When looking at the possible alternatives, this seems like the one out of all of them that can please people on both sides of the argument of the Electoral College, and how we should elect our President.
I’m in favor of this modification of the Electoral College because it is more possible than going to a straight out popular vote and could please everyone. You usually hear how the Electoral College only gives a few states a say in the country’s presidential elections. That is a fair point given the battleground states like Ohio and Florida that have 18 and 29 electoral votes respectively could vote either way. This gives candidates more incentives to campaign as opposed to a state like California, which is a safe blue state. Adopting the proportional system will give candidates an incentive to use more strategies on where they campaign because the electoral votes would be allocated based on congressional districts. This means a Republican could actually campaign in California and win an electoral vote since there are districts that vote Republican, like CA-23 which is currently represented by House Minority Leader, Congressman Kevin McCarthy.
This modification would also make all voices heard equally. If we went to a straight out popular vote candidates would only campaign in large cities, which makes a lot of voters in the country not as relevant as a voter would be in a city like Los Angeles, with a population alone of about four million. A common argument from proponents of the Electoral College is that the Founding Fathers wanted small and rural regions to have a say in deciding who is the President and that a popular vote would only benefit the Democrats thus creating a one-party rule. People against the Electoral College argue that only Republicans benefit from the system, since the very few Presidents who lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College were all Republicans. Those arguments reinforce the idea that this modification could be the moderate and politically possible solution needed. This modification wouldn’t anger a large chunk of the American Electorate; it also wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment process to change anything.
Another benefit of this idea is how this could actually make the house and senate elections occurring alongside the presidential election more relevant. Think about how voters would feel if they heard a presidential candidate is coming to their district to campaign; with candidates also vying to become a Senator and Congressperson it would make voters realize the importance of those candidates, as opposed to finally caring two years later when their party isn’t in control of the White House. It will make the voters think more about who they are voting for down-ballot too.
One final benefit is how third-party candidates won’t be looked at as spoilers anymore and could end up winning the presidency, thus providing a good alternative for voters who are disgusted with both of the major party’s candidates. For example, in 1992 when Ross Perot ran as an independent against the incumbent, President George H. W. Bush and the Democratic nominee, Bill Clinton, Perot won 19% of the national popular vote. But he didn’t receive a single electoral vote and therefore was looked at as a reason why Bill Clinton won, denying President George H. W. Bush for re-election.
It surprises me that this proposed alternative/modification doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Even Democrats like former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang included this idea in the policy section of his campaign website. Other ideas like the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact are not likely in our current political landscape. This is because they need enough states to pledge their electoral votes to equal the 270 electoral votes who will dedicate themselves to whoever is the popular vote winner. Overall, I see the proportional representation modification proposal as the best alternative that will make every vote count equally and make everyone happy.