Keep the Electoral College
As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, the debate over America's electoral process is once again under scrutiny. Our constitution prescribes a rather peculiar method of electing our president and, since its inception, the electoral college has been the subject of criticism. One of the most glaring flaws of this system was laid bare in the 2000 presidential election. Despite winning the popular vote, Al Gore lost the election to George Bush who narrowly won the majority of electoral votes. Another problem with the electoral college is that it pushes candidates to go after a handful of "swing states" - those states with a 50-50 political divide. Meanwhile other states that are solidly partisan in either direction are marginalized as their electoral votes are taken as a forgone conclusion. And then there is the possibility of "faithless electors", or electors that buck the popular will and cast a vote for their candidate. So why would anyone want to keep this antiquated process in place?
There are advantages to this system which, with some modifications, makes it ideal for our system of government. At its core the college creates checks and balances among the states - curbing the power of the largest states while protecting the influence of the smallest states.For instance, California has around 12% of the overall US population but possess around 10% of the electoral votes. Conversely, Wyoming is less than .2% of the population but marshals around .55% of the college. It also ensures that candidates must win in states all across the entire country, rather than relying on regional blocs.
But in order to modernize the college we would need to pass a constitutional amendment to slightly modify the system. First and foremost we need to bind electors to the will of the people and require that electoral votes are allocated based on the popular vote of the state. We would also need to abandon the winner takes all approach in favor of the Maine-Nebraska method of proportional distribution. This would ensure that every state is contestable and eliminate the ability of a few states to dictate the election. Given these reforms the Florida debacle of 2000 could never have been.Continued on the next page