Friday, July 28, 2006

Yes on the Electoral College?

This is the best argument I've heard for keeping the electoral college around:
One of the great virtues of the electoral-college system is that it minimizes the problem of fraud: the incentives, the opportunities, and the consequences. In general it is easiest to steal votes where one party is overwhelmingly dominant — but there is no need to steal votes in those states.
Read the whole thing. It's very persuasive.


Scott Hinrichs said...

Our Founders constantly turn out to have done a pretty fine job.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. Commentator Mark Shields said a couple of years ago (to paraphrase), "As we help Afghanistan draft its constitution, I'm not hearing many people say to that country, 'We have a great system for electing our presidents in the United States that you should consider. We call it the "electoral college."'"

Although I see the humor in that observation, I am in favor of the electoral college. I like the idea of getting some credit for the mere act of being a state. I think there is something to be said for being a state, and it merits a couple of votes that residents of states would not otherwise have. It's the same reasoning for having the Senate, which gives small states the same voice as large states. I have no problem with that Senate reasoning carrying over to presidential elections. I realize that's not the main reason for which the electoral college was created in the first place, but it is a good reason for keeping it around today.

I don't have a strong opinion on how states should divide up their electoral votes, but I do want to point out that that is a separate question. People often erroneously equate "electoral college" with "winner takes all." Although that is how most states do it, it does not need to be that way, and in fact, most people's objections ostensibly to the electoral college really seem to be directed toward the "winner takes all" approach. Being a Republican in Maryland, a heavily Democrat state, I wouldn't mind if Maryland adopted an approach in which they divide their electoral votes proportionately according to how many votes are cast each way. That way, I could go to the ballot box knowing that there is a remote possibility that my vote will make a difference. As it is, however, Maryland's electoral college votes will go the same way whether Republicans vote or not.

Bradley Ross said...

I quite agree with you on the benefits of allocating our electoral college votes proportionately. I'm also a proponent of preference voting as well, where you are allowed to vote for as many candidates as you wish, in order of your preference. As electronic voting machines become common, this sort of voting will be easier to accomplish. This subject probably deserves another post of its own in the near future.