We can do better than the Electoral College

I understand the reasons for it, how it gives a voice to smaller states, but let’s face it. It’s a wacky system. Under the electoral college, when we count up the votes, every African-american living in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia basically voted for Trump. That’s how they will be counted. And every economic conservative living in New Hampshire or redneck racist living in Virginia’s vote will count for Hillary. Clearly, this is a foolish way to count votes.

There are 100 “bonus” electoral votes that are currently awarded to the winners of states purely based on their representation in the senate. Wyoming and California each get 2, regardless of population size. This is the small-state balancing we do so that CA and NY don’t control the entire country.

What if we abandoned the winner-take-all system in each state, and went by popular vote, but also awarded bonus votes for each state won by a candidate, in order to keep the small-state balancing in effect. There were about 100 million votes cast in the election, what if we awarded an additional 18 million as state bonuses, divvied up among the states it would be 360,000 votes per state won, and then we add that total to the popular vote to determine the winner.

I think that would be a better system, but I can see some disadvantages. I think it would be a little harder for the common voter to understand WHY things are done that way, and it may seem like more of a rigged system. Instead of burying the state-balancing in the electoral vote numbers, we’re coming right out and saying for this particular count, each state is worth the same.

I know it may be totally impractical to get a change this radical passed, I’m not concerned with that, just wondering if you all think this would be a better system.

TLDR: use popular vote plus a 360,000 vote bonus per state won.

Interestingly, it looks like Trump still wins under this system, at least with what we’ve counted so far:

Trump: 60.37 million votes + 30 states (10.8 million vote bonus) = 71.17 million

Hillary: 61.04 million votes + 20 states (7.2 million vote bonus) = 68.25 million

That small state bonus is powerful. Both in the electoral system and in my suggested variant.

I agree that this is the basic problem with the electoral college in a nutshell.

As I understand, the electoral college was designed (in part, anyway) to avoid a tyranny of the majority. The concern was that with proportional representation the big states would have all the power. And that may have made sense when people’s voting interests were largely determined by their state of residence. I don’t find it hard to believe that, in a time when only white male landowners could vote, Virginian voters largely wanted the same thing as one another, and likewise Rhode Islanders largely wanted the same thing as one another, and you wouldn’t want to have the Rhode Islanders’ views being drowned out by the Virginians.

But that’s not how it is at all any more. A person’s voting interests are much more determined by factors like their race, their gender, their income level, whether they live in an urban or rural area, and so forth. Rural white folks in Washington state have a lot more in common with rural white folks in Virginia than either of those groups have in common with voters in Seattle or in Arlington, VA.

The electoral college as it exists today actually gives somewhat more power to white voters over Black voters (for example) vs. what you’d have if you just went with the popular vote. So it’s protecting against a tyranny of the majority as it might have looked among eligible voters in the late 18th century, while actually strengthening the potential for a tyranny of the majority as it would look in the 21st century.

So while election by popular vote wouldn’t really protect against a tyranny of the majority, I’d certainly take it as an improvement over what we have today.

If we’re worried about black voters in Georgia, let’s just get specific fixing the problem. Go by the census and say Blacks get 13 electoral votes, Hispanics get 17, Asians get 3 and Whites get 67. Make the assignment be proportional not winner take all. Solves all the problems. Oh, guess you gotta toss in some “other” electors.

Your system is not fundamentally different than the current system, you’re just:

  1. Trying to change the weights of the “bonus” vote given to lower-population states
  2. Removing the possibility of faithless-electors by going to a straight vote score.

We can debate all day whether having faithless electors is a good thing or not, and whether having the possibility of faithless electors is even meaningful in a system that doesn’t really utilize faithless electors to any great benefit/change.

But as for #1, you would need to scale the “bonus” vote by voter/total population size or else as the population increased, the power of the “bonus” would diminish. And if you scale the “bonus” to voter/population size, you’re basically just back to the current Electoral College. Yeah, there are no more electors and you’d just be keeping score, but one can argue that the current Electoral College is just a way to keep score in any case. You’d be fiddling with the size of the additional influence given to the small states, but that’s not materially different that just declaring that each state’s “bonus” will be 1 EV, or 1.5 EV (or whatever), instead of 2.

Your proposal isn’t really much different that what we have today; it’s change for the sake of change in my view.

So, while exit polls aren’t super accurate we would get

White 58%×67=39
Black 8%×13=1
Hispanic 29%×17=5
Asian 29%×3=1

White 37%×67=25
Black 88%×13=11
Hispanic 65%×17=11
Asian 65%×3=2

So Clinton wins therefore I’m sure you’ll all agree my system is best.

Actually I’m trying to maintain the weights of the small state bonus, but doing away with the winner take all system of the electoral college.

A better way might be to just award all electoral votes in a proportion matching the state’s vote proportion, except that would introduce huge rounding errors. If you allow decimals in your electoral vote count, that would work great, and it would maintain the small state bonus.

The Electoral College is not perfect, but it is quite brilliant in a number of ways. The wisdom of the arrangement could not be made more clear, as we see mobs of rioters in the streets looking to overthrow the results of the election. The constitution was written specifically to preclude democracy aka mob rule, and we’re seeing in real time around the country exactly why democracy is such a bad idea.

Any defense of the EC (as currently incarnated or tweaked slightly) that relies on “prevents tyranny of the majority” runs into the fact that in any EC-adjacent system you are creating multiple opportunities** for “tyrannical” majorities by awarding the presidential vote this way.

For instance, Republicans in California or Democrats in Texas are both “tyrannized” by majorities under our current system. Their presidential votes - and any local attempts at persuading other voters - are meaningless.

And that goes for small states too. A Republican in Hawaii, or a Democrat in Wyoming, would be in the same boat.

Want your vote to matter? Believe that you can persuade people to share your opinions? Get rid of this anachronism.

Being anti-democratic is definitely a solid reason for opposing reforms to the Electoral College. True colors shown!

Or we could just save a lot of time and money by eliminating the (non)binding referendum known as the presidential election and allow the professional politicians at the state capital decide who the electoral college votes go to. Sort of like how senators were selected in the beginning. I recall reading but cannot remember where that that was the original way of doing it for the president also.

I’ll add some nuance to my posts above by saying that I do think the US’s protections of minority and local opinion at the expense of the majority are an important feature (not bug) of our system. For instance, I like being able to buy a copy of Mein Kampf or Das Kapital at my local bookshop. I like that I have a say on the doings of my local school board/city council/state government.

But the presidency is a national office. And I think it’s ridiculous that I, as a Californian, have something like 1/4 the influence on the Electoral College that I would have as an individual Wyomingan. Or that I, as a blue-stater, could persuade everyone in my medium-sized city to vote for Trump, and the EC outcome would not move one bit.

My local interests are represented by my local, county, and state government representatives. (Each of which levels is subdivided into various checked-and-balanced branches.)

To the extent that small states have different interests from large ones anymore - as opposed to local and regional differences, which are real and represented through federalism as noted above- small states already have the Senate and the constitutional amendment process as checks on domination by the large.

This 250-year-old compromise was already pretty rotten when it was written - like that other check against anti-slavery, the 3/5 compromise. It’s far past time to let it go.

(Frankly, given that several million California Republicans - many of them rural, if that matters as to their deserving a voice - are shut out of having a voice in the Presidency, I could do with a lot less bleating about representing minority or local voices through the EC.)

I’ll take that as a compliment. Here’s the best definition of democracy I’ve found, out of an old Army field manual. Sound familiar? It should.

“A government of the masses. Authority - derived through mass meeting or any form of ‘direct’ expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic - negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.”

I will give you props for providing a citation that summarizes your point of view. That is certainly one way of looking at things!

I’m curious what the date was on that particular field manual.

I hadn’t realized it was Army policy to indoctrinate soldiers with anti-democratic propaganda. Yes, the date would be of interest. (Also the nation of origin: is this a Russian “Army field manual,” perhaps?)

The popular vote isn’t accurate enough to replace the electoral college.

Imagine a candidate winning by 10,003 votes.

You could go into any state and challenge the counts. Drastically shifting the total.

We learned that lesson in Florida 2000. They were fighting tooth and nail in every county. It resulted in a court case fighting over which votes got counted.

Even at the state level it’s a nightmare when a election results in only a couple thousand vote difference. It can take a couple weeks to fully recount and certify the election. Multiply that by 50 and it’s just not practical to rely on popular vote.

This is not a good argument for several reasons:

[li]Recounts happen anyway, under the EC system, so saying we must cling to the EC system because it will prevent recounts is nonsensical.[/li]
[li]Recount delays don’t bring the nation to its metaphorical knees, as we’ve learned from experience. At worst such delays are inconvenient and annoying.[/li]
[li]The benefits derived from citizen knowledge that their vote WILL count, outweigh any inconveniences we might see from potential recounts.[/li]
[li]There is no guarantee that recounts will be necessary on a regular or frequent basis, as you have implied.[/li][/ul]

And - a national presidential election should also involve a nationally (yes, federally) run election system, instead of our current hodgepodge. As long as we’re speculatin’ :wink:

Er… you do realize that to raise this argument as applied specifically to the Electoral College is to advocate that electors from the states won by Trump take a look at him and say “No. Just NO.”, right?