by: Bryan Baumgart - November 9, 2012
The time has come to pursue a split of electoral votes in every state. It's not a hard sell. Americans crave and deserve better representation!!!
The current system of electing our president, "The Electoral College" grants each state one electoral vote for each Congressional Representative (US House of Representatives) and one electoral vote for each representative in the US Senate.
Most states employ a "winner takes all" method (except for Nebraska and Maine) in which they grant ALL of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate that wins the popular vote of their state. This "winner takes all" method is not mandated by the Constitution but is decided by the states. Nebraska and Maine stand as shining examples of better representation as they choose to split their electoral votes, allocating one electoral vote to the candidate that receives the most votes in each congressional district (the remaining two electoral votes are allocated to the state's winner of the popular vote).
A prime motive of the Electoral College was to ensure less populated regions of the country are not ignored and still receive representation.
In reviewing recent elections it is clear that intention has not been met. Every four years the candidates and media focus their attention on a few "battle ground states". The rest of the nation is relegated to staring at our television screens and hoping that Ohio or Florida make the right decision for the rest of us. Partisan volunteers from each state make phone calls to residents in Ohio hoping to sway their votes. Voter fraud strategies are concentrated on those battle ground states making it easier to compromise or even steal and election. The balance of power in the United States now rests in the hands of a select few states. This can't be what our forefathers intended.
How many trips to California, New York or Chicago did Governor Romney make? How many trips to Texas did President Obama make? How many trips to conservative San Diego did Obama make? (likely none). But take a state like Nebraska that splits its Electoral Votes and all of a sudden both candidates show up in the state. President Obama's campaign made several stops in either Omaha (or next door in Council Bluffs) throughout the election cycle.
Moving to a popular vote obviously isn't the solution either. If the popular vote was used to elect our president, only the most populated states would receive representation. The power would be concentrated in those few states while the smaller states would lose representation. Our forefathers didn't trust an uneducated populace to elect a qualified candidate to the office of President. The Electoral College was to serve as a check and balance to prevent manipulation over time by foreign governments or others. It was also to guarantee representation to the smaller and less populated states in the union.
Moving from the Electoral College to a National Popular Vote would not only be dangerous, but virtually impossible. It would require a Constitutional Amendment requiring 38 states to ratify the amendment. The smaller less populated states wouldn't hand over their representation, but that hasn't stopped the threat!
Recently, officials from the larger states have made a push to circumvent the power and representation of the less populated states in their union through a 'National Popular Vote Compact'. The compact between member states pledges the entirety of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. The compact renders the Electoral College Process irrelevant. Through the compact, the required 270 electoral votes required to elect POTUS could be accomplished through as little as 11 states, rather than the 38 required to amend the U.S. Constitution. The compact has already been enacted by eight states and D.C., garnering a total of 132 electoral votes (California, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington). Half way there!!! The National Popular Vote Compact has already received tremendous bi-partisan support from elected representatives and have been largely endorsed by the main stream media. Polls continue to show large support for the National Popular Vote Compact with Americans favoring the National Popular Vote to the Electoral College 2 to 1. How can this be Constitutional? It is simply a plan to circumvent the Constitution.
Voter fraud has become an increasingly relevant threat to the credibility of our election process. Splitting the electoral votes effectively addresses the problem of fraud by making it more difficult to focus strategies at specific areas, and it decreases the damage done through voter fraud as less electoral votes are stolen at one time.
It would be naive to expect leaders of the more populated states to get on board, but fortunately America is still a representative form of government and the true power lies with the people. I propose tackling this issue on a state by state basis through the initiative and referendum process guaranteed to us under the First Amendment. That's right...good ol' fashioned petitions and voter drives. Through educating the voters and pushing a strong GOTV effort. It CAN be done. As a former resident of San Diego California, I know how it feels to live in a state where your vote truly is not represented, but I have also participated in the successful recall of a democratic governor (Gray Davis) in one of the bluest of all states. As I previously stated, Americans crave better representation!!!