A lot of justified outrage is being expressed about how Priebus and the GOP, in trying to change the way Electoral Votes are apportioned in blue states, is a blatant attempt to steal the Presidency.
What nobody is bothering to address is that this is pretty much what the Electoral College was designed by the Constitution to do in the first place.
Method of choosing electorsSo what the GOP are trying to do is pretty plainly established as Constitutional. If anything, it's a wonder why states haven't been doing this for awhile now.
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
Reasoning below the fold.
Largely, the states have mostly maintained a winner-take-all system. However, this results in a large majority of states being overlooked by Presidential campaigns, especially in many of the most recent elections.
What would happen if states more freely changed the way they apportioned their EVs?
The states with the most EV's would keep the winner-take-all system. With so many EVs, any serious candidate is required to campaign heavily in those states.
The rest of the states would likely wanna switch to a split-EV system that awards votes by congressional district, and the states with the least number of districts benefit the most. These other states can't compete with the larger ones in sheer numbers, but they can make up for that in return on investment. For example, in a 1 CD-state, a party just needs to win 1 CD to win 2-3 electoral votes.
All of a sudden, states that are overlooked in an all winner-take-all system or an all split-EV system have a way to maintain leverage in the Presidential election. States would choose
But such a system is also prone to political manipulation.
For example, when you have a red legislature in a very blue state. Suddenly, the idea of all of their votes going to the blue candidate is not as ideal, so they would want to move the state to a spit-EV system.
But then, how would the blue voters in their state react to that?
In this way, suddenly the Presidency is far more dependent on state politics, and who is in control of any given state legislature.
It may seem very tasteless for political parties or states to behave this way. But implicitly, this is the type of situation the writers of the Constitution enabled. If there's one thing that can be argued, it's that the original writers really went out of their way to make sure the states had some way of intruding on the federal government, and the Electoral College reflects that quite well.
There are many reasons why states would want to have more of a factor in the Presidential election. The Coat-tails, having the President-elect's ear, bragging rights, etc. It's likely that states have kept the winner-take-all system, even the states that are disadvantaged in such a system, mostly out of tradition. But if there's one concept that's more American than anything else, it's that no tradition is as revered as getting the results you want.
So what the Priebus and the GOP machine are trying to do, change how certain states apportion their Electoral Votes, is exactly why the Electoral College was designed the way it was in the first place:
So that states could change their EV system to match their demographics, so the states stay relevant in the Presidential election, and yes, to a certain extent, so that certain political factions within those states could hold the Presidential office hostage. It's dirty politics, to be sure, but when was the last time America didn't have dirty politics?
On the other hand, does it make sense in this day and age for states to have such power over the Presidency that is supposed to represent all 50 states? Keep in mind, the country is much larger than it was when the Constitution was first drafted, and dare I say, far more diverse in backgrounds and ideas. I think the idea that a few states could choose to manipulate a purely political machine like the Electoral College to override the will of the larger country is, to put it mildly, an irrational system to continue in this day and age.
And so, what more proof do we need that the Electoral College, like many other Constitutional components, is an antiquated system that needs to be abolished to better reflect the society we live in now? I do believe the states and the federal government need to be run co-dependently. I just think the Electoral College is a perfect example of the wrong kind of way to achieve this.
Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:20 PM PT: One might wonder how being split-EV instead of winner-take all would benefit a 1 CD state. It made more sense in my head at some point, but not so much anymore. I guess it's safer to say that in any given situation each state would prefer the system that allows them to best influence the Presidency.
6:18 AM PT: Wow, I wake up to find that I've made it on the spotlight. Thanks for all the support, DKos!