Electoral College graphic

NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion's opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

A couple weeks ago I wrote an article on changes I think should be made to the Electoral College to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I got some feedback regarding that article, and I thought I would write about it one more time to clarify a couple points I made.

My entire article was predicated on keeping the Electoral College, but modifying it to make it fairer come election time. I am actually in favor of ridding ourselves of the system entirely. But since there is a strong resistance among Republicans to keep it the way that it is, I figured the best path would be a type of compromise: keeping the archaic system, but changing it so that counter-intuitive and unfair results are less likely. I realize that to accomplish this we would have to pass a few constitutional amendments, because this is not a simple federal and state issue.

The first amendment that would need to be passed would mandate that all states choose their electors through a statewide election, and these electors would be assigned to each presidential candidate in proportion to their vote total. So, in a state like California that has been unattainable for Republicans for nearly three decades, electoral votes would be allocated like such: Clinton would get 34 electoral votes, Trump would get 17, Gary Johnson would get two and Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders would get one each. Clinton would get a nearly proportional allocation of electoral votes to her vote share. The same can be said for Trump, and the other third party candidates.

The second amendment that would need to be passed would alter how presidents are chosen in contingent elections. Currently, when no candidate attains a majority of the electoral college, the House of Representatives chooses the president from the top three vote-getters.

But, it is important to note that each individual representative does not cast a single vote, each state delegation as a whole must agree amongst themselves to cast one vote. So, California’s 53 representatives would have one collective vote, Louisiana’s 6 representatives would have to come to an agreement on one candidate and Wyoming’s single representative would only have to consult herself. This amendment would change this so each representative would cast their own vote, independent of their state delegation, in the event of contingent elections. This would more evenly distribute voting power from small states to the larger states.

The third and final amendment that would need to be passed would change the number of electors each state gets by not counting a state’s senate representation in its electoral vote total. As of now, electoral votes are allocated based upon the total number of representatives and senators a state has; this gives extremely skewed influence to small states since every state is entitled to at least one house member and two senators.

Wyoming, for example, has a population of 578,759 with three electoral votes; this means that each electoral vote represents about 192,920 people. Compared to California with a population of about 40 million and 55 electoral votes, electoral votes each represent 727,272 people, meaning each Wyoming electoral vote is almost four times as powerful as each California vote. This is not in any sense fair nor excusable. By not counting senate representation in electoral vote totals, then Wyoming’s electoral vote would represent 578,759 people, and California’s 53 electoral votes would represent about 754,717 people, meaning Wyoming’s electoral votes would only be about 1.3 times as powerful, a much better figure.

Although I would prefer a system that adhered to the fundamental principle of “one man, one vote,” that is not the system we currently have. It would be easiest to abolish the Electoral College altogether and count every vote as directly electing the president and vice president, but partisan politics of course prevent that from happening. So, this is my solution. It does not involve abolishing the electoral college — and, if adopted, would probably preserve it for years and years to come — and works within the poorly designed system to make elections fairer. It is in no way ideal, but I believe it to be the best given the current situation.

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