Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Chapman sees the light on the Electoral College (Zorn, not so much). And Colorado might improve things.

Steve Chapman in his column in Sunday's Trib comes out against the Electoral College. It's here.

Eric Zorn in this blog here lists both columns and pays Chapman some props for having the audacity to change his mind -- in print! Unfortunately, Eric suggests that he still likes the Electoral College, because. . . well, he doesn't really get into it.

I'll tell you why we should abolish the Electoral College: because it's dumb. It really is.

Any election that takes 35 states -- well over 75% of the country's population -- completely out of the equation is stupid. And that's what the Electoral College does. That's the single biggest reason to abolish it. My vote for President is meaningless, because I live in Illinois.

Just to make the point clear, here are the states where votes for President are completely meaningless, because the people in these states just *happen* to support one major party over the other at a fairly decisive rate (at least 55%), courtesy of www.electoral-vote.com:

District of Columbia (should be a state)
New York
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Dakota

We all have no say in who the next President will be. (And this is a conservative list of 'safe' states). That' s not right. There is no good justification.

I mean, I am planning on taking a road trip to Michigan in order to walk a precinct for Kerry. I have to *road trip* in order to knock on the door of an American who gets an opportunity to vote for President. That is ridiculous.

It's the same reason why the way we run the Senate is dumb. Here in Illinois, 3 million of us might vote for Obama. We'll make up 65% of the vote. But does Obama get more voting power than someone from Rhode Island or Idaho that barely won with 250,000 votes? No. He gets one vote. And that means *we* only get one vote.

So the additional votes for Obama get us. . . nothing. That's not right.

We should use proportional representation, like almost every other modern democracy (you know, the elections we've installed in Afghanistan and Iraq). And I'm not just saying that because it's my part-time day job. (I'm employed by the Center for Voting and Democracy and have started the Midwest Democracy Center).

Anyway, there are good signs out of Colorado. The initiative to allocate the state's 9 Electoral votes proportionally (Amendment 36) has apparently qualified for the November ballot, according to this AP story. I hope it passes.

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