Messing with the Electoral College

Plans are afoot on both the left and the right to alter the system of electing presidents without a constitutional amendment. On the left, it is proposed to short circuit the Electoral College by having states pass laws awarding their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote.

Coming in the form of a binding interstate agreement, the plan is activated only after being adopted by states that collectively represent a majority of the Electoral College. At that point, all participating states will award their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The plan is 61 percent of the way to activation, having been passed into law in 10 states and the District of Columbia. States still have time to act in 2015 to effect change by 2016, or at least keep momentum going to win by 2020.

This plan would probably lead to more Democrat victories, especially considering that Democrats control the vote-counting in populous states like California, New York, and Illinois, where cemeteries and illegal aliens can supply many votes.

But another plan would probably lead to GOP victories. Jim Geraghty outlines it in National Review:

Starting in January, Republicans will hold state legislative majorities and the governor’s mansions in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, and Nevada. If some or all of those states passed laws allocating their electoral votes by districts, all of these purple-to-blue states would allocate their electoral votes in a way that would make it extremely likely for Republicans to win at least half of them. And without half the electoral votes in those states, it would nearly impossible for the Democratic nominee to win.

For example, Barack Obama won Ohio twice, and because he won the popular vote in 2012, won all of the state’s 18 electoral votes. Under the district system, if the Republican presidential nominee wins all of the U.S. House districts in Ohio currently held by the GOP, he would get twelve electoral votes and the Democrat would get only six.

In Michigan, Obama won all 16 of the state’s electoral votes; if the Republican 2016 nominee won all the currently GOP-held House districts, he would get nine and the Democrat would get seven.

A correction, from Nick Hay, whom I thank:

...the National Review article...incorrectly states that Iowa will be one of six states that will have its state legislative bodies and governorship controlled by Republicans. Democrats maintained a 26-24 majority in the Iowa Senate after the November 4, 2014 general election.

There is a major downside to both of these plans: states would no longer be prized on their own, leading to less attention to swing states. It’s hard to see why Ohio and Florida would go for these plans.

The Framers of the Constitution knew what they were doing in making the presidential election a matter of winning states, one by one. I’d hate to see either of these plans come into effect, but the latter plan would be better than the former, which empowers vote fraud in populous states to choose our presidents.

Richard Baehr adds:

This is very tricky business. In 2012, Romney won 206 Electoral Votes. Florida is 29, Ohio 18, Virginia 13. GOP needs all of these really to win. And these three states only gets them to 266, assuming they hold North Carolina. Iowa has 4 House seats, so does Nevada, and Wisconsin has 8. If GOP won Florida, Virginia and Ohio, then having this new system in place in Nevada, Iowa and Wisconsin might be what GOP needs if they cannot win these states outright. But it would be a mistake to do this in Ohio or Florida. We need all of these Electoral Votes.  

The GOP could have done this in Pennsylvania in 2012, since they controlled governor’s chair and both houses of legislature, and they won in 13 of 18 House races. That would have given Romney the win had he won Florida, Ohio and Virginia. But the GOP just lost governor’s race, largely over mishandling of the Joe Paterno case.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Plans are afoot on both the left and the right to alter the system of electing presidents without a constitutional amendment. On the left, it is proposed to short circuit the Electoral College by having states pass laws awarding their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote.

Coming in the form of a binding interstate agreement, the plan is activated only after being adopted by states that collectively represent a majority of the Electoral College. At that point, all participating states will award their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The plan is 61 percent of the way to activation, having been passed into law in 10 states and the District of Columbia. States still have time to act in 2015 to effect change by 2016, or at least keep momentum going to win by 2020.

This plan would probably lead to more Democrat victories, especially considering that Democrats control the vote-counting in populous states like California, New York, and Illinois, where cemeteries and illegal aliens can supply many votes.

But another plan would probably lead to GOP victories. Jim Geraghty outlines it in National Review:

Starting in January, Republicans will hold state legislative majorities and the governor’s mansions in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, and Nevada. If some or all of those states passed laws allocating their electoral votes by districts, all of these purple-to-blue states would allocate their electoral votes in a way that would make it extremely likely for Republicans to win at least half of them. And without half the electoral votes in those states, it would nearly impossible for the Democratic nominee to win.

For example, Barack Obama won Ohio twice, and because he won the popular vote in 2012, won all of the state’s 18 electoral votes. Under the district system, if the Republican presidential nominee wins all of the U.S. House districts in Ohio currently held by the GOP, he would get twelve electoral votes and the Democrat would get only six.

In Michigan, Obama won all 16 of the state’s electoral votes; if the Republican 2016 nominee won all the currently GOP-held House districts, he would get nine and the Democrat would get seven.

A correction, from Nick Hay, whom I thank:

...the National Review article...incorrectly states that Iowa will be one of six states that will have its state legislative bodies and governorship controlled by Republicans. Democrats maintained a 26-24 majority in the Iowa Senate after the November 4, 2014 general election.

There is a major downside to both of these plans: states would no longer be prized on their own, leading to less attention to swing states. It’s hard to see why Ohio and Florida would go for these plans.

The Framers of the Constitution knew what they were doing in making the presidential election a matter of winning states, one by one. I’d hate to see either of these plans come into effect, but the latter plan would be better than the former, which empowers vote fraud in populous states to choose our presidents.

Richard Baehr adds:

This is very tricky business. In 2012, Romney won 206 Electoral Votes. Florida is 29, Ohio 18, Virginia 13. GOP needs all of these really to win. And these three states only gets them to 266, assuming they hold North Carolina. Iowa has 4 House seats, so does Nevada, and Wisconsin has 8. If GOP won Florida, Virginia and Ohio, then having this new system in place in Nevada, Iowa and Wisconsin might be what GOP needs if they cannot win these states outright. But it would be a mistake to do this in Ohio or Florida. We need all of these Electoral Votes.  

The GOP could have done this in Pennsylvania in 2012, since they controlled governor’s chair and both houses of legislature, and they won in 13 of 18 House races. That would have given Romney the win had he won Florida, Ohio and Virginia. But the GOP just lost governor’s race, largely over mishandling of the Joe Paterno case.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky