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Is our Electoral College fair?

Should all of every state’s electoral votes go to the winner of what is a very close vote?

Or wouldn’t it be fairer and more democratic (with a lowercase “d”) to allow a presidential candidate who wins a congressional district to win one Electoral College vote?

Winner-take-all by congressional district (rather than by state) would have split Virginia’s congressional districts with Obama 7-4 – rather than giving the whole state to Obama.

Ken Blackwell, chairman of the Tea Party Victory Fund, has noted the following:

  • “This would in no way dismantle the Electoral College. This is not a call for direct democracy. It’s totally constitutional. This is federalism at its best. It ends voter fraud, preserves the Electoral College and empowers the states. In fact, Maine and Nebraska already do this.”

  • “You see, state legislatures have been given the power by Article II, Section 1, in the Constitution to award their electors in the manner that they see fit. James Madison said states should award their electors in a way that derive the most benefit for their states.”
  • For America’s first 150 years, states awarded electors in various ways; winner take all for the whole state, winner take all by congressional district, proportionally; sometimes, even the legislatures themselves would just decide who would get their electoral votes.”
  • “It wasn’t until the early 20th century that progressives popularized the ‘winner-take-all’ rule that we have in most states today. In other words, if you win the popular vote in a state, you get all the electors in that state. Conservatives have been paying the price ever since.”
  • “Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin alone would have shifted around 65-70 electoral votes into Romney’s column, depending on how you look at the map. And that doesn’t even account for Florida.”
  • “Let me put it another way: If those states had operated this way, Mitt Romney would have won the election. … What the current system has given us is 10 ‘battleground states’ deciding the election every year. This has led to a federal government empowered to trample on the rights of citizens in non-battleground states without political consequence, while they buy off the voters in the battleground states.”
  • “Imagine how much differently our politicians would behave if the voters in all 50 states could hold them accountable.”
  • “There is huge incentive to steal votes in major cities. ‘Winner take all by congressional district’ would effectively end that. ‘You want to win Philly by a million votes? Great, knock yourself out. But you’re still only getting two congressional districts out of it.’”
  • “It would no longer matter how many votes the Democrats racked up in major cities. Romney won the election everywhere but in the major cities. The fact is, the divide between urban and rural America has never been larger than it is right now. People in rural America have different priorities, hopes and criteria for what they are looking for in a candidate. But urban America is picking the president for them. In Oregon, you can win every [county] of the state, but lose Portland and you still lose the election.”

In striking contrast to this tea-party proposal, a Washington Post editorial, headlined, “Breaking the Electoral College,” noted the following:

“If applied to the last election, President Obama would have taken only four of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, instead of all of them. True, the candidates would have campaigned differently, too. But this system applied nationally would give Republicans a built-in advantage because it would dilute the influence of highly concentrated urban voters, who tend to vote Democratic in large numbers. …

“At the least, an already complex electoral system would get more so. Election results would probably become less reflective of national sentiment. And, as RealClearPolitics’s Sean Trende points out, the country would be in store for recount after recount, since victory margins in close congressional districts would hinge on even fewer votes because of the smaller vote totals.

“All of that would destabilize the already imperfect Electoral College.”

And thus, ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Post supports winner-take-all of each state’s electoral vote – rather than what is a system that would surely provide more rights for all voters in every state’s minority.

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