The NY Times hits on a pet peeve of mine, and thus receives a fisking

Abolish the Electoral College
When Republican delegates nominate their presidential candidate this week, they will be doing it in a city where residents who support George Bush have, for all practical purposes, already been disenfranchised.

Well there’s some bleeped up logic. By that rationale, every person that votes for the person that loses the election is disenfranchised. Americans do not vote for president, they vote on how to allocate their states electors for president. To suggest that just because they vote for the losing side in their state they’ve been disenfranchised is simply asinine.

Barring a tsunami of a sweep, heavily Democratic New York will send its electoral votes to John Kerry and both parties have already written New York off as a surefire blue state.

Right… because it is.

The Electoral College makes Republicans in New York, and Democrats in Utah, superfluous. It also makes members of the majority party in those states feel less than crucial.

Awww… do da wittle voters feel bad. 🙁
The same could be said of an election where the issue is whether people should kick puppies. The clear majority is going to be against it but there’s always going to be a couple sick bastards who think it’s a dandy idea. The majority isn’t going to feel important. The crackpots are going to feel “superfluous”. That doesn’t mean you give the crackpots more power just so everyone feels like it’s a close race and their vote matters.

It’s hard to tell New York City children that every vote is equally important – it’s winner take all here, and whether Senator Kerry beats the president by one New York vote or one million, he will still walk away with all 31 of the state’s electoral votes.

Every vote in the state of New York is equally important. No one person in New York has more input into how to allocate those electoral votes than anyone else.

The Electoral College got a brief spate of attention in 2000, when George Bush became president even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. Many people realized then for the first time that we have a system in which the president is chosen not by the voters themselves, but by 538 electors.

In other words, many people didn’t learn squat in Social Studies. That’s ok, lots of people didn’t learn much in Social Studies. For instance, the New York Times Editorial Page seems to have missed the day when they were supposed to learn that the United States is a Republic and not a Democracy.

It’s a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority,

The will of the majority should be thwarted at times. Majorities tend to do stupid things. A few decades ago the courts thwarted the will of the majority in the fight for Civil Rights. Being the will of a majority doesn’t make a decision right, and the founders knew that. They set up Congress so that, while the House gave more representation to the bigger states, the Senate protected the rights of the smaller states by giving every state an equal representation. The Electoral College does the same thing, for the same reasons. California and New York shouldn’t be able to gang up and vote in a guy who’s platform is “Let’s screw the small states!”

distorts presidential campaigning

How exactly does it do this? It makes the candidates go where the people are undecided. I’d ask whether they thought candidates should fight for areas that are already decided, but this is the New York Times, what they really mean is that New York and California don’t get enough attention while those damn little states like Arkansas and New Mexico get all the attention.

and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president.

I really hope they explain that constitutional crisis bit later on, I’m sure it’s a doozy.

The main problem with the Electoral College is that it builds into every election the possibility, which has been a reality three times since the Civil War, that the president will be a candidate who lost the popular vote.

This is bad why? Again, I’ll point out that this is a Republic and not a Democracy. Pure Democracy can lead to very bad things.

This shocks people in other nations who have been taught to look upon the United States as the world’s oldest democracy.

Those poor, misguided other nations. But you can’t blame them, if the New York Times hasn’t figured out the Republic thing, how can we expect Germany to have done it. The worst ideal pushed on newly free states is that majority rule, democracy, is enough to make a stable, workable state.

The Electoral College also heavily favors small states.

Damn right, and for a very good reason. I don’t want to be repeating myself, but there need to be protections against tyranny by the majority. There need to be assurances that the states with 51% of the population can’t kick around the greater number of states with the other 49%.

The fact that every one gets three automatic electors – one for each senator and a House member – means states that by population might be entitled to only one or two electoral votes wind up with three, four or five.

Oh look they did learn something in Social Studies!

The majority does not rule and every vote is not equal – those are reasons enough for scrapping the system.

No they’re not. They’re the very reason that the system was established. This is a noteworthy point they’re making here. They’re not simply arguing that things have changed since the nation was established. This is an argument against the very intent of our Founders. The lack of majority rule and voters in one state having more input in a presidential election wasn’t an oversight by the Founders… IT WAS THEIR INTENT! They intended to protect the smaller states against the possible tyranny of the larger ones. They meant to ensure that majority rule wasn’t the means for electing the president. They intended it to work this way and the New York Times thinks they were wrong.

But there are other consequences as well. This election has been making clear how the Electoral College distorts presidential campaigns. A few swing states take on oversized importance, leading the candidates to focus their attention, money and promises on a small slice of the electorate.

Of course they do, but abolishing the Electoral College isn’t going to eliminate it, it’ll just change it. Instead of focusing on states that are undecided they’ll focus on the areas where they can reach the largest number of people. Getting rid of the Electoral College won’t make the candidates go after everyone, it’ll just make them go wherever there are the most people. Take away the Electoral College and Alaska and Georgia are not going to get any more visits from candidates. Places like Arkansas, Arizona, and New Mexico will be losing attention from the candidates and places with lots of people like California and New York will get a lot more.

We are hearing far more this year about the issue of storing hazardous waste at Yucca Mountain, an important one for Nevada’s 2.2 million residents, than about securing ports against terrorism, a vital concern for 19.2 million New Yorkers.

So instead the issue of Yucca Mountain should disappear? You eliminate the Electoral College and the only issues that matter will be those in the big states. The Electoral College is meant to raise the issues that are important to those 2.2 million residents. It’s meant to make them important. It’s meant to make the candidates think about more than New York and LA.

The political concerns of Cuban-Americans, who are concentrated in the swing state of Florida, are of enormous interest to the candidates. The interests of people from Puerto Rico scarcely come up at all, since they are mainly settled in areas already conceded as Kerry territory. The emphasis on swing states removes the incentive for a large part of the population to follow the campaign, or even to vote.

So instead they’d prefer that the candidates focus only on the areas of high population and ignore those that don’t.

Those are the problems we have already experienced.

They seem to be using the term “problems” very loosely.

The arcane rules governing the Electoral College have the potential to create havoc if things go wrong.

And prevent havoc if it goes right.

Electors are not required to vote for the candidates they are pledged to, and if the vote is close in the Electoral College, a losing candidate might well be able to persuade a small number of electors to switch sides. Because there are an even number of electors – one for every senator and House member of the states, and three for the District of Columbia – the Electoral College vote can end in a tie. There are several plausible situations in which a 269-269 tie could occur this year.


In the case of a tie, the election goes to the House of Representatives,

Oh, look, they did.

where each state delegation gets one vote – one for Wyoming’s 500,000 residents and one for California’s 35.5 million.

Which, *GASP* is exactly what the Founders intended. See above RE: protecting the rights of the minority, Republic vs. Democracy, kicking puppies, etc… In the event of a tie the Founders ensured that the small states wouldn’t be kicked around by the big states.

The Electoral College’s supporters argue that it plays an important role in balancing relations among the states, and protecting the interests of small states.

What kind of crazy person would say that? Oh yeah… me.

A few years ago, this page was moved by these concerns to support the Electoral College.

Ok, so they were right at one point.

But we were wrong.


The small states are already significantly overrepresented in the Senate, which more than looks out for their interests.

And who decides what is an adequate level of looking out for their interests? The small states have their protection in the Legislative branch, why should they be stripped of their protections in the Executive.

And there is no interest higher than making every vote count.

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