Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Proportional Voting

I don't think I've ever talked to anyone who thought the Electoral College was a good idea. Personally, I am in favor of a proportional electoral college, where the difference of a few thousand votes wouldn't give a canidiate a huge windfall of votes ... like the 20 currently up for grabs in Ohio. Instead, those 20 votes would be split accordinlgy among the canidates.

Out of curiosity, I took the current results from CNN, plugged them into a spreedsheet and using a very simple formula, determined what the race would look like with a proportional electoral college. Keeping the disputed states (Iowa, New Mexico and Ohio) out of the mix, it is Bush 262, Kerry 244.

What is really interesting about this exercise is just how few "Blue States" and "Red States" there really are. Massachusetts would be 4 Bush/6 Kerry. Texas is 21 Bush/13 Kerry. And the battlle ground states end up being split nearly equally: Pennsylvania 10 Bush/11 Kerry. Wisconsin 5 Bush/5 Kerry.

While I really want to see Kerry win (or, more to the point, see Bush lose), it is more important to me that we see the electoral college change. I think the existing system disenfranchises many voters. So many people feel their vote doesn't matter, especially when their party of choice is isn't the majority party in their state. A proportional system would give their vote more influence in the actual selection of the president.

So, why not move to a popular vote? Wouldn't that give everybody a truly equal voice? Yes, absolutely. But it would also render small states nearly powerless. The 5.4 million residents of thr Boston metro area would have the same influence as the entire state of Indiana (5.5 million). I feel the president represents more than just the individuals of the country, but also the states as independent entities. With a popular vote, the needs of rural states could easily be lost to the needs of large metropolitan areas.

I am not totally opposed to moving to a popular vote, but I think we should try a proportional system first. It gives individuals citizens more power, without sacrificing the power of the states. Also, it would be easier to change 50 state constitutions than the national constitution. A few states already have a proportional system, and, it would be possible to make the same changes to more states before the next presidential election.
blog comments powered by Disqus