The proposal to divide California’s electoral votes has served to remind citizens of the continued dysfunctional role played by the electoral college — which should be eliminated by constitutional amendment. The idea of passing state laws to divide votes between candidates is at least an improvement — moving away from the winner take all approach. In California, it is clearly be advanced for partisan reasons to help the next Republican nominee. However, despite the motivation, it is a worthy goal. For the California debate, click here
While the college is often defended as guaranteeing attention to small states, the opposite is true. Candidates have little incentive to go to deep blue or deep red states if they have little chance of receiving the electoral votes. However, in a direct election, a democratic candidate would have ample reason to go to Utah or Kansas or Montana to capture hundreds of thousands of democratic votes and encourage their turnout. If leaders really want people to vote, they need to guarantee that their votes count and that their effort has some practical meaning. It is time to get rid of this archaic institution and, if a constitutional amendment is not in the works, then a state-by-state campaign is not a bad alternative. The obvious issue is whether leading candidates will support a uniform approach — rather than just try to modify close states like California while protecting their own states.