Posted by Adam @ 4:03 pm on April 5th 2007

Popular election by interstate agreement?

David Broder has a piece against the plan of Birch Bayh, and others, to effect election of the president by popular vote by the agreement of a number of states, a plan that wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment. If states with an aggregate number of Electoral College votes that exceed 270 agree to cast their Electoral College votes for the winner of the popular vote, which they are apparently entitled to do because of their constitutional right to decide, themselves, which electors to send to the College, then direct popular election is achieved. Maryland are the first to sign up for it, pending the governor’s signature on the bill.

Broder doesn’t like it. I do, I must say. As it stands, the votes of the residents of many states pretty much don’t count at all; Republicans in New York State and Democrats in Texas are almost completely irrelevant in presidential elections. Yes, it means that candidates will have to campaign nationally, but so be it; it is, after all, a national election. It also evens up the importance of each individual vote; this is not to the advantage of states with small populations (although many of them are sufficiently red or blue that they be be ignored in any case) but they have their most significant representation in the Senate (which works pretty well, I think). It’ll be years in the making if it happens at all, but I like the cut of their jib.

3 Comments »

  1. That’s a pretty nifty bit of political engineering should they pull it off. I hope they do.

    Comment by tessellated — 4/5/2007 @ 5:21 pm

  2. But there are some huge problems that these people are failing to grasp.

    http://groups.google.com/group/rangevoting/web/npv-trainwreck

    Comment by weltschmerz — 4/5/2007 @ 6:21 pm

  3. The fears that one or more states could drop out are real, but on the other hand, they should drop out if they think that it’s not working. It’s just an experiment, after all. If it works to mutual satisfaction for a few elections, the supporters could look at building the case for a Constitutional Amendment or something like that.

    The fears that it will hold up other voting reform (say, to range voting) are a matter of taste; for some people, this NPV business is probably the preferred electoral option (it’s still a simple first-past-the-post plurality system, which some people do seem to like, not least because it’s simple). In any case, I think that if the electoral method is changed, that a barrier is broken and people will be, albeit slowly, prepared to think about electoral reform in general (as they ought to be).

    Comment by Adam — 4/6/2007 @ 7:35 am

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