From the “Electionline” column in Friday’s (8/17/07) USA Today we find that there is a proposed ballot initiative in California that would change the way the state’s electoral votes are divided up during a presidential election.
The current method, a method used in all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), is the “winner-take-all” method, where the candidate with the most votes walks away with all of the state’s electoral votes. The proposed method would award two electoral votes to the winner of the overall popular vote and allocate the other electoral votes to the candidates according to the results in each of the state’s congressional districts.
In general, California Democrats are opposed to changing the allocation of electoral votes from the present system while the Republicans are in favor of the change. Each faction has taken their position based on the fact that there are 20 Congressional districts in the state that normally vote Republican; knowing that, the rational behind the dispute is obvious — electoral votes from 20 congressional districts could swing an election.
This ballot initiative is the brain child of Thomas Hiltachk, a lawyer for the California Republican Party — while he is organizing his forces to collect the 434,000 valid signatures needed to put his initiative before the voters in June of 2008, the Democratic opposition is organizing to raise millions of dollars to put together an advertising campaign that will convince voters that they are better off sticking with the old system. But are they really better off with the current system?
An interesting fact brought to light by a Bloomberg report on this subject (linked below) is that the Democrats, however much they rant and rave about those opportunistic Republicans, have themselves attempted to change the system in other states. In 2006, the Democratic party attempted (unsuccessfully) to do the exact same thing in Colorado (where they saw the opportunity to gain electoral votes) and they are reportedly considering a future attempt in North Carolina where 15 electoral votes are up for grabs. So it appears that both sides in this issue (as in all political issues) are doing their best to manipulate the system to their own advantage — that is expected. But while the parties are maneuvering for position they seem to be forgetting that the object of a presidential election is to, as accurately as possible, determine who “the people” want as their next president. As I see it, the proposed system, a system that would determine the distribution of electoral votes based on Congressional districts, would actually be a truer reflection of the people’s choice.
The Electoral College system was created by our founding Fathers so that small states would have a more equal voice in selecting a president; this proposed California ballot initiative, it would seem to me, reflects that wisdom by giving allowing each small voting block (each Congressional district) a more equal voice in the final outcome of the states presidential choice. Every state should, in fact, be looking at this or at other ways to more accurately reflect their citizen’s real choices in Presidential elections; and if it means butting heads with one or the other political party, then so be it.
Arizona Daily Star: California initiative proposed to divvy up electoral votes
From the Blogosphere:
Political Lunacy: The Good, The Bad and The Uuug-Lee
Democratic Talk Radio Blog: Democrats Target 2008 Calif. Vote Plan