Thursday, September 21, 2006

Veto It

The Roundup links to LAT columnist George Skelton on the electoral college reform bill:

George Skelton would like the governor to sign the electoral college bill. "He has 10 days to sign or veto the bill by Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) that would mark the first step in rendering moot the anachronistic Electoral College. The goal is to assure that the candidate most Americans vote for is elected president."

"No more battleground states or spectator states. Every state would be in play. Every vote would count."
Really? How do you figure that? Because I have to figure that a candidate weighing limited resources against available ears and eyes is going to concentrate her efforts in high-density areas. Do I like that Circus New Hampshireus determines which pony my party backs? No, of course not. Do I want only major cities deciding? Good lord, no thanks on that either. If there's some middle ground, great. Otherwise, ditching the electoral college won't stop the highly professionalized and unnatural form of candidate selection. It will just allow journos to stay in better cities during primary season.

Just say no to the Eastern Politico-Journo Establishment. And tell Schwarzenegger to say no to this bill.


neotokyotimes said...

He will sign this bill. It only helps republicans.

apalled in SoCal said...

It really only brings on chaos. Use 2004 as an example: imagine Kerry wins 60,000 more votes in Ohio, giving him the win and the expected win in the Electoral College.

But Bush won the national popular vote. So this law says that the California Secretary of State is directed to ignore the vote of Californians and certify as the winner the slate of electoral college delegates pledged to George Bush.

Would a Democratic Secretary of State do that (or a Republican, if the scenario were reversed)? If they did, it would certainly be the end of their political future in their party. More likely, they would go to court to "ask for direction" (along with 20-30 other groups all racing into the courtroom).

Obviously, it would end up a battle among lawyers and judges, with all kinds of federal vs state jurisdictional twists.

This is the "guaranteed chaos" bill, and it would make the 30+ days in Florida in 2000 look like a constitutional cakewalk.

If a national popular vote is wanted, it requires an amendment to the constitution. End-arounds like this only give us chaos, not solutions.

cd said...

I think the measure could be characterized as something other than "end-around" since the states do retain the right to appoint electors however they might, correct?

But more to the point - I agree with you. This is bad and helps no one at all. Even in the short term, as "apalled" explains.

jvgordon said...

Also interesting is that the measure's backers are precisely wrong about how it affects the value of people's votes. In fact, it makes every vote count (much) less.

Political scientists commonly use the likelihood that an individual vote is the deciding vote in an election to determine the relative value of a vote. Thus, a vote in a 12 person jury is considerably more valuable than a vote in a small town of 12,000 voters, or in a medium sized state of 1.2 million voters. The value of a vote is roughly 1,000 less at each of the above steps (assuming I'm remembering how the math works for this measurement)

So, if an individual voter in a state can potentially decide the Presidential election by tipping their state one way or the other, the power of their vote is a product of the chance their state could shift the EC vote and the chance their vote decides their state. That number should always be less than the chance their vote decides the popular vote over the whole U.S.

Thus, getting rid of the Electoral College, in addition to all its bad effects mentioned by CD and elsewhere, also reduces the invidividual power of voters.