Posted on June 23, 2008
In William March's article, Larry Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia defends the Electoral College. Although Sabato believes in a necessary reform for the Electoral College, he does not want it eliminated, as Sen. Nelson (D-Fl) proposed last week in Senate Joint Resolution 39.
Sabato argues that the Electoral College has its advantages, such as bringing attention to small states that would otherwise get ignored. As FairVote's Presidential Inequality Report reveals however, in 2004, 11 of the 18 smallest states received no presidential candidate visits, nor TV advertisements during peak campaigning season. The Electoral College does not guarantee that small states get campaign attention as candidates vie for their electoral votes. On the contrary, 12 of the 13 smallest states in the nation (with New Hampshire as the exception) have been non-competitive safe red or safe blue states in the last five elections. As a result, candidates have no reason to campaign there, and these states are ignored during the campaign process. This lack of campaign attention clearly shows that the Electoral College is not working to include small states in the presidential election.
Sabato also claims that the Electoral College eliminates the need for the elusive "nation-wide" recount. Looking at the facts can easily calm the fear that many have for a large recount. If the National Popular Voting Plan is enacted, more people are likely to show up to vote due to the fact that every vote will be equal and needed for a candidate to win. Because more votes will be counted on Election Day, there is the likely possibility that there will be a larger disparity between the winning and losing candidate. FairVote's Research Report "A Survey and Analysis of Statewide Election Recounts. 1980-2006" indicates that if a recount were to occur, the chances of an overturn election are one in every 16,000 years of presidential elections (Note: The report referenced here has been replaced. For updated information on recounts, see the new report: A Survey and Analysis of Statewide Election Recounts, 2000-2009.) Even so, in a race where the popular vote is essentially a tie, why should the recount be contained to a small region when the race is nationally close? The National Popular Vote allows for the whole country to make each vote count equally, and when every vote counts, every vote needs to be counted fairly.
Americans should be looking at a way to include the whole country in the Democratic process of electing a president, not worrying about keeping a system that clearly isn't working.