We all know that our system for electing the president is a broken one. Winner-take-all laws for allocating Electoral College votes produce presidential elections in which the candidates only focus on states in which the outcome is not certain. This inequality between swing and safe states has become greater in recent elections. For example, in the post-convention campaign season of the 2012 election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney only held public campaign events in 10 states, and spent 99.6% of their advertising money in those same 10 states between April 11 and Election Day. In addition, our current rules are vulnerable to partisan manipulation.
Each week, FairVote will identify three news stories or commentaries that provide particularly revealing insights into what's wrong with our current Electoral College rules and the best way to reform them. The media has been providing a great deal of coverage to Electoral College reform, focused on proposals to divide electoral votes. Here are our highlights for the past week.
1. Can GOP regain power by 'adjusting' Electoral College?
Sun Sentinal, Florida, Martin Dyckman, February 6, 2013
In this op-ed, journalist Martin Dyckman discuss how the congressional district method of allocating Electoral College votes would not accurately reflect the views of voters. In it, he quotes Florida Senate President Don Gaetz as saying, "I think we should abolish the Electoral College. But nobody in Washington has called to ask for my opinion." Dyckman goes on to say that Gaetz need not wait for Washington to act: he could support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
2. Moving the Goalposts
The Economist, February 9, 2013
This articles gives a brief history of proposed Electoral College reforms, including after 2000, when both Democrats and Republicans were considering switching to the district method. He discusses the renewal of support for this system, although this time only among Republican legislators in states that voted Democratic in presidential elections. The author does mention the National Popular Vote in the middle of the piece, but neither approves of disapproves of the plan.
3. Republican plan to Electoral College not fairest idea
The News-Herald, Michigan, Editorial, February 9, 2013
This editorial in the Michigan newspaper calls for either a proportional method of allocating electors or the National Popular Vote. It refers to the district allocation method as "a bad idea, borne out of desperation amid the recognition that hyper-conservative views, perhaps the Republican Party along with them, are declining in importance."