As we inch closer to the 2008 presidential election we're going to be hearing calls, primarily from Democrats, to eliminate the electoral college. Every politician who has ever or will ever claim to be proponent of eliminating the electoral college is merely posturing and is completely unserious. Most recently, from the link above, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has said the following:

Q: Why do you think we should abolish the Electoral College?

A: "I think our president should be chosen by the majority of the American people. That is ordinarily the case. But in 2000, as we all recall, we elected this president with fewer votes than the other candidate got. I just don't think in the modern era that is appropriate."

Of course, in 2004 that same President went on to get more votes than any other presidential candidate had ever received, which completely undermines the Senator's assertion of what is "appropriate". In any event, as I wrote nearly three years ago, the Constitution will never be amended to remove the electoral college. It's simple mathematics.

The amendment process requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress to make the proposal, and this proposal must then be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures. Since there are currently 50 states in the Union, all it takes is 13 states to bury a proposed amendment.

Under the electoral college system, states with low population have a number of electoral votes disproportionate to their size, and their populations clearly have a significant interest in maintaining this power. Wyoming's 3 electoral votes give the state 0.558% of the total 538, even though its population of 498,703 is only 0.173% of the total population of the country (288,368,698). Wyoming's electoral power (and representation in Congress, incidentally) is more than 3 times higher than it's population should warrent under a purely democratic system. As a result of this math, every state that possesses a number of electoral votes below the median would be harmed by the elimination of the electoral college, and so no such amendment could ever pass.

Half of the 50 states have populations below the median, by definition, and it only takes one-quarter of the states to scuttle an amendment. No state legislature will ever take positive action to reduce it's influence on federal policy, and so the electoral college is here to stay.



Email blogmasterofnoneATgmailDOTcom for text link and key word rates.

Site Info