We can all agree that the Electoral College is broken, but there may be a better way than just ditching it altogether!
As we write this, Hillary Clinton has an over 2 million vote lead in the 2016 US presidential contest. But as you all know, the popular vote has zero impact on who becomes president.
2016 looked to be the year that people started to seriously question the Electoral College’s place in choosing the US president. Between Jill Stein’s ill-conceived recount effort and MoveOn.org online petitions, many are calling for the Electoral College to be replaced with the popular vote. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, others think the Electoral College system is just fine, but some minor tweaks need to be made. Regardless of what side of the argument you fall, everyone looks to agree; we need to fix the Electoral College!
Well, we have an idea! Instead of throwing out the Electoral College system entirely, why not keep some of the best aspects of the system (giving rural districts a bigger say) while coming up with a better way to properly convey the will of the people when it comes to electing a president? We’ve talked about this idea in our 10-Point Expert on how to reform the Electoral College, but it’s worth bringing up again. The system is called split electoral voting.
How It Works
Split electoral voting is easy! When a state divvies up their electoral votes on election night, each state would allocate two electoral votes to the state’s popular vote winner and then divide the remaining electoral votes based on who won their respective Congressional districts in that state. This of course would replace how states currently hand-out electoral votes, which is a winner-take-all method.
Take Maine in 2016 for example, that state had 4 electoral votes and they were divided between Hillary Clinton (3 electoral votes – 2 votes for winning the popular vote and 1 vote for winning a Congressional district) and Donald Trump (winning 1 electoral vote for winning a Congressional district).
Does Anyone Currently Use Split Electoral Voting?
Absolutely! It’s currently used in two states; Maine and Nebraska. Based on the above example of Maine, it looks to be working pretty well!
I Don’t Know… Split Electoral Voting Just Feels like a Giant Compromise?
Exactly! Split electoral voting would be a great compromise of keeping the Electoral College while still reforming it to better mirror US’ current geographical density! One of the biggest reasons people defend the Electoral College has to do with its representation in rural areas. The fear that some people have of electing the US President through direct representation – where whichever candidate gets the most votes becomes president – is that rural areas might not be represented properly. Split electoral voting would keep that aspect of the process honest, while at the same time accurately representing the US’ changing geographic population densities.
So is There a Down Side?
Honestly if you can call it a down side, split electoral voting does decrease the power of swing states and party strongholds (like California for the Democrats and Texas for the Republicans). It’s the main reason why politicians in both the House and Senate would most likely kill the measure since both the Democratic and Republican Parties would be greatly weakened in a presidential contest. After all, why would the Democrats or Republicans change a system that works for them?
Truth of the matter is this, there are very real solutions to solving the problems that the Electoral College puts forward. If people are serious about changing the system for the better, a real conversation about how to change it has to happen first. Here’s to 2017 being the year when we finally do that!
(Photo Credit: Pixabay, Google Images)