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July 31, 2006

New York lawmakers seek to undermine Electoral College

This is the sort of thing that makes me proud to be a New Yorker:

With little fanfare, five Republican assemblymen in May proposed a bill that would direct New York's electoral votes in presidential elections to the candidate who wins the plurality of the national vote. The compact would take effect only if the number of states entered into identical agreements represented a majority of the electoral votes. Once the threshold of 270 was met, which could be done with pledges from as few as 11 of the most populous states (or as many as 39 sparsely populated states), the candidate who won the most votes in the nation would be elected president. [NY Sun]

Don't say I never give Republicans any credit.

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Comments

"So the eleven most populous states could simply disenfranchise the voters in the other states."

You mean unlike now, where whatever combination of less populous states can effectively disenfranchise the rest of the states?

There is no way to craft a perfectly fair electoral system in which the outcome permits less than a majority of voters to prevail in a national election. While some options may be less weighted and thus fairer than others, voters in smaller states will always have relatively more influence than those in more populous states.

If you look at the "relative influence" expressed as a factor of population divided by electoral votes, you will see that voters in smaller states have, relatively, much more influence than those of larger states. Just by way of example:

North Dakota: pop. 650,000 has three electoral votes, or 1 vote per 216,000 people (approximately) while California, with 2005 pop. of 36,000,000 has 55 electoral votes, with a ratio of approximately 1 electoral vote per 655,000 people.

In no way shape or form can a consortium of states with equal to or greater than 270 votes be said to disenfranchise the voters of the other states.

While some options may be less weighted and thus fairer than others, voters in smaller states will always have relatively more influence than those in more populous states.

Not if the US effectively abolishes the EC. Under this scheme, the bloc of 270 electoral votes will go not to the winner of the popular vote weighted so that Wyoming has four times the voting power of California, but the plurality winner of the straight popular vote.

You mean unlike now, where whatever combination of less populous states can effectively disenfranchise the rest of the states?

I wasn't saying that the eleven states taking over was, you know, a bad thing.

If you look at the "relative influence" expressed as a factor of population divided by electoral votes, you will see that voters in smaller states have, relatively, much more influence than those of larger states.

Yes, of course.

In no way shape or form can a consortium of states with equal to or greater than 270 votes be said to disenfranchise the voters of the other states.

Well, only in the very limited sense that the votes in the other states would have no effect on the election whatever.

Like I said, any such hypothetical coalition would lead to some counter-moves by the other states: maybe voters in one of the coalition states would be offered free toasters for voting with the counter-coalition, or have their votes count more, or some legal equivalent. Such a system would be different from what we have now, and possibly better. But the voters of Montana would still likely have disproportionate influence, since they would still have disproportionate eletoral votes to bargain with in such a game of coalitions.

The Phantom writes: But it did save us from a Gore Presidency, so there are certain arguments one can make in its defense.

Yes, with Bush installed, our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity was finally over.... Thank God!

Ken C., it's the use of the word disenfranchise that got me going. Of course, the smaller states continue to have more influence. That's my point. Using the word disenfranchised makes it sound like diluting someone else's relative advantage is akin to preventing them from voting at all, which it isn't.

Like I said, any such hypothetical coalition would lead to some counter-moves by the other states: maybe voters in one of the coalition states would be offered free toasters for voting with the counter-coalition, or have their votes count more, or some legal equivalent.

Actually, initially no special advantage is needed. The 11 most populous states have more people than the 41 least populous, because that's how the electoral college works. So once the coalitions of 11 and 40 are formed, each state of the 11 will have a natural interest to defect.

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