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Electoral College Math

"Gov. Scott Walker is open to having Wisconsin allocate its electoral votes based on results from each congressional district..." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 23, 2012, page 1B.

The US Constitution  provides that the electoral votes for president and vice-president  cast by each state  equal the  number of representatives and senators from that state (1), but does not  require that all electors vote for the same candidate.  In fact,  in the early years of our republic the electors made up their own minds, and so  the electors of one  state would be expected to vote for various candidates.  Today,  two states  (Nebraska and Maine) allocate their electoral votes by congressional district, with two additional votes for the candidate that carries the state.  Should Wisconsin  join them?

 Wisconsin has backed the Democratic  nominee in every presidential election since 1988.  Meanwhile the Republicans have won five of seven  elections for Governor (including the 2012 recall), one election for US Senator, and now dominate both houses of the legislature and hold  five of the eight congressional seats.  In  2012, President Obama won the statewide vote  and three congressional districts, while ex-Gov. Mitt  Romney won five districts.  Had  Wisconsin allocated its electoral vote  in the manner of  Nebraska, each candidate would have received five votes, instead of all ten going to Obama under the winner-take-all system.  Under the district plan Obama's share of the electoral vote (50%) would have been much closer to his share of the popular vote (53%)  than the 100% of the electoral vote he garnered under the present system. (Wisconsin Democrats  do better in presidential elections than in state elections because  more voters who vote only when president is on the ballot  vote Democratic.)  For the past 24 years the Republicans  would have benefited from  the congressional-district allocation in Wisconsin, but Democrats would have benefited in Republican states like Kansas and  Texas.

The trouble with the congressional-district   allocation is that  the district lines are drawn by the majority in the state legislature to benefit their party,  and the Republicans are on top right now in Wisconsin.  That is part of the reason that  this year Wisconsin elected a Democratic US Senator and five (out of eight)   Republican congressmen.  This means  that  gerrymandering of congressional districts would also affect  the choice of  the president if electoral votes were allocated by congressional district.

A more fair reform would be to apportion the electoral vote of each state  according to the percentage of the vote received by each candidate, rounded to the nearest whole number of electors.  (If a state had an odd number of congressmen  and  the presidential votes were  nearly equal between two candidates, the candidate who carried the state would get  one more electoral vote.)  Under this system, not in use anywhere today, the electoral vote would  more nearly approximate  the percentages for each candidate in the national popular vote, but gerrymandering of congressional districts would not affect the outcome.

Gerald S Glazer

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(1) US Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Par. 2. 

 

 

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solitarius | Dec. 24, 2012 at 12:14 p.m. (report)

And the reason why no state has adopted Mr Glazer's excellent idea is that they ALL gerrymander, both Democrats and Republicans. In fact the first thing any party does once it gets into power is to gerrymander. The Republicans have to gerrymander now to offset the prior gerrymander by the Democrats.

All states should adopt Mr. Glazer's excellent idea.

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