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Moshe Callen
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Let's leave the first oompa-loompa elected to federal office out of this.

As most RSP regulars know, although I'm Israeli, I was raised and educated in the US. So I've been hearing about the supposed evils of the electoral College since Carter was in office. I will grant that it goes against the principle of "one person, one vote" but in a modern democracy we temper that principle in order to protect the rights of the minority. That is the role of the EC.

How would states like Alaska, Wyoming, or even Delaware have any say at the federal level if all votes from anywhere in the US were placed in a common pool with the winner of the popular vote winning? If those states were effectively disenfranchised, why then should they stay in the Union?

The EC is not a perfect compromise but it is what the US has. So the question to those opposed to the EC is: How would you ensure that less populous states retain a say in what happens to them without the EC?

EDIT:
This assumes representation in the sense that the president must answer to their interests as well.
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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ImaSokpupet wrote:
We don't restrict freedom of movement. If the people in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Austin, etc. want to move to the small states they can.
Relevance ot the price of tea in China and all that…
 
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Wendell
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whac3 wrote:


The EC is not a perfect compromise but it is what the US has. So the question to those opposed to the EC is: How would you ensure that less populous states retain a say in what happens to them without the EC?

EDIT:
This assumes representation in the sense that the president must answer to their interests as well.


The question could of course be reversed - how do those who support the EC justify reducing the say of more populous states?

Anyway, I reject the very idea that "states" should have a say, or at least that "states" should be prioritized in having a say. PEOPLE should have a say. People in all of the states (which aren't going anywhere anytime soon AFAICT) will still have at least two senators and one congressperson in Washington. They will still have governors and state governments, which are fully capable of talking to the president and congress. They will still have businesses in those states that will have influence through lobbying and the usual channels (some savory, some less so).
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Moshe Callen
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What about the people in those states? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where they are consistently outvoted?
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Tom Patterson
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I actually think there's a couple things wrong with the Electoral College.

First, if a candidate wins the state 100,001 to 100,000 votes, then they get all of the electors. The winner-take-all nature of the EC maybe throws more weight behind the vote of their electors, but it is my no means directly inductive of the true feelings of the state.

More importantly, I think eliminating it actually broadens presidential campaigns. In 2016 both campaigns visited and put the majority of their money into Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the other big-prize swing states. The rest of the country was essentially ignored as the GOP and the DNC have some states on lock. Eliminating the EC means a raw total of votes is needed which means just getting out the vote everywhere you can. It puts states where you think you can bump your total from 40% to 45% much more in play.

I'd also say that just because a state like Wyoming is smaller doesn't mean that they have no voice at the federal level. They have a representative and two senators.
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Drew
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North Dakota
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It's not true of all states. Maine and Nebraska divide up their electoral votes.

If California wants to do that, too, I'm all for it.
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Mac Mcleod
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As I said elsewhere if we raise the number of Congressional representatives and allow proportional voting of EC voters it will fix the popular vote issue and small states will still have an advantage in the Senate. Nothing goes to the president without passing in the Senate.

Small population states have undue power in the House of Representatives and in presidential elections due to changes made in the 1911 Appropriations Act. That Act was passed long before the population in the middle of the country hollowed out.

By stopping block voting we would make every state matter to both parties. And with more electors we would see Elector votes cast for third parties.

There may be better fixes but they would require a constitutional amendment or Constitutional Convention.
 
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Christopher Bird
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whac3 wrote:
What about the people in those states? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where they are consistently outvoted?


Because most small states can't function independently at the level they currently provide service to their citizens - certainly not with the debt load they would carry.

Like, if any state secedes peacefully from the Union - which won't happen but bear with me - it's a fair assumption, first off, that they would have to take their per-capita share of the USA's federal debt with them as part of any peaceful secession agreement. Like, let's pick... West Virginia. Small state, right? Five electoral votes, approximately .6% of the total American population, so rightfully it should be assigned responsibility for .6% of America's federal debt - about $118 billion. And before anybody says "well dammit West Virginia didn't agree with all of those programs and debt spending" let's all remember that West Virginia is a net taker from the federal government - for every dollar it pays in via federal income taxes it gets back about $2.10. So the Independent Republic of West Virginia is already starting off with a pretty crippling debt load, and it's doing so without having the world's default currency backing it up or the perceived ability to eventually pay off said debt, because West Virginia doesn't make enough money to do so.

But let's say that Uncle Sam is being particularly forgiving and says "West Virginia, you go you, we'll assume all your debt for you." Okay. So what does West Virginia do for an economy then? Nearly twenty percent of the state is on disability benefits. The coal market has collapsed, not because of any "war on coal" but because nobody fucking wants coal any more. They can't frack their way to prosperity either.

And this is where the problem comes in for not just West Virginia but most small states: small countries the world over generally have trouble being economically competitive. Like, you can be a tiny country like the Cayman Islands or Monaco and get by on tourism and being a tax haven, but if you're any bigger than that you're going to run into major problems - if you don't specialize in a particular industry, larger countries will outcompete you based simply on their superior economies of scale, and if you do try to specialize in a particular industry your economy can be badly hurt by swings in the demand for that commodity or service (like what happened to Mauritius in the 1990s when the entire country was basically one big sugar plantation and spikes and dips in the price of sugar sent the entire country on an economic rollercoaster).

Because small countries have a tougher time competing, they therefore generally have two choices - either accept a higher-than-average GDP-to-public spending ratio (and thus the danger of increased public debt), or deliver less public services.

Anyway, West Virginia is only one example. Most of the same issues would apply to most of the small states. Larger countries simply deliver public services more efficiently, most small states are already net takers with respect to taxes paid versus services received, and those few that aren't would essentially become resource extraction economies, which is a recipe for short-term plenty and long-term impoverishment.
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Tom Patterson
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Brooklyn
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Drew1365 wrote:
It's not true of all states. Maine and Nebraska divide up their electoral votes.

If California wants to do that, too, I'm all for it.


I understand you're being glib, but I think the way Maine and Nebraska break them up is actually worse. It's technically possible to win the popular vote in those states and end up losing the majority of the electoral votes as they do it by congressional district.

A direct popular vote broadens the campaign and makes it national where right now I think it's pockets of regional stumping.
 
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Kelsey Rinella
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Rochester
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Suppose the President is elected by popular vote. The total residents of a low-population state have a smaller chance of changing the outcome than the total residents of a high-population state. I'm not sure why they should care more about this than about their individual voting power, but say they do. That would mean that they have a smaller chance as a state of swinging an election than a high-population state, but it would also mean that, if they did swing the election, the effect would be magnified. CA gets to push around a group eight times its size; Wyoming would have a chance of pushing around a group dramatically larger by comparison.

But there are practical reasons, as MGK says. One of the benefits of membership in a country is freedom of movement within it. Right now, Alaskans can easily travel anywhere in the whole U.S., and can gather tourists from that same area. If they left, their tourism would drop precipitously and their large seasonal populations would face substantial obstacles. Consider that Puerto Rico gets pretty screwed by their political deal and yet they prefer to remain in the U.S.
 
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Mike Stiles
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whac3 wrote:
Let's leave the first oompa-loompa elected to federal office out of this.

As most RSP regulars know, although I'm Israeli, I was raised and educated in the US. So I've been hearing about the supposed evils of the electoral College since Carter was in office. I will grant that it goes against the principle of "one person, one vote" but in a modern democracy we temper that principle in order to protect the rights of the minority. That is the role of the EC.

How would states like Alaska, Wyoming, or even Delaware have any say at the federal level if all votes from anywhere in the US were placed in a common pool with the winner of the popular vote winning? If those states were effectively disenfranchised, why then should they stay in the Union?

The EC is not a perfect compromise but it is what the US has. So the question to those opposed to the EC is: How would you ensure that less populous states retain a say in what happens to them without the EC?

EDIT:
This assumes representation in the sense that the president must answer to their interests as well.


As a block they have less say, but as individuals they might need to be more firmly courted;

in the EC version, there's very little reason to approach voters in Idaho or Alaska or Connecticut (or CA for that matter). The demographics of those states have the electoral votes locked up, so there's no value in courting those people. This is what leads to the 'swing states' advertising campaigns and the weird idea we get of "Wow, Clinton's spending money in GA, is it actually in play?"

~~~

In a direct-vote situation, a gain in votes is a gain in votes. The undecided voter in Utah is suddenly worth pursuing, because their votes actually have a chance of counting for something.

This is even more extreme in CA. Republicans have very little reason to campaign on a national level in CA, and in a real way, a California Republicsn's vote doesn't count (Ask Ironcates how this feels).

~~~

Summary: By adding value to every vote removing the EC would give the parties reason to campaign everywhere and (maybe more importantly) could have a moderating effect on the parties when they don't have the Solid South or NY/CA as a free guaranteeed block of votes.

Removing the EC INCREASES the value of a WY or AK voter. The only people it really hurts are the 'swings' who right now control the election and devalue the votes of the rest of the country.
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Mike Stiles
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Even shorter version:

The EC helps States but hurts individuals in terms of influence.

I'll always side with the individuals.
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Chengkai Yang
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1/3rd of the population is like in CA, NY, TX, and i forget the 4th state. It was either FL or somewhere around Chicago +/- 500 miles. The EC favors smaller pop states like AZ and and Iowa but stifles an individual vote in CA, NY, and TX.

What would really assist in this mess would be breaking up a 2 party system and reworking the political hats so that bi-partisan cooperation was required for more stuff, viability of smaller factions (even if it does make it harder to get a quorum), and some rules on districts. Something like must follow roads, minimum width or whatev to prevent gerrymandering and the like. There's no way to prevent the majority from exerting more influence than the minority but we should have mechanisms to ensure that the minority still has a voice.

Even more than any of that though I feel we need to rework public education. The ability for people to calmly argue and discuss things in society as a whole seems to have sharply declined in recent years. It's straight to hear no evil, see no evil, reducto ad hitler, and no compromise.
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Jeff Staff
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I hear they are building a giant Bubble over Brooklyn. 1 bedroom apartments are going for 1.9 Million dollars...
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Chengkai Yang
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Diabolik771 wrote:
I hear they are building a giant Bubble over Brooklyn. 1 bedroom apartments are going for 1.9 Million dollars...



That skit was pretty on point.
 
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Les Marshall
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whac3 wrote:
What about the people in those states? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where they are consistently outvoted?


First off, we're only talking about a vote for the nationwide office of President who is nominally in place to represent all the PEOPLE of the US. Those small states still retain a presence in the US Senate which is well beyond proportional representation and the Senate confirms appointments including to the Supreme Court. Proportional representation in the House seems to be okay so why not the Presidency?

Why would you assume they are being "consistently" outvoted? Is there something about individual states that their citizenry is fixated eternally on certain policies which never change. We've had many stats move from Republican dominated to Democratic and the reverse while others appear to have moved into truly battleground status. In fact, with the EC, there are many states where candidates spend little or no money or time because they are presumed "sewed up". Absent the EC maybe candidates would spread their efforts more and considerate the issues and priorities of more than swing states.

What you argue should be as true for counties and municipalities. We have an ongoing struggle between urban and rural centers in many states. Why don't those people break away from their states just as you suggest certain states would be impelled to break away from the Union. Even if such small entities were virtually unanimous in their views and were constantly outvoted for the presidency, this ignores the fact that there are a multiplicity of benefits and drawbacks to particular presidents. Defense spending, energy policies, tax policies, trade deals, environmental policies and many other factors all come into play with each election cycle and even the small states BOTH benefits and costs. Why should those states get a greater per capita say at the Senate AND the Executive?
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Mac Mcleod
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Rulesjd wrote:
whac3 wrote:
What about the people in those states? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where they are consistently outvoted?


First off, we're only talking about a vote for the nationwide office of President who is nominally in place to represent all the PEOPLE of the US. Those small states still retain a presence in the US Senate which is well beyond proportional representation and the Senate confirms appointments including to the Supreme Court. Proportional representation in the House seems to be okay so why not the Presidency?

Why would you assume they are being "consistently" outvoted? Is there something about individual states that their citizenry is fixated eternally on certain policies which never change. We've had many stats move from Republican dominated to Democratic and the reverse while others appear to have moved into truly battleground status. In fact, with the EC, there are many states where candidates spend little or no money or time because they are presumed "sewed up". Absent the EC maybe candidates would spread their efforts more and considerate the issues and priorities of more than swing states.

What you argue should be as true for counties and municipalities. We have an ongoing struggle between urban and rural centers in many states. Why don't those people break away from their states just as you suggest certain states would be impelled to break away from the Union. Even if such small entities were virtually unanimous in their views and were constantly outvoted for the presidency, this ignores the fact that there are a multiplicity of benefits and drawbacks to particular presidents. Defense spending, energy policies, tax policies, trade deals, environmental policies and many other factors all come into play with each election cycle and even the small states BOTH benefits and costs. Why should those states get a greater per capita say at the Senate AND the Executive?


Not really. We are also talking about the house of representatives. Which also favors low population states.
 
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Corey Hopkins
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whac3 wrote:
So the question to those opposed to the EC is: How would you ensure that less populous states retain a say in what happens to them without the EC?[/b]


Is the Senate still a thing that exists? If so, my answer is The Senate.
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Wendell
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whac3 wrote:
What about the people in those states? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where they are consistently outvoted?


What about people in more populous states? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where their votes are consistently discounted?

And for that matter, what about people in urban areas? Why is it in their interest to stay in a Union where the voting power of rural dwellers are exaggerated?

It works both ways.

I come down in favor of individuals, not "states".
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Kelsey Rinella
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chopkins828 wrote:
whac3 wrote:
So the question to those opposed to the EC is: How would you ensure that less populous states retain a say in what happens to them without the EC?[/b]


Is the Senate still a thing that exists? If so, my answer is The Senate.


The OP edited in a specific requirement that the president answer to their interests. If you want to suggest that they might because Senate representation is adequate for them, or just ask him to justify that requirement, that could be interesting to see reasons presented.
 
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whac3 wrote:
How would states like Alaska, Wyoming, or even Delaware have any say at the federal level if all votes from anywhere in the US were placed in a common pool with the winner of the popular vote winning? If those states were effectively disenfranchised, why then should they stay in the Union?

I agree with a lot of the analysis above. The swing states draw totally disproportionate attention in the election. The states you mention, being safe states, are already effectively disenfranchised.
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