HOW WE SHOULD REFORM THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The discussion on @Lindi's recent list had me thinking about an idea I've promoted for awhile, that I believe will help the United States Presidential Election be more representative of its people, without the drastic consequences of doing away with the electoral college all together.
  1. The electoral college was put in place to make sure people from the most populous states did not have all the control in Presidential elections. And that's still valid today.
    If the President was decided by a popular vote majority, Candidates who appeal to voters in urban areas would have an outrageous head start. The electoral college helps ensure candidates are qualified to serve citizens across all demographics. It means they have to craft policy and build campaigns that reach all voters, instead of concentrating policy and campaigns in population centers, which often have different policy priorities than rural areas.
  2. There is always discussion about doing away with the Electoral College
    And the reasons above are why I think that's a bad idea. An absolute majority or even a simple majority in the popular vote would make it easy for campaigns to spend all their resources (campaign staff, ads, but most importantly policy proposals) on urban and suburban areas, leaving a huge chunk of Americans out of the conversation. We need the electoral college to help ensure all Americans have a voice. However, in its current state it fails to do that.
  3. Here's how it currently works:
  4. There are 538 Electors in the Electoral College.
    One for each Senator and Representative. So each state gets a set amount of electors based on its members of Congress, which is based on population. The District of Columbia also gets three electors.
  5. To win, a candidate for President needs an absolute majority, or 270 electors.
    This system is referred to as "First Past The Post"
  6. If nobody wins an absolute majority, the House of Representatives chooses the President.
    Each state's delegation gets ONE vote, (so South Dakota's congresswoman gets to vote for South Dakota, while all of California's 53 congresspeople have to decide amongst themselves who their one vote will go to) Two presidents have been elected this way after failing to receive a majority in the electoral college. In this instance, a candidate needs only a simple majority to be elected (meaning more than all other candidates, but not an absolute majority)
  7. In most states, the electoral college works like this: if a candidate wins the popular vote in that State, he or she wins all that State's electors.
    So when Hillary wins California she wins the equivalent elector for each member of Congress that California has. Which is two senators and 53 members of the House of Representatives: Making California a hefty prize at 55 electoral votes (or, nearly 20% of the required 270)
  8. This means that since most states tend to heavily sway one way or the other, there are only a handful of states where a Presidential Election can truly be won or lost, and these are called "Swing States"
    Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are the three biggest. They offer bigger electoral vote counts and a candidate that wins in these states, plus all the States that their party always wins, is gonna be in pretty good shape. (In order from high votes to low) Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire are the other swing states, and the media and campaigns obsess over which ones they need in order to hit 270.
  9. But there are a couple of States that award their electors differently, and I think every state ought to adopt this practice to make sure their citizens voices are heard in Presidential elections.
    If all states used a system like this, you would have the advantage of an electoral college, without the disadvantage of citizens in non-swing states being ignored.
  10. Here's how Maine and Nebraska award their electoral votes:
    The statewide popular vote winner is awarded two electoral votes (or, the votes that represent the States two US Senators). But the winner of the popular vote within each congressional district wins an electoral vote for that district.
  11. It could go like this:
    Nebraska has three congressional districts, if Hillary wins district one, and Trump wins district two and three, Hillary would have one electoral vote and Trump two, and then the statewide winner would receive the other two electoral votes. So if Hillary won by a big enough margin in district one to offset Trump's wins in districts two and three, she could win the statewide total and win three electoral votes to Trump's two.
  12. This system, adopted nationwide, would help ensure that all voters matter
    It would create a political landscape where instead of competing for a small handful of "swing states" and basically ignoring the rest of the country, candidates would need to focus on and travel to districts across the Nation and earn electoral votes one at a time.
  13. Some people I've talked to about this think it wouldn't make much of a difference. But for a lot of voters, it really would.
    I live in Illinois, and for the foreseeable future, my state's electoral votes will go to the Democrat every single time. But, outside Chicagoland, Illinois is pretty solidly Republican, however more than half the state lives in Chicagoland, so my vote feels useless. Had I voted for Mitt Romney in Illinois (I was in school in Iowa and voted there) it would have been completely useless.
  14. Most States congressional districts vary a lot more than their statewide popular votes.
    This graph shows how Illinois congressional districts voted in the 2008 Presidential election. 10 of our 19 congressional districts voted for McCain, while the other 9 voted for Obama. Obama of course won statewide, so he would have received 11 electoral votes to McCain's 10, instead of Obama receiving all 21.
  15. So, think about this expanding nationwide.
    Every state would become competitive and candidates and campaigns would need to spend time courting voters across the country, instead of focusing heavily on those 10-13 swing states.
  16. Here's how big a difference this system would have made in 2012:
  17. Mitt Romney won the majority of votes in 226 congressional districts, and Barack Obama won in 209.
    17 Republicans were elected in districts that Obama carried, and nine democrats were elected in districts that Romney carried. These would be the epitome of a swing-district.
  18. Meanwhile, Obama won the majority in 26 states plus the District of Columbia.
  19. Mitt Romney won the majority in 24 states.
  20. So if we were to tally the 2012 Election in a system where the electoral votes are awarded in the way Maine and Nebraska do it:
  21. Barack Obama carried 209 congressional districts (209 Electoral Votes), 26 states (52 Electoral Votes), and The District of Columbia (3 Electoral Votes) for a grand total of 264 Electoral Votes
  22. Mitt Romney carried 226 congressional districts (226 Electoral Votes) and 24 states (48 Electoral Votes) for a grand total of 274 Electoral Votes
  23. Which of course is a much different result than the results under the current system, where Obama defeated Romney by an Electoral Vote count of 332-206.
    and it reflects the very close popular vote better (though in this instance the overall popular vote winner would not have won the election).
  24. Or let's go back to 2008:
  25. Barack Obama won 237 Congressional Districts (237 Electoral Votes), 28 States (56 Electoral Votes) and the District of Columbia (3 Electoral Votes) for a total of 296 Electoral Votes.
  26. John McCain won 198 Congressional Districts (198 Electoral Votes) and 22 states (44 Electoral Votes) for a total of 242 Electoral Votes.
  27. Again, a huge difference from the total under the current system, where Obama won 365 Electoral Votes to McCain's 173.
    Again, this paints a picture of a landslide win that just wasn't the case in the popular vote.
  28. Or what if we went back to the controversial election of 2000?
  29. George W. Bush won 228 Congressional Districts (228 Electoral Votes) and 30 States (60 Electoral Votes) for a total of 288 Electoral Votes
  30. Al Gore won 208 Congressional Districts (208 Electoral Votes), 20 States (40 Electoral Votes), and The District of Columbia (2 Electoral Votes) or a total of 250 Electoral Votes
  31. Again, a noticeable difference from the actual electoral college total of Bush with 271, Gore with 266
  32. Of course, these are just projections, you have to assume the totals would change as candidates target potential swing districts and votes in those districts change as a result.
  33. But overall, this system allows the voices of all Americans to count a little more. For those outside major population centers to still have a voice in their state's electoral vote totals, for those outside swing states to feel like their voice matters.
  34. One major change would need to accompany this change.
    And that is gerrymandering, for this to work, State Legislature's would need to relinquish the post-census redistricting to independent agencies, so as not to lump their State's minority voters into as few districts as possible. This happens both ways, and needs to end regardless.
  35. The Electoral College isn't as stupid or outdated as people make it out to be, but it does need to be reformed to reflect the society that has grown and changed around it.