The bill, which the Senate approved 29 to 17 yesterday, would award the state’s 10 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide — not statewide. A similar bill was approved yesterday by a House committee and is expected to come before the full chamber today, and O’Malley signaled his backing.
I’ve never understood this idea. Why remove your state from the equation completely? In the “development” of the Constitutional system we’ve undergone in our history, states are, in many ways, becoming mere administrative regions of the national government. Why should they accelerate this process by taking away some of the leverage they have in making sure their interests are voiced? For example, right now, ethanol production is a big issue partly because of Iowa’s farmers. If Iowa were to adopt this system, it would lose its ability to fight for its interests.
Also, moving towards a popular vote system would increase the incentive for voter fraud. Under the Electoral College, if a massive vote fraud occurred in, say, Los Angeles, only California’s results would be directly affected. Under a direct vote system, the entire nation’s results wold be affected.
Further, the notion that states are ignored because of the Electoral College won’t be solved by this system. (One obvious response to Maryland, in particular, is “Stop being so reliably Democrat.”) If candidates are solely looking at voters, rather than states, they’ll go where they can get the most bang for the buck. A Republican is not likely to pick up many votes or change people’s minds in Maryland, so should he campaign there. Similarly for a Democrat in Georgia. A 5% swing of the vote in Maryland won’t make much of a difference in a direct vote system, but under the Electoral Vote system it switch the state’s electoral votes, which would make a large difference. Candidates will focus on swing areas with large population centers to an even greater extent than they already do. This proposal would have the exact opposite effect it’s intended for.
This sums up my feelings pretty well:
Some lawmakers argued yesterday that a popular-vote plan could become unwieldy if the national count is close.
Sen. Michael G. Lenett (D-Montgomery) predicted “mass chaos” if a national recount were necessary. “While the electoral college is not flawless, the alternative might be worse,” he said.
Lenett also said the system proposed could just switch the target for candidates from closely divided states to large cities with many voters — a scenario that would not necessarily empower Maryland.
I can live with the idea of providing electoral votes by Congressional district with the statewide winner getting the remaining two Electoral votes, but I think that similarly disarms states in their ability to promote their own interests, again driving candidates to markets with large populations and geographically smaller congressional districts. The more I look at it, the smart the Electoral College becomes.