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Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Argument For Expanding the Electoral College Down to the State, County, & City Level


People have been arguing in favour of a national popular vote for many decades, but particularly since the Bush versus Gore fiasco in 2000. Not only do I support keeping the Electoral College on the federal level, but I also support instituting Electoral College-type systems on the state and local levels.

This is something I have given considerable thought to. National elections have come down to a select few states(Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia), and it will continue to stay that way even if our system of elections were moved to a national popular vote, as the parties know not only where their bread is buttered, but also by whom it is buttered. The smaller states need to retain their influence if we are to be a free society with leaders chosen by the many, and not an enslaved and polarized society with leaders chosen by the few.

The purpose of the Electoral College is to give small states more say in the Presidential election, as 3 electoral votes out of 538 has a lot more influence than does a state of 125,000 trying to determine the course of a nation of 330,000,000. This was the desire and vision of the founders. Unfortunately, it now seems that the voices of the National Popular Vote movement would have willingly fought against them in the American Revolution. Before we go any further, whose words would you be more inclined to listen to: The Founding Fathers or the voices of a fringe political movement? I thought so.


STATE LEVEL


On the state level, each county is given a certain number of electoral votes based on population. That means, in my state, the counties of Glascock and Taliaferro would have the least number of electoral votes and one of the metro-Atlanta counties(Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett) would have the greatest number. How many total electoral votes would be best determined by the legislature, with input from population and regional experts. On the local level, counties would be divided up into regions and cities divided up into wards and a certain number of electoral votes awarded to certain regions/wards based on population levels.

Now take my state of Georgia. Elections on the state level are beginning to come down to a few key counties in the Atlanta Metropolitan area(Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton). Outside of key metropolitan area counties(Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Colombus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Millegeville, Rome, Savannah), most counties have fairly low populations. The Electoral College system gives a stronger voice to rural, low-population counties, which include the Liberal bastions of Taliaferro County and those mainly rural counties between Colombus and Macon.

There are many ways to do the electoral vote counts per county, but I know one way which won’t work, and that is giving an even sum of votes to every county. For the sake of argument, lets say 5 electors per county, as most counties have 4 elected Commissioners and an elected Chairman, which, as it pertains to this writing, tees off of the notion of 2 Senators and 14 Congressmen accounting for 16 electoral votes, as it does in GA. Given the vast advantage Republicans have with counties, that would stack the deck in their favour, even in places like the West Coast and New York. By that same token, the deck would be irrevocably stacked in the Democrats’ favour in almost all of New England. Experts on county-by-county population growth and non-partisan political strategists should be consulted as to how such a system would be constructed.


COUNTY LEVEL


Using the ATL metro counties of Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, and Henry as an example, we break down the counties into their various regions.

Clayton County:


The Public School district map drawers have the right idea here, but some revisions need to be made to this map in order to gel with my idea of a Clayton County Electoral College.

1. North Clayton--This combines Districts 4, 8, & 9, and includes the cities of Forest Park & Lake City, the unincorporated communities of Conley, Ellenwood, and Rex, and the area around Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. This would have the (very close)second-largest share of electoral votes in the County.

2. Metro Clayton--Combines districts 5, 6, & most of 7, taking in the red area west of State Road 54 and the green area north of Lake Jodeco Road, and includes the cities of Jonesboro and Morrow, as well as the area around Lake Spivey. Given the population, this one would have the largest share of electoral votes in Clayton County.

3. West Clayton--Combines districts 2 & 3, taking in the purple ares south of both Fayetteville Road and Mundy Mill Road, and includes the city of Riverdale. On population(not land-mass) grounds, this one would contain the third-largest share of the electoral votes.

4. South Clayton--All of district 1 plus purple areas south of Lake Jodeco and Poston Roads, and includes parts of Jonesboro, the whole city of Lovejoy, and the unincorporated communities of Bonanza, Hastings, and Irondale. On size, this one SHOULD be at least #3 in EV's, but it is also the least populous & more rural part of the county. While still containing a fair sum of EV's, it would have to be dead last among the 4, but, given the somewhat more rural nature of the Southern-most tier of the county mixed in with the urban areas towards Jonesboro and Lovejoy, this would have more potential to be a swingier set of electoral votes than the other 3(if Democrats lost any of the other 3, they would have some BIG problems).

DeKalb County:


The Public School district mappers have the right idea here in this proposed map(at the time of release, at least), but revisions must be made to this map in order to gel with my idea of a DeKalb County Electoral College.

1. North DeKalb--All of district 1, encompassing the cities of Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody, and North Atlanta. This one would contain the (very close)third-largest share of electoral votes in the County.

2. Metro DeKalb--Encompasses all of district 2, the white section, the northern-most tier of district 3(yellow), and the part of district 4(green) inside Interstate 285, and includes the cities and communities of Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Belvedere Park, Brookhaven, Decatur, North Decatur, Druid Hills, North Druid Hills, East Atlanta, and Scottdale. On population grounds, this one would have the largest share of electoral votes.

3. East DeKalb--Encompasses all of districts 6 & 7, plus the part of district 4 outside Interstate 285, and includes the cities and communities of Clarkston, Glen Haven, Pine Lake, Redan, Stone Mountain, and Tucker. This would have the (very close)second-largest share of electoral votes in the County based on population alone.

4. South DeKalb--Encompasses all of district 5 plus most of district 3, and includes the cities and communities of Belmont, Bouldercrest, Candler-McAfee, Cedar Grove, Constitution, Gresham Park, Klondike, Lithonia, Panthersville, and Snapfinger. This one would, contrary to its size making it one of the bigger electoral regions of the County, have easily the least numerical share of electoral votes.

Fulton County: Central Fulton, encompassing the heart of Atlanta, would have far and away the most electoral votes in a county-wide election. Southern Fulton and Northern Fulton would have to, due to population considerations, be broken into two different vote municipalities. The areas which include the cities of College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto, and Union City would be called “South Metro,” and would itself have a sizable share of electoral votes. The more rural part of South Fulton, which includes the cities of Campbellton and Chattahoochee Hills, would have a lesser share of votes. The areas in Northern Fulton which include the cities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Ocee, Roswell, and Sandy Springs would be called “North Metro,” and would itself contain a sizable number of electoral votes. The more rural part of North Fulton, which includes the cities of Birmingham, Crabapple, Milton, and Mountain Park, would have a lesser share of votes.

Henry County: The county, which I cop to having a more intimate knowledge of than the others(having actually lived there in the somewhat distant past), would be very simply divided four ways in a county-wide Electoral College. Four for each incorporated city in the county(Hampton, Locust Grove, McDonough, & Stockbridge). Stockbridge, being the most populous city, would have the greatest share of electoral votes(sector would include such communities as Dutchtown, a portion of the Clayton County-based community Ellenwood, Flippen, and Kelleytown, as well as the areas around Lake Spivey and Berry Hill Airport), with McDonough, the county seat, following close behind(sector would include such communities such as Blacksville and Ola). Hampton, home of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, takes third in EV shares(sector would also include the area around Tara Field Airport), and Locust Grove, home of the Tanger Outlets Centre, placing a respectable fourth in EV's(sector would also include the community of Luella).


An alternate way of doing a county-wide Electoral College system would be to issue some number of electoral votes to precincts within the county borders, with both early-voting precincts and precincts in the more densely populated areas having the greatest number of electoral votes. That said, this is another discussion for another day.

Speculation regarding the total number of County electors should wait until census-takers, population analysts, and re-apportioners weigh in and come forward with key findings. It would perhaps be ill-advised to base the number of either state, county, or city electoral votes based on the national system of 538 EV's.


CITY LEVEL


A city-wide Electoral College, using Atlanta as an example, would involve the same principles as a county-wide Electoral College. We break the city down into its individual regions and assign electoral votes based on population. The regions of Atlantic Station, Buckhead, Chastain Park, Downtown, Midtown, and Perimeter would have the largest share of electoral votes. Capitol View, Grant Park, Paces, Piedmont Heights, and Poncey-Highland would be in the middle-tier with regards to share of electoral votes. Adamsville, Joyland, Mechanicsville, Pine Hills, Southwestern, and Underwood Hills would receive a lesser share of electoral votes, but would likely still have a fair number given dense population in the Atlanta area.

You could probably also divide the city into its individual precincts, as well, and assign electoral votes that way. Again, a discussion for another day.


Something to consider for your Easter Sunday.

4 comments:

  1. Most Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 39 states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-83% range – in recent or past closely divided battleground states, in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

    In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

    The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former Congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama), Tom Campbell (R–California), and Tom Downey (D–New York), and former Senators Birch Bayh (D–Indiana), David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah).

    Supporters include former Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN), Governor Jim Edgar (R–IL), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA)

    More than 2,110 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the National Popular Vote bill.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 250 electoral votes, including one house in Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Colorado (9). The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote.com

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  2. The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.
    States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to decide how they award their electoral votes for president.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

    ReplyDelete
  3. With National Popular Vote, when every popular vote counts and matters to the candidates equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn’t be about winning a handful of battleground states.

    The political reality is that in terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country.

    Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states (NJ & NC -each with 15 electoral votes).
    Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004.
    8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. Their states’ votes were conceded by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns.

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  4. Small state math means absolutely nothing to presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, or to presidents once in office.

    In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

    In 2012, 24 of the nation’s 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions after Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee on April 11. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined.

    Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections.

    Similarly, the 25 smallest states have been almost equally noncompetitive. They voted Republican or Democratic 12-13 in 2008 and 2012.

    Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group.

    Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions.

    ReplyDelete