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