Monday, September 27, 2004

Electoral college

A Colorado ballot initiative has received too little attention this year. The proposal would allow Colorado's electoral votes to be divided proportionately instead of "winner take all." My understanding is that the proposal would take effect immediately if passed.

While it is regrettable that this initiative would hurt the reelection of George Bush, George Bush is not the only one who will suffer. Nor will the damage be temporary.

Colorado's governor rightly points out that Colorado would lose clout in Presidential elections if this measure passes. The rural and suburban areas would no longer be able to offset urban areas for the purpose of awarding all of CO's electoral votes. Candidates of both parties would have less incentive to campaign or pay attention to Colorado. Even worse, the same damage would be done to any state that adopts a similar proposal.

Nebraska and Maine already operate on a modified proportional system (a much ignored fact). Other states will follow suit in the coming years, as Republicans around the country seek to offset the advantage that Democrats will gain from the Colorado initiative. If Republicans are successful in carving up Democrat or Democrat/swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, the rural and suburban portions of those states will lose clout, even though Republicans will enjoy short term benefits nationally.

At the same time, Democrats will ratchet up the war by proposing similar measures in the South.

This feeding frenzy will ultimately reduce the clout of entire regions of the U.S., as the electoral college system will be in jeopardy and the major population centers in the east and in California will dominate elections. Small states whose clout exceeds their population under the current system will lose that clout entirely if the electoral college is scrapped.

States and state lines exist for a reason. This country is not a "pure democracy" for a reason. Erasing those state lines will only push us further on the road to Roman Empire style ruin.

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