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Wisconsin Must Lead

Ballot Access News: On July 26, the North Carolina House passed SB 353 on second reading by a vote of 62-47. It provides that each U.S. House district will choose its own presidential elector.

Many states across the nation are implementing various electoral reforms. They have mostly been attempts to correct a fluke of history. The National Popular Vote as well as North Carolina allowing  congressional districts to choose their own elector fit into this category. In the entire 20th century there was not a single case of a President winning the electoral college but not the popular vote. It seems pretty silly to waste all this energy on reform to correct something that may not happen again in 100 or 200, or even 500 years.

Its ironic that what the electoral college is being attacked for is exactly the ill it was aimed to correct. The tendency of a straight popular vote to cater to a particular group of states or region is far greater than with our current electoral college system. All one has to do is look at some of the recent electoral maps to realize the regional stratification is strong.

This does mean I am a fan of the electoral college.  The problem with the electoral college is the same with a national popular vote, it is a winner take all plurality based system. It does not matter if its 60%, 50%, or even 35% the candidate with the greatest plurality takes the presidency. At least with the electoral college there is an attempt at geographical representation.

The founders rightly acknowledged the importance of correcting the deficiencies of a plurality based system with one that allowed the minority to have representation. At the time this was small states whose needs would have been ignored in a straight popular vote plurality based system. While the state as minority may be of less importance today, allowing minority views to be expressed is not.

The is where incorporating an STV (single transferable vote) into the electoral college system would be a more meaningful reform. STV is an IRV based system that incorporates proportional representation in a multi-seat election. More often than not the Droop Quota is used to determine the number of votes per seat. The benefit of STV is all votes are counted, there is no spoiler effect, and it encourages third party and independent participation.

I propose Wisconsin delegate their 10 electoral votes through STV.  just as we do now, we would go into the ballot box state wide and cast our votes for president.  Our hypothetical choices might be Giuliani, Clinton, Bloomberg, and Nader.  The only difference is that the voter would have the option of ranking their choices by preference. If I was a die hard NeoCrybaby and it was Giuliani or the highway I could stop at him. If I was of a more progressive stripe I could vote Nader on the first round, Bloomberg on the second, and Clinton on the third. How far down the ranking scale I’d like to go is up to me, the voter.

The importance of a STV approach to electoral college is that large segments of our society that are currently excluded from selecting a president will now be able to do so. A STV based system would divide Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes fairly by the proportion of support a particular candidate or party has in the state. There is no multi-state gentleman’s agreement or constitutional amendment needed to implement this election reform. The only question is, will Wisconsin lead in electoral reform or simply follow the reactionary forces than want to solve yesterday’s problem.