States Take On Electoral College

If you’re one of those (totally awesome) people who are obsessed with improving our electoral system, this should come as good news. The New York Times reports on an innovative new state-level campaign to abolish the electoral college:

Past attempts to abolish the Electoral College by amending the Constitution have run into difficulty. But National Popular Vote, which includes several former members of Congress, is offering an ingenious solution that would not require a constitutional amendment. It proposes that states commit to casting their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. These promises would become binding only when states representing a majority of the Electoral College signed on. Then any candidate who won the popular vote would be sure to win the White House.

Come to think of it, had John Kerry won 60,000 extra votes in Ohio in 2004—or not been robbed by Diebold, if that was, you know, the case—and won the presidency while losing the popular vote, there finally would have been a serious bipartisan push to abolish the electoral college. (Okay, that wouldn’t have been the only upside to a Kerry victory, but still.) Now no one seems to care, though.

Bear in mind, the possibility that a popular-vote winner could lose an election isn’t the only downside to having an electoral college. (Among other things, it forces presidential candidates to pander only to a few select “swing” states.) I tried to lay out the full case against our totally outdated and arbitrary way of picking presidents a while back and still think most of that still holds up. It’s not the biggest problem in the world, but it would be nice to fix it finally.