The United States Equalitarian Party and the Electoral College

electoral college

The United States Equalitarian Party (USEP) promotes changing how the states collectively allocate Electoral College Votes (ECVs). The proposed change would not alter the formation of the Electoral College as specified in the U. S. Constitution.

A Little Background…

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, representatives from the less populated states feared their voices would face domination by larger, more populated states. Many claim that fear is still valid today (e.g., look at the difference in population between Wyoming and California). To allay this fear, and achieve ratification of our Constitution at the convention, the founders came up with a compromise.

The Constitution’s founders proposed Congress be formed of an upper house called the Senate, and a lower house called the House of Representatives. Together, these two entities would form the national bicameral legislature of the United States. This formation was then codified in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. When formed, the Senate would have two Senators from each state, and those seats in the House of Representatives would be apportioned and filled according to the population of individual states in the union. Today, with fifty states, Congress has one hundred Senators in the Senate, and four hundred thirty-five State Representatives in the House of Representatives.

Choosing a President

When our nation holds an election for a new President, that person is voted for by a number of Electors. This group of Electors is known as the Electoral College and is described in Article II of our Constitution. This Electoral College is made up of 535 electors (equal to the number of previously discussed 100 State Senators and the 435 State Representatives) who act as the representatives for the voters in each state. They are the ones who cast the final vote(s) for the country’s president.

Think about that. When you vote for president, you are actually voting for someone (an elector) to cast / represent your vote for you. That’s why we are not a true democracy where each of our votes would be individually cast and counted for a candidate, but rather a representative democracy. In the end, the Electoral College makes its choice by casting their votes, and we get a new President.

Not Everybody Likes the Electoral College

Two common criticisms of the Electoral College are: one, a Presidential candidate could potentially receive a greater number of popular votes than another candidate, and yet still not win the election, and two: battleground states (those states not solidly in one party’s camp or the other) will more than likely receive greater campaign attention by candidates trying to secure that state’s votes. Neither of these two criticisms can be attributed to how the Electoral College is meant to operate as specified in the Constitution. Instead, both of these process shortfalls are due to how the Electoral College Votes (ECVs) are allocated by the individual states and Washington D.C.

Only Maine and Nebraska allocate two ECVs to the statewide popular vote winner and one ECV to the congressional district’s popular vote winner. All other states and Washington D.C. award all their ECVs to the statewide popular vote winner. This “winner-take-all” ECV allocation method ignores the votes of the second place candidate – essential giving no voice to those citizens who voted in the minority. Realizing this, Presidential candidates will be tempted to focus their election campaigns in the previously discussed battleground states because they have the greatest potential to influence the outcome of the election.

An Improved Method of More Fairly Allocating ECVs

The USEP advocates all states and The District of Columbia implement ranked choice voting/instant runoff voting (RCV/IRV) to determine the top two POTUS vote getters. Each state would then proportionally allocate ECVs in whole numbers to the top two candidates in the same manner Thomas Jefferson apportioned the House of Representatives after the first national census. Jefferson’s method of proportional representation was later adopted and adapted by the Belgian jurist and lawyer Victor D’Hondt. His work in turn influenced a large number of countries which use the system today. Advantages found in using integer proportional representation include:

  1. No amendment to the Constitution is needed because ECVs are awarded in whole numbers (integers) as outlined / required by Article II.
  2. The top two vote getters for the Presidential election in each state are assured of winning a majority vote of the unexhausted ballots cast. Note, the more states that implement proportional representation, the lower the probability the national popular vote winner will lose the election, and the greater the probability the winner will receive a majority of ECVs.
  3. Every state has the potential to split its ECVs attracting campaign efforts and increased voter relevance to the national outcome.
  4. Third party candidates don’t act as “spoilers” (e.g., as some cite Ross Perot may have been in the 1992 election).
  5. Unlike the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, there would be less incentive for “faithless electors” because the electors would be voting in accordance with the results of the state they represent.

Want to lean more? Want to become an Equalitarian? Want to know how to help our efforts? Visit the USEP website at: www.usep.net