Michigan is one of several states where the Republican-controlled legislatures are considering changing the way electoral college votes are determined. The proposal here is to have the electoral votes divided up by congressional district rather than a winner-take-all where whoever wins the popular vote gets all of the state’s electoral votes. The arguments they’re using are quite absurd:
Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, confirmed this week he plans to reintroduce legislation that would award all but two of Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes according to congressional district results. The remaining two would go to the candidate winning the statewide majority.
“I believe it’s more representative of the people — closer to the actual vote,” said Lund, who proposed a similar bill in 2012.
Really? If this had been in place last year, Romney would have won a majority of the state’s electoral votes despite losing the popular vote by 450,000 votes. Of course, this plan is a bad idea for the same reason that the electoral college itself is a bad idea (perhaps it made sense in the 1780s, but it certainly doesn’t in today’s world). Giving away electoral votes by district is wrong for the same reasons that it’s wrong to give away electoral votes by state.
The problem is that doing it by district means that if you have one district with a lot more voters in it, or a lot more voters of a particular type, it pretty much guarantees that those votes will go to one party and those who voted for the other party essentially have no say in the election. A Republican casting a vote in Detroit or a Democrat casting a vote in the suburbs of Grand Rapids have an equal chance of having their vote count toward the outcome — none. But that is true of the states too, not just the congressional districts. Replace Detroit with New York and the suburbs of Grand Rapids with Mississippi and the exact same reality holds true.But more importantly, Lund pretty much admits that this is nothing more than a way to help Republicans win even if they lose the popular vote:
“It got no traction last year. There were people convinced Romney was going to win and this might take (electoral) votes from him.”
So if it helps Republicans, it’s important to make this change because it’s “more representative of the people.” When it hurts Republicans, that alleged principle goes out the window. How terribly unsurprising. If this kind of vote-splitting were in place nationwide last year, Romney would have won the election despite getting almost five million fewer votes than Obama. Representative of the people? Seriously?
The solution to all of this is to eliminate the electoral college. Everyone’s vote should count for one vote, period. As it is, a Democratic vote in Alabama or a Republican vote in Illinois might as well not even be cast.