The Electoral College should be abolished, but there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. A prominent Republican lawyer in California is doing it the wrong way, promoting a sneaky initiative that, in the name of Electoral College reform, would rig elections in a way that would make it difficult for a Democrat to be elected president, no matter how the popular vote comes out. If the initiative passes, it would do serious damage to American democracy.With all the press the California initiative is getting, no can argue that the effort is "sneaky" since by the time the June primary rolls around, which is when this ballot initiative would be voted on, everyone and their grandmother is going to know what is at stake.
The Times mentions an opposing initiative underway which would commit the nation's biggest state to the National Popular Vote Plan which is explained as:
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee a majority of the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote in the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation's voters for President of the United States.The law has passed in my home state of Maryland--a reliably Demoratic state. But there is a real problem with the National Popular Vote Plan. Here is the scenario, Maryland votes for the Democratic candidate with 55 percent of the vote going to the Democratic nominee. However, the national popular vote turns out to go to the GOP nominee with 49 percent of the vote and the winner. How is that representative of the state's wishes?
The plan would not go into effect until enough states representing a majority of electoral votes passed the bill, which is a long way off. But even under that scenario, a numberical minority of states will determine who wins the election. How is that representative of the popular will, particularly when some of those states, like California, could be pledged to support a candidate the vast majority of state did not support.
No one disputes that the Electoral College is an antiquated system, but right now the two options on the table carry with them some serious flaws. Proportional allocation is undermined by poor districting methodology, leading to skewed results in most districts. A national popular vote plan might be challenged as failing to adhere to republican principles of governement, i.e. that electors are not following the wishes of their constituents.
Admittedly a national popular vote does seem much more reasonable, but it too is not without problems. First, it would have to pass as a constitutional Amendment-a difficult process in the best of circumstances. Second, there would be administration difficulties in close elections.
The Framers may have created a convoluted system, but for the most part it works and while it could use some tweaking, perhaps we ought to be careful with our tinkering, the result could be worse than we intend.