Time for electoral reform in the US?
December 1, 2016 Leave a comment
Maybe it is time for some electoral reform in the United States. Only 2 states [Maine and Nebraska] do not follow the winner-takes-all rule like the other states. In those states, there could be a split of Electoral votes among candidates through the state’s system for proportional allocation of votes. So those two states have a slightly better representation of the vote.
In the case of this past US election, Hillary Clinton had 2 million more votes than president-elect Donald Trump and yet lost the election because Trump won more of the tighter races like Michigan and Pennsylvania while Clinton blew away Trump in California and the District of Columbia. [Note: Some information is still not final.] An estimated 136 million out of 232 million people voted in the US. So take the 232 million and divide into 538 seats and you have roughly 431,000 votes per seat. There was about 9 states [plus DC] that didn’t even get that many votes in this past election. California [the biggest prize] got a bit under 14 million who voted out of about 25 million.
While the constitution guarantees every state a minimum of 2 seats other states are given quite a bit more. Nebraska had just 835,000 votes but still had 3 seats [at a total of 1.3 million voters, they are about on par with the number of seats allocated].
But here comes the question: A state such as California is a winner takes all state. So whomever gets the most votes wins all the seats no matter how close. So [even after a recount] the winner could have taken all 55 seats with just a [say] 100 vote majority. What does that say to the people who voted for the wrong candidate. Instead of a 28 seats to 27 seats, those who were not on the winning side technically are not represented.
Maybe it is time to adjust the electoral college and maybe incorporate what is done in some countries in Canada and elsewhere.
In Canada [as of 2015] there are 338 seats [or ridings] in Parliament. With some minor exceptions, every riding in Canada is at the averages about 75,000 people and within the largest provinces there is a difference of about 15,000 [plus or minus]. Each riding is counted on election day. The winner of the riding means one seat for the party and its leader. So in British Columbia [with 42 ridings], it is not who wins the most votes in BC but who won the most ridings.
Like in the US elections, there will be some ridings were there will be a landslide win for one candidate or another but overall they were even out.
The largest province, Ontario has almost a third of the ridings. Can you imagine how easy it could be if it was a winner take all? Another 49 ridings and they won easily. [Quebec generally votes the same way as Ontario, so the election would be over before the western provinces are counted.] In the last federal election in Canada in 2015, the percentages of seats won were very close to that of the popular vote.
Going back to the US election, theoretically Clinton could of picked up about 272 of 538 seats.
[PS – There is talk of modifying the electoral process in Canada, switching to proportional representation. But that should never happen. With 2 large parties and a third almost as large, Canadian governments would end with constant coalitions like in Italy, Israel, etc. as there hasn’t been a party that has had more than 50% of the vote in years.]