College EducationWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2012 election had it share of controversy, when several states around the country proposed voter ID laws in attempts to counter fraud that seems to threaten every national election. They were concerned yet again over boxes of ballots that sometimes mysteriously disappear and reappear in hard-fought districts, or that tallies in others often seem to exceed the number of registered voters in a given district. Even with regular evidence however, no one has been able to show the existence of an organized conspiracy, nor prove significant impact of such efforts on more than a local level (though there’s some pretty convincing anecdotal evidence from the 1968 national election where Chicago was concerned). Recent attempts to institute such laws by Republicans were met with heated opposition by Democrats, charging that such rules constituted voter restriction and a subversion of democracy. These laws were challenged in the courts, and in most cases set aside for 2012 for based on the cost of such ID’s or time restrictions in obtaining them.
When George W Bush was granted the victory over Al Gore in the 2000 election by a ruling of the Supreme Court, it was Democrats challenging, calling the whole thing a subversion of the Democratic process. The cried out in the name of fairness for recounts; or that the Electoral College be abandoned in favor of awarding the election solely based on the popular vote. Some had evidently forgotten that there was reasoning behind the College’s creation, allowing smaller states to stand in some part on an equal footing with large and more populated ones. Others merely saw an opportunity to ignore the Constitution as an outdated document that needed modern interpretation (conveniently at the times and in ways that favored their party’s candidates).
Something similar happens every time that a state legislature is called on to reorganize congressional districts based on population shifts, added to the list of additional court-mandated conditions determined over years of judicial battles. Regardless of the party in control of that state’s legislature, the results will invariably attempt to gerrymander districts to their party’s advantage; with their political opposition finding serious fault in their plan, and a final ‘redistricting’ design finally approved by that state’s Supreme Court.
Now it’s Republicans who met last week in Charlotte, NC to discuss, not abandoning the Electoral College, but modifying the ways that it might vote. The question was whether it should by congressional district (like Nebraska and Maine do), or remain winner-take-all contests like the rest of the states do. Some perhaps saw such change more as an alternative to efforts to broaden Republican appeal. Others however, saw it instead as recognition of such appeal long unnoticed or stifled by rules applying to the College. Such could not only be touted as more ‘democratic’, but might well have had real impact, as offered in an effort in the Wall Street Journal by Neil King Jr. President Obama may well have been returned to the White House in 2012 with 332 Electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206 (270 are required for victory). If the process were modified under one plan considered to grant each candidate a vote for each congressional district they won and two votes for the state’s popular vote winner, Romney wins instead by 273 to 262. Under another plan being looked at, a candidate would be granted one vote for each district won and two votes for the one winning the most state districts. Here, Romney wins by 285-250.
Now before anyone runs off into the woods with the accusation that this is a Republican trick, remember that the last time similar changes were introduced was in the 90′s; when Democrats felt themselves to be in an Electoral College disadvantage and sought relief. Just as for Maine and Nebraska though, the process of College voting choice is a state one. With an increasing number of states run by Republican governors, and with Republican control of many state legislatures; such an effort could well gain traction. Recognizing that perhaps the tables could on them some day, not all Republicans are in favor of such changes. Virginia however, already has something that it’s looking at; and Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all have bills for change under consideration as well.
It’s less than two years until the next mid-term election, and while no one likes to talk about it; those with presidential aspirations for 2016 are already beginning to position themselves. It appears however, that in the interim however, State legislatures will have other choices to make as well. While returning to the issue of voter ID requirements, they may also be asked how the Electoral College votes will be counted. In what may become one of this nations most important electoral decisions in many years, States may in fact be forced into obtaining a College Education.