The first step to fixing this problem is to let go of the electoral college altogether. Opponents of this proposal will likely begin with Appeals to Tradition stating that since the electoral college has always been around, there’s no good reason to get rid of it.
Well that would be silly. :p An appeal to tradition is no better than the emotional appeal being used to abolish the EC.
Afterward, they will argue that the idea surrounding the electoral college is to make sure that those in rural areas (where populations are smaller) won’t be disenfranchised.
And they would be correct.
I must ask, however, how rural areas would be disenfranchised? If 80% of eligible voters live in urban and suburban areas, that is still 80% of eligible voters.
That is a mischaracterization of the situation. There are some 19,800 “named geo-political units” within the US. That is, cities, towns, villages, etc.. As much as “urban-rural” is thrown around, the divide in a pure popular vote system would be between major cities and everyone else. You look it as “rural vs. everyone else” but it would end up as “the largest 200 cities vs. the other 19,600 municipal units”. (more on this below)
Whether you live in downtown New York or a remote area of Minnesota à la the Unabomber, you still get one vote, and it still counts as much as everyone else’s in a popular vote system.
While they would have one vote, their vote would be overwhelmed by the mass of votes in urban areas. This is the exact same situation we have right now with the EC, only in reverse. And in one way, a popular vote could be worse.
While the EC skews a vote’s strength slightly, we know exactly how much that is and it is controlled. Under a popular vote system it’s a free-for-all, there is no way of knowing how much any one person’s vote is actually “worth” and no way to control for it.
Having a minority opinion is not the same thing as being disenfranchised.
Very true. But that also wipes out one of the primary arguments for getting rid of the EC. Regardless of how many delegates any specific State gets, they still get some EC delegates. So no one is being disenfranchised by the EC.
Any candidate who wants to be on the ballot would be placed on the ballot (assuming they were to get the requisite number of petition signatures in their home state), and America would then vote from the given options.
If we would mimic France’s election system then why wouldn’t we actually mimic all of it? This idea of petition signatures from their home State directly contradicts France’s system. These people would be running for a national office. What would be the rationale for limiting petition signatures to a single home State?
So let’s look at the French system. To get on the 1st round ballot a candidate has to collect 500 endorsements from existing elected officials. They have some 53,000 elected officials and those people’s endorsements are the only ones that count.
A candidate in France has to get 500 endorsements from elected officials and no more than 10% (50 endorsements) can come from any one department (which in the US would translate to a combination of States and Counties. France has 334 departments.) and each elected official can only endorse one candidate.
Those requirements are there to ensure that any candidate showing up on the national ballot has a measure of broad support across the country. It is effectively an Electoral College. The difference is that you have to get the nod of the EC to get on the ballot to begin with as opposed to our system of winning the final election. And again, “the people” have no say in that. Only elected “delegates” have a vote in who gets on that 1st round ballot.
So to do the math and make it comparable — we have ~530,000 elected officials. 10 times as many as they have. So to get on a ballot here, the candidate would need 5,000 endorsements from elected officials and no more than 10% (500!) could come from any single county or State. To get on the 1st round ballot a candidate would need to get endorsements from elected officials in a minimum of 10 States.
Those 5,000 endorsements from elected officials also effectively locks the Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc… and any Independents out of the running.
There is no reason to believe that low-level elected Democrats wouldn’t endorse a Democrat and low-level elected Republicans wouldn’t endorse a Republican. The 3rd Parties don’t have 5,000 elected officials at lower levels to collect the required 5,000 endorsements from. (That may change in the future but it would take decades for the minor parties to get enough lower-level people elected first.)
The net result of all of that is that the 1st round ballot would have a couple of Democrats and a couple of Republicans on it. That’s it. No one else.
Just for grins, let’s say that there are 3 of each. In order to win a 1st round ballot, a candidate would only need to pull a minimum of 17% of a national vote. You could very easily end up with 2 Republicans as your final choices with each taking only 20% of the 1st round vote.
So now you have your final vote between 2 Republicans. All of the Democrats are pissed off, all of the 3rd Party voters are pissed off and the supporters of that other Republican 1st round candidate are pissed off (much like the Bernie Sanders supporters that were pissed off and didn’t vote).
In your final election one of your Republicans gets 30% of the popular vote. the other gets 10% and the remaining 60% of voters vote “No Confidence” and you start the process all over again. YOIKES!
So let’s say *I* want to run. Here’s my strategy.
I go to the 200 largest cities in the country (all having a population of at least 212,000 people) and collect the requisite 5,000 endorsements from elected officials (the dog catchers!) in those cities. That gets me on the 1st ballot.
From there my platform is that if I win at least 70% of the vote from those cities, anyone that is a registered voter in one of those cities at the time of the election gets everything in life for free from that point on out. That’s it.
Free housing, free cars, free utilities, free groceries, health care, college, etc.. They will never pay taxes again and their every wish is their’s for the asking. Heck, I’d even throw them a $100,000/voter basic income so they don’t even have to work. The rest of the country will be taxed to pay for it. If you live in a city of 200,000 people, too bad! So sorry! PAY UP! It would be purely populist platform. How’s that for radical? (Admittedly, this would be an extreme but it wouldn’t be unrealistic for candidates to promise a LOT to major urban centers at the expense of everyone else.)
Those 200 largest cities would capture just shy of 60% of the total eligible voters in the country. If we assume a national voter turnout rate of 70% and I can get 70% of the voters in those 200 largest cities to vote for me, I win 51% of the national popular vote and become President.
By the way, 17 of the States don’t have a city that would fall into the 200 largest cities in the country. There would be no reason for a candidate to ever bother with them at all. Why bother spending 2 weeks running all over Wyoming appealing to their ~563,000 residents when I can just focus my time and attention on the ~600,000 people that live in Seattle?
A National Popular Vote would result in candidates that focus on (aka “promise lots of things to”) major urban cities at the expense of everyone else. I would guess that the future impact would be that people would migrate to those 200 or so major cites and cease living in rural and suburban areas at all. As that happened, future candidates would focus on fewer and fewer of the major urban centers as those grew into mega-cities. 100 years from now it would be NYC vs. LA vs. Houston vs. Chicago.
(Sorry for the long/wordy response!)