Issue: the Electoral College, Election Finance Reform, and Gerrymandering

Election reform will be an ongoing issue on many levels including campaign financing and overturning Citizens United, using one person-one vote to determine election outcomes, and the creation of representative districts for voting purposes. Obviously this is an uphill battle since all of these worked to the advantage of the current administration and Congress.

This is a battle that is a foundation for democratic principles and one that needs to have continual and continuing pressure by all of us.

The electoral college is outdated and was based, in part, on elitism and a compromise between Congress electing the president and vice-president and a popular vote. Each state has a number of electors based on their 2 senators plus the number of U.S. Representatives they have, determined by the census every 10 years. The 2010 Census applied to districting for the 2012, 2016, and the 2020 elections. The 2020 Census will apply to the next 3.

For example, Wyoming’s population was 564,460 in the 2010 census, and they have 3 electoral college members, or 1 electoral college vote for every 188,153 citizens. Whereas California has 55 electoral college members and a 2010 population of 37,253,956 or 1 electoral college vote for every 677,355.6 citizens. Clearly they and other high population states are under-represented compared with much small states. Definitely not one vote per person!

How the electors are selected and how they must vote vary from state to state. For details on that if you’re interested, see: www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/

Another argument against the electoral college is that candidates tend to focus on “battleground” states and not the population as a whole. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters is a strong advocate for changing to a popular vote. According to their website: “The League is deeply committed to reforming our nation’s campaign finance system to ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process. We will continue this fight in Congress, with state legislatures, with the executive branch and, where appropriate, the courts.” http://lwv.org/issues/reforming-money-politics  They are a good source for action alerts and sound principles on these issues.

Campaign finance continues to be a major source of undue and inappropriate influence on our politicians (in every party). To expect the recipients of this largess—the politicians themselves—to change this is wishful thinking at best. A nonpartisan commission should be created to propose reforms, which could then be discussed in townhall-type meetings across the country. Pushing for this or a similar solution is the only way to free the system from the burden of special-interest control, which impacts so much of our daily lives.

Gerrymandering, the manipulating of an electoral constituency’s boundaries: is it only wrong when the other party does it more successfully? Of course not, and this is a problem that could easily be solved without worrying about nonpartisan commissions (if such an entity could exist in this country any more). A computer program can easily create district boundaries based on logic and compactness, not party politics. In fact, such a program already exists thanks to Brian Olson.

Here are examples from Maryland:

0-2017-2-26gerrymandering

The Republicans developed redmap, for Redistricting Majority Project, in 2010. As Karl Rove allegedly told a group of Dallas benefactors for the project: “People call us a vast right-wing conspiracy, but we’re really a half-assed right-wing conspiracy. Now it’s time to get serious.” An article in the June 27, 2016 New Yorker describes this project in detail. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/06/27/ratfcked-the-influence-of-redistricting

As much as we might wish the Democrats were the party of multi-billionaires and could finance a BLUEMAP project, Olson’s algorithm is the best answer and the one that should be used with the 2020 census data.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *