Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Colorado Tries to Reform Electoral College (Or: How to knock a guy off his horse)

As Susan Greene reports in the Denver Post, a nonprofit group called The People’s Choice for President is running a signature-gathering campaign to get an amendment to Colorado’s constitution on this November’s ballot. The amendment would award the state's Electoral College votes proportionally as a percentage of the statewide popular vote, instead of the current system of awarding all its votes to the winner of the popular election.

As is, the Electoral College needs some work. It doesn't make much sense for Candidate A to get all a states' electoral votes just because he wins 51% of the popular vote. The Colorado plan makes some progress towards a more accurate reflection of the choice for president made by the citizens of Colorado. If more, or even all the states were to adopt a similar model (distribution of its electoral votes is the prerogative of a state), the United States would move closer to fulfilling the promise of its democracy.

But wait! We're not a democracy and never have been, at least according to Mike Rosen in The Rocky Mountain News. He argues that we are a republic, a system of checks and balances designed to avoid the tyranny of the majority that accompanies "an unrestrained democracy."

But Mike, doesn't Colorado's (and for that matter, all states except for Maine and Nebraska) current system of granting all its electoral votes to the majority winner of the popular vote constitute a tyranny of the majority at the state level?

Americans are informed more by democracy than some stuffy I-know-better-than-you republican elitism. I'll take the word of a well-informed populace over patrician snobbishness any day of the week.

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