There are multiple things wrong with our system of electing the POTUS. I understand the reasons for the Electoral College but I don’t know that it is relevant in its current form.
Historically there were two reasons for it. One before fast communications it made sense to send delegates to the capital to cast the votes, hence the difference between the election in November and the actual vote in December. This made a ton of sense in the 18th century.
The other reason, outlined in Federalist 68:
“Men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”
“Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States”
Basically, they wanted to make sure that there was a real analysis of the chief executives ability to do the job. This shouldn’t be left up to the whims of the population at large that may elect a charismatic leader that cannot rise to the demands of the position (sound familiar).
In practice, the electoral college does exactly what the people that voted for the electors want. There have been very few cases of an elector defecting and voting their conscience. Its unclear how the country would react the electors actually said “nope, you picked an awful person that can’t do the job” and chose a candidate other than the one that “won” in the general election.
Given these things, I would love to see a few changes in the system. Here are my top choices in increasing likelihood/preference:
- Instead of a winner-takes-all approach in the states, move to a proportional allocation. This would allow a more accurate representation of the country. All of the effort today seems to be concentrated in the states with the most electors that cannot be accurately predicted. This could have the result in candidates visiting more areas. This could have a follow-on affect of actually having a reasoned debate at the Electoral vote.
- Eliminate the Electoral College and go to direct democracy. The communication problem does not exist today. If we assume that we should go with what the people actually want, move to a direct vote.
- Implement a priority voting scheme. Allow the voters to rank order their choices for POTUS and handle voting that way. This would allow 3rd party candidates to have more of a difference since they wouldn’t be “spoilers” any longer. If they were your first choice and a major party candidate was your second choice, it would more accurately represent people’s actual desires. It would lead to more ideas being presented and seriously considered and make for a better democracy over all
- Mandate voting and make election day a Federal holiday. We have horrible turn out. We need to encourage people to vote. This would eliminate barriers to voting. Turn the day into a national party to celebrate our awesome responsibility to this nation. Along with this, to combat perceived voter fraud, make everyone color their finger in ink, like other democracies, to indicate that they’ve voted. If you have a blue finger, then you’ve voted. It is both a badge of participation and combats fraud.
- Allow for a “none of the above” choice. This is awesome but couldn’t realistically be implemented, probably. If we don’t like the candidates, allow for us to vote, but allow us to vote that we don’t like any of the candidates. If “none” gets the most votes, all of the current candidates are thrown out and we have another election, and none of the original candidates could run. This would eliminate us getting really unpopular candidates because they are the lesser of the evils.
I would love to see one or more of these schemes implemented. It would probably take a Constitutional Amendment to happen but in the long-term I think it would be exactly what our country needs to reinvigorate our democracy and get rid of the apathy we have today.