Electoral College levels the playing field for small states

Jul 14, 2020 | Cal Matters

By Jeff Moore, Redding

Re “Supreme Court rules members of the Electoral College must be faithful – how that affects California”; Commentary, July 7, 2020

Jessica Levinson points out many of the attributes and results that can come from the makeup of the Electoral College.  It does indeed penalize big states to a degree when it comes to the power of the individual vote.

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It does exactly what it was designed to do.  “The Great Compromise” is the Electoral College.  It was designed to level the playing field for small states.  You can’t just win New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and become president.  You must campaign, and win, in the small states as well.

The last election had Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote and Donald Trump winning the electoral college.  Had California not been involved at all, Trump won both the popular vote and the Electoral College. 

Now that California is solidly a blue state, we are ignored for the national election.  But it is not because we are a blue state.  It is because we are a winner take all state when it comes to the Electoral College.

Our statewide voter base may have less say per vote than Wyoming, but non-Democrats have no say at all.

If California wants to be fairer, it could do proportional voting.  We could assign electors based on Congressional District vote tallies.

The Democrats would still get the lion’s share of the electors, say 50, but the Republicans would get five.

You would see much more national political activity in California if that were the case.

What is most surprising, is that several smaller states have formed a pact to assign their electors based on the nationwide popular vote, and not the individual state’s popular vote.  That is unconstitutional.  States may have broad discretion in how to assign their electors, but those electors are to represent the vote of their state.

This is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the purpose of the Electoral College.  I am certain the assignment of electors this way will trigger a call for a decision by the Supreme Court.  Better they weigh in now than after.

I would call on the Solicitor General to approach the court about it now, not after the fact.

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