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The future of the electoral college
How a peculiar institution could be eliminated, or changed
 

It’s time to junk the electoral college, said Jonathan Soros in The Wall Street Journal. This anachronistic institution, which on Monday confirms Barack Obama’s election as president, gives each state a vote for each congressional district, plus one per senator, awarding small states with extra clout. These “peculiar mechanics” have divided us into red, blue, and swing states, and it’s time for a change.

The electoral college will no doubt survive such “bad arguments,” said Matthew J. Frank in National Review Online, but they “ought to be slapped down anyway.” Soros’ big gripe is that the winner-take-all allotment of electoral votes in effect in 48 states encourages candidates to campaign only in the really competitive states. But eliminating the current system would make the national popular vote the only thing that mattered, which would only encourage candidates to ignore every place but the biggest cities.

Don’t worry, said Randall Lane in The New York Times. Abolishing the electoral college would require a Constitutional amendment, and neither swing states nor small ones would ever pass it. But the system can be made more democratic if red and blue states of similar size would pair up—in a sort of “buddy system”—and award electoral votes to the winner in each congressional district, with two votes going to the overall state winners. Now there’s a bipartisan solution.

 

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