Last week’s election brought up old wounds the populace has with the Electoral College, and with good reason. The idea of the Electoral College comes from the United States Constitution, Article II Section 1. Changes to the document added the 12th Amendment, passed in 1804. Basically, it grants the states electoral delegates equal to the amount of representation in Congress–each State gets at least three votes. States with large populations, like California and Texas have 55 and 38 electoral votes respectively. This system was put into place to help states with lower populations have a voice by providing a mixture of popular vote and state representation to protect federalism.

final electoral map 2012Now I personally like the idea behind an electoral system over national popular voting. National popular voting would favor large population states, and urban centers and suburbs over rural areas.

Rural areas, according to the 2010 US Census, only constitute 16 percent of the population. If you include cities with populations under 50,000 people, then the percent of rural areas increases to 28 percent. Regardless of what number you use in a national popular vote, it would make more economical sense for a candidate to pursue the metropolitan areas, which consist of about 70 to 80 percent of the population, depending on how you calculate it. So, by focusing on areas where the population is concentrated, the politician gets more bang for the buck. Consequently, they tend to obligate themselves to focusing on issues facing these areas, versus rural areas or places that aren’t population centers.

Electoral College Problems

Now with that being said, there are many problems that need to be addressed in our current Electoral College. The main issues are the “winner takes all method,” and the actual voting delegates, who aren’t even required by Federal law to vote along with the majority of their state’s wishes. Despite this, most times they have adhered to the state voters.

In a winner take all system, not everyone get’s a voice in the direction the Union takes. If 51 percent vote for Candidate A and 49 percent vote for Candidate B, are candidate B’s voters just ignored? The answer is yes!

Consequently, I personally advocate the adoption of the state-by-state proportional method. Here’s how it works: If Candidate A gets 40 percent of California’s votes, Candidate B gets 30 percent, and Candidate C gets 30 percent, it makes sense that California’s electoral votes should be apportioned among them by the percentage of the state’s votes they received. Accordingly, 22 votes would go to Candidate A, and 16 would go to Candidates B and C, with an extra vote going to the candidate with the higher number of actual votes. The Secretary of State’s office in each state would then handle the reporting of the votes to be apportioned, thus removing the need for the delegates to do the voting in the name of California.

Proportional Split Of 2012 Electoral Votes By State

I created a chart of how the electoral votes would have been allocated had the 2012 presidential election followed a proportional allocation of the states’ electoral votes. You can see in the chart that the 2012 presidential election would have been much closer if the states we not using a “winner takes all” formula for allocating its electoral votes. Instead of a final count of Obama 332, Romney 206 electoral votes, the result would have been Obama 271, and Romney 259.

As you can see, the proportional method would allow everyone’s vote to actually count–not just the sometimes 49.9 percent that voted for the winner. This would also make it easier for third-party candidates to gain electoral votes, since they wouldn’t have to win the entire state to win electoral votes. Instead, they would only need a portion of the votes, with the threshold being determined by each individual states. I would assume, however, that 10 percent would be the cutoff, with a change in how we elect and apportion Congress, who should also be moved to a proportioned model.

As you can see, implementing a proportional system of voting to presidential elections, as well as the allocation of U.S. House of Representative seats and Senate seats would go a long way in making sure our government actually represents its constituents.

proportional electoral votes 2012

Note: This table represents what the electoral votes would look like for the 2012 presidential election. Slight adjustments were made to accommodate situations where the proportional split isn’t a whole number.