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The Movement To Skip The Electoral College Is About To Pass A Major Milestone [Nathaniel Rakich / FiveThirtyEight]

March 8, 2019


It is good to see that a significant number of states, representing 32% of electoral votes so far, are now signed up to the National Popular Vote Initiative (NPVI). This is an agreement between the state governments, whereby if and when the number of electoral votes between the participating states surpasses 270, they will assign their electors to the winner of the national popular vote.

I do think it would make a bit more sense to assign the electors using proportional representation within each state. Barring that, a finer granularity of winner-take-all, such as by congressional district, would still be an improvement, and this done in Maine and Nebraska. The weakness with NPVI is that participating states may become obligated to assign their electors to someone who did not win a majority in the state itself, making the proposal a harder sell to residents of states whose political identity is even slightly uncertain.

But the NPVI is certainly an improvement over the electoral college as it is. Unfortunately, the system was intentionally designed to make it nearly impossible to change this specific part of it (i.e. by constitutional amendment). With the supermajority of states required, and the smaller states actively benefit from the pretty darn big boost in electoral power they get, the electoral college is here to stay.

But there is nothing at all to prevent individual states from implementing proportional representation (PR) or ranked choice voting (RCV). Unlike the NPVI, PR+RCV would not only prevent a candidate with fewer votes from taking power, it would also alleviate the effective exclusion of third parties, which has so severely stunted the growth of US political discourse.

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