This idea was apparently vetoed in California by Gov. Schwarztenegger: that the majority of the electoral college votes in a given state will go to the winner of the popular vote nation-wide. Evidently, the proposal was thought up by a Stanford University Professor to circumvent the Electoral College system and would ultimately force a constitutional amendment change to abolish the system. The new system would only work if enough states would pass the same bill.

Critics argue that the two party system would suffer, giving what almost sounds like a parlimentary-style election where parties could form coalitions with minor parties thus holding a lot more sway. It would also hold the spector of a nationwide recount that would make the Florida 2000 recount look like a Sunday picnic.

I’m not sure this level of tinkering is a good idea – but perhaps it is worth a look. On the other hand, the Electoral College has withstood the test of time and I’m not sure I want it to be changed. I like the National League over the American League in baseball because they haven’t changed the basic rules (designated hitter), so why would we want such a major change in something so important as electing a president?

Also, if you want to change the Electoral College, why don’t you just abolish it? Why go through all these gumnastics?

What do you think?

Electoral College reform in Md. sought
Bills call for giving nationwide victor all of state’s votes

By Melissa Harris,sun reporter
Originally published February 7, 2007

Lawmakers hoping to propel Maryland into a more prominent role in presidential campaigns have introduced bills that would award the state’s electoral votes to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide.

The aim is to prevent a repeat of the 2000 presidential election, in which Democratic nominee Al Gore won the popular vote but lost to Republican George W. Bush in the contest for electoral votes.

…..

The idea of awarding a state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote is being discussed in more than 45 state legislatures this winter and is being promoted in Maryland by a leader of a key House committee.

If adopted by enough states, the change would make the Electoral College meaningless without amending the Constitution.

Critics of the idea – thought up by a Stanford University computer scientist – contend that bypassing the Electoral College could increase the influence of third parties and shift the focus of campaigns to large cities at the expense of rural areas.

It also evokes the 2000 election in another way: the possibility of recounts on an ever larger scale. Gore won the popular vote over President Bush in 2000 by half a percentage point, a margin that often prompts automatic recounts in statewide races. Forty years earlier, John F. Kennedy defeated Richard M. Nixon by about 118,500 votes.

“One of the chief advantages of the Electoral College today is that it isolates recounts to individual states,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia professor and director of the school’s Center for Politics. “It’s inevitable we’re going to have another squeaker election, and we’d be asking for it in that sense.”

The Maryland bill is the most radical of the dozens of election reform proposals that the General Assembly is weighing this year. It is also the most complex.

Last year, the California Assembly agreed to award that state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, but Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.

…..

Candidates concentrate on such states – including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan – while voters in solidly partisan states get little if any attention. After the 2004 conventions, only Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards stumped in Maryland.

“The presidential race in Maryland is a spectator sport,” Ryan O’Donnell, a spokesman for the California-based group pushing the idea, told a House of Delegates panel yesterday.

……

Under a system determined by the popular vote, many new parties and personalties could emerge. Lowi doesn’t think that’s a bad thing, but political parties might.

If a large number of such parties on the political left grew in power and fielded credible candidates, for instance, the Democratic nominee would have a difficult time winning the popular vote against a candidate backed by a united conservative front.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

The whole story can be found in the Baltimore Sun here.