The Right Opinion

Electoral Collage

By Rich Galen · Nov. 14, 2012

The United States Constitution provides for an indirect election of the President. That is, you didn't vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney last week; you voted for electors pledged to vote for one or the other.

The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which superseded a large section of Article II, Section 1) suggests says that the ballots of the electors in the several states having marked their ballots for President and Vice President shall “transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; – the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”

On or about January 6, 2013 (probably January 7th or 8th as the 6th is on a Sunday) that counting will take place and Barack Obama will be declared President and Joe Biden will be declared Vice President.

That part we know all too well. What we don't pay much attention to is the original (and un-amended language of Article II, Section 1 which states:

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress”

Note, the Constitution does not prescribe that the candidate with the most votes in a given state be granted all of the Electors. It leaves the “Manner” of selection up to the State Legislatures.

Indeed, if the State Legislature of Upper Iguana determined that its Governor should choose the electors, then a popular vote would be unnecessary as he (or she) could pick electors for what ever candidate he (or she) desires.

Or, Upper Iguanians might decide to let the Legislators themselves choose the Electors.

Granted, either of these is unlikely in any real state except for Illinois, but it would be possible.

The current system is well known: 48 states and the District of Columbia award all of a states' Electors to the candidate that wins the majority of the votes in that state.

The other two states, Nebraska and Maine have a better plan: They award Electors by Congressional District. Nebraska has three Congressional Districts; Maine has two.

The winner in each CD gets that Elector and the candidate with the most votes statewide gets the Electors awarded for the two Senate seats. I have no idea what the effects on the 2012 election would have been if all 50 states and DC had adopted that concept and it doesn't matter because both sides knew the rules going in.

It does seem, though, that awarding Electors by CD would put more than eight or nine states in play every four years.

In California, which has 55 EVs, Romney would have had a shot at as many as 16 Electors in Districts likely to be represented by Republicans. Similarly, in Texas Obama might have picked up as many as 12 of the 38 EVs available there.

The direct election of the President would likely mean that all of the attention would be paid to the high population areas: New York City, LA, Chicago, Houston, Miami and so on. The smaller cities and towns would be left out in the cold.

There may be some very good reason that I'm missing that argues against a Congressional District selection of Electors, but I can't think of it. Not every CD would go for the Presidential candidate whose party is represented by the Member of Congress, so it is not a direct one-to-one relationship.

I understand it would make it much harder for the networks to “call” a state the moment the polls close based upon exit polls, but the method of electing a President shouldn't be designed for the convenience of the national press corps.

Over the next days or weeks researchers will have voting results that are granular to be able to determine what would have happened if the CD system were in place in 2012; but it wasn't so the two campaigns didn't design their efforts to reflect it.

The Constitution allows State Legislatures to determine the method of choosing Electors, so this system doesn't need a Constitutional amendment; it could be done in the next few months.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A short history of methods of choosing Electors, and a Mullfoto of Mullings Central.

Copyright ©2012 Barrington Worldwide, LLC |


Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:


I like this idea, and have suggested it recently. It would be rather interesting to see what the results may have been had such a system been in place. I think we can get a reasonable idea however by looking at the CD maps that have been posted here and at other sites. Likewise, I think it would certainly lessen the impact of major urban areas that consistently vote for themselves the taxpayers monies.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 8:22 AM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA said:

"The direct election of the President would likely mean that all of the attention would be paid to the high population areas: New York City, LA, Chicago, Houston, Miami and so on. The smaller cities and towns would be left out in the cold."

No "likely" about it. Change to a popular vote election and you would never see a candidate in "fly-over" country.

I am not against a change such as you suggest (awarding by CD) but I am against a national popular vote election. If it comes to determining the President by a national vote and keeping the current system, I vote for the current system.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Dave in SoCal said:

Here are a couple crazy thoughts about the EC, just for discussion:

One of the objectives of the current EC vote allocation is to slightly overweight the influence of the states with smaller populations by giving every state the +2 EC votes regardless of population. I'm concerned that moving to proportionally allocating EC votes across the board would simply move the game to the larger states with big population centers, and smaller rural states would become effectively disenfranchised.

So, here's a crazy idea that would put the large population states back in play while preserving some extra influence for the lower population states: What if all states with 10 or more EC votes were required to proportionally allocate their EC votes according to the popular vote in their state (or based on congressional district as suggested here), while smaller states with fewer than 10 EC votes remained winner take all. It's a crazy idea that I doubt would ever gain traction, but interesting nevertheless. By the way, I think Romney would have won the EC vote while losing the popular vote under this system.

The current system awards the states a number of electoral votes largely based on their population. What if instead of their population they were awarded votes based on the number of people that actually vote in an election? I understand, this would be much more difficult to administer, but I like the idea that it might tend to encourage higher voter participation.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 10:49 AM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia said:

Awarding electoral votes by congressional districts is a good idea, a nice compromise (isn't that what liberals always claim to want?) between the present system and a national popular vote.

However, the effect that you point out --that it would put some larger states back "in play"-- is exactly why it will NEVER be passed, or even brought up for consideration. The states where it is most needed (New York, California, and Illinois) are captive to large Democrat majorities in their state legislatures, who are quite pleased that only a plurality of popular votes is necessary for them to deliver huge troves of electoral votes to Democrat presidential candidates every four years, with no need of the unions and the national party having to spend the great per-vote sums they spend on "battleground" states like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Just like the idea of limiting voting rights to intelligent, well-informed tax-payers, it would be a wonderful way to improve the election process, but it has the same snowball-in-hell chance.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Craig in CA replied:

Although it would face significant opposition in California, we DO have an initiative process that could get an initiative - perhaps titled "Make California Matter" with an argument "for" explaining the revenue expected by local media purchases - placed on the ballot. Local TV stations and media outlets would be placed in the awkward position of choosing to keep CA a democratic stronghold or obtaining large amounts of revenue.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM

billy396 in ohio replied:

While it's certainly as far from politically correct as you can get, I do believe that there should be SOME qualifications that one should be forced to pass before one is granted the right to vote. People voting based on the fact that Barry Soetero (or whatever his real name is), gave them free cell phones and extra food stamps is exactly what this country does NOT need. This country is going to face some very, very bad repurcussions from the recent reelection of Obozo very soon. The loss of many companies that invent and manufacture medical devices is an astoundingly bad consequence of Obamacare, which is the worst law that has ever been passed, bar none. The negative consequences of this law will crush many parts of this nation, and if we don't derail this monstrosity before it gets started, there will be no stopping this juggernaut. Voter fraud was rampant in many areas in the recent election with 140% of registered voters showing up in St. Lucie Florida, and a 4,000 vote swing in one hour (by a recount after midnight), in the county where Allen West was running. The people manning the polls there made sure that West was going to lose, one way or the other. Obama got 100% of the votes in over 21 districts in Cleveland, Ohio with Romney getting ZERO. That's quite simply impossible. The silence from the Leftmedia is deafening (and sickening).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1:40 PM

billy396 in ohio said:

The electoral college system in use today is deeply flawed. It's the furthest thing from one man, one vote that we could possibly devise. If one candidate gets 1,000,000 votes in a state and the other candidate gets 1,000,001 in that same state, then the man who got ONE extra vote gets ALL of the electoral votes for that state. I can't think of a less fair system. It guarantees that the votes of a huge portion of our citizens will be completely ignored for every election. I understand that there are inherent problems with electing by a direct popular vote, but that doesn't change the fact that the system that we're using today is deeply flawed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Gregory in Yakima said:

You kids make me chuckle. You lose another election and want to change the way electoral college votes are distributed. Funny you didn't think so when G.W. Bush was sort of elected and the vote count stopped.

The reason your guy lost is not the fault of an unfair electoral college. The reason you lost is because your party scares people. They're afraid of you and with good reason.

You can prattle on as in the past ages arguing the number of angels that can fit on a pin but it is just the meaningless chatter of dead enders. The paradigm has changed and you haven't noticed. I doubt you ever will.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Joe in Texas replied:

Take glee in voting for bankruptcy of the US. I hold you squarely responsible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

You again missed the memo that Hillary was screaming for a change in the EC when Gore lost.

"We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago," Clinton said. "I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it's time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

"They're afraid of you and with good reason."

and the reason is the class warfare and hatred spread by none other than the President himself...

* “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Barack Obama in July 2008

* “I want you to argue with them and get in their face!” Barack Obama, September 2008

* “Here’s the problem: It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up. But you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger.” Barack Obama on banks, March 2009

* “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!” Barack Obama on ACORN Mobs, March 2010

* “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.” Barack Obama on the private sector, June 2010

* “A Republican majority in Congress would mean ‘hand-to-hand combat’ on Capitol Hill for the next two years, threatening policies Democrats have enacted to stabilize the economy.” Barack Obama, October 6, 2010

* “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” Barack Obama to Latinos, October 2010

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 3:50 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Hey sodomite, enjoy your victory, because with it will come the collapse, and your glee will become very sorry misery. I hppe some islamic jihadi finds your rainbow encrusted car a suitable target for assasination. You are a traitor, and should be very afraid of patriots.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

Tell me again why our forefather's method is no good? Why congressional districts? Why change it at all? It seems to work all right to me. Would it have changed the outcome of the 2012 election? If so, this seems to be a two edged sword that would benefit the Democrats as well. All change is not good change (re: 2008 hope & change).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

2008 Hope and Change went to 2012 Revenge!

As for me I am on record for not changing our election process. Some say the Electoral College is deeply flawed. I disagree as I feel it's inspired. Long story short - Our Constitution was set up so the States elect the President thus forcing a candidate to appeal nationally.

You can see it work every year in any sport that requires a series of games to determine a winner. Total runs (votes) scored do not matter. What matters is the number of games (states) won.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 9:10 PM