District Electoral College Bill Passes North Carolina House on 2nd Reading

On July 26, the North Carolina House passed SB 353 on second reading by a vote of 62-47. It provides that each U.S. House district will choose its own presidential elector. The bill will probably pass on 3rd reading by the same margin, very soon. If this bill had been in effect in North Carolina in 2000, Al Gore would have more votes in the electoral college than George Bush would have won. This is because Gore carried three U.S. House districts in North Carolina (the 1st, 4th and 12th districts), so Gore would have had 3 electoral votes from North Carolina and Bush would have had 3 fewer electoral votes from that state. The national total would then have been Gore 269, Bush 268, one abstention from the District of Columbia. It is likely the D.C. elector who abstained in 2000 would have voted for Gore, since she was a Democrat.


District Electoral College Bill Passes North Carolina House on 2nd Reading — 12 Comments

  1. Allocating part of the electoral vote on the basis of CD results is not a bad idea – with the total state popular vote winner getting the two electoral votes for senators. However, the present size of the U.S. House (435) does not provide much “granularity” to the vote. If the size of the U.S. House were enlarged by a factor of four or more, it would make the representative precision of the results much better And it would diminish the winner take all skewing of the “senatorial” electors.

  2. Actually, compared to other countries, our ratio of Representative to constituent is rather high, so a rise in the House size would be welcome to better respond to voters. Perhaps phasing out the Senate and adding those hundred seats to the House? On the Electoral College legislation in NC, does anyone have any information on the National Popular Vote bill’s status in light of this passage?

  3. If this plan were adopted nationwide, instead of 12 swing states deciding the presidency, it would be 50 swing districts. This would reduce turnout in districts that are solidly in one party and make the presidential election less small-d democratic.

  4. I think we need to move to an STV (single transferable vote) at least with the electoral college. This and and other reforms can only occur on the state level unless the constitution is changed.

    I think if we held true to the numbers at the time the constitution current districts today are 10 to 20 times as large. I favor keeping the actual districts as they are but having multiple seats decided through STV.

    NC does not really reform or change anything. Its designed to correct something that may never happen again. STV is the only system that will give electoral votes to third parties as well as the duopoly. Both Ohio and New York had it at one time to break up single party power.

  5. I think it is a good idea to have the Electoral Votes determined by congressional districts. That way, the candidates would have incentives to campaign in states they wouldn’t normally do. For instance, the Democrats in southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina. The Republicans in California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland.
    As to the possible result in 2000, we could argue as well that if California had that system, George W. Bush would have carried a few electoral votes he did not win. Same would have happened in New Mexico, which he lost statewide by around 300 votes. I’m sure he won some Congressional Districts. In fact, George W. Bush would have won both 2000 and 2004 if all the states had their “Representantives'” electoral votes determined by Congressional District, as he won more districts than Gore.

  6. I argued on my blog that Wisconsin should on a statewide basis use STV to decide electoral votes. The problem with any winner take all system (plurality) is roughly have the citizens votes are wasted. With STV your proportion of electoral votes is representative of your share of the vote. 49%, or even lower sometimes, of the vote should not give you 100% of the electoral votes.

  7. The reason, of course, that 48 states now award their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis is that it maximizes their impact on the process.

    “… phasing out the Senate and adding those hundred seats to the House?”

    That has absolutely ZERO chance of happening– thank God. Which reminds me: James Madison wanted to have the Senate also apportioned on the basis of population.

    Please explain how STV works.

  8. Two problems with electors by congressional district:

    1) The elections would then be influenced by gerrymandered districts within each state.

    2) Interesting that the Dems are pushing for this only in red states they usually lose in order to pick off a couple here and there. Somehow I don’t think they’d want this to be adopted in NY, CA, MA, MN, IL . . .

  9. I propose voting for individual electors in a Congressional method, instead of a “block” of electors. I also propose that the electors be listed as non-partisan. One could then theoretically cast a vote for each “Major Party” candidate, and one “Minor Party”/Independent candidate.

  10. Steve,

    Looks like my other post did not make it through.

    STV is an IRV (instant runoff voting) method that is used throughout the world. It is best thought of in contrast to plurality voting (winner take all). It is commonly used in large multi-seat districts. Rather than having smaller one seat districts, larger multi-seat districts are formed. Seats are then distributed by proportion of popular vote.

    I believe such a method is ideal for electoral college. The constitution has a method for allocating electoral votes yet gives the states power on how to allocate those votes. In a state like NC it would roughly be one electoral vote for every 7% of the popular vote.

    As far as congress I believe if the numbers from the time of the constitution held true we would have to increase the districts tenfold. I am not saying this is a good idea but the districts today are much larger than in 1776 and democracy has paid a price for it. Don’t look at it as gaining 1,000 or more representatives, but losing all those lobbiests.

    If we did increase it 5 fold I think an STV approach would be the way to go. Keep the districts as they are but have them be multi seat districts. If a minor party could muster lets say 20% they would get a seat.

    Hope this helps. BTW, just heard Matt Gonzalez through his hat into the ring. The year of the mayor I guess.

  11. proletarit:
    I would not describe STV as an IRV (instant-runoff) method. The methods are similar but STV is a palatable multi-winner election method whereas IRV is (in my opinion) a very poor single-winner election method.

    Also, as several other commenters are aware, switching to by-district selection of electorial college voters in some states but not in all states creates a very uneven playing field.

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