I was in a bit of a rage this morning, hence the post below. This is my attempt to say something more meaningful, so here goes.
I don’t what the best method is to elect a president, but our current one is not it. Think about this: it was conceivable that through our tie-breaker system (President elected by the House, VP by Senate) that we could have a republican pres and democrat VP. That’s just inviting some lunatic to pick off the president to get his party to the top. Look, if it’s tied, let’s just go to the total popular vote.
Secondly, the idea that the margin of victory in a state is irrelavent is ridiculous. My vote in California was largely meaningless. A million people in New York has essentially meaningless votes. I’m not sure if I’d advocate a straight popular vote election, because then campaigning would be reduced to the major metropolitan areas. While my candidate might do better in that type of election, it certainly doesn’t mesh with the democratic spirit. So why not divide the electoral votes based on congressional district? That’s no good either since they are already drawn with the most partisan aspirations in mind. I think I’d try to break it down by county or some other natural distinction that was not easily altered. Counties would be assigned quanities of electoral votes based on population, with a bonus for winning a state. I think this would provide an effective compromise between the popular and electoral systems.
Thirdly, why am I voting for an elector of the candidate? I don’t want to vote for somebody who doesn’t have to listen to my opinion. I’m a voter, thus I should be the elector. We could make significant headway in this electoral reform by doing away with “electors.” Certain states bind their electors to vote for the popular choice from that state, but apparently those laws apparently have marginal constitutionality. If we must keep the electoral college system, let’s at least do away with the human electors.
Lastly, let’s fix the actual voting process. Across the US, we’re all using different crazy methods. They all have their pros and cons. Here’s my solution: use them all everywhere. On election day, you go to the polling place, sign in with photo ID, and then you’re directed to a computer polling station. You make your selections. When finished, you cast your ballot electronically, and simultaneously two copies of your ballot are printed in an optically scannable (scantron) format. One is your copy, the second is collected by pollworkers. If there is any dispute with the electronic totals, the secondary ballots can be tallied optically, or by hand if necessary. Thus, we would have three methods for confirming totals, and with both electronic and optical methods, the results can be obtained rapidly. This system should be employed universally in the US.
I realize I’m trying to buck tradition here, but that’s the point of the Constitution after all. It’s a living document, designed to be changed when necessary. Well, it’s necessary. We’re establishing voting systems in Afghanistan and Iraq. The least we could do is have one ourselves that makes sense.