NY Times: Fix the Electoral College or Abolish It
August 31, 2019 | by James G. Dalton
The Electoral College, which has elected every U.S. president in history, needs to be either changed or scrapped altogether, The New York Times editorial board is arguing.
The Times published an editorial Friday morning that centers on a recent federal court ruling that said state electors can vote for whoever they want, rather than the candidate voters their states choose. And even though these faithless electors could throw some wrinkles into the presidential election process, particularly in a close race, the Times argued that the real issue is the approach the far majority of states take — the winner-take-all rule.
With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, electors vote for the candidate who won the states’ popular vote. This system can lead to a candidate winning the national popular vote but losing the election because of how the Electoral College is structured, as was the case in the 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.
The Times editorial board argued that the system needs an overhaul.
“The winner-take-all rule encourages campaigns to focus on closely divided battleground states, where a swing of even a few hundred votes can move a huge bloc of electors — creating presidents out of popular-vote losers, like George W. Bush and Donald Trump. This violates the central democratic (or, if you prefer, Republican) premises of political equality and majority rule,” the Times wrote.
“What most people don’t realize is that the winner-take-all rule exists nowhere in the Constitution. It’s a pure creation of the states. They can award their electors by congressional district, as Maine and Nebraska do, or in proportion to the state’s popular vote, as several states have considered.”
Another idea being pitched is the National Popular Vote interstate compact, which would require electors to vote for whichever candidate earns the most votes nationwide.
The Times closed by arguing that change to the Electoral College is necessary.
“The College has survived not because it makes sense, but because one party or the other has believed it gives them an advantage,” the editorial reads. “That may be smart politics, but it’s terrible for a democracy.”