Demand the End of an 18th Century AnachronismMake Your Voice Heard on December 13th when the Electoral College Votes for President
Some 120 million Americans voted in the 2004 presidential election on November 2. But the decisive election in fact takes place on December 13, when 538 electors convene in 50 state capitals and the District of Columbia to cast their votes for president. The Electoral College is an 18th century anachronism that has perverse impacts on our nation and its politics and is a ticking time bomb in the modern era of close, highly competitive elections.
In an era of increasingly narrow presidential elections, the Electoral College is increasingly inadequate and runs the risk of fraud, disenfranchised voters, and electoral deadlock. Over time, we have seen the assortment of “battleground” states become an ever more exclusive club. Fewer states were truly in play in 2004 than in 2000, and fewer states were in play in 2000 than 1996. This trend speaks to the increasing tendency of the Electoral College to discount tens of millions of voters and potential voters in “unimportant” states, and to the danger of a weak popular mandate for a president-elect.
We need your help!
Please help us put a spotlight on the Electoral College and join the growing chorus of voices calling for direct election of the president by majority vote. We are calling for activists to write letters to media outlets and join actions at state capitols when electors convene to vote on December 13, for Congress to act on HJR 109, for state legislators to pass resolutions in support of direct election and for scholars to revisit state assumptions about alleged benefits provided by the Electoral College.
Below are five key arguments for direct election that are particularly compelling in 21st century American politics and four action steps for December 13th.
Five Reasons for Abolishing the Electoral College Now1. Most Americans are neglected by the campaigns.
The Electoral College is supposed to force candidates to reach out to states around the nation, large and small. In practice, candidates focus only on a few "battleground" states. Indeed President Bush's campaign only polled in 18 states in 2003-2004, most Americans did not have a single presidential ad air in their local television market and most voter registration drives were focused only on battlegrounds. Given the current partisan alignment, the number of competitive states is decreasing with each election.
2. Candidates win without a majority.
In 2000 Al Gore lost the electoral vote despite winning the national popular vote, and George Bush likely would have lost the electoral vote in 2004 if his victory margin had been smaller. In the current era, winners of close elections could as fairly be decided by a coin flip as the Electoral College. Historically, a third of our presidents have been elected without an absolute majority of the vote, in contrast to most presidential democracies that hold a direct election with a majority requirement.
3. Incentives for fraud and partisan election administration
Election 2004 was decided in Ohio by a mere 136,000 votes. In 2000, the election was decided by a 537-vote margin in Florida. The fact that presidential election regularly can be decided by a relatively few votes in a small number of states, incentives increase for electoral fraud and partisan decisions by election officials.
4. Faithless electors can throw out votes.
Months before the 2004 election, West Virginian Republican elector Richie Robb declared he did not plan to cast his electoral vote for George Bush if he carried the state. Robb's act of protest would nullify the votes of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. In an era of tightly contested, highly charged elections, faithless electors create a real potential for throwing the election.
5. Electoral ties and misfires are becoming more likely.
A shift of 21,000 changed votes in Iowa, New Mexico, and Nevada would have thrown the election into a 269-269 electoral tie – a result that is again quite possible in 2008. In such an event, the election would be put to the House of Representatives, with each state's delegation having one vote regardless of size and with the potential of partisanship and deal making trumping popular will.
What you can do:1. On December 13th, protest at your state capitol.
This is the day electors meet in each state, usually at the capitol building, and officially vote for President. Show that yours is the vote that truly counts by convening there yourself, and notifying the local press. Find the time and place of your electors' meeting here: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/G04/EC-Meeting.phtml
2. Support H.J.Res 109.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.'s constitutional amendment, H.J.Res 109, would abolish the Electoral College and provide for election of the President by majority vote. Help pass reform by calling your Member of Congress to support the legislation and calling your state legislator to introduce a resolution in the state legislature calling for support for HJR 109.
3. Write letters and op-eds to media outlets.
December 13 presents an excellent opportunity for commentaries and letters to the editor about the case for reform. Write letters and call into talk radio and C-SPAN.
4. Lobby your State Legislature
Send a letter, along with this drafted state resolution urging Congress to pass legislation abolishing the Electoral College.
Electoral College Table of Contents