Utah to Split Electoral Vote?

From Ballot Access News:

Chad Curtis of Orem, Utah, is proposing to circulate an initiative to split Utah’s electoral votes, proportionately to the popular vote. Thus, if Utah has 6 electoral votes (which it will certainly have after 2011), a presidential candidate who polled one-sixth of the popular vote would get one electoral vote. A similar initiative appeared on the Colorado ballot in November 2004, but it was fatally flawed because it didn’t specify whether it would go into effect for 2004 or not. Chad Curtis can be reached at [email protected], or 801-787-3919.

This seems like an interesting idea, but the problem is that it will never happen unless it’s a national movement. Utah is a solid Republican state, Bush over Kerry by 72-26% in 2004. This proposal would basically hand the Democrats one (or maybe 2) electoral votes they never could have won otherwise.

So, the Republicans will block it. The same as the Democrats would scramble to block this proposal if it was Rhode Island.

8 Responses to “Utah to Split Electoral Vote?”

  1. David A Spitzley Says:

    Actually, it isn’t as straightforward as that. If a state’s electoral votes aren’t in play because of massive partisan advantage on one side, there’s really no reason for presidential candidates, or political parties for that matter, to pay attention to the state, as it is basically a fixed point. By splitting the votes a bit, there’s a much greater reason for both of the major parties to come courting. Personally, prefer giving the two Senate-based electoral votes to the leading candidate and then splitting the rest proportionately, as that still ensures candidates need to fight for as many states as possible, while giving more representation to minority positions.

  2. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I don’t dislike the idea at all, but it has to be done nationally. The problem is definitely as simple as it this being put into effect in one or two states… because it will benefit one party or the other and there’s no incentive for that to happen right now.

    Why would Utah Republicans give up their virtually guaranteed right to all of Utah’s electoral votes if other states aren’t doing the same thing?

  3. Freelancer Says:

    Austin’s got a point, it would have to be done nationally. But it would be a step in the right direction. Personally, I don’t exactly like the idea of proportional votes. I think the best system would be to have the winner of the popular vote of the state receive two votes and have one vote for each of the congressional districts won by those presidential candidates.

    One other interesting thing should be pointed out. As to the argument about diminishing states political power. Before 1842 there were states that elected their congressmen statewide. For example: if a state had eleven reps. all of them would be voted on statewide. But then Congress required that there be districts for each congressman. So, you can compare those systems to the electoral college systems and make your own conclusions. Back to the old way of electing congressman, did it diminish a states power and influence? Well, yeah. But it didn’t represent other people in the state. Sooo, a per district system of electing a president might prove to be beneficial. Hay, maybe a mixture of systems might be good too.

  4. Mike Grimes Says:

    Whats wrong with using the popular vote.

    This is a nice alternitive. As for splitting votes by congressional district that has disaster written all over it. As long as partisans controll the district boundries thats not an option I want to see come into play.

    Imagine this senerio in a relitivly close state like Minnesota, Democrats win 52% to 48% (for arguments sake we’ll leave third parties out of this) But Republicans win 7 districts by 2 or 3 % while Democrats win one district by 30%, the end result Republicans get 7 EC Votes Democrats get 3.

  5. Freelancer Says:

    Oh, I left out an important thing too. Those eleven districts would go to one party also.

  6. David A Spitzley Says:

    The only real problem with using the popular vote is that extremely deep support in one region can outweight light opposition in a much larger area. A friend of mine likens it to sports playoffs: you don’t get in because of your total score in all games; you get in based on winning many games. That way a lopsided victory in one game doesn’t outweight losing dozens of others. Going to the popular vote could leave the country with a President who was elected even though the population of only a handful of states gave him/her majority support.

    On another front, going with the popular vote increases the payoff to vote fraud. Right now fraudulent votes for a candidate can only skew a single state’s electoral vote, and there’s no point in trying to inflate a candidate’s margin of victory beyond the point where they win that state. In a popular vote electoral system, supporters of a Democratic presidential candidate in Salt Lake City, or a Republican presidential candidate in Detroit, would see a national payoff to falsifying votes even though the odds of altering the winner for their state, or even their city, might be nil.

  7. Allen Hacker Says:

    This would have little to no legal effect, since electoral college electors are not required to cast their votes in accord with the popular vote. This was proven the last time by Roger McBride, who cast his electoral college vote for John Hospers / Toni Nathan, the first Libertarian candidates for US President / V-President. This also made Nathan the first woman ever to receive an electoral college vote.

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  8. Will Says:

    It would decide who was sent to the electoral college, which would decide who got the votes. So in fact it would have a very big effect.

    Also, faithless electors have come along quite frequently, but you cite the “last time” as 1972 when a Libertarian received a vote. In reality, this has happened four more times in the last 35 years.

    In 1976 a Ford elector voted for Reagan. In 1988 a Dukakis elector voted for Lloyd Bensten. In 2000 a Gore elector abstained from voting to protest for D.C. Statehood. And in 2004 a Kerry elector voted for Edwards.

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