Rep. Steve Simon has authored a House bill to change the way the Electoral College works. The bill would allocate Minnesota’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. That is a big change, but it has bipartisan support, including my Republican Representative Pat Garofalo. If it passes, it could be possible for a candidate to win in Minnesota, but still lose the Minnesota electoral votes.
That seems odd doesn’t it? But, in reality, we don’t elect our Minnesota senators by using an electoral college based on county population, so why should we do it for the president. Every vote should count, and every person in the US should care about the presidential race. That is not the case right now. If you are a Democrat living in Alabama, you have no input in the presidential race. If you are a Republican living here in Minnesota, you also have no input into the presidential race. In fact, because of the Electoral College, more than 80% of Americans get ignored by presidential candidates every election. That means less than 20% of the population in so-called “swing states” decide who the president is for the rest of us. In 2012, it was Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia, 13% of the nation’s population!
It seems so logical to elect the person who gets the most votes. That is what every other election does. It would engage more people. Democrats in Alabama have somebody to vote for, just like Republicans in Minnesota. How many people feel like their vote doesn’t count, so they don’t vote? That changes with popular vote. As I said before, we don’t elect others using an Electoral College type system, why reserve an old outdated system to vote?
Many opponents are against it because it means Democrats will more easily win by concentrating on metropolitan areas exclusively, but I would argue that isn’t the case. In the Electoral College, Minnesota has ten votes and Alabama has nine. That is plus 1 vote for the Democrat. Minnesota, hasn’t voted for a Republican since Nixon, and Alabama hasn’t voted for a Democrat since the Dixiecrats moved to the GOP in the 70s. But if you look at the vote totals for the two states in 2012, Romney beat Obama by over 200,000 votes: Obama – 2,341,288 votes, Romney – 2,574,028 votes, despite the fact that Minnesota has half a million more people and a much larger voter turnout, Romney won.
The truth is, that electing a president by a national popular vote would elect moderates, almost every time. Super-liberal Democrats concentrating metropolitan areas would be no more likely to win that super-conservative Republicans concentrating on the south and rural areas. That frightens both Democrats and Republicans. But every vote should count, and I think a lot more would be accomplished without the extremist candidates parties put forward.