A commentary by Steve Young
The Electoral College system of choosing a president should be abolished. It was originally based on the idea that the powerful elite should have a means of circumventing the will of the people if desired.
No less than four times in our nation’s history a president has been selected without receiving a majority of the votes and twice our president has been selected, not elected, by the electoral college even though he received FEWER votes than his opponent. You can’t get much less democratic than that.
We should choose our president by popular vote, an unlikely change that will require an amendment to the Constitution, but while that ideas gestates, states do have the power to change how those electoral votes are allocated.
Republicans have recently suggested that electoral votes be awarded by congressional districts, a terrible idea which will only increase gerrymandering and result in political maneuvering, not the people, deciding the election.
Every four years a significant number of Kentuckians are disenfranchised, their votes meaningless because of the “winner take all” system of allotting electoral votes. The current system is unrepresentative of the will of all Kentuckians. A candidate may receive only one vote over half those cast and yet be awarded all eight electoral votes as if 100 percent of Kentuckians had voted for him/her.
This in no way represents the will of all the people and discourages many from voting in the presidential election.
We should change the system to proportional allocation of electoral votes based upon a candidate's percentage of the popular vote. If a candidate receives 60 percent of the popular vote, he is awarded 60 percent of the eight electoral votes.
A simple rounding upward or downward from .5 will take care of decimal percentages. In the example above .60 x 8 = 4.8. Since .8 is above .5, rounding to the next whole number would allot 5 electoral votes to that candidate and the remaining 3 to his opponent.
The system is simple and easy to understand, fair, and gives every Kentuckian a meaningful vote.
At present, the system discourages voters whose candidate is not expected to win over 50 percent. Why should they vote? Their voice will not be heard. The same is true of voters whose candidate is expected to win handily. Why vote? All eight electoral votes are in the bag.
But if voters knew that despite the fact that their candidate might not get a plurality, they could still help secure one, two or three electoral votes for that candidate, they would be much more likely to participate and the same would be true of voters whose candidate was comfortably ahead.
Yes, he might get the plurality, but he needs every vote he can get to win six, seven or perhaps all eight electoral votes. So the proposed system would encourage voting by all.
Short of abolishing the Electoral College system altogether, this is the fairest way to allocate Kentucky’s eight electoral votes --- and the proposed system should be adopted nationwide.