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« Torturing the Truth | Main | The New Bloomberg Rumor »

April 14, 2008

The End of the Electoral College: Later, If Not Sooner?

posted by Josh Goodman

Last week, I sketched out the scenarios under which an interstate compact could replace the Electoral College with a national popular vote system in time for the 2012 presidential election. My prognosis: The chances of enough states approving the compact are relatively gloomy.

But, over the long-term, the plan might have a better chance. Nothing in the text of the agreement creates any deadline for states to enter into the deal.

The inertia of the law-making process (you have to get two legislative bodies and a governor to agree) makes it difficult for any radical idea to win approval in many states quickly. That same inertia, however, makes it unlikely that states will rescind their approval of the pact once they've given it.

As a result, I can imagine a slow march to ratification over a couple of decades. I can also imagine the plan going dormant for a while if interest in the topic fades -- until the next time the popular vote and Electoral College diverge.

Comments

Rob Richie

The main problem with the Electoral College happens in every election, not just ones where the popular vote winner is defeated. The problem is that the major party nominees completely, absolutely ignore two-thirds of the nation in the general election.

The reason why I'm so bullish on National Popular Vote becoming policy by 2012 is that the 2008 election is almost certain to showcase this problem again -- and it will be noticed, with the endless talk of "safe blue", "safe red" states and handful of battleground. Then 2009 comes around, and all states will debate a legislative vehicle to fix the problem -- one that comes with 70% support in the polls.

Remember that the more this issue is put before people, the more they want to change the current system. Opponents' arguments at the end of the day are very weak, based on faulty understanding of our electoral history and how elections governed by a national popular vote would work. The more sunshine on the debate, the better for reformers.

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