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Eliminating the Electoral College would not reform our democracy

Eliminating the Electoral College would not reform our democracy
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In two of the first five presidential elections held in the 21st century, the winner of the popular vote did not become president. Should Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE win reelection this November, there’s a good chance he’ll manage the feat by winning the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote (again). 

Democratic candidates, politicians and activists are bitter that neither Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreThe Memo: Harris moves signal broad role as VP By making Durham special counsel, AG Barr spares Biden tough choices Press: Divided government begins in Georgia MORE nor Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE managed to eclipse the treasured 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, and terrified that Trump will in 2020 even if he loses the popular vote.

“How can we call our democratic process just when we award the highest office in the land to the candidate who fails to earn the most votes?” they say, concluding that the only logical solution is to abolish the Electoral College. 

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Of course, there is an unspoken motive among Democratic “reformers” making the case to abolish the Electoral College. Adopting a deciding national popular vote dramatically increases the influence of population-dense cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, where Democrats hold huge registration advantages. This format merely inverts the status quo; national elections won with more votes in fewer states.

While the case for abolishing the Electoral College in the name of reforming our democracy does not pass the “country-over-party” test, that doesn’t mean we should do nothing. The fact remains that both the Electoral College and the national popular vote fall short of equitably representing the desires of the voters, particularly in a hyper-partisan political environment. For elected officials of both parties who stipulate that this flaw exists, any proposed solution must bridge the divide between the two systems rather than prioritizing the one most favorable to their base.

In fact, that bridge already exists and has been tested in two states. Maine and Nebraska utilize a hybrid allocation of their Electoral Votes, where two votes go to the statewide winner and the remaining votes are allocated to the winner of each individual congressional district in the state.

In 2008, Nebraska was not considered a battleground state. So why did Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine George Clooney says Amal beat him and Obama in a free throw contest MORE spend time and resources in Omaha? Because his campaign knew Nebraska’s 2nd District might be winnable, and they were right. Despite losing the state by 15 percentage points, Obama left with a valuable electoral vote from the 2nd District. Maine, a reliable state for Democrats, experienced a similar phenomenon in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won the statewide popular vote, but split the two congressional districts with Donald Trump. 

These two states – one blue and one red – have established an electoral system that equitably balances individual voters and the state in electing a president and is a model that should be considered for expansion with the goal of a 50-state adoption. This is a shift that would not require the Herculean feat of ratifying a constitutional amendment, and most importantly does not inherently provide an advantage to one political party. 

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The widespread adoption of a Split Electoral Vote system would profoundly change the dynamics of national campaigns by making formerly all-or-nothing states more competitive. Suddenly, Democrats have an incentive to campaign in traditionally red-leaning states like Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, while Republicans will have opportunities in blue bastions New York, California and New Jersey. States and districts previously taken for granted or written off will find themselves battled for, where they will be introduced to different candidates, perspectives and ideas.

Few things are more harmful to our democratic process and systems than the feeling that one’s vote is valued less than another American’s. The two parties already agree that the current Electoral College system and the push to abolish it in favor of a national popular vote disenfranchise voters. If the true goal is to amend and reform our democracy, electeds and reformers should unite in the effort to adopt the compromise that works. 

Jared Alper is the founder of Common Sense Strategies Group, a political strategist focusing on democracy and government reform and an independent voter from New York.