As The Election Looms: Is the Electoral College Bad PR For the Country?

According to an article in the New York Times, “In 2008 voter turnout in the fifteen states that received the candidates’ attention was 67 percent.  In the remaining 35 states it was six points lower.”   In other words, those voters who felt they were being actively engaged by the Presidential candidates were more likely to participate in the political process.  In the 1960s candidates would cross the country addressing the needs of the nation and reaching out to a large swath of voters.  This was particularly true in the tightly contested 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.  Between the two candidates every one of the 50 states was visited by at least one of the candidates.  Fast forward to 2012.  Since the political conventions the candidates have only campaigned in 10 states.  There are small cities in swing states that have had more attention from Obama and Romney than the entire west coast.   Now that we have red states and blue states, areas that the candidates feel sure that they’re either the strong favorite, or odds on to lose.  In a tight election such as this our candidates chose to ignore those states.  Because most states chose to deliver their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, there is no impetus for the candidates to reach out to states that seem decided.  As we saw in the 2004 election, it’s possible that one candidate wins the popular vote, while another wins the Electoral College.

There are various plans out there seeking to address the issue, one is the National Popular Vote plan.  It is a voter initiative proposed by John R. Koza.  According to Mr. Koza, it can be implemented without a federal constitutional amendment.  The actual elimination of the Electoral College would require one; but, as with the constant plans being offered to change the tax code, chances are slim that any change will come about.  Still, many of the voters around the country feel like they’re watching on the sidlines as the voters in Ohio, Florida and Virginia are courted by both candidates.  Each person wants to feel that his or her vote matters.  When voters feel taken for granted, they lose interest.  That’s bad PR for our political system.  When voters feel excluded they tend not to participate, not the best thing for a democracy.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

Heuer, Jennifer. “American Flag”. Photo. The New York Times.  03 Nov 2012. 05 Nov 2012. <>

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