America has never had a national election. It has had quadrennial statewide elections for President where the person who wins the proper combination of states is given control over all of them, but every American has never voted for President as an equal. A Californian’s vote for President, carrying the weight of 54 electoral votes, is almost eight times stronger than an Iowan’s whose vote only carries 7 electoral votes. Yet, because Iowa is currently a competitive state and California is not more per capita money and effort will be spent on pursuing Iowa’s 7 electoral votes and correspondingly greater attention and creativity will go towards remedying the concerns necessary to win those votes.
Demographics and ideologies will inevitably shift which states are contested in the future, but the Electoral College system guarantees that statewide Presidential votes will always be worth a disproportionate amount of currency (EVs) and each state will merit inconsistent responsiveness from elected leaders based on its competitiveness. America is a vast, complicated and weird place, however, and just because a state like North Dakota has sparse population does not mean that the issues enclosed by it’s boundaries are not intricate and worthy of national direction; the Electoral Colleger assures that such states are not overlooked. That said, the Electoral College also means that areas like Southern cities or upstate New York with more geographic and demographic weight than a Dakota are currently almost completely ignored.
The conversation over retiring the Electoral College has generally settled on the false choice of having either a direct presidential election by popular vote or maintaining the Electoral College as it is, or the almost pointless concept of awarding one EV per congressional district win and two bonus ones for the popular winner of each state (congressional districts are so gerrymandered so as to be unrepresentative). A better option would be to make the entirety of America (including all of its territories) an additional “state” in the Electoral College worth 52 electoral votes; one for each state, one for DC and one for the numerous territories like Guam, the Marshall Islands etc. In this way each vote cast for President would be cast twice: once to select the electors from the voters’ state, the second to select the electors form all of the states and territories en masse.
The tremendous prize derived from winning the popular vote would expand the area of necessary competition. Winning Ohio would still be crucial, but so would running up the Democratic margin in New York City and Los Angeles or increasing the Republican edge in rural Kansas and the Texas suburbs. Republicans would have to pay attention to upstate New York and Democrats would have to get every vote they can out of Southern cities. Attention, energy and creativity would be applied to the issues confronting these areas without demolishing the pertinence of Nevada, Nebraska and New Hampshire.
Fifty-two American EVs would have done much to legitimize the last two elections. Regardless of Generalissimo Bush’s 537 vote putsch in Florida in 2000, Gore’s 500,000 plus popular margin from America would have indisputably carried him into the White House. The Bush junta likely padded their results in Ohio and Florida in 2004, but Bush’s 3.5 million popular margin would have pushed him over the top in a manner that would not demand a congressional investigation. Moreover, with the 52 American EVs incorporated into an electoral strategy, who is to say Kerry might not have won? It may have been easier to massage an extra 4 million votes out of all of America instead of 50,000 votes in Ohio.
Best of all, 52 EVs for America would make the national portion of all votes the most egalitarian vote in America. One vote in Alaska would be worth equally as much as one vote in Manhattan. Democrats would need to assure that they get every last one of their Oklahoman voters to the polls. Republicans would have to strive to get every single party member in Seattle to pull the lever.
A Constitutional Amendment scuttling the Electoral College would never pass enough small-state legislatures to succeed. An alteration of the system awarding the candidate who best represents the lot of America with 52 “American” electoral votes would open the entire country for competition without eliminating the attention given to less populous states.