« My Fatwah | Main | A 7 to 1 Horatio »



I think the best way to increase voter turnout is to adopt the Oregon plan where everyone mails their ballot in. The result of this rather simple fix was tremendous. In 2000, 79% of registered voters cast ballots, and in 2004, this number reached 86%.


The best answers are many times the most simply ones. Your proposal makes complete sense.

Regarding the idea that the Electoral College made sense then, therefore it makes sense now does not hold water. Sadly I think are inability to update a system that needs it is due to the lack of true leadership within each party. I mean leadership driven by character, and not personality.

John F.

Collmer, feels like you accurately capture one of the challenges with the Electoral College. However, while the logic of your thought process is sound, I think the goal of increased voter turnout is a dubious one (especially given your politics).

As you note, the 2004 "get out the vote" campaign backfired on the Dems as the Right used the organized religion soapbox/pulpit to mobilize a huge body of would-be no-shows to the ballet boxes. In this way, your proposal would further exacerbate the challenge that has perennially plagued the Dems: lack of sufficient organization.

Additionally, your proposal could stand to move us toward a more Populist state and we could again find ourselves with a Reagan-esque leader (see Collmer post “Remembering Reagan”).

If I were to look at reforming the Electoral College, I would probably go the opposite way, toward a caucus set-up (I believe some states already do this but I’m ignorant of which ones). From my perspective, the fewer uneducated voters, the better (specifically: uneducated about the issues and the candidates; not uneducated in the broader sense). Think about states where Judges are appointed vs. elected. I tend to think that appointment (at least at the state level) makes a ton of sense as typical voters do not spend enough time studying the merits of each candidate. Can we extrapolate this to the National level…?

But alas, I’m not looking at reforming the Electoral College. I don’t think we should spend another keystroke talking about how to re-shape the election process. I think FOCUS is the most important thing that Dems should be thinking about, not academic issues of Electoral College reform. Republicans are running the country because they ARE focused, and therefore they are winning elections, no matter HOW you slice it…

Trouble is, I have no idea where Dems (as a whole) are on the following:

Globalization/Trade – Both parties are waffling on this, but the Dems seem to lean more toward Protectionist (which I personally think is dangerous)

Immigration – While this could be a strong opportunity for Dems, I don’t see any momentum here

Federal Deficit/Debt - From what I can tell, they want to spend MORE

National Security – While I know the war is unpopular, a hasty retreat cannot be the right answer unfortunately

Foreign Policy – Are the Dems going to knee-jerk from Interventionist and campaign on Isolationism? Doesn’t feel great.

Education – While the Dems have a lock on the Teachers’ Union, is that an asset or a liability?

Healthcare – Again, should we spend more or do the Dems have the conviction and fortitude to make the necessary reforms?

Environment – At least Global Warming is heating up (no pun intended). Could this one issue be enough for an entire campaign…?

Regardless, I struggle to find any note-worthy macro issues for which the Dems stand.

I leave you with a quote from the Economist this week:
“Two years ago [The Economist] narrowly favoured Mr. Kerry’s incoherence over Mr. Bush’s incompetence. Since then, Republican incompetence has exceeded even our worst fears. How depressing to report that Democratic incoherence has soared too. America deserves better.”

Mr. Collmer, I have faith that you will help lead your party to a more focused stance and capitalize on this opportunity that the Republicans have provided. Now is the time to organize, come together, and focus on issues that matter.

Yours in the pursuit of a better Nation,

Jason Underwood

It is very refreshing to see such well thought out issues discussed in a productive manner. I applaud the attempt. I don't have much to add on the Electoral College, but obviously a system put in-place in a much different time to manage a muc smaller process, could use a little upgrade. Maybe they should be upgarrding (I assume it is in the works) how votes are cast, and when it is a no brainer for all to vote then they might get a little more focused on why their particular vote is altered by an additional layer that I am sure 99.9% of voters do not understand. The current voting system kind of makes me think of the Dewey Decimal System from the junior high library...We can file taxes electronically, obviously we should vote electronically, and how those votes trickle through the system, I guess has to still be debated.


this issue is bigger than the Dems position on immigration or trade. i fear those with political power won't fight for real change until we've established a fair and inclusive process to elect them. one step down this path towards democracy -- which is inherently progressive in the long-run -- is counting each vote equally, so that we can say, without being maddeningly disingenuous, that every vote matters.

there is an easier, though perhaps less "politically viable" solution that i'm sure you're aware of but i will state anyway: move to a pure popular vote -- whoever has the most votes wins. of course, this is exactly what your proposal accomplishes, but why add the conversion of votes into electoral numbers? one person, one vote makes sense to EVERY American -- I'm sure millions already think it's what we have -- and if we had a government and media that worked for the people, it is what we'd have.

thanks for writing about this.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Me Elsewhere