November 6, 2012

Our View: Maine's system would be good Electoral College reform

If big states adopted our system, candidates would be forced to contest more regions.

When the United States helps an emerging democracy develop its system of government, it never gives them an electoral college. Not in Bosnia, not in Iraq, not in Afghanisan.

So if we never recommend that other countries create a system of winner-take-all races within segments of their new countries, why do we cling to the system here?

Baring some unforseen calamity, we will pick a president today, but at times it seems that a few counties in Ohio will decide while the rest of us watch.

Our system, designed before the telegraph, telephone, radio, television and the Internet, might have served a logical purpose in the the days of slow travel and and poor communication. Now it creates presidential elections that turn local issues into major planks of public policy (if they are issues in the right locality) and ignores what matters in most of the country.

In Maine we would be completely forgotten if we didn't share TV market with some swing-state New Hampshire voters, and if we did not use our flexibility to split our electoral votes by congressional district.

That's a reform that every state could make without changing the Constitution, and one that could radically change how campaigns were run.

Big states would lose some of their winner-take-all clout, but they also wouldn't be ignored as one party's property, either.

That might not get more attention for Maine, but if we had an election where candidates spent more time in diverse California than they did in Iowa, we might see issues relevant to Maine's people debated.


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