Philosophical commentary on contemporary political issues in the tradition of Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Michael Sandel.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gerrymandering Poses a Greater Threat to American Democracy than the Electoral College

This post is a letter to the editor I sent to The Columbus Dispatch tonight. It is in response to the following letter to the editor printed today:

The Electoral College is made up of 538 delegates: one delegate for each member of the House and one delegate for each member of the Senate, plus three delegates from the District of Columbia. However, the delegates in almost all cases vote the winner of the popular vote within the various states, making the vote a winner-take-all situation.
In many cases a state, such as Ohio with its 88 counties, could have the residents in as few as 15 counties determine who gets all the delegates’ votes, because of the density of population in those counties. This leaves the voters in the remaining 73 counties theoretically unrepresented.
Would it not make more sense to have a delegate from each congressional district vote the plurality of that district? Since the senators represent the entire state, their two delegates would vote the state popular vote.
This may not change the final results of an election, but it would ensure that each district’s vote represented that district’s sentiments. It might also delay the TV networks predicting winners with less than 5 percent of a state’s votes having been counted.
Below is my response:
In his Wednesday letter to the editor “Electoral College Should Be Revised,” Jerry Lawson advocated a system in which Ohio’s electoral votes would be awarded on the basis of congressional districts rather than at the statewide level. While there is a strong case to make that the Electoral College should be reformed, a Congressional district system could not be undertaken until our state’s unfair redistricting system is reformed.
Our current system awards the drawing of congressional districts to the party who controls a majority of five statewide offices. That party can then draw the districts in the manner that most benefits its own interests in the next election. Demographic technology has become so effective that the last redistricting process guaranteed the outcome of all but two of the 148 Congressional, Ohio Senate, and Ohio house races this election season.
Before going on to champion a Congressional district-based approach to the electoral college, we need to do something about the terrible affront to the democratic process that is our own state’s redistricting system.

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