www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Embarrassing economists -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

Sherow for House -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

It can't get crazier (wanna bet?) -10/24/2014, 9:04 AM

Digital distractions -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Orman for Senate -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal persecutors -10/23/2014, 10:00 AM

Kids do count -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

Needing the past in the future? -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

In praise of hunting -10/22/2014, 10:30 AM

What is a CID? Will it work for mall? -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Judging importance on the ballot -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Kansas Speaks -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Paying for schools -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Joining forces for Orman -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Research before voting -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Davis is moderate? -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The most important election in your lifetime -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Huelskamp stands out -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Kansas farm interests -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Keeping unfounded reports from 'going viral' -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The age of cynicism -10/18/2014, 9:02 AM

Preventable diseases -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Second term needed -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Kansans deserve better -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Officially killing Americans -10/17/2014, 10:27 AM

New era at FHSU -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Roberts is right choice -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Crumbling Constitution -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Redbelly's future -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas deserves better -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Remember to vote on Nov. 4 -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

You almost feel sorry for Sean Groubert -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Register to vote -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Living on that 70 percent -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

New bullying problem for schools: parents -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Cheerios, marriage equality, the Supreme Court -10/13/2014, 9:49 AM

Wedded bliss -10/12/2014, 5:54 PM

Who is the real fraud? -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Teenagers 'make some noise' -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Not so private property -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal funding -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Teacher indoctrination -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Vote Republican -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Non-partisan politics -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Teen driver safety week Oct. 19 to 25 -10/9/2014, 9:04 AM

FHSU party -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Poverty in America -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Let the women serve -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Time for new direction -10/8/2014, 9:49 AM

Improving Kansas economically -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Water abusers -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Play safe on the farm -10/8/2014, 9:34 AM

Where the money comes from -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The president's security -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

Marriage equality -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The sins of the father are visited -10/6/2014, 9:02 AM

Cannabis in America: The bottom line -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

Gov. shields wealthy from paying for schools -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

Passionate protest in defense of civil disorder -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

October is time for baseball and, of course, film premieres -10/4/2014, 2:16 PM

Alley cleanup -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Will the West defend itself? -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Find another school -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

It's better now -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

The answer is to bomb Mexico? -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

Falling revenue -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

School facilities -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Look ahead, not back -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Secret Service needs to step up its game -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Roosevelts were true leaders -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Moral bankruptcy -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Expect some sort of change in Topeka -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

'A tale of two countries' -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

The last of the Willie Horton ads? -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

Finding answers to the future of Kansas -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

College: Where religious freedom goes to die -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Honoring Hammond -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Do statistical disparities mean injustice? -9/26/2014, 9:53 AM

World university rankings -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas experiment -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Two anti-choice parties -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Not in the same old Kansas anymore -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Domestic violence -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Back to war we go -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Piling on the NFL -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Emma Watson looking for a few good men -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Renter runaround -9/23/2014, 7:32 PM

Enough is enough -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Life of politics in the state -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

What is and is not child abuse -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Cannabis politics and research -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Future of The Mall -9/21/2014, 6:14 PM

Multiculturalism is a failure -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

State education rankings -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Kobach gone wild -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Bias prevents civil discussion of education issues -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Immigration is American -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Costs to states not expanding Medicaid -9/17/2014, 10:14 AM

Medicare threats -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Presidential elections in a partisan age

Published on -10/28/2012, 5:11 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

The United States will hold a presidential election on Nov. 6. Kansans do know that simple fact, but not if we had to rely on the candidates' campaigns to inform us.

That's because this year's dramatic race for the White House simply does not exist in Kansas. Or California. Or Maine. Or any of 40 or so states that have been solidly red or blue throughout this campaign.

Quick, which party will prevail in Kansas in 2016? 2020? We all know the answer. And we know why this is so: the Electoral College, which sums the winner-take-all results of the 50 states (with two minor exceptions) and requires a majority of 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Since 2000, I've written some on the Electoral College, and I'll be happy to engage in a broad-gauged discussion of this uniquely American institution. But for today, let me focus on two aspects of the Electoral College that make it unfair and an increasingly problematic part of our democracy.

First, the Electoral College fundamentally discriminates against tens of millions of voters. This occurs largely by disenfranchising voters on the losing side in the 40 or states where the outcome is never in doubt.

As a Kansas Democrat, Nov. 6 will mark my ninth consecutive vote for a losing candidate in Kansas. It simply doesn't matter if a cast my ballot or not. So it goes. But this is exactly the case for all Republican voters in California or New York, and for Democrats in Texas or Utah.

My vote and those of a GOP voter in California are irrelevant, while those of both parties in Ohio, Colorado and the six other battleground states are highly valued, as the campaigns and their allies spend more than $2 billion to convince a handful of voters (under a million across all eight states) how to cast their ballot.

Abolishing the Electoral College and instituting a simple popular vote election would make everyone's vote count exactly the same. It would be fair. The Republican in New York City and the Democrat in Dodge City would each have an equal say in choosing a president.

The second reason for abolishing the Electoral College may be even more compelling than the idea of fundamental fairness. That is, in an increasingly partisan, polarized era, the Electoral College is an institutional disaster waiting to happen.

The most dangerous problem is throwing the election into the U.S. House, but the most obvious one is that the popular-vote winner can lose the electoral vote count, as clearly occurred in 1888 and 2000.

Our political system has weathered those political storms; George W. Bush won the narrowest presidential race in American history, yet harnessed enough legitimacy to govern aggressively over his White House tenure.

Still, four years later, a switch of 60,000 votes in Ohio would have landed John Kerrey in the White House, despite losing the popular count by three million.

And in 2012, the possibility that Mitt Romney will win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College tally is very real.

Indeed, since 2000, the highly divisive, highly partisan nature of American politics means very close elections will be the norm, and the popular vote count, with Republicans running up huge majorities in rural states and the South, may differ from the electoral vote results.

As a republic, we can afford an occasional electoral division, but such split outcomes may well become a quadrennial threat electoral legitimacy. Thus, a Romney popular majority with an Obama electoral-vote win might invite a thorough reassessment of the creaky, undemocratic Electoral College.

It should. We can have an election in which the candidate with the most votes wins, and one in which every vote counts equally. That a worthwhile goal for Kansans and for all Americans.

Burdett Loomis is a professor of political science at the University of Kansas.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News