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EDITORIAL: Electoral College not going away anytime soon

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, May 15, 2017 08:31 am

Birch Bayh has been trying to get rid of the Electoral College for 50 years, and some people claim he is getting close to victory. That is either wishful thinking or disingenuous propaganda.

When he was a U.S. senator from Indiana, Bayh tried and failed six times to get an Electoral College-banning constitutional amendment through Congress. Then he turned to an idea for circumventing the college with something called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. By signing, states agree to pledge their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote — but only if an Electoral College majority make the same commitment.

So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed the compact, accounting for 165 electoral votes, almost two-thirds of the 270 needed for a majority.

And that's what has proponents celebrating a near-victory. Of the remaining 105 required, writes Maegan Carberry at Salon, 82 are seriously in play, having passed at least one legislative chamber in 10 states. “Optimistically, we're 23 new electoral votes away from ridding ourselves of the Electoral College. It's something that could be managed through strategically pressuring a handful of state representatives.”

But that optimism is misplaced. While it is true that the measure has passed one chamber in a number of other states, explains Steven Taylor of Outside the Beltway, that doesn't mean anything at all, since in almost all of those cases at least one election has taken place since passage, so the reset button in those states has been pushed. The odds of getting this passed in enough states to guarantee 270 electoral votes are low ... Optimistically is not the right word here, delusional is.” All the states that have passed the measure are blue states, so only the easiest work has been done so far.

In this space we've gone over the negative effects of ditching the Electoral College many times, including the likely end of the two-party system and presidential candidates ignoring small states like Indiana. It doesn't look like we'll have to worry about them any time soon.

In his time, Bayh got two really big things done — constitutional amendments establishing presidential succession and setting the national voting age at 18. Cheer up, Senator. Two out of three ain't bad.

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