How to cure the electoral college – Arnold Barnett and Edward Kaplan

MIT Sloan Professor Arnold Barnett

MIT Sloan Professor Arnold Barnett

From The Los Angeles Times

The popular vote winner is poised to lose the presidency in the electoral college on Dec. 19, and calls are widespread to replace the college with a national popular vote. That proposal will go nowhere: Amending the Constitution is too difficult, and getting a Supreme Court judgment against the electoral college is almost as fraught. It doesn’t help that a direct presidential election is perceived as benefiting Democrats, and Republicans are ascendant at both the state and federal levels.

A simple reform, however, might go a long way toward reducing objections to the electoral college without introducing a partisan bias.

Our alternative would preserve the current arrangements for assigning electoral votes to individual states. As required by the Constitution, each state’s total electoral vote would be based on the size of its delegation in the House of Representatives (determined by population) and in the Senate (every state gets two). In most states, electoral votes are finally awarded on a winner-takes-all basis. We propose instead that electoral votes be awarded in direct proportion to each candidate’s share of the states’ popular vote.

For example, Connecticut had seven electoral votes in 2016, and 54.6% of its voters opted for Hillary Clinton while 40.9% chose Donald Trump and 4.5% chose other candidates. Under our proposal, Clinton would get 54.6% of seven, or 3.82 “electoral vote equivalents” — EQVs — from Connecticut; Trump would get 2.86 EQVs (40.9% of seven), and the remaining candidates would split 0.32 EQVs. The candidate with the largest number of EQVs amassed over the 50 states and the District of Columbia would be declared president.

This proportional-allocation scheme has many advantages that aren’t necessarily obvious until you apply it and see the results.

Read the full article at The Los Angeles Times.

Arnold Barnett is the George Eastman Professor of Management Science and a Professor of Statistics at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Edward Kaplan is a professor at the Yale University School of Management, Engineering and Public Health.

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