Re: [pcp-discuss:] Probleming through Florida

From: Norman K. McPhail (norm@SOCAL.WANET.COM)
Date: Fri Dec 01 2000 - 00:42:42 GMT

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    I like your points about trying to fit the Presidential election process
    into either a zero sum game model or a survey of voter preferences
    model. However, I don't think this should be viewed as an "either/or"
    choice. To my way of thinking, our Electoral College system has
    elements of both the models you are suggesting.

    I may be wrong, but I think that under the current set up, states do
    have the option to split their Electors in proportion to the popular
    vote. But I would estimate that there is practically no chance of
    getting two-thirds of the states to ratify a Constitutional amendment
    that would require a proportional split of a given state's Presidential
    Electors as opposed to the winner-take-all method currently in use.

    Keep in mind that the way the Presidential election system works now,
    the states themselves have a certain amount of power. But a
    proportional or popular election system would reduce the power of the
    states and increase the power of the federal or central government. To
    my way of thinking, this would tilt the balance of power too far towards
    the central government.

    Keep in mind that do not have a direct democracy. We have
    representative democracy through several overlapping and yet independent
    jurisdictions. These overlapping jurisdictions are self governing at
    the local and state levels. Then the states and the individuals within
    them combine to empower a central government. So we end up with a
    federation of local self governing units organized within and by states
    and a central government that has a Constitution that empowers and
    protects both in a balanced system. The tension between these competing
    levels of self governing entities helps ensure that our individual
    rights and sovereignty are protected.

    I think the federal government already has too much power in this system
    of checks and balances. If we make the mistake of swinging the balance
    even further towards the central government, we run a risk of losing
    more and more of our individual sovereignty and human rights. So I for
    one would strongly oppose the proportional state Electoral voting you
    propose or any system of direct popular voting for the United States


    John J Kineman wrote:
    > Just an added thought. I think there is a major question of semantics
    > involved in the election process. I raised this in the article I wrote
    > ( It is whether we believe that a vote is a
    > survey of voter preference, or a contest. If it is a survey, than it is
    > a sample of a larger population, with estimable variances. A statistical
    > tie can be quantified, below which the index (the vote) no longer
    > indicates anything, and the small differences are uninteresting. At that
    > point one must invoke another process, such as the electoral college
    > (suitably modified to make it a decision making body), the legislature,
    > and ultimately Congress; with the Judicial making sure it all passes on
    > properly. If, on the other hand, it is perceived as a game or contest,
    > then the loss of indicative value of small differences is completely
    > irrelevant - the contest gets even more interesting as the outcome
    > hinges on narrower and narrower margins, just like a game show or
    > football game. The public and media is so used to the second model that
    > it was a full week before I heard any intelligent statements about
    > uncertainties and ties.
    > This difference in meaning also determines how we structure the process.
    > I was referred to a proposal that State elections were a way to
    > "maximize" voter "power" with power defined as the chances that any one
    > voter will be able to cast the "deciding" vote. In a gaming/contest
    > scenario, one would want to maximize that, but in a survey scenario one
    > would want to minimize it.
    > My own conclusion was that the Electoral College could be transformed
    > into a useful arbitor of elections if we had proportional allocation of
    > electors instead of the "winner-take-all" rules that are part of the
    > gaming paradigm. In the present situation that would have given Gore and
    > Bush a tie, or nearly so, with about 10 electors for Nader. College
    > rules could be adopted so that those distributions could be run off to a
    > final pair, and even debated if it is a tie. In the rare case that it is
    > hung, and nobody can be convinced to change their vote, then it would go
    > to the Congress. The proportional allocation would greatly minimize the
    > current legal and legislative maneuvering, because it would at most
    > affect only one elector. Also, the number of total electors (538) sets
    > the definition for a statistical tie (2/538. or about .4%.

    Posting to from "Norman K. McPhail" <>

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