My Turn: Response to 'Keep the Electoral College' column

Win Gruening’s partisan-charged column published in the Empire Jan. 6 on “Keep the Electoral College” provides no meaningful justification for retaining the outdated, undemocratic institution, and instead furthers the falsehood that the Electoral College ensures an election representative of the country as a whole. Instead of focusing on the overplayed party platitudes, from either side, let’s take a nonpartisan look at the facts.

Unless you live in Ohio, Florida or one of the other “swing states” in the country, the Electoral College disfavors your voice and your vote, no matter how you identify. During the 2016 general election, 94 percent of presidential campaign events were located in 11 “battleground states” and the vast majority of campaign spending was focused in those areas (source: nonpartisan, www.fairvote.org). In the 2012 presidential contest, no campaign events were held in the 12 states with the smallest populations (and therefore fewest electoral votes). Rather than Gruening’s “diverse cross-section of the country,” the Electoral College directs presidential candidates to court an unrepresentative minority of our nation. Voters in non-swing states, like Alaska, are discouraged from participation because demographics make our electoral votes mostly predetermined.

While Gruening and others worry that under a national popular vote system, the campaign focus would simply shift to large states like California and New York (with big liberal-leaning cities), such a shift would make no sense from a strategic campaign standpoint. Approximately 1/6 of the U.S. population is located in the country’s 100 largest cities, which voted 63 percent Democrat in 2004 presidential contest, while 1/6 is located in rural areas, voting 60 percent Republican in 2004; the remaining 2/3 is split fairly evenly in smaller cities and suburban areas. If every vote counted equally, campaigning to large urban areas only would garner some fraction of 1/6 of the country’s vote and miss other opportunities distributed across the country (source: www.nationalpopularvote.com).

I appreciate the opportunity to respectfully disagree with Gruening and encourage the open discussion of badly needed electoral reform. To quote Donald Trump from his Nov. 13 post-election interview on 60 Minutes, “I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes … you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win ... because it brings all the states into play.” If only 190 million people voted in our country! Therein lies the next challenge. In the meantime, see www.nationalpopularvote.com for an exciting, bipartisan movement already underway to have more fair elections for everyone, Gruening included.

• John Krapek is a Juneau resident who has a bachelors in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a research assistant at the University of Alaska Southeast. He has a lifelong interest in politics and electoral reform to make elections more fair and democratic.

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