Pity the poor New York voter confronted with Tuesday’s ballot and a top of the ticket that really was not in play here. New York has been a reliably “blue” state, going for the Democratic presidential candidate most of the time since the Great Depression, and in an unbroken streak since 1988.
This means that those who voted for the Republican or one of the minor-party presidential choices were to an arguable degree disenfranchised. Doing away with the Electoral College, in which all of a state’s votes are apportioned in a winner-take-all format, could correct this inequality. Consider that only nine so-called swing states actually decided the 2012 presidential election — not one of them our own New York.
One line of thinking about abolishing the Electoral College goes like this: It would end the potential injustice inherent in a candidate’s winning the popular vote but losing the election. It would give the country’s more populous urban areas more clout and would probably increase voter turnout by energizing voters in the largest states. And it would for the first time embody the democratic ideal of one person, one vote, in the most important single contest in the land.
For New Yorkers, doing away with the archaic system with its roots in a post-Colonial era in which only landed white men could vote, would be a step forward. It would also give the candidates incentives to do more than swing through seeking donations, as both the Obama and Romney campaigns did this summer, while not bothering to slow down long enough to hear what the people of this great state — particularly those in counties that had gone “red” in recent elections — had to say.
California’s Legislature has passed a law that would award its Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote — provided enough other states followed suit. New York should throw its muscle — and its 16.7-million residents of voting age — behind this movement.