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Patriots! Reform our elections now

Our state elections don’t follow the ideal system set up for the United States by the Constitution. The result is too much democracy — or, as some call it, mob rule. It’s time we fi x local elections by copying the national system.

As most voters know, we don’t vote for the president of the United States. We vote for a slate of state electors. The electors, who are chosen by the winning party, cast votes for the president.

New Mexico gets five electors – two for our senators and three for our representatives. We voted 53.3 percent to 43.5 percent for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020. So rounding off, we should have given three of our electoral votes to Biden and two to Trump.

But thanks to the superior wisdom of the Electoral College, we gave all five votes to Biden. In Texas, they voted for Trump over Biden, 52.1 percent to 46.5 percent, but Trump got all 38 votes. Millions of Californians voted for Trump, but Biden got all 55 votes. That’s half the story. The other half is that small states like New Mexico get an Electoral College bonus. The entire U.S. population is split into 435 parts — the size of the House of Representatives. New Mexico’s share is three representatives, which means we should also get three electoral votes. But we actually get two extra for our senators, so our weight in presidential elections is about 167 percent of what our population justifies. Well, that’s nothing. Wyoming is so small it gets only one representative, but with its two senators, it’s entitled to three electoral votes — 300 percent of what its population justifies. But to be fair, California also gets a two-senator bonus, which gave it 55 electors instead of 53. That means California’s presidential election weight was 104 percent.

So take that, California. Our votes counted more than yours. And more importantly, they counted more than the 106 percent weight of Texans. That is so great that we can live with Rhode Islanders counting more than we do.

We should apply this superior election system to New Mexico. Unfortunately, we currently elect our governor with a primitive system – every voter counts the same, and the candidate with the most votes wins.

This is clearly wrong. We need a system where Silver City voters count more than Albuquerque voters. Otherwise, Albuquerque votes will wash out our votes, even though small-town and rural voters understand government better than big-city folks. Instead of dividing the state into equal Senate and House districts, as we do now, we should elect our representatives by county. Grant County has 27,889 people and Bernalillo County has 674,393, but we’re as good (or better) than them, and should have the same number of state senators: two. We’ll overlook the fact that Catron County, with 3,731 people, would have even more weight than us.

We’ll continue to elect representatives by population, just as we do for the U.S. House. But instead of giving each person one vote for governor, we would have an electoral college, where each county would get an elector for each representative and for each senator.

Finally, we could randomize the system by giving each county’s electoral votes to the majority winner. If voters in Grant County voted for the Democrat 50.01 percent to 49.99 percent, all electoral votes would go to the Democrat. Or vice versa. This would mix things up in an unpredictable way, so that sometimes the gubernatorial candidate with the most votes would lose — as the Democrats’ presidential candidates did in 2000 and 2016, and as the Republican almost did in 2004.

Unfortunately, we’re fighting an uphill battle against equality. Not only are districts for U.S. representatives required to have approximately equal population, but the same principle applies to state legislative districts, county commission districts and town council districts. On the national level, we can fight this insidious equality with gerrymandering, but it’s harder to cheat at the local level.

Equality is nothing to brag about; we all have unequal talents. The guiding principle should be: Some votes (especially mine) count more than others (possibly yours). Well, some of us are dissenters. We actually like the principle of “one person, one vote.” We don’t want inequality, even if it is to our advantage. We think the Electoral College is as crazy as having the Silver City Town Council adopt the filibuster. We think it’s more important who you are and what you believe than where you live.

Instead of states copying the unequal national system, dissenters want to get rid of the Electoral College and make federal elections as fair as state, county and town elections. And all we need to make it happen is a constitutional amendment. Good luck with that.

Disclaimer:
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

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Bruce McKinney

Bruce McKinney is a Silver City business owner, close observer of local government and occasional troublemaker. In his column, which appears every other Wednesday, he tries to address big questions from a local perspective. Send comments and ideas to bruce@greensilverlinings.com.
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