Electoral College reform unnecessary
As legislators, it’s our job to write and pass laws that benefit Michigan citizens.
We shouldn’t be considering or passing proposals that you could call “sour grapes” laws, yet that is exactly what State Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Twp., is attempting with his legislation to radically change that way Michigan allocates Electoral College votes to presidential candidates.
Under Lund’s bill, House Bill 5974, Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes would be divvied up so that the two presidential candidates could each win a percentage of Electoral College votes. Currently, the candidate who wins the popular votes receives all 16 Michigan Electoral College votes.
Our current winner-take-all system follows the idea emblazoned in the U.S. Constitution of one person, one vote.
House Bill 5974 could be up for a Constitutional challenge because it makes a mockery of the one person, one vote system we have in America.
It’s no secret that our state often prefers Democratic presidents to Republican presidents. Under this proposal, instead of the popular vote winner taking all 16 votes, that person would get half plus one: nine votes. After that, for every 1.5 percentage points over 50 percent that the winner got, they would get another vote. The losing candidate would get the rest of Michigan’s Electoral College votes.
Lund argues that with our current system, Michigan isn’t relevant, that we’re a flyover state, that the presidential candidates largely ignore us.
This is anything but true. In 2012, we saw candidates campaigning in Michigan after the conventions. If anything, the Republican proposal would drive candidates away because they wouldn’t be competing for the full 16 votes. Candidates aren’t going to spend time campaigning in a state if they have to split Electoral College votes with the loser.
As I said in the House Elections and Ethics Committee, when I grew up, my dad always told me you play the game by the rules, win or lose. If you lose, you don’t change the rules.
If Republicans can’t win a presidential election in Michigan fair and square, they’ll change the rules in Democratic-leaning states while leaving Republican-leaning states alone. House Republicans are engaging in lawmaking at its cynical worst. If they’re successful, they’ll disenfranchise many Michigan voters.
State Rep. Harold Haugh, D-Roseville, represents the 22nd House District and is the Democratic vice chairman of the House Elections and Ethics Committee.