The “Presidential Election Reform Act” is currently hunting around for the required amount of signatories to appear in the 2008 ballot. This proposed Act would change the way California’s electoral college votes are divided up, moving from a winner takes all to a system where a electoral vote would go to the winner of every congressional district, possibly moving away ~22 of the California electoral votes away from the winner of the popular vote. The cleverly named Act is a thinly veiled effort by California Republicans to sway the electoral power of the nation’s largest state away from the popular voting results in to a slanted version of electoral representation.
The number of voices against this proposed Act is growing, and as Slate argues that this is most likely unconstitutional. Article II, Section 1 of the constitution states electors shall be appointed by the states “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Taking this to the ballot and having the voters decide on how the state’s electoral votes are decided therefore would be unconstitutional. As Slate comments, the attempt to take this directly to the voters is a sly way to avoid the Democraticly controlled State legislature and confuse them with a well titled Act.
Further (and I’m no voting law expert), this would severely disenfranchise voters in more dense districts (e.g. Los Angeles or the Bay Area) by moving voting power to less populated areas. If the proposed Act argues to give more voter control to the individuals, that’s patently false as it is still a winner-takes-all system, only now at the district level. The popular vote is still left discarded under the Act.
As Mark Leno and others argue, we need electoral reform, and we need it badly. But what we don’t need is disingenuous trickery of the public to meet one party’s ends in the name of reform. The worst part of maneuvering like this is that it will drain resources and time to defeat where the state has pressing issues that require attention instead of this Act.