Electoral College reform: Debunking the myths and rumors

Categories: In Case You Missed It,Reinventing MI

check2Since being introduced last week, there have been a lot of rumors and half-truths regarding House Bill 5974, a proposal
to more fairly distribute Michigan’s Electoral College vote.

Some valid concerns have been raised and are already being addressed, but there have also been highly sensationalized declarations about the bill as well. In this post, we’ll get to the bottom of what’s really going on with Electoral College reform.

Electoral College ReformsRumor: This plan is simply a way for Republicans to rig the system, so they always win more Electoral College votes in Michigan.

Truth: this plan isn’t about partisan politics.

Currently, Michigan is a flyover state for presidential candidates. Instead of visits where the candidates actually speak to voters here on the issues that matter in our state, we are instead inundated with TV advertising. The plan outlined in HB 5974 means all 16 Electoral votes are up for grabs while still guaranteeing the winner of the popular vote the majority of our state’s electors. The problem with a previous plan to reform our state’s Electoral College system was that a candidate could win the popular vote but win fewer Electoral votes than their opponent; in response to those concerns, this system was proposed.

Rumor: By reducing the overall number of Electoral votes in play, Michigan will actually mean less in presidential elections.

Truth: Michigan already doesn’t get the attention it deserves from presidential campaigns, and the theory of “less votes, less clout” is at best a faulty argument.

First, Michigan is already considered not in play for many of these campaigns. In fact, for the last five months of the 2012 campaign, Michigan had fewer campaign visits than many other states, including the notoriously uncompetitive states of California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Texas.

What’s more, here’s some math to further debunk this rumor. New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada combined have 16 Electoral votes. Michigan has 16 Electoral votes. From June of 2012 until election night, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada combined for 150 campaign events. Michigan, which is worth the same number of Electoral votes as those states, received only a miniscule 17 visits.

Another example: Colorado has nine Electoral votes. However, the state is considered “in play” in presidential elections, so the campaigns made their way west to the state 56 times. These numbers show that campaigns are willing to fight for a smaller number of Electoral votes if the campaign is competitive in the state.

Candidates running for president currently don’t feel the need to come to Michigan in order to win.  This proposal would make Michigan an important state for these candidates to visit, forcing them to speak on issues affecting our state, and more importantly, create policies that benefit all Michigan residents.

–Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township

While this is a proposal that elicits strong reactions from many people, it’s important to dispel rumors surrounding this legislation, so Michiganders can learn facts, not fiction.