Friday, February 20, 2009

Electoral College change?

Next week the bill to allow DC an actual, voting Congressman comes up. This might or might now pass, but one stipulation of the bill is that, to get Republicans on board, an extra Congressman would also be given to Utah. What I haven't seen mentioned at all is how this would affect the electoral college. Given that Utah would now have another Congressman, wouldn't their EV total go from 5 to 6? But DC is already at 3, and I don't think it would become 4... perhaps I should register the domain name to scoop Nate Silver...

A guy who knows these things writes in:
Yes, the current DC plan will change the electoral vote totals:

(1) The plan calls for a permanent increase in the size of the House to 437 (including the new DC seat and the new non-DC seat). Until the next census, the extra non-DC seat will go to Utah. After the 2010 census (and for the 2012 congressional and presidential election), the non-DC seat will be reapportioned under the normal method, so it is not obvious which state will benefit.

(2) DC, under the 23rd amendment, already gets the number of electoral votes it would get if it were a state, and in any case cannot have more electoral votes than the least populous state. So DC will not be getting another EV.

(3) All of this is immaterial. The Constitution clearly says (twice) that DC is not a state, and unambiguously says that Representatives are drawn from States and that Representatives must be inhabitants of the States which they represent. The entire argument of the pro-DC side --- that Congress has unlimited power over the affairs of DC, Constitution be damned --- is silly. It implies that Congress could ban free speech or start a tax-supported church in DC if it so desired. I'm all for DC voting rights, but the only workable solutions I see are (a) statehood, (b) retrocession to Maryland, or (c) Constitutional amendment similar to the 23rd, but for congressional representation.

Especially agree on the third point, in that there's really no way to argue that the Constitution is unclear on this. Yes, DC residents should have voting rights, but in order to get them, the Constitution will probably need to be amended. I had no idea that retrocession was a word, but I'm glad it is.