Hawaii needs clout of electoral college
The Legislature is considering a bill that encourages replacing the presidential electoral college with the popular vote.
BECAUSE Hawaii seems too often ignored by presidential campaigns, the Legislature is considering a proposal that would make Hawaii's votes even more trivial. The measure is aimed at undermining the presidential electoral college, established by the U.S. Constitution to give small states such as Hawaii a weighted role on election day.
The bill, approved by the Senate by a 19-4 vote in February and headed for a House vote, would award Hawaii's four electoral votes to the presidential candidate with the most ballot-box votes nationwide, not statewide. It would be implemented at the point when enough states with similar laws could determine the winner.
Maryland's Senate approved a similar bill last week and a House committee gave its endorsement. Colorado lawmakers resoundingly defeated such a measure after realizing that the state's nine electoral votes can make a difference in a close election.
So can four electoral votes. In the 2004 campaign, Vice President Dick Cheney and Al Gore flew to the islands after polls showed Hawaii's outcome too close to call.
The Founders ascribed to each state as many electoral votes as it has members of Congress, so each state has at least three votes. They understood the importance of small states not being overwhelmed by big states in choosing a president. The electoral college reflects the bicameral Congress, where each state has two senators and House membership reflects states' populations.
As a result, for each electoral vote cast in Hawaii, 134 are cast on the mainland. If the popular vote were to prevail, each Hawaii ballot would be overwhelmed by 286 on the mainland, according to the 2004 vote totals; a Hawaii voter's clout would be cut by more than half.
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