Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nebraska's Electoral Votes -- Patrick McPherson

When I started my last diatribe, which turned out to be one about the need to change the aberration we know as a non-partisan unicameral to a bipartisan two house system, I had actually started with the intent to take on another Nebraska aberration, its method of casting votes for the Electoral College. But I digressed.

Thanks to a populist-mentality change made to our state's constitution, Nebraska has awarded its electoral votes since 1996 not on a winner-take-all basis as does every state in the nation with the exception of Maine, but rather on a formula where one electoral vote is awarded for the highest winning presidential candidate in each congressional district (3 districts-3 votes) and the other two by overall winner of the presidential votes for the entire state. Under this system, a presidential candidate could win the First and Second Congressional Districts while losing the overall number of votes cast, and still win two electoral votes. Apparently, at the time that the voters passed this into law the thought was that it was fairer and that it would make presidential candidates from both parties pay more attention to Nebraska. Actually, until this year, Nebraska has religiously awarded all of its five electoral votes to Republicans under this method.

You may have read the significance of the last line of the last paragraph. It now seems that the Democrats believe that they actually have a chance of winning one or two electoral votes in Nebraska this year by winning the First and/or Second Congressional Districts. Hence we now find out that they, in fact, have two Obama activists working here in Omaha, residing in the Old Market. Obviously, their intent is to activate those 10,000 or so folks that flooded the Omaha Civic Auditorium when candidate Obama was in town and to propel not only candidate Obama but also candidates Kleeb and Esch to victory over candidates Johanns and Terry. It could work.

Nebraska has somewhere close to 400,000 registered Republicans as I recall. The total number of registered Democrats and independents approximately totals the same. Since Nebraska is a state dominated by Republicans it makes absolutely no sense to divide our electoral clout. Worse yet, because of this silliness, Nebraska, a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly two to one could end up helping elect Barack Obama as its next president. Because of the extra emphasis placed on the Obama and his "change-mentality' candidates in the process, Congressmen Fortenberry and Terry could also end up losing their positions.

We shouldn't even be having this discussion and if we lived in 48 other states across the nation we wouldn't be. We'd understand the benefits of the winner-take-all method of awarding our electoral votes. We'd understand as do those in the other 48 states that electoral votes are best cast based upon the overall votes cast for the president in the state. We'd understand that just as the fact that each of our 57 states (excuse me, I was using Obama's numbers), I meant 50, have two U.S. Senators to give each state equal clout in the Senate, that casting our votes on a winner-takes-all basis gives us much greater clout--even if we don't see as much of the candidates.

So, I'm going to close this much the same way as I did the last diatribe.

With the fall elections coming up and with approximately twenty Republicans seeking re-election or asking for their first trip to Lincoln, I would propose that every interested Republican voter and activist extract from these folks a promise to support giving the voters of Nebraska an opportunity to amend their constitution by returning to a winner-takes-all method of calculating Electoral College votes.

And as I said in the last diatribe, hopefully, the leadership of the next legislature will provide the appropriate committee members to at least move these ideas (and others that I intend to discuss) forward to a full vote of the legislature and ultimately to a vote of the citizens. If not, then Republican voters should consider whether those committee members warrant their support at their next election.

Nebraska has and will continue to have more than 30 Republican State Senators. Despite the criticism we can expect from the elitist academics and the editorial boards of its major daily rags, it's time for these Republicans to start acting like they are proud to be Republicans or get out of the way so real Republicans can step up!


Anonymous said...

Although I agree in theory with Mr. McPherson, there will be no impetus for changing the determination of electoral college votes unless Obama does, in fact, win one or two this fall. The immediate necessity is to support, and re-elect Congressemen Terry and Fortenberry, and help Senator McCain win the 1st and 2nd Nebraska districts in November.

Senator DiAnna Schimek said...

As the author of the legislation that gave Nebraska its present electoral system, I think you might run into some resistance to your idea, among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Our system comes closer to the "one person" one vote than the winner take all system does. Yet it does not abolish the electoral college about which I have serious concerns. But thanks for the heads-up on your position on this issue.
Sincerely, DiAnna