Electoral College and Voting

Currently, Virginia mirrors most of the United States in having a winner-take-all election system, under which the person with a plurality of votes wins the contest.  It is the most basic form of managing democracy, and is simple and easy to understand.  It is also easy to defend; at any point in a discussion about potential election systems and scenarios, “wait, but he (or she) got the most votes.  Why wouldn’t he (or she) win?”  Of course, there is an answer to that question, but it’s pretty easy to get into the weeds of finicky details and jargon.  Simplicity is quite compelling on its own, and tends to overpower more complicated ideas, even better ones.

Now, let me be clear about one thing.  Here in America, in every corner of America, we have democracy.  I’ll even restate that as Democracy with a capital ‘D’, not because it’s necessarily correct (it’s not), but to emphasize how important it is as an idea to us all.  There has been a lot of discussion recently about the Electoral College being undemocratic, as there was in the wake of the 2000 election.  I firmly disagree with that stance.  The Electoral College system might not be ideally democratic, but neither is a popular vote to give somebody enormous authority over our lives for 4 years.  Ideal democracy is not a viable form of government, but some form of it is, and the Electoral College is a viable, democratic, form of government.
My point is this: the Electoral College is democracy, it is what we do, it is what we have always done, and we can do better.  We can do democracy better.

I support reforming the Electoral College system to a national popular vote.  However, I support changing that via Constitutional Amendment.  The Electoral College is defined in the original constitution, and was part of the basis for many smaller states to join the Union, both initially and over the years.  My opponent, along with many other Democrats, has supported the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.  The technical legality of such an interstate agreement is murky, but I certainly consider it to be against the spirit of the Constitution.  There’s a process for amending the US Constitution, we’ve done it 27 times in the past, and we can do it again.  Let’s make Democracy better, and let’s do it right.

On a state level, I support ranked choice voting, akin to what Maine has passed.  Ranked choice voting eliminates the “lesser of two evils” problem, and makes election access easier for candidates outside of the Democrats and Republicans, with no cost outside of added complexity.

On Voter Id laws, I dislike the rhetoric being thrown about.  I am mildly opposed to Virginia’s requirement for a photo ID to vote.  However, I would find the harm of such a law to be entirely mitigated by providing free photo ids (the current cost for a non-driver’s license ID is $10), and setting up a free service to assist citizens in tracking down the required documentation (like a birth certificate), should there be a problem.  If getting a photo ID is free and easy, I don’t see much of a compelling argument against requiring one as proof of identity upon voting.