Associate Dean and Professor of Law Norman Williams commented in a Nov. 4 Christian Science Monitor story on the prevalence of the electoral college.
According to the story, Google searches on the electoral college are up this month, as they always are during election season. Although the majority of Americans have told pollsters they want the electoral college replaced, it lives on. Jack Rakove, a Stanford University professor of history and political science, said a “one person, one vote” system might be a solution that satisfies Americans across party lines.
“I think we’re going through a crisis of presidential legitimacy,” he said. “I happen to think that it would be healthy to the body politic, having one national constituency as opposed to being divided between red and blue states.”
There are generally two alternatives to the electoral college as it stands now — base the presidency on popular vote or do away with the “winner-take-all” system and allow states to split their electoral votes between candidates. Maine and Nebraska already practice the latter, while Colorado’s 2004 attempt to change its system failed.
Williams said that between elections, electoral reforms are pushed to the bottom of the agenda for lawmakers and the public.
“In the lead-up to elections, people view every potential reform proposal through a partisan lens,” he said. “The best way would be a constitutional amendment approved by Congress and ratified by the states, and it’ll take a bipartisan consensus that the system’s broken.”
About Norman Williams
Norman Williams is the associate dean for academic affairs and the Ken and Claudia Peterson professor of law, as well as the director of the Center for Constitutional Government at Willamette University College of Law. He teaches Constitutional Law I and II, Election Law, and a seminar on the U.S. Supreme Court. His scholarship focuses on the presidential election process and the scope of federal and state authority under the federal Commerce Clause. Prior to teaching at Willamette, Williams practiced law in both public and private sectors, handling numerous appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, and various state appellate courts.
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.