A member of the Green Party filed a lawsuit late last month challenging the constitutionality of the Electoral College. The lawsuit–filed July 28 in Washington DC–says that the popular vote in the 2008 presidential election may be misrepresented–as it was in 2000 and 2004–by the “winter take all” nature of the Electoral College. The civil action is designed to protect voting rights in the 2008 election by seeking the enforcement of the “Mal-Apportionment Penalty” in Section 2 of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution. That amendment requires a reduction of a state’s presidential electors and congressional representatives if “the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States… is denied… or in any way abridged.” The lawsuit names its target as Vice President Dick Cheney who will preside over the tabulation of electoral votes on January 6, 2009.
A press release announcing the lawsuit explains the undemocratic nature of the Electoral College:
“If two thirds of the voters in a state vote for a candidate from Party A and one third vote for a candidate from Party B, and the state’s winner-take-all rule gives all of the state’s electors to Party A, then one third of the voters have been disenfranchised in violation of Amendment 14, Section 2 of the US Constitution,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party. “We’ve witnessed in election after election how some states have used the winner-take-all formula to prevent the votes of political, ethnic, and other minorities from being counted.”
“By refusing to challenge Electoral College malapportionment in 2000 and 2004, which blocked Democratic electors from voting in those elections, the Democratic Party’s leaders abandoned tens of thousands of their own voters, just as they failed to challenge the election irregularities in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004,” said Mr. Gordon. “Will they fail to challenge malapportionment again in 2008, and hand the Republicans another victory? Barack Obama would not be the Democratic nominee if not for the Democratic Party’s proportional assignment of primary delegates. The winner-take-all provisions in the general election present the distinct possibility that Mr. Obama in 2008 will win the popular vote by a considerably larger margin than did Gore in 2000, but will repeat the Democratic loss in the Electoral College.”
While the Electoral College received considerable attention and public scrutiny after the 2000 and 2004 elections, neither major party has taken any steps to reform or abolish the Electoral College. However, the Green Party advocates abolishing the Electoral College as part of its platform. Instead, it proposes the direct election of presidential candidates via Instant Run-off Voting.