Can't Save What Never Had

Rick Hasen rightly praises the many good features of H.R.1, a bill that would reform many aspects of our elections, but the title of the article wrongly claims it may save democracy.

You cannot save what you do not have. We do not have a democratic method of choosing the president.

If you want democracy, the single most important reform of elections in the United States unquestionably would be a guarantee that the national vote winner always became president.

This reform would: 

  • cause both parties to compete everywhere for votes, using all the Internet-enabled tools to find and seek to persuade every eligible voter in every part of the country.

  • drive up total participation by 20 to 80 million votes, roughly ten times the amount of increased participation that all the measures in H.R.1 would be able to accomplish. Yes, that's right: ten times more impact!

  • change the two major parties' policies, practices, and pitches so that each would be far more likely to seek voters than to reject voting. The reason is that wooing and winning a plurality among the extra tens of millions of voters is more likely to succeed than discouraging a few hundred thousand voters in swing states.

  • discourage voter suppression by bringing every effort of that kind into proximity of every voter. Why? Because if both campaigns valued, looked for, needed, and tried to get every vote, then any effort to discourage voting necessarily would occur in every precinct. That would cause the vote-suppressing party to be known everywhere as the enemy of democracy—hardly the way to win elections. By contrast, with the current system, where the presidency is chosen by votes that are elsewhere, far away, in a distant state, from the perspective of the vast majority of voters, then voter suppression too is someone else's problem.