It was the year 2000 that saw George W Bush win the presidency of the United States and it was also the same year that saw the Left, from mainstream to extreme decry the Electoral College system in US when placed against the popular vote across the county.
Not only had Bush 'stole' the election with the hanging chad fiasco in Florida - epitomised in the Michale Moore polemic Farenheit 911 - but he had 'stolen' the election because more people in the country had voted for Al Gore than him. The quirk of the college however, which sent votes based on state popular vote results meant Gore lost and Bush won.
I can remember the online discussion boards at the time going into apoplexy at the apparent 'democractic deficit' that meant someone who got less votes nationwide could still make it into the Oval Office and become the most powerful Head of State in the world.
The Electoral College for all its faults of course was, quite rightly set up, to maintain the Federal nature and power balance based on population of the Republic that is the United States of America, and for that reason it does kind of make sense in terms of the institutional construction of the nation. The question is whether the USA is really still that loose Republic anymore.
Arguably it could be considered that it is not. The Federal State does, in many respects, now take precedence over the individual states in many areas. Of course Constituitonalist would argue that the structure of the original remains enshrined in the Constitution and whether it appears the Federal State has more power is meaningless to the reality.
The reason I am writing any of this is the news that the state legislature in Iowa have decided to change the law on how their Electoral College votes will be decided in Presidential Elections. Rather than sending their seven votes to the College on the basis of who wins in the state, they have said they will send their votes based on the nationwide popular vote. They will only do this however when states totalling 270 college votes have changed their own rules too.
There is an interesting dimension to this change. The US Constitution itself is very difficult to change. However, if all the states decide to change the basis on how they send their college votes for the Presidency the Constitution can be changed by proxy.
It is politics at its very best. Whether it will work of course remains to be seen. I would imagine there will be strong opposition from some of those key states that often decide the Presidency. Especially if a large state with a high vote count in the College voted for the person that didn't win the popular vote. Which brings us back to where this post started. Florida in 2000. It's certainly food for thought.