Imagine A Better Way To Select A President

Imagine a better tomorrow

Our annual congregational (Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Willamette Falls) auction’s theme this year was Imagine. It touched on a lot of themes that are common within religious institutions: living in harmony, no strife, no hunger, no wars, and others. It’s the kind of theme that nudged us to think of many life improvements, be they personal, of the community, national, or global. It’s the kind of thinking that inspires one to reach for better tomorrows.

Our own Cay Borduin, the exceptionally creative artist in our midst, put substance to those dreams with her banner:


It was easy to imagine as the tune written by John Lennon, after he left the Beatles, rolled through our heads.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one…

It’s a popular song as evidenced by the YouTube rendition that has received over a billion hits.Click here to listen and watch the YouTube video.

Politics helps us imagine a better world

Today’s national politics may make you imagine a better world as well. It’s a healthy thing to do rather than begrudge current circumstances. It’s healthy to aspire for improvement such as: greater social justice, more equality, a reach for peace, and the pursuit of happiness.

Our politics, though, tends to bring out the rough edges of our differences and we’re reminded that our views are not all alike, our concerns vary, and solutions become complex. So what should we imagine?

My personal quest with this blog is to encourage the citizens of this nation to imagine a better voting mechanism as we elect a president. I imagine we can ensure:

  • Every vote makes a difference.
  • All viable votes are represented.
  • Every state has a sovereign voting voice.

Imagine every vote makes a difference

It’s easy to say that all votes are counted. Well, easy for wherever voter suppression doesn’t raise its ugly head. Counting votes is easy. We tally them and we capture the state and national popular vote totals.

Making every vote matter, however, is a different concern entirely. Equal Voice Voting (EVV) makes that claim—promising every vote is counted and makes a difference. Let’s look at theEqual Voice Voting formula.

EVV divides a state’s popular votes by the number of electoral votes the state receives. For example, my own state of Oregon gets seven electoral votes. The EVV formula would divide Oregon’s popular votes by seven to get a Popular Vote Value (PVV). As candidates win votes and reach the PVV number, they capture an electoral vote.

It’s easy math but the important point here is that every vote matters! Even if someone votes for a write-in candidate, essentially a throwaway vote, that vote affects the PVV. That write-in vote affects the voting standard within the state.

Imagine all viable votes are represented

Let’s imagine, however, the normal ballots wherein a popular candidate wins the citizens’ vote. Today, if a candidate does not win the plurality of votes within the state, though capturing a significant bloc of votes, those votes are not represented in the Electoral College! The problem originates out of our using the winner-takes-all approach for every state’s presidential voting results. Those votes never make it to the Electoral College and are set aside—counted but not represented.

Typically, across the nation, about 46% of the votes cast are ignored in this way. My own state of Oregon set aside 51.5% of the votes cast in 2016. This lack of representation is not democracy of any kind. Rather, it is vote suppression!

Imagine every state having a sovereign voting voice

There is much acclaim today for a preference for a popular vote across the nation. To change to this approach requires a Constitutional Amendment. However, the National Popular Vote (NPV) compact seeks to ignore the Constitutional remedy to institute the change. The question of it being legal is yet to be tested in the Supreme Court but will be contested if the compact is ever enacted.

Imagine what will occur if the NPV compact is put in place. The states joining in would lose their independent and sovereign status. Assume that Oregon joins in (the state legislature is currently toying with the idea). Oregon would no longer be able to point to its Oregon voting voicebecause those votes would be absorbed into the NPV compact. It reminds me of those Star Trekepisodes that highlighted the Borg, an alien entity that removed all individuality and demanded total conformity. It certainly wasn’t human. In similar manner, the NPV compact promises that states will be absorbed into one voting bloc and will lose their sovereign voting representation.

Imagine a better way to select our President

It’s time for us to realize, as many are beginning to, that the NPV compact is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s time to imagine a selection process that respects the Electoral College for what it can offer, devoid of the winner-takes-all handicap. Let’s imagine every vote making a difference. As we do, let’s also imagine every viable vote gaining the representation it deserves in this our representative democracy. Imagine every state retaining – honoring even – its separate and sovereign voting voice within this Federalist Republic.

We can do this. Contact your state legislators – Senators and Representatives – and let them know you prefer your state to not be absorbed into the NPV compact. Even if your state has already voted for it, EVV can be used in the interim while we wait for the compact to be enacted.

Imagine that it can happen. It only requires your imagination and your will.

As John Lennon reminded us:

It’s easy if you try.

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