There was a strong turnout for the second Pop-Up University public lecture on October 17. Over 50 people came out to LangLab to hear Dr. Elizabeth Bennion ponder Mayor Pete’s proposal to abolish the Electoral College in order “…to strengthen American democracy through better voting and representation for all Americans” (Mayor Pete on NBC Nightly News). Before delving into the arguments for and against abolishing the electoral college, Dr. Bennion provided background information on what the electoral college is, who the members are, and how the electoral college determines the elections of the President and Vice President of the United States. Dr. Bennion described six heard arguments in support of keeping the electoral college: it’s in the Constitution, it avoids TV-based tarmac campaigns, candidates might shun smaller states and low population areas giving too much weight to urban voters, different states have important interests, it ensures broad support and perceived legitimacy, and it avoids a national recount.
After evaluating the evidence for each argument, Dr. Bennion concluded that the abolishment of the electoral college seems unlikely given that it would require a Constitution Amendment and that partisanship is so pervasive. There is, however, an alternative that has gained momentum: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). The NPVIC is an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all of their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Audience members left the talk more equipped to evaluate Pete’s proposal and, we suspect, impressed that IU South Bend has such an impressive political analyst on our faculty!
Be sure to stop by LangLab at 7pm on November 21 for our next Pop-Up University by Dr. Krista Bailey over Climate Change, Conflict, Poverty, & Food!