The editorial on September 21 ("Would we be serfs?") regarding the potential power shifts if the electoral college was abandoned in favor of a popular vote brought up several good points on campaign focus and weight given to particular regions. However, one of the key factors that was not discussed was the effect of state voting laws. While federal laws have strived to reduce voter discrimination, states still possess significant control over who gets to vote. Large variation exists in terms of voter ID laws, registration deadlines, vote by mail and availability of early voting. Together, these policies significantly affect the effort required to vote and ultimately who casts a ballot. “America Goes to the Polls 2018” is a recent report by Nonprofit VOTE and the US Elections Project that highlights the effects of state laws on turnout. For example, they found that: “Seven of the top ten states with the highest turnout offer same day registration. In contrast, eight of the bottom ten states in turnout cut off voter registration four weeks before the election.”
While it may not be a perfect system, the electoral college serves as a normalizing factor in our national election. It helps keep voters on a more even playing field because people within each state play by the same rules. For a popular vote system to be fair, voting laws would have to be consistent across the country. Otherwise, the states that makes it easiest to vote would likely gain substantial influence.