Mississippi electors tap Romney, like system

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – The Mississippi electors who cast their votes for Republican Mitt Romney on Monday do not want the nation’s president decided by who garners the most popular votes.
“I don’t care whether you are Democratic or Republican, we (Mississippians) would be utterly stupid to change,” said William Mounger of Jackson, one of the six electors who cast their ballots for Romney on Monday in a ceremony at the state Capitol that was overseen by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and that included Gov. Phil Bryant.
States have the number of electoral votes equal to their congressional delegation (the number of members they have in the U.S. House, plus their two U.S. senators.) In every state except two, all the state’s electoral votes go to the candidate that received the most votes in that state. In Nebraska and Maine the electoral votes are divvied up by congressional districts with two being decided by the statewide vote.
The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who obtains a majority of the electoral votes regardless of the nationwide popular votes.
Mounger said the current system helps small states like Mississippi. He used New York as an example. That state has 27 congressional districts so, the percentage added to the electoral tally by including the two Senate slots is much less there than it would be in Mississippi, which has only four congressional seats.
He said the two Senate slots increase Mississippi’s clout by 50 percent, where in New York, California or other large states including the Senate seats has much less of an impact percentage-wise.
Hosemann, and Austin Barbour, another elector, agreed with Mounger that changing to the popular vote to elect a president would hurt a small state like Mississippi. Despite Obama winning by more than 4 million votes nationwide, Barbour, who served as a deputy strategist in the Romney campaign, said if 350,000 votes had been changed in a handful of swing states on Nov. 6 the results would have been different.
Hosemann added that he opposed a popular vote model because states have different voting laws. For instance, a person has to register 30 days before the election to vote in Mississippi while some states have same-day voter registration.
If the election were decided by the popular vote, Hosemann said election laws nationwide would need to be uniform.
The electors in addition to Mounger and Barbour were Ricky Jay Calhoon, Charles Cannada, William Randolph James and Billy Powell, all of the Jackson area.
The electors are selected by the state parties, though they are not bound by the popular election votes in their states.
On Monday, all six Mississippi electors voted for Romney, who won the state 710,746 to 562,949.
It would take a change in the U.S. Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College, though there is a move to convince states to change their laws to commit their electoral votes to the candidate who won the popular vote. If enough states adopted that proposal, it would render the Electoral College moot.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com