The US Constitution provided for a balance between small population states and large ones. This is one of the reasons for the Senate having 2 per state and the House being divided based on population.
The current US Presidential Electoral System keeps part of that concept so that voters in California, New York, and a few others do not decide who is elected, ignoring the rest of the country.
The original system was designed to that the electors nominated two candidates, one not from their state, and unless there was a candidate nominated by the majority of electors, the voting for president out of the top 5 nominees was done by the US House of Representatives, one vote per state. If two candidates received a majority of electors, the House would decide between just the two. Basically, the loser of the top two became the Vice President, who would take over if something happened to the President. The elector college system protected every state from being ignored.
By 1796 and 1800, partly due to political party influence, and because the public didn’t want the US House to decide the election a movement to change happened and under the 12th amendment this was changed. One reason was to make sure the President and the Vice President could run together. The change made it so the electors would almost always reach a majority and therefore cast the final vote, and because of that, most states have now required that the elector vote based on which party they represent. Utah requires that an elector be replaced if they do not vote per party. See http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE20A/htm/20A13_030400.htm
Under the current system, Utah having 6 votes instead of 4 gives us a slight edge over population. Utah has decided to have a winner take all system. If Utah were to split our vote, it would carry less weight in the national election.
If the National Popular Vote Compact proposed were to happen, (states making up over 270 electors were to join) the group would all have their electors match the popular vote of the entire country. So the group’s electors would match the popular vote, meaning if Utah joined the compact, it could end up voting for Pres. Obama, even if most of the voters in Utah voted against him.
While the current system doesn’t work as originally intended, there is still some balance favoring smaller states, just barely enough to encourage candidates to campaign throughout most of the country. If the Popular Vote Compact were to succeed, I believe that would be eliminated and I also believe the cities with the most population would be the locations where campaigning would occur, making the situation of ignoring parts of the country even worse.
I disagree with some of my colleagues. I believe this National Popular Vote Compact is a bad idea. A bill for Utah to join is expected to be voted on for the 2012 Legislative Session.
See my post also at:
Fred Cox, Utah State House of Representatives, District 32
District 30 for 2012 elections