Politically active Baylor students seek change in election

The 2016 presidential election is right around the corner and, with over half of Americans registered to vote, many may feel as though they have little power to sway the tide of public opinion.

This is especially true in states like Texas, where the Electoral College’s “winner-take-all” system silences the voices of Democratic Party voters in a GOP-controlled state.

A group of politically active Baylor students, however, are hoping to change that in Texas.

Texas Equal Representation Advocates is a bipartisan effort by students to change Texas’ Electoral College delegation laws to make it more representative of the statewide popular vote.

“Our goal is pretty simple: In the long run, we want to get the Electoral College in Texas changed so that instead of it being a winner-take-all party system, it’s more of a proportional representation system,” said Richardson junior Greg Abel, the group founder. “The Constitution determines that the President will be elected by electors, but it’s up to the states to determine how those electors are to be assigned.”

Currently, 48 of the 50 U.S. states use the winner-takes-all party system, with the exceptions of Maine and Nebraska, which use a congressional district method of apportioning their Electoral College delegates through a popular vote, according to the National Archives and Records Administration.

Since the last time delegates were apportioned, Texas has offered 38 delegates to the Electoral College each presidential election, second only to California’s 55 delegates, meaning that the state has a significant voice when it comes to electing the president of the United States.

Abel and his group hope to petition the Texas State Legislature to amend the law so that it mirrors the systems already in place in Maine and Nebraska.

“If 60 percent of the population votes Republican and 40 percent of the population votes Democrat, the delegates should vote the same way,” Abel said.

With the strong Republican majority in the Texas State Legislature, it may be difficult to convince the GOP legislature to give up its current “winner-take-all” philosophy, since it currently serves as a major advantage for Republican presidential candidates.

Despite this, Abel believes this issue is about more than simply party politics.

“I think that a lot of groups would want to support this because it isn’t Democratic or Republican — it’s Texan,” Abel said. “Because we live in a country where we’re fortunate enough to have a voice. But a lot of people aren’t getting the voice they deserve.”

“I really think it comes down to convincing the population,” Abel said. “If enough people in Texas care – Democrats and Republicans alike – then the legislature, the government, has to take notice at some point. They have to see the urgency of the problem.”

Right now Texas Equal Representation Advocates is working to get word out about its efforts to both Baylor students and voters across the state.

“Right now it’s mainly outreach efforts,” Abel said. “Our goal right now is to get as many people aware of the problem as we can [and] convince people that there is a problem that needs to be addressed and then convince them that there is a way to solve it.”

Georgetown junior Audrey Hamlin, another member of the organization, believes equal representation in elections is something that is especially important to young voters.

“I think it takes a lot of young people standing up to say, ‘This is important,’ Hamlin said. “And I think that this is something that any Democrat or any Republican should care about, because we have a representative government and we should care about how the Electoral College represents us as citizens.”

More detailed and in-depth information about Texas Equal Representation Advocates can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.