ROCK SPRINGS–The Electoral College should be abolished so that votes are counted equally across the country, Wyoming’s Democratic Party agreed Saturday.
Party members, meeting in Rock Springs for the Democratic State Convention, approved by a vote of 84-39 a platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment to end the Electoral College.
“I think it speaks for itself,” Heather Hronek of Uinta County said. “I’m tired of my vote not counting.”
The idea to abolish the Electoral College is one that has been pushed for more than a decade, particularly by Democrats, who believe their majority populations in more densely populated states are not being counted equally to those in more rural ones, whose voters tend to vote Republican.
“There should be one person one vote,” said Jason Bloomberg of Laramie County. “Land mass should not be having a voting leverage that outweighs actual citizens. A single voter has the leverage of 27 other voters in other states.”
The plank also calls for Wyoming to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a group of 16 states and the District of Columbia that have decided to award all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate winning the overall popular vote. All the states that have signed the compact voted for President Joe Biden in the last election.
The compact would take effect only when states representing at least 270 electoral college votes — the number needed to win the presidency — pass it.
Most Republicans have opposed ditching the Electoral College, but a few — including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Saul Anuzis, a supporter of former President Donald Trump — support it, according to the Washington Post.
A change to a popular vote would likely increase the power of Wyoming’s Democratic votes but decrease the influence of the state’s overall vote. Currently, Wyoming’s three electoral votes make up 0.5% of all Electoral College votes. Under a popular vote, Wyoming’s votes would have represented 0.17% of votes in the 2020 presidential election.
“We have to remind ourselves where we live,” said Bernard Phelan of Laramie County. “All of those people (in other states) don’t give us a whiff about us in Wyoming. So that at least we small states can retain that Electoral College. Now, whether we carry the Electoral College for the Democratic Party is up to us. Changing the Electoral College will diminish us tremendously.”
Leighton Wessel, a Rock Springs resident, agreed, saying political change needs to be achieved under the Electoral College system.
“We in Wyoming will not have a chance to pass anything compared to California, New York,” he said. “We need an institute or an institutionalized way to make our vote count more.”
The Electoral College has had a major influence on presidential election outcomes in recent years.
Urban and rural voters both voted for former presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, but in the 2020 election, there was about an 18% difference between how rural and urban Southerners voted, a 22% difference in the Midwest and 20% in the West, Suzanne Mettler, a government professor at Cornell University, said in a school publication.
If the election had been determined in 1988 and 2016 by the popular vote, Democratic candidates Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have won their respective presidential elections.
Despite the overwhelming Republican majority in the state, the Wyoming Democratic Party has grown in recent years. There are 4,159 more registered Democratic voters in the state now than in June 2020 and 2,056 more since primary election day 2020.
However, this growth has been dwarfed by that of the Republican party, which has 41,300 more registered voters than in June 2020 and 36,651 more than primary day 2020.
Merav Ben-David, a former U.S. Senate candidate at current House District 46 candidate, proposed establishing a party task force by July 2023 to establish political action committees, work on pertinent issues in the party and recruit viable candidates to improve the party’s standing in the state.
“We haven’t had an organized effort to build our base,” Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie said in support of the task force, her voice trembling at times. “How are we going to flip this state blue? Because it can’t stay this way.”
The party also passed a resolution supporting “common sense” gun laws during the convention, which was attended by 134 delegates from around the state.
The party’s platform regarding firearm safety resolution was amended to only include a requirement for secure storage of guns and ammunition, removing language regarding magazine sizes, red flag laws and restricting sales of assault style weapons,
Some members speaking in support of the change said they didn’t want to pigeonhole Democratic candidates on the topic of gun control.
“We have a large umbrella for a lot of candidates that are trying to find the principles we all support,” said Lindsey Hanlon, secretary of the Laramie County Democratic Party. “And the less we can break things down, the more we stick to those guiding principles.”
The party also passed resolutions that called for full legalization of marijuana, abolishment of super PACs, open primaries and ranked choice voting, federal management of all federal lands, the creation of a statewide recycling program and freedom of reproductive choice.