We are amenable to changes in Utah's electoral college that would assign presidential electors based on the percentage of votes a candidate garnered. However, a legislative proposal from state Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, that pledges Utah's six electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote is a bad idea.
An "all or nothing" strategy, that Stephenson and his supporters envision, disrespects the voters of Utah, or any other state that disagrees with a national tally. Stephenson's Senate Bill 63 would join a group of states that pledge their electoral votes to the national winner. The group's goal is to gather 270 electoral votes over time, thus assuring the top national vote-getter becomes U.S. president regardless of the electoral tally.
However, SB63 ignores the need to amend the Constitution to pick a president via electoral votes. If Stephenson is planning to completely destroy the impact of the electoral vote -- used for more than 200 years -- it needs to be done in a constitutional manner.
There is another bill that tinkers with the electoral college. House Bill 509, sponsored by state Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, would allow Utahns to vote directly for Utah's six electoral college delegates. Delegates could (but are not required to) endorse a presidential candidate. Under the current standard, the winning candidate's party chooses the six electors.
Powell's idea is interesting, but it seems like a muddled, confusing solution. The easiest way to reform the electoral college -- short of constitutionally changing the system so the nation's popular vote winner is elected president -- is to assign electoral delegates that reflect the percentage of the vote garnered in each state. For example, if a Republican garners roughly two-thirds of a presidential vote in Utah, the GOP would choose four electoral college delegates. The Democrats, assuming their candidate garnered roughly a third of the vote, would select two electoral delegates.
To achieve electoral college reform, that is the best solution. Going any further would require action beyond the Utah State Legislature.