Two bills aiming to reform the election process in Wisconsin were introduced this week into the state Assembly.
Both items were proposed by Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel, and would "provide Wisconsin voters with more flexibility and accountability." One bill, if passed, would end the "winner take all" system of distributing electoral votes, and the other proposes ending the system of straight-party voting employed in Wisconsin.
"Vote the Person Not the Party Act" is designed to make sure voters are basing their decisions on the merit and value of each individual candidate and not solely on political affiliation, Tauchen said.
If passed, the bill would remove the existing straight-party voting system — voting for all members of one specific party. The practice is also known as straight-ticket voting.
Tauchen said voting directly for the candidates — not only their parties — would hopefully reduce the number of recounts in elections.
Tauchen said the Vote the Person Not the Party Act "will eliminate confusion."
Despite the intentions of this bill, Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said not everyone believes this act is worthy of the Legislature's attention.
"Not that many people do it. It's a matter of convenience," McCabe said.
The issue addressed in the act is not urgent and therefore, does not require the legislature's attention at this time, McCabe added.
The second proposed bill would change the Electoral College voting system in the state. Wisconsin has ten electoral votes in U.S. elections.
Tauchen said if passed, this bill would break up the electoral votes among the eight congressional districts throughout the state.
The candidate who wins the majority of the eight votes would automatically win Wisconsin's other two electoral votes, unlike the current "winner-take-all" system that is currently used in the state, Tauchen said.
As a result of the diverse political landscape in the state, Tauchen said distributing votes to congressional districts would better represent voters' choices.
"The congressional district method gives the voters more of a say of electoral vote," Tauchen said. "It encourages people to think about and get to know candidates. That's always a good thing."
Two other states — Maine and Nebraska — use the congressional district distribution method of voting.
However, McCabe said this legislation — like the other bill introduced by Tauchen — seems to misuse the Wisconsin state Legislature's energies.
"My take on it is if you want to reform the Electoral College, just abolish it and go with the popular vote," McCabe said.
Using the popular vote, McCabe said, would ensure the winner of the election is the candidate who received the most votes, unlike the 2000 presidential race when Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost the election to President George W. Bush.
But McCabe added using the popular vote to elect candidates on a national level would decrease the amount of campaign attention spent on smaller states, including Wisconsin.
"You probably wouldn't see very many presidential candidates visiting small states," McCabe said. "They would go to see the most people, populous centers."