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View Diary: John Nichols unearths yet another Republican-backed Electoral College-rigging push (116 comments)

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  •  that may be true (14+ / 0-)

    but the whole point of changing it is to make it easier to rig overall, IMO.

    Thus, their "reforms" should be stopped. Period. And we need to not tinker with the EC, either. That's part of the overall picture in "dumbing down" our system.

    It is time to #Occupy Media.

    by lunachickie on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 06:24:37 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  An alternate proposal is another line of attack (33+ / 0-)

      "We know what you're doing with the EC bill, and we know why you're doing it.  Now, if you really want to be fair, we could do this.  That would honor the people's will nationally, unlike your proposal which is intended to cheat your opponents."

      It's important to refute the rationale for the bill, not just say "Nuh-unh!"

      Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

      by Dallasdoc on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 06:27:47 AM PST

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      •  Hell, really (10+ / 0-)

        what they're saying is the votes should be divided by percentage. To me we need to push it all the way and do away with the EC and use a national popular vote.

        "If fighting for a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of this country is socialistic, I stand guilty of being a socialist." Walter Reuther

        by fugwb on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 07:00:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Requires a Constitutional Amendment (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane, ardyess, SadieSue

          ... which smaller states would never pass.  If you generate a political movement to have states make their electors vote for the national popular vote winner, you move toward the same goal without the need for an Amendment.

          Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

          by Dallasdoc on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 07:04:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You can run an end run around the 'constitutional (14+ / 0-)

            amendment' requirement by agreeing to the National Popular Vote Compact, which if agreed to by states which comprise 270 or more Electoral Votes, would trigger the Compact's objectives.  

            The Compact goes into effect if adopted by states with 270 or more EV.  Currently states with 132 EV have signed on.

            The down side is that if, only 270 sign on, or a number near that, and one state pulls out and the number falls below 270, then Compact would fall apart.

            There should be language in the compact's laws which says that it can not be changed within 6 months or 1 year of a national presidential election.

            •  Withdrawal is Not Possible Jul 20-Jan 20 (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dragonlady, Yosef 52, shenderson

              The National Popular Vote bill says: "Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term."

              This six-month “blackout” period includes six important events relating to presidential elections, namely the
              ● national nominating conventions,
              ● fall general election campaign period,
              ● Election Day on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November,
              ● meeting of the Electoral College on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December,
              ● counting of the electoral votes by Congress on January 6, and
              ● scheduled inauguration of the President and Vice President for the new term on January 20.

              Any attempt by a state to pull out of the compact in violation of its terms would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and would be void.  Such an attempt would also violate existing federal law.  Compliance would be enforced by Federal court action

              The National Popular Vote compact is, first of all, a state law. It is a state law that would govern the manner of choosing presidential electors. A Secretary of State may not ignore or override the National Popular Vote law any more than he or she may ignore or override the winner-take-all method that is currently the law in 48 states.

              There has never been a court decision allowing a state to withdraw from an interstate compact without following the procedure for withdrawal specified by the compact. Indeed, courts have consistently rebuffed the occasional (sometimes creative) attempts by states to evade their obligations under interstate compacts.

              In 1976, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland stated in Hellmuth and Associates v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

              “When enacted, a compact constitutes not only law, but a contract which may not be amended, modified, or otherwise altered without the consent of all parties.”

              In 1999, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania stated in Aveline v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole:
              “A compact takes precedence over the subsequent statutes of signatory states and, as such, a state may not unilaterally nullify, revoke, or amend one of its compacts if the compact does not so provide.”

              In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court very succinctly addressed the issue in Petty v. Tennessee-Missouri Bridge Commission:
              “A compact is, after all, a contract.”

              The important point is that an interstate compact is not a mere “handshake” agreement. If a state wants to rely on the goodwill and graciousness of other states to follow certain policies, it can simply enact its own state law and hope that other states decide to act in an identical manner. If a state wants a legally binding and enforceable mechanism by which it agrees to undertake certain specified actions only if other states agree to take other specified actions, it enters into an interstate compact.

              Interstate compacts are supported by over two centuries of settled law guaranteeing enforceability. Interstate compacts exist because the states are sovereign. If there were no Compacts Clause in the U.S. Constitution, a state would have no way to enter into a legally binding contract with another state. The Compacts Clause, supported by the Impairments Clause, provides a way for a state to enter into a contract with other states and be assured of the enforceability of the obligations undertaken by its sister states. The enforceability of interstate compacts under the Impairments Clause is precisely the reason why sovereign states enter into interstate compacts. Without the Compacts Clause and the Impairments Clause, any contractual agreement among the states would be, in fact, no more than a handshake.

          •  Most of the states aren't going to pass the (6+ / 0-)

            proportional distribution system, either. The states that are already reliably red aren't going to pass it. Texas doesn't want proportional representation. This controversy is specific to a number of states that have been swing states and usually blue in recent presidential elections, but are controlled by Republican legislatures & governors: Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, & Virginia. These laws won't pass elsewhere. You can use the "fairness" argument to shame the swing states out of passing this stuff, but you won't get it passed universally, any more than you'll get the Electoral College eliminated.  

            -7.25, -6.26

            We are men of action; lies do not become us.

            by ER Doc on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:47:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  National Popular Vote is 49% of the Way (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Loose Fur, ScottAC

              To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

              Instead, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), by state laws.

              Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

              When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

              The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

              The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

              In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

              The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

              Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

              •  It's not going to happen (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ER Doc

                It is by design an end-run around the Constitutional need to get 2/3s of the states to agree to an Amendment. Some clever lawyer is gong to point this out before the SCOTUS.

                •  National Popular Vote only changes state laws (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Loose Fur, ScottAC

                  The National Popular Vote bill would change current state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

                  The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

                  The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens.

                  The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution, and enacting National Popular Vote would not need an amendment. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, were eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.

                  Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ."   The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

                  The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected.  Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet).  Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

                  Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

                  In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

                  The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

                  The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

                  As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

                  The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.

          •  Small States Want a National Popular Vote (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loose Fur, ScottAC

            Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states.  80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaigns.

            In 2008, of the 25 smallest states (with a total of 155 electoral votes), 18 received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions.  Of the seven smallest states with any post-convention visits, Only 4 of the smallest states - NH (12 events), NM (8), NV (12), and IA (7) -   got the outsized attention of 39 of the 43 total events in the 25 smallest states.  In contrast, Ohio (with only 20 electoral votes) was lavishly wooed with 62 of the total 300 post-convention campaign events in the whole country.

            In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

            Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

            Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group.  Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE --75%, ID -77%, ME - 77%, MT- 72%,  NE - 74%, NH--69%, NE - 72%, NM - 76%, RI - 74%,  SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT - 75%, WV- 81%,  and WY- 69%.

            Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

            With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation's votes!

        •  The plan where all EV votes go to the winner of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WisVoter, Dallasdoc

          the national popular vote does that without requiring a constitutional amendment.

          It also has the advantage of removing the built-in advantage the EC gives to small states.

          Also, it immediately makes states that currently have no stake suddenly become important.

          Nobody currently cares about California, Texas or New York because those votes are going where everyone knows they are going.

          But say, if only California's votes were allocated by popular vote instead of state votes, California immediately becomes a state worth fighting for. Even a candidate who knows they can't win California outright, but may be close enough in EC votes otherwise, will decide to fight for a larger minority of California votes if it could move the popular vote over the threshhold and thus get California's 44 EC votes.

          It is definitely to the advantage of larger states to do this.

          Resuming episode.

          My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

          by pucklady on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:33:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  'Dumbing down'? (0+ / 0-)

      That's highly offensive to me.

      The Electoral College is a deeply undemocratic (small D) system by which a small number of states wield ridiculously outsized influence over our electoral system, to the detriment of more or less every major population center in the United States. In combination with the fact that one person in (say) Montana has the equivalent of 40 times as much representation in the Senate as does a person in California, it basically tilts the playing field dramatically in favor of the interests of those in sparsely populated states, and away from the interests of vast majority of the United States.

      Calling a popular vote 'dumbing down' our system is just as offensive as saying the same thing about getting rid of the requirement that voters be landowners. It is a disparaging remark made about a reform that would make our system of government more representative of the actual people who live in our country.

      I understand that small states currently have a great deal of privilege under the current system, and are loath to give it up. And you get the most ridiculous arguments against it, as a result, including the one that says that simply because the electoral college is more complicated than a national representative vote, it is therefore superior. The arguments, in fact, are very similar to the arguments of white (male, straight) people who have a huge amount of privilege and are unwilling to even examine it, let alone give it up.

      But in the end, the inevitable effect of the electoral college, and indeed the only possible justification for its existence, is that sometimes the person who the majority of the US public wants to elect as president shouldn't be president. It's as simple as that. And a more un-democratic result is hard for me to imagine.

    •  The Hell It Is... (0+ / 0-)
      And we need to not tinker with the EC, either. That's part of the overall picture in "dumbing down" our system.
      ...the Electoral College is itself extremely dumb, anti-democratic and anti-progressive.   It needs to be not only tinkered with, it needs to be destroyed.   But it needs to be done so in a way that doesn't constitute rigging the system - it needs to be done so by adopting the popular vote.

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