Skip to main content

Cross posted at Notes on a Theory

Since we're getting closer to the presidential election (which will not come soon enough), we'll soon be in that brief moment when we will temporarily notice that presidents are not chosen by elections, but by the strange institution of the electoral college.  Personally, I find the substantive defenses of the electoral college to be so weak they're barely worth discussing.  It seems to me these are merely tossed in along with the real reason for most, which is an argument based in tradition.  But this too is flawed.  Must we maintain the present system for selecting a president if we wish to be faithful to the Constitution and those who framed it?  Only ignorance of the text and our history would lead us to answer yes.

The present Electoral College system bears no resemblance to the Framers’ design, and thus cannot be justified by reference to their intent.  The Constitution specifies a process that would seem entirely foreign to the modern observer.  Each state legislature is empowered to determine how their electors would be chosen.  Individual electors were to be chosen in each state, unconnected to political parties (which the Framers’ abhorred) and thereby not committed to any particular candidate. Electors in each state were to meet, in order to deliberate and choose two candidates, one of whom was to be from out-of-state.  This process was simultaneously a nomination and selection process.  Electors did not choose from some pre-existing slate of candidates.

These state-by-state meetings were supposed to function like a jury – a group of citizens pulled from the larger population for a particular purpose, who would return to the population on completing their task.  Electors were to make an independent judgment.  It would be no more appropriate for an elector to commit themselves before hand then it would be for a juror to decide a case before trial.  The candidate with the most votes, if he received a majority, would be president.  The candidate with the second most votes would be vice president.  This is how the system functioned in the first two presidential elections, when electors unanimously selected George Washington.

By the election of 1800, the rise of political parties, despite the Framers’ clear wish to prevent them, had broken the Electoral College system they had created.  It has never functioned as originally intended since that time.  That election led to modest constitutional reforms, embodied in the Twelfth Amendment, which accepted political parties as part of the process, and ensured that electors would choose presidential and vice presidential candidates separately.

How we as Americans choose a president had changed considerably since that time, but much of what we today associate with the Electoral College is not determined by the text or by the Framers’ intent.  The rules are generally a product of state law, not constitutional command.  First, we have a primary process to decide nominations for each political party.  In the general election, voters see ballots that list the names of the various presidential candidates, but are really choosing electors who have previously committed to those candidates.  Despite these commitments, those electors are free to vote as they please.  Most states give all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the most votes in that state; two do not.  None of these things is a product of the Framers’ design.  Electors still meet in each state, but their role is simply to ratify the choice made by their state’s voters.

Debate over the Electoral College tends to ignore these facts. We are told either that we must maintain the system to ensure fidelity to the Founders’ concerns, such as federalism, minority rights, or protecting the concerns of small states, or reject it because of the flaws they left us.  For the latter group, the tendency is to assume that these flaws reflect the Framers’ purposes – a distrust of the people, and a belief in elite control over democratic institutions.  Both sides miss the point.  Regardless of anyone’s private motives, like most of the original constitution, the presidential selection process was justified on the basis of popular sovereignty.  Their system held out the possibility of popular control, however indirect that control was meant to be.  But more importantly, the framers’ original design may well have done those things, but cannot justify today’s system, which is considerably different.

The Framers left us—the people—two tools for changing the rules.  The first was constitutional amendment, which they themselves used to modify the system in the early days of the republic.  An amendment could jettison the Electoral College and replace it with a direct election.  But they also specifically empowered state legislatures to decide most of the details of the system.  One proposal, the National Popular Vote, would ensure that the candidate who received the most votes would also receive the electoral votes to win the presidency.  It has already been adopted by nine states.

If we the people become convinced that the system we have today does not provide us with control we deserve, then it is our right and duty to change it.  Like politicians have over the past two hundred years, we can do so through state laws rather than constitutional amendments.  Making those changes would help restore the principles of the Constitution; failing to do so makes a mockery of them.

Thomas Jefferson warned us long ago to avoid treating the Constitution with “sanctimonious reverence,” insisting that “institutions must advance…and keep pace with the time.”  At a time when Americans feel increasingly dispossessed from government, failing to ask fundamental questions about how to best strengthen our democracy is no longer a luxury.

Fo what it's worth, I'd like to see the development of a democracy agenda.  Rather than arguing about all the many walls our system  (both constitutional and subconstitutional) fails to live up to our ideals, we need to connect the various problems and solutions.  And while constitutional change is a worthy goal, there are many things we can do short of that which would improve things tremendously, and make constitutional change more likely. That agenda could include--an end to the unconstitutional filibuster, a universal right to vote, and public funding for campaigns, along with jettisoning the electoral college.  And we can do the last one (and for that matter, the first one) in the knowledge that we aren't killing anything the Framers put in place.

Originally posted to David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Dems didn't push this (9+ / 0-)

    When Gore lost but you can be sure if Obama wins on the electoral vote the GOP will.

    •  Goopers are already pushing this meme (7+ / 0-)

      I have a few Facebook friends who faithfully repost all of the right-wing talking points on their Facebook page.  They've already been going on about the unfairness of the Electoral College, so they must have picked that up from Limbaugh or Hannity or one of the other conservaclones.

      Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:40:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  actually no...the big time Pubbies (0+ / 0-)

        want the electoral college as this institution saved GW Bush fro defeat by manipulation of the vote.

        As the Federalist Papers defend the college, I don't see anyway short of amendment to be done with this onerous Old English "your betters decide" piece od junk.  That means SCOTUS won't move on this at all.

        The nation we save from Republican sharpsters will be our own. We need a Democratic Congress, and to reelect President Obama....this won't be easy...we better get started NOW!

        by boilerman10 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:05:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The National Popular Vote Bill (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          catfood, Assaf

          The National Popular Vote bill would change existing 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.

          Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

          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.

      •  I don't quite understand (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LeftyAce, growingMajorityMN, DuzT, Jim R

        Without the Electoral College, and its disproportionate representation of Red States, Republicans would have no chance.

        •  This year Romney may come closer in popular vote (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DuzT, Jim R

          ... than in the Electoral College.  

          Romney might rack up huge margins in the ultra-conservative states where they get all their news from Limbaugh and Hannity and they hate Teh Scary Black Muslim Socialist, but it doesn't matter if Romney gets to 70% in Alabama or West Virginia, he'll still get the same number of electoral votes.

          Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

          by MJB on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:28:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One thing I like (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catfood

            Is that the electoral college limits the damage that can be done by enormously corrupt processes in any one state. A large, ultra-red state like Texas could provide a lot more votes to Republican candidates, while suppressing Democratic votes if we had a national popular vote. Once you're partisan enough to guarantee the electors, you can't use your partisanship to run up the score.

            Of course, at the same time, you throw out all the legit votes, too. So I'm not endorsing.

            •  Think About Florida 2000 . . . (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              David Kaib, catfood

              The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

              National Popular Vote would limit the benefits to be gained by fraud or voter suppression.  One suppressed vote would be one less vote. One fraudulent vote would only win one vote in the return. In the current electoral system, one fraudulent vote could mean 55 electoral votes, or just enough electoral votes to win the presidency without having the most popular votes in the country.

              The closest popular-vote election in American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes.  The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.

              For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

              Which system offers voter suppressors or fraudulent voters a better shot at success for a smaller effort?

          •  Yeah, this time around (0+ / 0-)

            the Electoral College is working in Dems' faxor, the Pop vote is 49-45 O but the EC vote is 320-190 O (or thereabouts, depending on who's tally you use. TPM seems to be less optimistic than HuffPo). So this time the built-in weirdness works in our favor. To me, that's a win-ugly. I want a 60/40 Pop vote that decimates the GOP in every state. But I'm not going to get it, so I'll settle for a squeaker that takes it on esoteric points.

        •  National Popular Vote Retains Electoral College (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Kaib

          The National Popular Vote bill would change existing 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.

          Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

          National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state.  Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don't matter to their candidate.

          And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don't matter to candidates.  Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

          Since 1932 the combined popular vote for Presidential candidates adds up to  Democrats: 745,407,082 and Republican: 745,297,123 — a virtual tie.  

          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).

    •  Maybe (22+ / 0-)

      But I don't think so.  The Conservative Movement knows what side of the bread has the butter.

      The EC overweights the electoral impact of low population states, which mostly are heavily rural, and heavily conservative.  Add in the "winner take all" aspect, and under the EC, Republicans get an automatic head start on the EC with near automatic wins of WY, MT, ND, SD, NE, ID.  If it was popular vote, yes, Republicans would win the PV in those states, but the 30-40% of voters there who vote Democrat would also count, and the couple million voters in those states collectively would only count for a much smaller percentage of the total than they do under the EC.

      •  I think you are right (5+ / 0-)

        I could see them using a popular vote loss / EC victory for a Dem to delegitimize that Dem but I don't they would change a system that gives the a built in advantage.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

        by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:12:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  6 Smallest States Red, 6 Blue (7+ / 0-)

        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.

        Kerry won more electoral votes than Bush (21 versus 19) in the 12 least-populous non-battleground states, despite the fact that Bush won 650,421 popular votes compared to Kerry’s 444,115 votes. The reason is that the red states are redder than the blue states are blue.  If the boundaries of the 13 least-populous states had been drawn recently, there would be accusations that they were a Democratic gerrymander.

        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%.

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

        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).

      •  Red States are Redder Than Blue States are Blue (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        penguins4peace, Jim R

        Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000  "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes).  Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

        •  If it were a national popular vote you'd see more (5+ / 0-)

          turnout in Presidential election year in states that are reliably red or blue.  Primarily because there are plenty of folks who won't vote in these states as things are because it doesn't seem like it would make much of a difference.  Obama is going to win CA.  No doubt.  There are definitely people in CA who are voting 3rd party because they live in a safe state.  You get rid of safe states and I bet the Dems pick up a lot of votes.

          The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:17:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How much of that red state turnout... (6+ / 0-)

            ...would be real people? There is so much proven Republican voter registration fraud, that I'm really concerned about what would happen in a National Popular Vote in areas where there is little or not oversight by Democrats. Heck, even when there IS a lot of oversight by Democrats, the Republicans have pulled off some major vote suppression.

            So I think NPV is a very bad idea unless it is linked to some kind of strong (which would have to be Federal) enforcement of voting rules & ballot access. Given that, NPV would be great.

            •  I think you have the incentives backwards (7+ / 0-)

              In a winner take all system, a relatively small shift in votes can mean a big shift in electoral votes. That encourages cheating. In NPV big shifts in outcome can only happen with big shifts in votes. Cheating becomes a more difficult task. Plus the present system means Dems have no incentive to police deep red states whereas with NPV they would.

              Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

              by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:33:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That can only happen in a state... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dream It Real, Tuba Les

                ...where there is a significant presence by Democrats, who should therefore be able to poll-watch and catch such things.

                In a state heavily dominated by Republicans -- and where voting procedures are controlled entirely locally -- there isn't any practical way to stop them from padding their own vote & suppressing ours. But if they are in that control, it's a deep red state & getting extra votes does not matter under the current system. Under NPV, it would.

                I'm all in favor of policing voting rights in red states. Show me a way that's possible & I'll be a NPV supporter, FWIW.

                •  I think you are making too much of outright (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ConfusedSkyes

                  voting fraud by the GOP.  Where it has been clear that it happens it is in cases where the vote was very close.  At best they can come up with about .1% new votes for the GOP.  If you compare that with the increased turnout in states that will suddenly matter, like CA, NY, etc.  What your analysis lacks is the fact that blue states have a higher population on average, and popular voting means that more of that population would turn out.  Under the current system Montana is represented in the EC twice as much as CA is per capita.

                  The other thing we'd see is a large increase in voting in districts in blue states that generally elect conservatives, and that could help in the house.

                  The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:35:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Think about the fraud math again. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  David Kaib, ConfusedSkyes

                  Let's say you're a fraudster looking to steal an election. You look for a swing state with a lot of EVs. In Ohio 2004, flipping 60,000 votes from R to D would've flipped the state, the EC, the White House. But the 2004 popular vote margin was 3 million. Try to flip that many in any single state and it will stick out like a sore thumb. So to steal the election, you have to mount a multi-state operation. More people involved, harder to recruit them, and the odds that somebody will spill the beans go way up.

                  An NPV would make an election harder, not easier, to steal.

                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:21:55 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  it would probably be interesting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Marti

        because I think a lot of the rank and file Rs certainly would push to abolish the EC.

        But while they are busy howling about the need to abolish the EC, I suspect that if/when Obama is re-elected, if the Rs keep the House, they will develop a trumped-up impeachment charge within the first year. And that, too, will happen because the Ds and MSM never really made them pay for their politicization of that process when they went after Clinton. It is so amazing to me to see Rs who fought tooth and nail to impeach Clinton now praising him. Where, where, where is our collective memory????? History, people, history!

        "The fools are as plentiful as ever." Albert Parsons, Haymarket martyr

        by kainah on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:32:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  In 2004, a shift of 60,000 votes in OH . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti, HeyMikey

      The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II.  Near misses are now frequently common.  There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.    

  •  Before I start this discussion, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, The Marti

    I must ask:  where do you live?  It matters greatly in your reasoning, and mine...

    When do I get to vote on your marriage?

    by jarhead5536 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:34:33 AM PDT

    •  I disagree that it matters (6+ / 0-)

      but I live in DC now (which gets ignored in the present system) but lived in PA before (which gets tons of attention). My position on this had been the same regardless.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:41:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a lifelong resident (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Marti, WestCider

        of one small state after another, geography matters in national politics.  Without the Electoral College, candidates would spend all their time in five or six states, and never meet nor hear from those of us out here in the empty places.  Here in Montana, we have a pitiful three EC votes.  My issues and concerns would never, and I mean NEVER, addressed without my having at least some say in who becomes president, no matter how small.  Would candidate Barack Obama have come to Butte for the 4th of July parade (a nationally famous celebration in any case), had he not at least been required to give the appearance  of caring about the intermountain West, where almost no one lives?

        When do I get to vote on your marriage?

        by jarhead5536 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:22:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Live in NJ (5+ / 0-)

          As I recall we have a bit larger population than MT.  You have 2 senators just like we do.  But, we never see a Dem Presidential candidate because they are expected to win here.  That doesn't seem right either.  I say toss the Electoral College.  Force the candidates to spend money in all locations and visit all locations.

          •  Or, they could visit NO locations (0+ / 0-)

            and just run a national campaign on TV and the internet.  In fact, I think this is what a NPV election would boil down to.  And it would be even more likely to be largely issue-free.
            The historical reasons for the Electoral College and the modern argument against a single, nationwide election are not the same - but still, I'd rather see the current system than a national popular vote.  Or ideally, a system where the rest of the states adopt a Nebraska/Maine system.

            If we ever want to build alternative parties or effective pressure groups within parties, nationalization of the parties would just make this more difficult.

            By the way - I live in New York.  We voted for Reagan in '84.  Clinton won Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia in 92.  Let us please NOT make permanent policy based on transient political interests.

            Finally - the electoral college amplifies the voice of small states... or negates them.   It lessens the voice of big states... or enlarges it.  It really depends on the election and the state.

        •  Well, WITH the EC (5+ / 0-)

          the candidates do almost the exact same thing - i.e., spend their time time in the 5 or 6 swing states.

          Which is perfectly fine with me not living in one of those states - really, who needs wall to wall bullshit advertising on TV - heck, it'd almost make me turn of the idiot tube once and for all.

        •  Your "pitiful" (8+ / 0-)

          3 EC votes are more than your state deserves to have by its population.  MT has 1M people out of 314M Americans.  It gets 3 EV's out of 538.  By a hasty calculation this is almost twice the EV's you'd get if they were handed out proportionally (and fractionally) by population.  

          It's hard to justify this, particularly when as others note, it's not as if national politicans spend much time in MT today, since it is a safe red state and there's little point campaigning there.  

          In fact under PV candidates would have more reason to pay attention to MT.  The Democrat could hope to wring an extra 5% margin since every vote counts nationally.  The local Dem party would have more incentive to GOTV.  Both candidates would run ads - sure, few votes, but cheaper ad costs too - the marginal cost per voter persuaded might make it an appealing prospect.  

          Unless you take New Hampshire's spot on the primary calendar, you're never going to get big time attention from Presidential candidates, but I'd argue you get more attention under a PV system than you do now.

          •  Every state, (5+ / 0-)

            and every person within every state, has the right to federal representation.  Montana has a single US House representative, which means in one chamber of the legislature, I am woefully underrepresented.  There are 435 Congressmen, which means that every one of them should have a consituency of around 722K.  Our million folks have one (very crappy BTW) Congressman.

            This is one of the problems I have with the way the federal legislature is set up.  Congressional districts, if we are going to cap the number of representatives where it is, should not follow state lines.  Because they currently do follow state lines, my neighboring state, Wyoming, with a population of around half a miliion, is egregiously overrepresented by one Congressman.

            The equalizer in my view is the Senate.  Every state has two senators, regardless of population, for a very specific reason:  Senators do not represent people (which is why that body was not set up to be popularly elected).  Senators represent the entity of the state they come from.  I like this because it creates a level playing field so that places out here in Flyover Land are not completely ignored while the representatives from California, New York and Illinois completely dominate the national dialogue.  

            The current setup prevents the tyranny of the majority as well as it can be done...

            When do I get to vote on your marriage?

            by jarhead5536 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:34:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The senate is what skews things in (4+ / 0-)

              the electoral vote, and because of that Montana has nearly twice the representation per capita than CA does.  Getting rid of the EC doesn't get rid of senators, it turns the presidency into a one person one vote election instead of making it so that you have twice as much say as an individual as I do.

              The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:23:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  what this says to me (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, The Marti, Odysseus, DuzT

                is that we've got far, far too few House members than we should have given the population.

                One for every ~700K people? For the more democratic elective body? Ludicrous.

                It does serve entrenched power interests. Fewer reps, easier to buy and keep them controlled. Sure, it means I might never meet my House rep unless I'm handing him or her a check, but America #1 or something.

                •  I've said for a while that we need some sort of (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  The Marti

                  third house that is proportional representation.  Or make half of the house proportionally decided.  Double the size of the house and then it will equalize the EC somewhat but won't completely wipe out the advantage of the smaller states.  That way we could theoretically get more states on board.

                  Completely implausible, but fun to think about.

                  The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:06:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I believe (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RickD

                  we need a HoR that has 10,000 members, which is allowed under the constitution.  We kept increasing the size of the HoR until 1920, and although the nation tripled in size, the House of Representatives has not reflected that increase in population.

                  It's about time I changed my signature.

                  by Khun David on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:40:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  We'd have about 10,000 reps (0+ / 0-)

                  If we went with the formula in the original Constitution. That might be excessive, but I agree that it's silly that our democracy is currently limited by the size of a building. Let them meet in a football stadium - that would be fine with me.

                  Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

                  by tcorse on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 07:59:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Woefully? (7+ / 0-)

              Man, it's a little hard to take you seriously when you say that having only one Congressman and two Senators for nearly 1 million people is 'woeful underrepresentation'. Especially when it's clear that a Senator, representation-wise, is worth roughly fifty House members, especially when the Senate has the filibuster handy. (Even if we only count each Senator as equal to one representative, Wyoming has one per 340k people, whereas California has one per 680k people... which is to say, 1/2 as much representation as Wyoming has.)

              Indeed, it's pretty clear that Wyoming and all of the other small-population states are hugely overrepresented in the US government. There has been essentially no time in the last fifty years where the representatives of at most twenty million people in the US were not in a position to make the final determination on what legislation should pass in the Senate (where, as we all know, all good legislation goes to die) and what should not, despite the wishes of a couple hundred million in other states.

              And you're willing to call that underrepresentation? Ye gods. Perhaps you should put your passion to better use, by advocating for representation for, say, I don't know, the people of Washington DC? Who, despite numbering about 2/3 of the population of your state, have neither Congressmen nor Senators at all? That's what I'd call underrepresented.

            •  you don't really believe this, do you? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              David Kaib, DuzT, ConfusedSkyes

              "Senators do not represent people (which is why that body was not set up to be popularly elected).  Senators represent the entity of the state they come from. "

              This isn't the 19th century.  The 17th Amendment was passed for a reason.  Senators who were nominally "representing the entity of the state" ended up being the most corrupt people in DC, as they were the most beholden to the party bosses in their home state.  

        •  Follow the Money - Only 9 Swing States Matter (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, Zack from the SFV

          Now candidates ignore Montana after the conventions.

          A survey of Montana voters showed 72% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

          Voters were asked "How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?"

          By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 67% among Republicans, 80% among Democrats, and 70% among others.
          By gender, support was 80% among women and 63% among men.
          By age, support was 72% among 18-29 year olds, 67% among 30-45 year olds, 75% among 46-65 year olds, and 73% for those older than 65.

          None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
          The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

          Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree, that, at most, only 9 states and their voters will matter. They will decide the election. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual. About 80% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

          80% of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That's more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

          The number and population of battleground states is shrinking

          Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

        •  This old theory is just wrong. (8+ / 0-)

          Right now, large sections of the country get ignored.  How much attention are the presidential candidates giving to California and Texas?

          Without the Electoral College, candidates have to pay attention to all of the voters.  A candidate gains just as much by a 1 percent swing in a red state as they do in a blue state or a swing state.  We would see Democratic presidential candidates campaigning in Texas, and Republicans in California, far more than they do now.  I think the campaigns would cover a much greater percentage of the population.

          All votes should count the same.  In a popular vote election, a vote in Montana counts the same as a vote in California, or any other state.

          "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

          by Thutmose V on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:02:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Small state concerns (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti, ConfusedSkyes

          "My issues and concerns would never, and I mean NEVER, addressed without my having at least some say in who becomes president, no matter how small."

          This issue always seems to come up when the Electoral College issue is discussed. I've issued this challenge in the past, and no one has been able to articulate an answer: "Just what issues/concerns does your (small) state have that are unique to it, ie, that are not shared by those in medium-sized and large states?"

          For example, my home state is Iowa. Agriculture is the leading industry: concerns shared by Illinois (with much the same agriculture mix), and California. Farm machinery: shared with much of the upper Midwest, from Ohio onward. Insurance (in Des Moines): connected to money centers in Chicago and New York. Break it down further: dairying is an interest shared by Vermont and New York. Native American concerns are widely shared across large and small population states.

          Now, I suspect you can find a few parochial interests in any state that do not suggest allies across state lines--but none so many or important that they should trump basic democratic civil equality: one person, one vote.

          I'd hasten to add that Iowa's influence is vastly over-emphasized due to its position as a swing state and its first caucus on the calendar. But that's a discussion for another day.

        •  So... er... just to be clear... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti, LeftyAce, ConfusedSkyes
          Here in Montana, we have a pitiful three EC votes.  My issues and concerns would never, and I mean NEVER, addressed without my having at least some say in who becomes president, no matter how small.
          So, just to be clear, by endorsing the status quo, what you're explicitly saying here is, 'I think we in Montana deserve to have our issues and concerns addressed, but those in North Dakota can just go punt.' Or, to put it more broadly, 'those who live in small swing states deserve to have their issues addressed, but those who live in small red or blue states do not'.
        •  Yet (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Kaib, RickD, ConfusedSkyes

          with the electoral college, candidates spend all their time in five or six states.  I never saw campaign commercials when I lived in New York.  I only see campaign commercials now because I live in Maryland, which borders Virginia (had I lived here 16 years ago, I would not have seen campaign commercials here, either).

          It's about time I changed my signature.

          by Khun David on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:37:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How is it different now? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeftyAce, ConfusedSkyes

          " Without the Electoral College, candidates would spend all their time in five or six states, and never meet nor hear from those of us out here in the empty places. "

          So how many candidate visits are there to small non-swing states under the current system?

          The real fear is that candidates wouldn't skip small states so much as they would ignore rural areas.  Candidates would go where the votes are, since a city with 500k people in Iowa would be just as important as a city with 500k people in Florida.

          •  10 Most Rural States Are Ignored Now (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Kaib

            None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
            The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

      •  ...and as a Texan, it's an interesting place: (7+ / 0-)

        38 electoral votes, second-most populous state, and you'd hardly know there is an election going on here.  

        And the lack of attention to the Presidential election works down-ballot to get even less attention to the Senatorial race (Paul Sadler v. "Crazy-Troll" Ted Cruz), state Lege seats, Congressional races, the State Board of Education (which matters to a lot of folks outside Texas - - dive on in, the water's great!), County DA, county sheriff, judges, and what have you.

        My reasoning: why is no one paying any attention to the elections?

        Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

        by tom 47 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:36:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why does it matter? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ConfusedSkyes

      It affects the diarist's interest, but not the diarist's reasoning.

  •  Agree, but we should go further. (7+ / 0-)

    We as Americans should seriously consider doing away with states as states, that is, semi-autonomous governmental entities within the larger whole.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:35:51 AM PDT

    •  I would push for MUCH MUCH more oversight... (4+ / 0-)

      ..over education.

      Right now, we have FAR too many school districts.

      I would guarantee teachers pension at the federal level, conditioned upon federal regulation of schools.  I would immediately consolidate school districts, cutting them by at least 75%.

      I would lay off no teachers, but I would slash administrative staff by at least 75%.  Moreover,  I would adjust administrative pay to that of other federal employees.  There is no reason why a school superintendent should earn more than 60% of what Geithner makes.  And presently, we have far too many superintendents earning far more than what our Treasury Chief earns.

      TheOrchid, you're on the right path, and I do believe that while we may not have fewer states, we will have MUCH MORE federal oversight of them.

      States and municipalities, constrained by finances, will cede more power to the federal government.  And I wouldn't be shocked if within 50 years cities mayors will be appointed by the federal government.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:48:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        that there is too much spent on admin in education, I don't see how additional federal control would help. If anything the feds are pushing for more such spending (high stakes testing is very expensive and requires it.) I've seen no evidence that feds in either party share our concern about this. Instead they want to do what you and I oppose- get rid of teachers.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

        by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:17:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As much as I hate Canada and all things Canadian (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse

        it seems like they have a fairly reasonable approach to education where the approach is based on provinces.

        IOW, there is not some over-riding national control (which wingnuts feign horror at) but OTOH there is some degree of equity between poor inner cities and wealthier suburbs (or whatever the economic divide happens to be up there . .. . ).  The point being, if this system was in place in the USA, inner city Oakland and Walnut Creek would have the same quality of schools . .. .

      •  Look what happens when (0+ / 0-)

        primary/secondary education goes up to the state level.  You have Texas determining what text books the Wappingers Central School District is able to educate its kids with.

        It's about time I changed my signature.

        by Khun David on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:46:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No way. (7+ / 0-)

      The country is way too big for a single centralized government to handle everything.  The states make things much more manageable and can deal with more local concerns (though bigger than one town or one county) much more easily.

      One should no more deplore homosexuality than left-handedness. ~Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1964 (Proud left-handed queer here!) SSP: wmlawman

      by AUBoy2007 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:50:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You could eliminate sovereignty w/o eliminating (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ConfusedSkyes

        state government.

        Not that I'd recommend a system like this, but you could have a system in which state governments operate in relation to the federal government in the same way that local municipalities operate in relation to the states.

        A municipality largely operates independently of state government, but is chartered by the state and can be regulated as the state sees fit.  For example many states have property tax limitation laws which prevent cities from raising taxes more than a prescribed amount, even if the elected officials in the city wish to do so.

        You could imagine a federal system in which states operate independently in local matters but can be overruled by the federal government.   This is largely true today: Federal law preempts state law where the Constitution provides Congress with the power to regulate something (e.g. commerce, 14th Amendment due process rights). But the 10th Amendment establishes this preemption is not unlimited, which complicates if not hinders arbitrary preemption of state laws.

        While you could imagine a system in which Congress has arbitrary power to preempt state laws, you have to imagine that system when Congress is in control of the other party. In the first George W. Bush term we might have seen something like the Virginia's mandatory ultrasound law enforced nation-wide.

        I've lost my faith in nihilism

        by grumpynerd on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:21:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  why? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ConfusedSkyes

        "The country is way too big for a single centralized government to handle everything."

        It's not too big to have a centralized military.  I'm not understanding why it's too big to have centralized governmental functions for other tasks.  

        The US is fairly unique in its insistence of having 3 or 4 levels of government in place throughout much of the country.  

    •  Nothing wrong with the states. Every country (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345, Sparhawk

      gives some degree of autonomy to its states/regions.

  •  A system that theoretically enables the (9+ / 0-)

    leader of a country to be selected based on obtaining something like 21% of the votes cast (when only 2 people are running, mind you!) is definitely badly broken.

    Heck, the small states already hold the Senate hostage to all kinds of nuttery, why should they hold sway over the presidency as well?

  •  Agree. (5+ / 0-)

    The NPV movement is the way to go.  It's a great way to short circuit the process.   Once states worth 280 sign up, it doesn't matter what the other states think, the election will be practically decided based on popular vote, and the candidates will have to campaign that way.

    Of course, if it ever gets momentum, the organized right will go after it big time with the usual stupid arguments for letting Wyoming's 400,000 voters be electorally worth 800,000 Californians or New Yorkers.

    Still, I like seeing them fight on the defensive rather than the offensive.  

    •  Very true (0+ / 0-)

      although I object to the idea that its short circuting the process. States are free to pick electors however they want - could be by height, age, lottery or a massive poker game. None of those would be less consistent with the original system than what we use now.

      I also think its important to challenge the idea that any of this empowers voters. WY voters may count for more but since Republicans are safe those voters have little power.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:22:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The electoral college and winner-take-all DOES (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        catfood

        empower some voters.  It empowers minorities.

        The first and most powerful effect of getting rid of the current system would be to make the votes of African Americans, HIspanics, Jews, Indians, and other minorities worth than they are now.  African American votes are important because they are concentrated in some states.  If they are diffused evenly through the sea of national votes, they can be more easily ignored.  

        Indian votes are starting to be noticed, because they are concentrated in Western states, especially the Southwest.  If more Indians keep voting, politicians in New Mexico and the Dakotas, etc., will suddenly become more responsive, of course; but so will national politicians, because several small clumps of electoral will be vulnerable to the impact of Indian votes.

        Jews constitute -- what? Less than 5% of the vote.  The Jewish vote matters because they are concentrated in New York and Florida.

        The NPV would give more power to one group: white people.  Therefore, it would favor the REpublicans, and it would undermine the kind of diverse alliance that empowers the Democratic party and keeps it tending a bit more progressive than the GOP.

        Save the NPV for some future time when we've made more progress against racism, homophobia, and other serious undemocratic divisions within our political process.  Meanwhile, both minorities and the Democratic party should fight like hell for the winner-take-all Electoral College.

        What the Republicans are going to do -- watch for it -- is leave the Electoral College be but push to change state laws about allocating electors.  They want to gain some of the electors from California, without having to give up any from the Red South.

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 06:45:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not following you. (0+ / 0-)

          Under NPV, every American's vote would be equal. I don't see a problem with that. (Even though in employment, I agree there's still a need for affirmative action.)

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:53:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  African Americans are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ConfusedSkyes

          unfortunately, hardly an important voting bloc, comparatively speaking.  Republicans ignore them and Democrats take them for granted.  The system encourages both to focus on swing voters in swing states, who are overwhelmingly white (and affluent). African American concerns are largely ignored.  Incidentally, there is plenty of evidence that the concerns of the affluent are the ones that get attention from government, while the concerns of everyone else are largely ignored.

          Other groups are getting more attention - because the system has previously allowed them to be ignored. That this is getting better under the present system doesn't tell us an alternative isn't better.

          It's odd to suggest that this would benefit Republicans, when more non-voters are Democrats (a product, in part, of the fact that the EC makes almost everyone's vote outside a few swing state's meaningless). And the list of states that have passed this are all blue states.  

          I think you're probably right to suggest we'll see further efforts by Republicans to change the rules for how electors are apportioned. Which is why, in my opinion, defending a broken system, as opposed to fighting back with democracy, is a losing strategy.

          Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

          by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:08:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  270+ Electoral Votes Guarantee Presidency (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Kaib

            When the National Popular Vote bill is enacted by states possessing 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 bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes, no matter how non-enacting states award their electoral votes.

        •  missing a key word here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ConfusedSkyes

          "The first and most powerful effect of getting rid of the current system would be to make the votes of African Americans, HIspanics, Jews, Indians, and other minorities worth (???) than they are now."

          More?  Less?
          I think you are saying less.  But I don't see how you can make this argument.

          Consider, for example, South Carolina.  Blacks constitute 30% of the population of the state, but they have no hope of controlling the state legislature, or the governorship, or having any Senator.  They'll never get represented in the Electoral College, and with the latest re-districting of the state, they get 1 Representative out of the state's delegation of 7.

          This is what you're saying represents blacks better than a pure democracy?  

        •  80% of Non-Whites Irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

          In the current system, battleground states are the only states that matter in presidential elections. Campaigns are tailored to address the issues that matter to voters in these states.

          Safe red and blue states are considered a waste of time, money and energy to candidates. These "spectator" states receive no campaign attention, visits or ads. Their concerns are utterly ignored.

          The influence of ethnic minority voters has decreased tremendously as the number of battleground states dwindles. For example, in 1976, 73% of blacks lived in battleground states. In 2004, that proportion fell to a mere 17%.  Just 21% of African Americans and 18% of Latinos lived in the 12 closest battleground states.  So, roughly 80% of non-white voters might as well have not existed.

          The Asian American Action Fund, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, NAACP, National Latino Congreso, and National Black Caucus of State Legislators endorse a national popular vote for president.

    •  Only States with 270 Electoral Votes are Needed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib, AoT, HeyMikey

      The National Popular Vote bill would change existing 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.

      Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

      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 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. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

      NationalPopularVote   
      Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

      •  what about faithless electors? (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not sold on this idea.

        I mean, yeah, it seems unlikely.  But what happens when a state has voted 80-20 for the candidate that loses the popular vote?  There's going to be a lot of pressure on that  state's electors to ignore the agreement and to vote for the winner of the state.

        Sure, a state could pass a law to impose a requirement on its electors, but it's unclear whether such a law would have any kind of real function.  After all, a state law would not control what a faithless elector actually did.  It could replace a faithless elector, but it could be too late.

        Ordinarily a faithless elector would face punishment from his own party, but I don't know if that would be so relevant in this hypothetical.

        •  States Have Plenary Power Over Electors (0+ / 0-)

          There have been 22,453 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector's own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders.  The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

          If a Democratic presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state's dedicated Democratic party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. If a Republican presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state's dedicated Republican party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who collects 270 votes from Electoral College voters from among the winning party's dedicated activists.

          The states already have ample constitutional authority to remedy the situation by means of state law.

          Existing Pennsylvania law is noteworthy in that it empowers each presidential nominee to directly nominate all elector candidates. The presidential nominee is, after all, the person whose name actually appears on the ballot on Election Day and who has the greatest and most immediate interest in faithful voting by presidential electors.

          Existing North Carolina law declares vacant the position of any contrary-voting elector, voids that elector’s vote, and empowers the state’s remaining electors to immediately replace the contrary-voting elector with an elector loyal to the party’s nominee.

           The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

    •  There is a problem with the NPV. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheMeansAreTheEnd, biscobosco, DuzT

      (For the record, I support NPV because it is the only horse in the race)

      NPV is only fair if we have standardized voting rules.

      1) ID checks
      2) Felon disenfranchisement
      3) Poll closing times
      4) Registration requirements

      All of this stuff needs to be equal across the country.

      •  Fairness isn't binary (4+ / 0-)

        it's a continuum.

        An NPV system, with states deciding their own enfranchisement rules, would be more fair than the current system.

        Small varmints, if you will.

        by aztecraingod on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:51:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's.not a problem with NPV (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse, HeyMikey, ConfusedSkyes

        It's an additional set of problems. But a push for more democracy by ending the EC could serve as a good vehicle for addressing these too.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

        by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:21:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Now all are impacted by varied election policies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey

        There is nothing incompatible between differences in state election laws and the concept of a national popular vote for President. That was certainly the mainstream view when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment in 1969 for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. That amendment retained state control over elections.
        The 1969 amendment was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, then-Senator Bob Dole, and then-Senator Walter Mondale.

        The American Bar Association also endorsed the proposed 1969 amendment.

        The proposed 1969 constitutional amendment provided that the popular-vote count from each state would be added up to obtain the nationwide total for each candidate. The National Popular Vote compact does the same.

        Under the current system, the electoral votes from all 50 states are comingled and simply added together, irrespective of the fact that the electoral-vote outcome from each state was affected by differences in state policies, including voter registration, ex-felon voting, hours of voting, amount and nature of advance voting, and voter identification requirements.

        Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote compact, all of the people of the United States are impacted by the different election policies of the states. Everyone in the United States is affected by the division of electoral votes generated by each state.  The procedures governing presidential elections in a closely divided battleground state (e.g., Florida and Ohio) can affect, and indeed have affected, the ultimate outcome of national elections.

        The U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II). The Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution permit states to conduct elections in varied ways.  The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and preserves state control of elections.

  •  I looked at your profile and there it says (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse
    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.
    To a foreigner it looks like as if in the US it is not possible to change the electoral college. Otherwise you would have done so by now. And it is not done. What else could be responsible for that than the constitution itself?
    •  Go read (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, David Kaib, AoT, ManhattanMan, HeyMikey

      The National Popular Vote proposal.  It circumvents a constitutional amendment, once states worth a majority of the electoral college votes commit legislatively to give their EV's to the national popular vote winner, the jig is up for the EC, yes it would still exist technically, but the selection of a majority of electors would be based completely on PV.

    •  it would be very hard to change the EC (0+ / 0-)

      The powers that be have vested interests in supporting the status quo.  

      •   National Popular Vote bill- 49% of the 270 needed (0+ / 0-)

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

        NationalPopularVote   
        Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  •  Good diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scientician, HeyMikey

    Part of the issue here is that the founders didn't really envision as intrusive a federal gov't as we currently have (putting aside the liberal/conservative debate over whether this is good or not good).

    The 'old' system you describe made a lot of sense in the day when you were pretty much a citizen of a state first, and your direct interaction with the Feds was very limited (your state government pretty much handled that for you).

    Today in the age of federal income tax, national mass media, post-Civil War you are in reality more of a federal citizen with your state a subservient body. As a result you have a lot more direct interest in who gets elected to the federal presidency. (Before, it was more like the EU, you care, but not that much.)

    I mean most people in the US are far more concerned with the Presidency than their state governorship.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:11:55 AM PDT

  •  Another thing good about the NPV (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, ManhattanMan, HeyMikey

    It would avoid the nightmare of throwing the Presidential election to the House of Reps to decide because of an EV tie or failure of any candidate to win a majority of the EC (say because a third party candidate wins some EVs, or there are faithless electors who spoil it).

  •  national popular vote interestate compact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    All that is needed for it to be triggered is for the state legislature in states that add up to 139 electoral votes to pass this and the electoral college for all purposes will be finished. I am frankly surprised it has not gotten much publicity.

  •  I think we are forgetting that the original (0+ / 0-)

    Constitution was actually written by God, so...alright I'm kidding. But it has been pretty difficult to change the Constitution, for good reason probably. But today, you can't even get Republicans and Democrats to agree on the time.

    However, in the spirit of the diary, I wonder whether it would make sense to think about the USA, not as a federation of States so much as a federation of regions. I looked at this once and decided that the USA is composed of roughly 16 distinct demographic/geographical regions. But whatever it is, one could imagine a modified electoral college that was composed of regions roughly equal in population. The winner of a majority of regions would win the election. I am concerned that a simple majority vote of the whole population would be divisive. certain regions would be alienated. I also think that this approach could be a fix for the undemocratic senate while retaining its regional sensitivity.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:18:30 PM PDT

    •  The Candidate With the Most Votes Should Win (0+ / 0-)

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), without needing to amend the Constitution.

      The National Popular Vote bill would change existing 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 bill uses the power given to each state 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 been 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 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%.

      Most Americans don't care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or region . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate.  Most Americans think it's wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

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

      NationalPopularVote

      •  That's your opinion (0+ / 0-)

        but it isn't mine. I think it's divisive. My view of America is that it is incredibly diverse, so much so that it looks like a bunch of nations glued together. A system that doesn't take account of regional diversity is just not a vey good system in my book. But it's kind of moot, I guess. Nobody is in any hurry to change anything. This is a country that cannot even adopt the metric system, after all.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:52:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Forget the EC, what about the Senate? (5+ / 0-)

    You have red states dictating every legislation because even the largest (blue) states get only two Senators each.

    •  That was done on purpose (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whenwego, mightymouse, Khun David

      To slow legislature and disconnect it from the populist branch of the legislature, the House of Reps.

      --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

      by idbecrazyif on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:42:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that was done on purpose... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whenwego, mightymouse, idbecrazyif

        ...to get the support of the smaller states, too. A lot of "art of the possible" went into crafting the Constitution.

        •  So very true (0+ / 0-)

          And the debate regarding it continued even well beyond the founding of the nation.

          --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

          by idbecrazyif on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 06:14:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Disconnect it from democracy, you mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        idbecrazyif

        It was done to protect the old aristocracy, and unworthy of any country pretending to value equal rights for all it's citizens.

        •  I don't see it as that way (0+ / 0-)

          There are meaningful and purposeful structures built into our federal system to prevent populism from running ramshod over government. However at the same time there are enough populist measures in place to allow the people to have a voice.

          --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

          by idbecrazyif on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:19:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  26% of nation's vote, in 11 states could elect now (0+ / 0-)

            The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the "mob" in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Florida, while the "mobs" of the vast majority of states are ignored. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided "battleground" states.  12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive are ignored, in presidential elections.   9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia).  Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 "battleground" states. At most, 9 states will determine the 2012 election.

            The current system does not provide some kind of check on the "mobs." There have been 22,453 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector's own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders.  The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

            * * *
            With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's votes!

    •  That is literally the hardest thing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whenwego, mightymouse, HeyMikey

      in the Constitution to change. One advantage of what I'm talking about is that it's relatively easy.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:39:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's because... (0+ / 0-)

      in the Senate, the unit of representation is the State. A small state is no less a state than a large one. That's why state legislatures originally selected them.

      The House is for the people.

      "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

      by JackND on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:34:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The biggest impediment to genuine democracy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, whenwego

      and a nation that fairly represents the citizens who live in it.  

      It obviously effectively gives small and unpopulated states MANY more votes than the vast majority of Americans get who happen to live on the coasts.  (Including like 6 times the votes in the Senate for the Mormon Church than the entire population of CA gets).  

      The Senate is a relic, and an embarrassment for a nation that nominally pretends to be a democracy.

    •  to fix the Senate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib, whenwego

      the first step would be to get rid of the filibuster.

      It's a historical accident that has only achieved its current form in the past decade or so.  

      I think it's clear by now, though, that the party leadership of our dear Democratic party prefers having an excuse for doing nothing to the possibility of pushing as hard as possible for the base.  

  •  Also see (0+ / 0-)

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:32:31 PM PDT

  •  I am actually a fan of the EV and here is why (0+ / 0-)

    It disconnects the person who will have their trigger on the military from the populace. In short, in a world gone to hell it could prevent specific people from taking office that have no business taking office.

    Just saying

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:45:08 PM PDT

    •  Your point is more theoretical than real (4+ / 0-)

      Electors are partisans chosen solely to do what they are told. Most don't realize they have a choice. Besides, in a truly off the wall scenario Congress can impeach.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:19:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think its that is the point though (0+ / 0-)

        The founders looked at what could be theoretical and took things to the extreme, then placed safety locks to guard against those theoretical moments.

        No one can predict the trajectory of the world or a nation with near 100% certainty, so this is why we have various checks and balances in place.

        --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

        by idbecrazyif on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 06:16:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Framers didn't put this safety lock on (0+ / 0-)

          Because their system was completely different than ours. That's the point. That said, letting a small minority of nameless partisans overrule an election would also be risky.

          Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

          by David Kaib on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:43:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I am too, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      idbecrazyif

      as a federation, each state has its own election for president. A voter in one state shouldn't cancel out a voter in another.

      At least in this country, every voter gets to cast a vote by name for the person they want as their head of government. In the parliamentary system, only the voters of one riding ever get to cast a vote by name for the person who runs their federal government.

      "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

      by JackND on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:37:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, its a corner stone of our "Federal" self (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JackND

        To go to a straight popular vote would undermine one of the key points of why states exist.

        --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

        by idbecrazyif on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 06:19:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But that only works if states are homogeneous. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ConfusedSkyes

          If I live in Texas, my concerns are guaranteed not to matter.  
          The only minorities that are protected by the EC are those which are a national minority but a state-wide majority (or sizable plurality).

          Gaining 10,000 more Latino votes in Texas is worthless with the EC.  Minorities within their own states are totally marginalized, since even in a close national election (in terms of the national popular vote) their votes are completely squashed by the majority in their state.  Filtered out, before they get to the EC.

        •  Powers of State Govts Not Changed by NPV (0+ / 0-)

          With the Electoral College and federalism, the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interests within the confines of the Constitution. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it.

          The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate. That is not what the Founders intended.

          The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections.  It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.  

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state, ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, in 2012 will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

          80% of the states and people have been just spectators to the presidential elections. That's more than 85 million voters.

          Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

          States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond.

          Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained 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."

          Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government.  The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government.  The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheMeansAreTheEnd, A Citizen

    I have been arguing for over 30 years that the Electoral College should be maintained if and only if it is amended as follows:

    If the Electoral College ends in an exact tie, then the winner of the election shall be the candidate receiving more popular votes overall
    Thus the 'smll states' remain enfranchised, but if no overall decision is reached by this method, then the will of the majority of voters decides the matter - NOT some arbitrary collection of state delegations (which represent square mileage far more than people).

    Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.

    by GayIthacan on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:50:20 PM PDT

    •  Pointless. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib, ConfusedSkyes

      Nate Silver puts the odds of an EV tie this year at under 1%. That's typical. Why worry about something that'll only happen once every 400 years? By contrast, we've had several presidents who lost the popular vote.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:06:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A Shift of few thousand votes is all that's needed (0+ / 0-)

        The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II.  Near misses are now frequently common.  There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.    

        And a third party candidate winning electoral votes that would keep any candidate from attaining the needed 270 electoral vote majority, would also throw the decision into the House.

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

        But you see, my solution would apply not just to an Electoral College tie - but to any scenario where one candidate did not reach 270 Electoral votes - said possibility being far more than 1% likely should a 3rd party candidate ever emerge who does not self-destruct (Perot) - and thereby split the EC totals 3 ways.

        Again - in said instance - the highest Popular vote winner wins the election.

        No input by newly-elected Represenatitves whatsoever (thereby closing the door completely on possible manipulation/bribery behind the scenes.

        It is merely an extension of the principal that NO election should EVER be decided when one knows beforehand what the result will be based on ones own vote.

        Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.

        by GayIthacan on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 10:01:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not Gonna Happen. (0+ / 0-)

          When was the last time any third party candidate got even one EV? You have to carry a state (or a district in Maine or Nebraska) to do that. Teddy Roosevelt's third-party run, maybe?

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 12:22:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Strom Thurmond & George Wallace (0+ / 0-)

            Extremist candidacies as Strom Thurmond and George Wallace won a substantial number of electoral votes in numerous states.

            •  Holy crap, you're right! (0+ / 0-)

              I was 7 years old and a little bit politically aware in 1968, but I hadn't realized Wallace actually got some electoral votes. Or Thurmond.

              Holy crap. Thanks for correcting me.

              But I still think it would be better just to let each American have one vote. In case nobody reaches 50%+1, we should have a runoff.

              Not sure what the current NPV proposal would do with a plurality vote, though it's probably easy enough to find out on their website.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 05:48:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Plurality Win, as in every other U.S. election (0+ / 0-)

                Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

                With the current system of electing the President, no state requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state's electoral votes.

                Not a single legislative bill has been introduced in any state legislature in recent decades (among the more than 100,000 bills that are introduced in every two-year period by the nation's 7,300 state legislators) proposing to change the existing universal practice of the states to award electoral votes to the candidate who receives a plurality (as opposed to absolute majority) of the votes (statewide or district-wide). There is no evidence of any public sentiment in favor of imposing such a requirement.

                Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.--  including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912, and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

                Americans do not view the absence of run-offs in the current system as a major problem. If, at some time in the future, the public demands run-offs, that change can be implemented at that time.

                And, FYI, with the current system, it could only take winning a plurality of the popular vote 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 26% of the nation's votes.

  •  in defence of the EC (0+ / 0-)

    The place the EC could really shine is in a multi-party system.  Consider a four party system consisting of Greens, Dems, Reps, and Libs.  Now imagine that Massachusetts voted for the Green candidate, but only the Dems and Reps had a chance to hit 50% in the EC.  The EC members from Mass would then have the freedom to flip their votes to the Dems to represent the interests of their electorate.  Granted, we don't have such a system, but with a two party system that is badly broken, I'm concerned about doing away with one of the few mechanisms favorable to third parties.  Perhaps a two-tier system where EC members are obligated to vote for any candidate that gets 50%+1 of the popular vote, but are free to act as a traditional EC otherwise.

    •  But each state would still be winner-take-all, (0+ / 0-)

      so the risk of splitting the liberal vote between a left and a left-ish candidate is significant. Imagine Green party 20%, Obama 39%, Romney 41%.  Then look where MA's EC votes go...

      If states weren't winner-take-all, then fine.  But if you're going to start getting fine-grained, why not go all the way to an NPV?

      Or I suppose you could have proportional representation in the EC based on national vote totals.  Basically a parliamentary system.

  •  Your diary got started on a roll of history (0+ / 0-)

    but there was a lack of filling out in your vision at the end.

    I was thinking, what if we had a tele forum, where people could ask the candidates questions and at the end of three days or a week, people could signal whether they were satisfied with the candidates, if they wanted another round of questions, if they wanted new slates of candidates and whether they were ready to vote and they could just vote then and there. People without pc access could sign up at the library for a computer and put in their questions and later on their votes. And while I am sure some enterprising soul could figure ways to stuff the ballot box I am equally sure other enterprising souls could figure out security questions and pin numbers that would be unique.

    I don't think people today would be comfortable with electors proxying for them in determining candidates and winners and losers.

    This format might have the advantage of squeezing out the corporate vultures and shortening what is an interminable election cycle and dealing with election finance reform.

    People could really zing with facebook pages touting this or that candidate for this or that issue.

    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

    by glitterscale on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:24:18 PM PDT

  •  Mostly nonsense. Nobody argues it should stay (0+ / 0-)

    because that's how the framers wanted it. It should stay because that's how each state is best represented.

    Now, how those states choose to divvy up their electoral votes, be it winner take all or a proportional method, is entirely up to them. But we'd be doing millions of people a huge disservice by making them utterly obsolete in a national popular vote contest.

    The Electoral College Is Brilliant, And We Would Be Insane To Abolish It

    For instance ...

    "First of all, without it, rural voters would not matter in any way, shape, or form. Why would a candidate go out to the middle of nowhere to court rural voters when he could stroll through a single Manhattan apartment complex and meet ten times the people for one tenth of the airfare?

    "Iowa would go from political necessity to regrettable layover without the Electoral College, and angering the people who grow our food is notoriously bad form for a President."

    Stop the party of Gut & Spend policies that gut our Earned Benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare and spends on tax breaks for the wealthy elite.

    by jillwklausen on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:43:27 PM PDT

    •  That it's what the Framers intended (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, ConfusedSkyes, kuvasz

      is a standard trope, that we hear consistently from both supporters and opponents.  I never suggested anyone thought it was the only reason for keeping it only that it was part of the argument.

      For example, from your link:

      The original point of the Electoral College was to establish the role of the president. Congress is the voice of the people and so is directly elected by people. The President is the leader of a federation of independent states, and should be elected by those states. That's the philosophical grounding of the notion. [my emphasis]
      As I said, you can't claim that our Electoral College system is justified by their beliefs, because the two share almost nothing.  My plan is just as connected to what the Framers' as is the status quo - i.e. not at all. Neither is what they envisioned, yet both are fully authorized.  

      As for the rest, it's simply not true that small states are getting anything other than symbolic attention now. Instead, a small number of swing stats are targeted and within those states only likely voters are targeted, and among those only those who could go either way are targeted.

      That's the system as we have it. Feel free to defend it as it exists if you like. But I suspect Business Insider appreciates the existing system benefits not any class of voters but rather the wealthy.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:02:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you ever read any of CEO Henry Blodgett's posts (0+ / 0-)

        you'd know how ridiculous your last assertion is.

        Start here:

        Here's What's Wrong With The Economy

        Stop the party of Gut & Spend policies that gut our Earned Benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare and spends on tax breaks for the wealthy elite.

        by jillwklausen on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 05:00:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Americans should be equal. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Kaib

          Under a popular vote, rural voters would be worth exactly one vote each. Same as New Yorkers and Los Angelenos.

          I live in Georgia. The odds that Obama will take Georgia are about zero. Thus my vote is worth zero. It doesn't matter if Obama loses Georgia by 5% or 50%, my vote is just as irrelevant. Same as Democrats in Utah and Republicans in California and New York. Under an NPV, votes of the minority in deep-red and deep-blue states would matter...same as everybody else's.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:12:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  reading just your title (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, matching mole

    I am struck by how easily we could start an entire series titled:  DEFENDING A SYSTEM THAT HAS LONG SINCE COLLAPSED:  XXXX

    "The fools are as plentiful as ever." Albert Parsons, Haymarket martyr

    by kainah on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:28:08 PM PDT

  •  I do agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    that the consitution is treated with far too much sanctimous reverance but I am not sure that the Electoral College is 'broken'. Functioning differently then intended sure but that's not the same thign as broken

  •  Wow, the most thoughtful piece I've read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib

    on dKos in a long, long time.  

    You are absolutely right that the primary concern with any institution of the American government should be the protection and advancement of the (small d) democracy our founders imagined.  

    If all our citizen's are "created equal," then the only ethical path for our government is to ensure that every person's vote should count equally.  (Someone in Utah shouldn't get more "votes" than someone in New York, for instance, but that's the essential effect of the profoundly UN-democratic Electoral College).  

    That is also the reason why political money limits are ESSENTIAL to protect all voters in this country, because unlimited money gives rich citizens (with the capacity to spend more money) the ability to effectively BUY more than their one vote.  

    Allowing corporations to pretend to be "citizens" and giving them unlimited ability to buy votes, is just another symptom of the creeping success of American counter-revolutionaries.

    Things like unlimited political money, corporate "citizens" and even the lowly "filibuster," are not just "wrong," they should be condemned as "un-American."  They're part of a bag of "tricks" that powerful privileged minorities have developed over the years to subvert our democracy and concepts of "all people are created equally," and "one person, one vote."  

    The forces against democracy (using tactics like anti "big government" or "states rights" or voter suppression movements) have now successfully taken over one of the two main American political parties, and have powerful sway over the other.

    Privileged groups have whittled away at so much of our democracy for so long, that getting rid of shit like the Electoral College, or unlimited campaign money, or even the filibuster, without another revolution, is highly unlikely.  The process to amend the Constitution is nearly impossible, with the ability of a few small state legislatures (easily bought by unlimited big money) to block it.

    And we've already seen the rights of the people eroded even WITH the "protections" of the existing US Constitution.  

    The right of the people, through their representatives in Congress, to decide about going to War, has been completely eviscerated without a peep by most politicians or the courts.  That "right" now rests in the hands of one person, the President, instead of the people.

    And as with that right, many other rights have simply disappeared.  The rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, the requirement for courts to produce warrants, to not be compelled to testify against oneself, to be free from torture, to have access to the legal system (even when accused of crimes) to be able to see evidence against you, to be tried by a jury of peers,  even the rights to remain free from imprisonment without a trial, have all gone down the toilet.

    Even the most basic requirement of a democracy to be open and transparent has vanished, with the ability by a handful of people  to declare ANYTHING "secret."

    Neither major political Party is currently willing to stand up for these basic components of democracy.  And that includes the vast majority of elected Democrats, including Barack Obama (who has also tragically, defended these abuses).  Obama couldn't even bring himself to investigate what he acknowledged as unlawful and unconstitutional behavior by elements of the previous administration.

    That was considered a "political" call.  We have descended so far from our Founding Fathers vision, that it was actually deemed "too dangerous" to defend the Constitution, and who we were formerly supposed to be as a people.

    It would be nice if we had a tiny national conversation about the demise of our democracy, but for now it will apparently happen only in relatively obscure diaries on "political blogs" like this one.

    Thanks for making the effort.

  •  2 problems with the EC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, LeftyAce

    1.  All voters aren't created equal.  A vote in Nevada is much more valuable than one in Utah.

    2.  The value of some states causes resources/federal money to be allocated heavier to important electorial states. That's not good public policy.

  •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

    In a number of states, there are (and have been) only three electors. Other states have more of them. It seems somewhat of a stretch to speak about meeting in order to debate about who to vote for when there are only a handful of electors in a state.

    Now, if they had set it up so that the electors were to travel to the Capital and meet there in order to debate who to vote for, now that would make a bit of sense. But the way it is and has been, where all interaction among electors is within a single state, it's just a silly, unnecessary complication of what could be a straightforward direct election. Not only is it a complication, but it seriously distorts the election because of poor scaling.

    Now, if someone were to propose that each state have a number of electors corresponding to the numbers in existence in the 1790s, then we'd be talking. In the 1790s, each elector represented less than 10,000 voters (all male and free). Based on that metric, we'd now have at least 18,000 electors, distributed among the various states. My state, California, would have at least 1,800. Now that would make for a rowdy meeting, if they all met in Sacramento (in Arco Arena?) to discuss who to vote for for president & vice president.

    Or, we could just forget about it and go to direct election of those two officials.

  •  The best argument for the electoral college (0+ / 0-)

    I've seen, in fact the only compelling one, is that it's practically impossible to change.

    •  Except, as I pointed out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftyAce

      its not impossible at all, and we're already half way there.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:54:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is a good solution, but it's a remedy to (0+ / 0-)

        winner-take-all electors by state, not to the electoral college itself.  Does not change the EC, it goes around it to avoid its worst aberration.
        Let me be clear: I am all for it! But it's still extremely difficult (it gets harder with each additional state) and it can change back at any moment, because it does not have an explicit constitutional backing.

    •  National Popular Vote bill- 49% of the 270 needed (0+ / 0-)

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

      NationalPopularVote  
      Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  •  Thanks for the fascinating history (0+ / 0-)

    Is there an alternative mechanism to prevent a candidate from winning via narrow regional appeal?

    Right now, once a candidate has 50.1% of the vote in the South, he or she has to cross the threshold in other states. Under a popular vote system, a Southern Strategy could compensate for losing votes in the rest of the country.

    What we have now obviously doesn't require a candidate to have national appeal, but at least the swing states cover a variety of regional and economic interests.

  •  If you pop over to 538 (0+ / 0-)

    That is to say, here, then the map I find rather fascinating is the Return on Investment Index, subtitled:

    The relative likelihood that an individual voter would determine the Electoral College winner.
    I'm a Wisconsinite, and as such by virtue of the Electoral College system right now my vote is more likely to determine the next President than that of any of about 90% of American voters.  As flattering as that is, it doesn't seem very fair (especially to me that Nevadan votes are so much more valuable than mine!)

    Fake candidates nominated by the GOP for the recalls: 6 out of 7. Fake signatures on the recall petitions: 4 out of 1,860,283.

    by GeoffT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:21:57 PM PDT

  •  My concern about National Popular Vote (0+ / 0-)

    A few other commenters have brought this up, but maybe I can state it more clearly.

    I'm concerned there would be cheating, or the perception of cheating, or false accusations of cheating, by the states that lean heavily towards one party, with no way of resolving them.

    We all know that only a part of the population votes.

    So, assuming that many of the states are heavily "red" or "blue" there would be an advantage for one of those states to  a) get as many of it's voters to the polls as possible, so that the party that was favored in that state would have more votes in the national popular vote, or b) inflate the vote count.

    Or for one party to falsely accuse a state dominated by the opposing party of  inflating its vote count.

    And we have no independent federal-level body that can oversee and adjudicate all of this.

    •  Current System Maxmizes Opp & Effectiveness (0+ / 0-)

      The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

      National Popular Vote would limit the benefits to be gained by fraud or voter suppression.  One suppressed vote would be one less vote. One fraudulent vote would only win one vote in the return. In the current electoral system, one fraudulent vote could mean 55 electoral votes, or just enough electoral votes to win the presidency without having the most popular votes in the country.

      The closest popular-vote election in American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes.  The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.

      For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

      Which system offers voter suppressors or fraudulent voters a better shot at success for a smaller effort?

  •  I Support the EC (0+ / 0-)

    And I will NEVER support going to a national popular vote. As long as states have the ability to control who votes it will never be equal across the country.

    The other reason? With California getting 55 votes is a BIG prize. Much better to win that, then all of the 3 and 4 vote states. Besides, the low vote states tend to split so that neither party gets a big advantage by having extra electoral votes compared to popular votes.

    But the biggest reason in my opinion is to avoid having 3rd parties affect the elections. No 3rd party has been able to get  the most votes in a single state in a LONG time. So any 3rd party vote is basically wasted and without power.

    Help! The GOP is NUTS (& the Dems need some!)

    by Tuba Les on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 02:44:48 AM PDT

    •  Constitution Gives States Control of Elections (0+ / 0-)

      The Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution permit states to conduct elections in varied ways.  The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and preserves state control of elections and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President.

      There is nothing incompatible between differences in state election laws and the concept of a national popular vote for President.

      Under the current system, the electoral votes from all 50 states are comingled and simply added together, irrespective of the fact that the electoral-vote outcome from each state was affected by differences in state policies, including voter registration, ex-felon voting, hours of voting, amount and nature of advance voting, and voter identification requirements.

      Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote compact, all of the people of the United States are impacted by the different election policies of the states. Everyone in the United States is affected by the division of electoral votes generated by each state.  The procedures governing presidential elections in a closely divided battleground state (e.g., Florida and Ohio) can affect, and indeed have affected, the ultimate outcome of national elections.

      •  So? (0+ / 0-)

        In the Electoral College, the number of votes is determine before the election. Running up the "score" does not increase the total coming out of one state.

        In the NPV, a state CAN increase it's own weight by sending MORE votes to the total. It is possible to change the outcome thru cheating. As of now, the incentive to cheat in states with lopsided margins is zero.

        Help! The GOP is NUTS (& the Dems need some!)

        by Tuba Les on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 06:09:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We've Seen 1 State's 537 Votes Determine Outcome (0+ / 0-)

          But the OUTCOME of even very small scale cheating in A battleground state is clear from the 2000 election.  

          The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II.  Near misses are now frequently common.  There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.    

    •  Every Vote Counted, Relevant, and Equal (0+ / 0-)

      With National Popular Vote, every vote everywhere would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

      •  You have a point (0+ / 0-)

        But I think NPV would give us more fragmented elections, much the way you see in European countries like Italy.

        Help! The GOP is NUTS (& the Dems need some!)

        by Tuba Les on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 06:27:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Current System Encourages Regional Candidates (0+ / 0-)

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all system encourages regional candidates.  A third-party candidate has 51 separate opportunities to shop around for states that he or she can win or affect the results. Minor-party candidates have significantly affected the outcome in six (40%) of the 15 presidential elections in the past 60 years (namely the 1948, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential elections).   Candidates such as John Anderson (1980), Ross Perot (1992 and 1996), and Ralph Nader (2000) did not win a plurality of the popular vote in any state, but managed to affect the outcome by switching electoral votes in numerous particular states. Extremist candidacies as Strom Thurmond and George Wallace won a substantial number of electoral votes in numerous states.

          If an Electoral College type of arrangement were essential for avoiding a proliferation of candidates and people being elected with low percentages of the vote, we should see evidence of these conjectured apocalyptic outcomes in elections that do not employ such an arrangement.  In elections in which the winner is the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by that office, historical evidence shows that there is no massive proliferation of third-party candidates and candidates do not win with small percentages. For example, in 905 elections for governor in the last 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote.

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all system does not protect the two-party system. It simply discriminates against third-party candidates with broad-based support, while rewarding regional third-party candidates. In 1948, Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace both got about 1.1 million popular votes, but Thurmond got 39 electoral votes (because his vote was concentrated in southern states), whereas Henry Wallace got none. Similarly, George Wallace got 46 electoral votes with 13% of the votes in 1968, while Ross Perot got 0 electoral votes with 19% of the national popular vote in 1992. The only thing the current system does is to punish candidates whose support is broadly based.

    •  3rd party candidates significantly affect now (0+ / 0-)

      Under the current state-by-state system of electing the President (in which the candidate who receives a plurality of the popular vote wins all of the state's electoral votes), minor-party candidates have significantly affected the outcome in six (40%) of the 15 presidential elections in the past 60 years (namely the 1948, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential elections).  The reason that the current system has encouraged so many minor-party candidates and so much fragmentation of the vote is that a presidential candidate with no hope of winning a plurality of the votes nationwide has 51 separate opportunities to shop around for particular states where he can affect electoral votes or where he might win outright.  Thus, under the current system, segregationists such as Strom Thurmond (1948) or George Wallace (1968) won electoral votes in numerous Southern states, although they had no chance of receiving the most popular votes nationwide.  In addition, candidates such as John Anderson (1980), Ross Perot (1992 and 1996), and Ralph Nader (2000) did not win a plurality of the popular vote in any state, but managed to affect the outcome by switching electoral votes in numerous particular states.  

      •  Two BIG Differences (0+ / 0-)

        In the Electoral College the winner gets a MAJORITY of EC votes. That is true, even if he does not get 50% + 1 in popular votes. This is also true in recent history. 3rd parties had no effect on the ability of the winner to get a majority. As for 3rd parties changing who wins a state? I doubt you can prove it made a difference big enough to change the result. (with the possible exception of 2000, which I think Gore should have won)

        Under NPV The President could easily win with less that 50% and as such, be seen as less legitimate.

        But the REAL problem? A close election would mean a NATIONWIDE recount. You want that? For me, no thank you! A few counties in Florida was enough, though I would have preferred all votes in FL be recounted.

        Help! The GOP is NUTS (& the Dems need some!)

        by Tuba Les on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 06:19:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  . . . (0+ / 0-)

          Candidates such as John Anderson (1980), Ross Perot (1992 and 1996), and Ralph Nader (2000) did not win a plurality of the popular vote in any state, but managed to affect the outcome by switching electoral votes in numerous particular states.  

          Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.--  including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912, and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

          The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

          The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

          Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

          The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

          The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

          We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

          The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

          Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

          The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

          No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

          The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.  With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College.  In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets.

  •  Great Diary and discussion (0+ / 0-)

    I don't see a change coming though until, and if, we get a Dem victory in  2016.    The Natl popuolar vote meets Constitutional test, but this SC has shown itself willing to overturn precedent and ideology if either stands in way of immediate goals of GOP or conservative mevement.

    The GOP may not realize it has an EC crisis on its hands until 2016.  When they realize they can't steal an election by vote suppression, they will begin imagining how to form new national coalititions and use financial advantage to "buy" popular vote through media.

    After 2016, they will likely not be able to win this is in the courts, and they will also realize EC is no longer reliable path.  Then they will come to table.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site