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Friday, October 26, 2012

What Do You Think About Modifying the Electoral College?

Posted by on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Every election year, folks complain about the Electoral College. Which is understandable! It's complicated and it results in Ohio being the most important state for an entire year every four years. But the thinking behind the Electoral College is pretty sound: The Founding Fathers wanted the states to vote for president as states, not as one giant body. I think there are compelling arguments for keeping the election down to state-level. It emphasizes the importance and needs of different regions of the United States. But I think that this suggestion of a constitutional amendment sounds interesting, too:

The head of the House Democratic campaign arm this week proposed a constitutional amendment that would give the winner of the popular vote in the presidential race an additional 29 electoral votes.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) did not offer an explanation in the joint resolution filed in the House for why he was proposing to change the way elections in the U.S. are decided.

The downside of the Electoral College is that there are whole parts of the country that the candidates don't feel like they have to woo. Republicans stay in rural areas, Democrats try to work the urban areas. That might have something to do with the persistently rabid Us Vs. Them-ism of the last few elections. By releasing 29 Electoral College votes to the popular vote, campaigns would necessarily have to look up from their swing state obsessions every now and again to ensure that the whole country is hearing their message, not just a few undecideds in the middle. And it maintains the Electoral College, for traditionalists.

Let's pretend that this amendment had a chance in hell of passing. (It doesn't.) What do you think about it?


Comments (75) RSS

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Pick1 1
I think it could help with the disenfranchisement, but it has the same problem that popular vote does: It won't happen.

Posted by Pick1 on October 26, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
I'd abandon the whole 2-party, 2-house and separate President system.

The UK spends practically nothing on their Parliamentary elections compared to us, and their whole electoral season is some small number of weeks, not years. They have multiple parties, which get seated, and the Parliament elects the leader of their country. No gridlock, no obstructionism.

Can we just do what they do?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 26, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 3
The entire Constitution is one big compromise, made up of a thousand smaller compromises. Several people walked out of the Constitutional Congress over some of the agreements.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on October 26, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Mattini 4
The US has had 56 presidential elections. The popular vote winner has lost 4 of those elections. Some provision where the popular vote winner also won a number of electoral votes would have changed 3 of those 4 elections. All except for the weirdo election of 1888 that split up Grover Cleveland's two terms. Fun facts!
Posted by Mattini on October 26, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
stuckie 5
I suspect that if the Electoral College goes away, we will potentially see a lot more states form (e.g. Eastern Washington vs. Western Washington), whose only real ideological connection is a drive not to give their political opponents an advantage, however slight.
Posted by stuckie on October 26, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
The_Shaved_Bear 6
Down with the electrical college! Too many union-loving electricians already!
Posted by The_Shaved_Bear on October 26, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 7
I think we should be all one country with all the same rules. I'm about as far from state's rights as a person can get. I like the idea of abolishing the EC, but this as an "improvement" is pretty crazy. I do not encourage making things more complicated. Plus, why 29?
Posted by ScienceNerd on October 26, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Best to keep the influx of Presidential campaign ads localized in places where I don't have to watch them.
Posted by unmarkedreel on October 26, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
As long as our reform doesn't have a chance of passing anyway, let's go for the way a lot of civilized countries do it: one big national primary, on a weekend, with the two top vote-getters going into a runoff a few weeks later. Anything that keeps the two-party stranglehold in place is meaningless. 
Posted by Prettybetsy on October 26, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
This particular proposal doesn't make any sense. Good reforms are those that are effective and easy to understand. Simply shifting an arbitrary number of EVs will not solve the problem of an overfocus on a random selection of "swing states" at the expense of the country as a whole. Plus it can be easily gamed.

We should fix our presidential systems based on something that will work well in practice, rather than on a desire to keep everyone happy. When you work from that latter basis, you usually just wind up with crappy and unworkable "solutions" that are often worse than the thing you were trying to fix.
Posted by junipero on October 26, 2012 at 4:19 PM · Report this
jnmend 11
I think the Senate is a much, much bigger roadblock in our democracy than the Electoral College is.

Wyoming's 400k people get as much say in the Senate as California's 33 million? Indefensible.
Posted by jnmend on October 26, 2012 at 4:23 PM · Report this
I'm with @2...parliaments, fuck yeah! At least then we would have some illusion of power as individuals, since we'd be more likely to have someone in office we agree with on more issues
Posted by zobot on October 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM · Report this
What if we just allocate each state's electoral college votes based on their popular vote count in that state. So if there are 10 electoral college votes and one candidate wins 60% and the 40%, one would get 6 and the other 4 in that state. This would force the candidates to campaign in every state for every vote. But it would only work if every state did it. I know there has been a push in a few states to do this, but it always seems to be pushed by republicans in states that vote consistently democratic in the presidential elections.
Posted by ddmama on October 26, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Since you ask, I don't see any reason to retain the annoying fiction of the states as sovereign entities. The beneficiaries of it are various sorts of scoundrels looking for regulatory arbitrage and race-to-the-bottom competition in deregulation. If Romney wins and makes good on his threats vis Health Care, then in a few years we're all going to have our insurance terms determined by whatever travesties they can push through the Alabama legislature. Laboratories of Democracy forsooth.

So! I say just get rid of the states entirely. Implement rationalized administrative districts, abolition of both the Electoral collage and the US senate follow naturally from there.

I mean, as long as we are wishing we might as well wish for a pony too, right? So also - a pony.
Posted by Alden on October 26, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
@2 Americans did NOT fight a war and die in battles ranging far and wide, up and down the east coast, against those greasy redcoats, for us to wind up with the same Parliamentary system as those Royal bastards!
Posted by DannyG on October 26, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 16
My brain is too fried from today's work to do any math to confirm this, but my gut tells me that if there are 29 electors that are "at large", and that they are winner-take-all by the popular vote, this would be a de facto change to electing the president by the national popular vote.

Put another way: what is the scenario under this system wherein someone could win the presidency while losing the popular vote?

Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on October 26, 2012 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Cascadian 17
29 is completely arbitrary. Both Texas and California have more votes than that, and eventually one of them will be a swing state. Either make an amendment that abolishes the electoral college completely, or don't bother.
Posted by Cascadian on October 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Here's an actual thing that people are working on...

It's basically a coalition between a bunch of states saying that (once enough states sign on for it to matter) they will give all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, effectively making the electoral college moot.
Posted by Stam on October 26, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 19

Part of the reason for the Electoral College is that it's supposed to accentuate the popular vote, so a candidate who gets 51% of the vote ends up with a landslide. This then gets everyone to say, ok, game over, let's get behind the winner.

I think they thought the states would vote roughly the same, so a candidate who gets 51% in one state would not be too far off in the rest. However, as we moved from a country that was 50%/50% rural/urban to one that was 10%/90% we have ended up on what I've termed the Cold Civil War...with the 2 Americas fighting each other. So, it's no longer a matter of picking one of two guys who would do relatively the same thing...but two leaders of two different countries fighting for dominance.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 26, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 20
Keep in mind this is about more than getting more political commercials. It's about who candidates pander to. The more we can shift their promises to include areas where people actually live, the better.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on October 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
And abolish the disproportionate representation in the senate, too.
Posted by neverbeenthere on October 26, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Pick1 22
@16 refer to @4
Posted by Pick1 on October 26, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
@20 Nailed it!

Candidates pander/appeal to those voters whose votes they need to win. When more votes matter, then candidates try to reach broader swathes of the population, and thus better serve the population as a whole.
Posted by Moag on October 26, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 24
The people are the problem, not the system.
Posted by Original Andrew on October 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
MarkyMark 25
I'm endlessly amused at the naivety of people who think that a Constitutional amendment to replace the disastrous Electors system could ever be enacted. Note that each state government can determine any method it chooses to appoint its Electors; early in U.S. history they were selected by state legislatures. Today Maine and Nebraska use the Congressional District Method.
Posted by MarkyMark on October 26, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 26
@22 Got it, thanks. Basically the popular vote winner would have to lose some combination of states totalling >29 electoral votes by really close margins. Or perhaps win a lot of small states by huge margins.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on October 26, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
npage148 27
I love that, as a NYer, i don't need to vote for President. Don't take that away from me! Based on 2008 in NY, only 51% of the eligible voters voted and another 2 million+ people could have stayed home and not voted and it'll still would have democrat. Think about that and you realize for the majority of states, your vote has no say in the overall picture with the current electoral college
Posted by npage148 on October 26, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
The Electoral College makes about as much sense as holding the election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

As long as we're fantasizing about something actually happening, let's go big - popular vote in an election held on a weekend, with standardized early-voting options nationwide.
Posted by SuperSteve on October 26, 2012 at 5:42 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 29
Thanks for that @18.

It looks like that proposal maintains the electoral college, but has electors voting for candidates in proportion to the state's popular vote. Why not eliminate the electoral college altogether?

I just learned about the movie Electoral Dysfunction.

I'm moving it up on my to-watch list.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 30
@28: Let's add instant runoff voting to that list. (As was just used in Free and Equal's online vote to decide which candidates advanced to its next debate. More info here.)
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 26, 2012 at 5:56 PM · Report this
Wow. I'm surprised to find that the (completely unscientific) poll currently has my choice winning ("I like it!" with 45.30%, in case that changes).

Things I would change about the system are minimal:

- Forbid faithless electors. In fact, get rid of human electors altogether; or keep them as nothing more than a tradition, with their votes forced by federal mandate. Some states forbid faithless electors, but many don't.

- In the event of an electoral tie, the election should not be decided by the House of Representatives. I don't know exactly what alternative I would like to see, but it shouldn't be left to the House and certainly shouldn't be a single vote per state. A new election is probably not worth it (since the problem is rarely that we need a runoff vote). Maybe in that case the winning vote goes to who wins the popular vote, or they re-allocate electors by congressional district or something.
Posted by madcap on October 26, 2012 at 5:57 PM · Report this
@28 That compact circumvents the need for a constitutional amendment by ensuring that whoever wins the national vote will receive the electoral votes of enough states to give them a majority (unless and until the demographics shift). Thus, it's an inefficient way of getting a national vote without requiring all the obstacles of an amendment.

@30 +1 for instant runoff voting. I think that would be compatible with the Electoral College system as it is- it would just be applied at the state level rather than national. In fact, a state could implement IRV for their electoral votes even if other states didn't want to.
Posted by madcap on October 26, 2012 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Oops, misread what the poll was asking. Guess I'm in the minority after all!
Posted by madcap on October 26, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
orino 34
There have been numerous proposals to simply have all the electoral votes in a given state go to the winner of the popular vote (at present, the electors for a given candidate are under no legal obligation to vote for that candidate). Way simpler than the proposal offered.
Posted by orino on October 26, 2012 at 7:58 PM · Report this
Afreet 35
The choice of 29, as an odd number, also ensures that a tie in electoral votes is no longer possible (with only 2 viable candidates, anyway). I think there's something to be said for that, too.
Posted by Afreet on October 26, 2012 at 8:03 PM · Report this
The founding fathers were exceeding wise,

and the Constitution the marvel of mankind.

And the genius of the Constitution

is not that it gives the majority what they want;

any mob can achieve that;

the genius is that it protects the rest of society

from the whims of the majority.

If the EC is done away with Large corrupt states could rack up millions of fraudulent votes for their favored candidate.

Imagine Texas, disenfranchising blacks and hispanics and poor people, recording millions of votes for the GOP.

The more corrupt and ruthless the state political machine the more totally it could corrupt the system and cheat.

States that run ethical fair elections would have their votes drowned by a flood of corrupt ballots.

As it is corrupt states are not rewarded more for cheating more- once 51% of the popular vote is reached there is no more payout for more cheating.

The EC limits how much a corrupt state can queer the national results.

takeaway: don't fuck with the Constitution on a whim....
Posted by besides, we will be busy amending it to BAN Gay "Marriage" on October 26, 2012 at 8:12 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 37
Instant runoff voting FTW. (See, ipso, we DO agree on a few things.)
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 26, 2012 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 38
I think it's time we called a Constitutional Convention and replaced our existing Constitution with a more modern document.

This isn't the 18th Century anymore. To cling to the outdated concepts embodied by the Constitution is as insane as religious attachment to books written centuries ago. Concepts are not more valid simply because they are old. In fact, it's probably much healthier for society to re-examine it's core principles every so often and decide which concepts should be retained and which ones revised or even discarded.

The US Constitution condones slavery, an idea we as a nation have declared abhorrent for over a century and a half. It suggests that a militia is better than an army (a militia being whoever in town has a gun spontaneously grouping together to fight an invading force). That idea was proven false in the War of 1812- two hundred years ago. The Constitution provides for an unelected upper house of the federal legislature- we decided to democratize the Senate over a century ago.

So yes, the Constitution is outdated. It represents the values of a society we are not and have not been for hundreds of years.

the EC was created back when people traveled in horses and buggies, before telephones and telegraphs. Back then, an election where the voting bodies met in places as far away as Boston and Atlanta meant getting those ballots together would take months of hard travel through dangerous territory where carriages could get hijacked or robbed quite easily. So an Electoral College made sense. But ever since we figured out how to communicate across vast distances and now to travel and deliver ballots said distances within mere hours rather than months, the EC makes little sense.

Why do we cling to it? Tradition and fear of change. The party that wins an election because of the EC will want to retain it, so at least one of the two major parties will always oppose its repeal. And most Americans just have a fetish for the old. Why do we cling to christianity? Its two thousand years old. Why do we think the Second Amendment is a good idea? Its two hundred years old. Anything old must be good, even if its bad.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on October 26, 2012 at 9:34 PM · Report this
balderdash 39
If the Electoral College is meant to represent the differing needs of different regions and demographics in solidarity, and if we think that's a good idea, then what I think is that state borders need to be radically redrawn. There is no damn sense in having Seattle and Spokane in the same electoral unit if the idea is to represent the political will and needs of a single region.

Now, there are benefits to forcibly welding together disparate parts, like Western and Eastern Washington. This is true. But that is not what we are talking about.

Honestly, the way the world works has moved on so far past - orders of magnitude past - the way our government operates that you can kind of choose whatever arbitrary organization you want and it'll be equally logical and justifiable. Without a dynamic virtual democracy of voluntary constituencies, our governmental structure will never match up with our social structures, so what the fuck ever.
Posted by balderdash on October 26, 2012 at 9:59 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 40
I misspoke in @29. The National Popular Vote bill would not have "electors voting for candidates in proportion to the state's popular vote". (That system is called a "Whole-Number Proportional" approach.)

According to this explanation, "Under the National Popular Vote bill, 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)."

And hey, look: WA has already enacted the bill into law.

@37: Great, now I'll have to reevaluate everything.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 27, 2012 at 12:12 AM · Report this
venomlash 41
@36: "the genius of the that it protects the rest of society from the whims of the majority."
Which is exactly why you think that the civil rights of sexual minorities should be put to a plebiscite. And why for nearly a century the Constitution explicitly condoned slavery. Get your head out of your ass.
Posted by venomlash on October 27, 2012 at 1:24 AM · Report this
Bauhaus I 42
I like the Maryland Compromise wherein a state's electoral college commits to voting for the winner of the national popular vote winner regardless of how its state goes. I can just see places like Alabama going for this! But...if enough states - and the right states - do it, it might work.
Posted by Bauhaus I on October 27, 2012 at 2:43 AM · Report this
Andy Niable 43
Regardless of our opinions on this issue, only 13 states can block any constitutional amendment, and it is likely at least 13 states--ones that would lose power by abolishing the EC--would likely block any such amendment.
Posted by Andy Niable on October 27, 2012 at 6:15 AM · Report this
NotSean 44
@40, Thanks for sharing some names for the proposals.

I re-post my own here;
It seems to be a variation of the 'whole-number proportional' plan.

My idea: Keep the electoral college but divy up the
electors more proportionally.

Remember that each state's electoral count is based on their number of senators plus their number of representatives in congress.

The plan:

Each state's 'representative-based' electors would be awarded based on the portion of the state's popular vote which each candidate received. ( no fractions allowed. Round-ups in favor of the winner. )

The candidate which wins the state gets BOTH of the state's two 'senate-based' electors.

This then has the flavor of a popular-vote system, as well as some of the winner-take-all system. It also reflects the bicameral roots of the current system.

There, once again, America, you're welcome.
Posted by NotSean on October 27, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this

Now Junior, you've been hanging around that immature potty mouth Barack again, haven't you...

And getting the notion that pitching a tantrum and name calling is an acceptable substitute for intelligent ideas.

We tried to tell your mother this would happen.

Enlightened government has to reflect a balance between the will of the people and protecting the rights of all.

Where that balance lies will depend on the values of society at the time.

Sure, it would have been swell to outlaw slavery in 1776.
But there would have been no nation if outlawing slavery had been a part of the Constitution.

However the Constitution was flexible and enlightened enough that as soon as society was able to slavery WAS abolished.

Don't be an ungrateful little prick.

Abortion is a more topical example.

A million innocent humans slaughtered each year.

Oh that some enlightened Philosopher-King would snap his fingers and make the holocaust go away.


No.We have to convince enough people that slaughtering their babies on a whim is not nice.

Even though we know future generations will look back on our baby-slaughtering society the same way we look at the Nazis.....

Whose definition of Marriage would you substitute for the voice of the people?

Chief justice Roberts? Scalia? Thomas?

You're issue is not with voters deciding, it is with voters deciding something you do not agree with.

Spoiled tantrum throwing immature potty mouthed little prick, that.....
Posted by Lincoln freed the Slaves. He was a Republican. on October 27, 2012 at 8:22 AM · Report this
treacle 46
38 is right. We need a new Constitutional Convention to re-examine our foundational document.

The Constitution has been violated so many times, and what has come of it? Pardoned presidents, lackeys doing jail time, nothing serious.

When the Vichy government of France violated their constitution by capitulating to the Nazis, France went back to the drawing board, dissolved the government, and rewrote the constitution. They are now on their 5th rewrite since 1789. Le Cinquieme Republique.

While America still clings like a confused baby to tattered document it treats as somehow 'sacred'.

Time to grow up and move forward into the future.
Posted by treacle on October 27, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
venomlash 47
@45: "getting the notion that pitching a tantrum and name calling is an acceptable substitute for intelligent ideas."
Projection much? I poke a hole in your argument and you go off on a pejorative-packed rant about how you know everything.
Posted by venomlash on October 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 48

How about getting rid all all jurisdictional or geographic voting?

So say a woman in Alabama has the same politics as me, we should be able to pool our votes for a national candidate to the House of Representatives. This would eliminate the policy of gerrymandering.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 27, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this

now Junior.

you know all you've poked a hole in lately is your rectum.....
Posted by Yeah. We ran into your Proctologist at a bar.... on October 27, 2012 at 4:57 PM · Report this
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

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

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

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

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

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

Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc
Posted by toto on October 27, 2012 at 5:16 PM · Report this
An analysis of the whole number proportional plan and congressional district systems of awarding electoral votes, evaluated the systems "on the basis of whether they promote majority rule, make elections more nationally competitive, reduce incentives for partisan machinations, and make all votes count equally. . . .

Awarding electoral votes by a proportional or congressional district [used by Maine and Nebraska] method fails to promote majority rule, greater competitiveness or voter equality. Pursued at a state level, both reforms dramatically increase incentives for partisan machinations. If done nationally, the congressional district system has a sharp partisan tilt toward the Republican Party, while the whole number proportional system sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives.

For states seeking to exercise their responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to choose a method of allocating electoral votes that best serves their state’s interest and that of the national interest, both alternatives fall far short of the National Popular Vote plan . . ."…
Posted by toto on October 27, 2012 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 52
It is possible that the United States is simply too big for its own good.

What exactly does a Washingtonian or an Oregonian have in common with a Mississippian or a Texan? Why do we in the Pacific Northwest have to live with decisions made for us by politicians who have never even been here? Our nation's capital seems so very far away, in more than a geographical sense.

When I hear about Todd Aiken or Bob McDonald, I think about how someone like that could never get elected here in Cascadia. When I hear Rick Perry talk about secession, I wonder if maybe we'd be better off without 'em. You mean to tell me that Seattle schools can't proactively fight segregation because of Supreme Court justices appointed by George Bush? We didn't vote for Bush. And how is it that Maggie Gallagher gets to have a say in whether we have Marriage Equality? Maggie Gallagher doesn't live here.

Earnest Callenbach suggested once that we'd be better off if we and British Columbia went off and did our own thing together without US or Canadian influence. maybe we should. Maybe then we could have high speed rail, a well-educated populace, non-carbon emitting cars and equal rights for everybody. Maybe we could make healthcare and housing and food basic rights available to all Cascadians, declare Peace on the world and create a true meritocracy, where your success or failure in life is determined by how hard you bust your ass rather than what family you were born into. And we could declare ourselves a haven for all the misfits that the US seems to hate, whether they be gay, female, atheist, black, disabled or socialist. And no matter who or what you are, if you work hard enough you can become President of Cascadia, the Northwest Proud and Free.

I pledge allegiance to the fags of the United States and Canada. And to the love for which we stand, one Cascadia, under fog. with equality and fraternity for all.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on October 27, 2012 at 9:32 PM · Report this
NotSean 53
@51 Thanks. A good read.

The paper's criticism of the 'whole number proportion' system:

(1) It reduces the likelihood of but doesn't eliminate possibility of one winning the popular vote and losing the electoral vote.

As long as we have an electoral college, this 'problem' will exist.

I, for one, do not think that a mimic of popular vote should be the aim. I'm ok with - even like - smaller states getting a little more weight than their relative population.

(2) It doesn't eliminate battleground states but it changes their number and rotation.

I think that's grand. Instead of the battleground being in any state where it's 50/50 D/R, we have battles wherever 1 elector is up for grabs.

(3) It's more likely that we have a result where neither candidate got 270, thus sending the election to the H.o.R.

Well, yeah, that would suck. That would be bad.

My plan makes that less likely as the winner of each state gets more weight than the plan the paper evaluated. My plan awards the state winner at least TWO more electors than the loser. ( the pure WNP plan only awards the winner of each state 1 extra elector)

Posted by NotSean on October 27, 2012 at 10:04 PM · Report this
@46 - Indeed, these documents/procedures are invested with the magical ability to transcend time as if the industrial revolution and the population explosion never occurred. It's a form of fetishism commonly promoted to maintain huge disparities in the division of power.
Posted by anon1256 on October 27, 2012 at 11:38 PM · Report this



that's a good one.

pacific NW liberals are cool with the 'idea' of negroes.

not so much the reality.......
Posted by talk is cheap. prove it. on October 28, 2012 at 7:36 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 56
@ 40, you should. You're wrong about so much. But the fact that you're right here is encouraging.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 28, 2012 at 10:22 AM · Report this
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 getting rid of the Electoral College.

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.

It eliminates battleground states. With National Popular Vote, elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast.

Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

When and where voters matter, then so are the issues they care about most.

Posted by toto on October 28, 2012 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Any state that enacts the proportional approach on its own would reduce its own influence. This was the most telling argument that caused Colorado voters to agree with Republican Governor Owens and to reject this proposal in November 2004 by a two-to-one margin.

If the proportional approach were implemented by a state, on its own, it would have to allocate its electoral votes in whole numbers. If a current battleground state were to change its winner-take-all statute to a proportional method for awarding electoral votes, presidential candidates would pay less attention to that state because only one electoral vote would probably be at stake in the state.

The proportional method also could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

If the whole-number proportional approach had been in use throughout the country in the nation’s closest recent presidential election (2000), it would not have awarded the most electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide. Instead, the result would have been a tie of 269–269 in the electoral vote, even though Al Gore led by 537,179 popular votes across the nation. The presidential election would have been thrown into Congress to decide and resulted in the election of the second-place candidate in terms of the national popular vote.

A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.

It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman. It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census. It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).

Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.

A national popular vote is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.
Posted by toto on October 28, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
I think the electoral college system is fine... States should be allowed to decide how they want to allocate their own votes... except I don't think states should get 2 extra votes just for existing. Votes should be based on population.
Posted by Get Real on October 28, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 60
@56: Good work. You've rephrased my comment to you, but with none of the wit.

Shuffle on your way now.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 28, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
NotSean 61
@59 Understand that states get two senators - two powerful congressional votes - just for existing. It's consistent with the concept of 'United States'.

@58 A popular vote approach can cause low population areas to be largely ignored. Candidates can spend 'too much' of their time in densely populated places, where more votes can be obtained with less effort.

Ex. Ohio has about 12 mil. (Midwest: 70 mil) New York City: 20 mil.

If rural voices are important - the bread basket, our farmers, our miners - then an electoral approach, not a pure popular vote, helps them to be heard.

Posted by NotSean on October 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 62
Wit? There was wit there? No, I don't think so.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on October 28, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

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

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.
Posted by toto on October 28, 2012 at 4:41 PM · Report this
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.
Rural state polls support for a national popular vote: VT–75%, ME–77%, WV–81%, MS–77%, SD–75%, AR–80%, MT–72%, KY–80%, NH–69%, IA–75%,SC–71%, NC–74%, TN–83%, WY–69%, OK–81%, AK–70%, ID–77%, WI–71%, MO–70%, and NE–74%.
Posted by toto on October 28, 2012 at 4:43 PM · Report this
With National Popular Vote, every vote would be equal. Candidates would reallocate the money they raise to no longer ignore 80% of the states and voters.

With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.
The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States. Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote.

If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.

The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

With National Popular Vote, when every vote is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren't so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn't have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.

In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states.

With a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as Wal-mart mom voters in Ohio.
Posted by toto on October 28, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
NotSean 66
@65 My angle isn't that cities necessarily run blue or red and therefore one party would dominate the other.

It's just that city 'issues' can dominate rural issues when subjected to a popular vote grinder. The same way minority issues take a backseat when put to a popular vote. The same reason we have a senate.

I live in Wa state. Geographically, it's mostly rural. Demographicly, it's a handful of big cities which utterly dominate state politic. Yeah, the gubernatorial (god that's hard to thumb-type) candidates *do* cater to city-folk issues. Rural matters are very much a secondary concern - not ignored but not very important. They're almost trivial. They get cordial lip service.

As to which states are currently competetive vs ideally, which should be: The ones that matter now are those with about a 50/50 split of D/R. The 'swing-able' states. Everyone else, does not matter. WNP (only if many states adopted it) would spread the battleground out to any state where at least 1 elector is up for grabs, which would be many ( i think ).

I appreciate and understand your POV. Popular vote has its merits - I'll agree it's better than what we have today. I happen to think WNP is closer to the mark of what we need.
Posted by NotSean on October 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 67
Just defund the US Supreme Court.

And get rid of the Electoral College.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 29, 2012 at 1:07 AM · Report this
I'm wondering what the results would be if all the states divided up their electoral college votes proportionally (like Maine does) rather than a winner takes all.
Posted by LikeItIs on October 29, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 69
@ 60, LOL. No, I didn't. If I had said, "No, I have to reevaluate everything," then that would be a restatement. You just happened to have left a door wide open because, as is typical of idealists, you didn't think it through.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 29, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Report this
NotSean 70
@68 See 51.
Good info.
Posted by NotSean on October 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 71
Better off creating more electors, and that is done by increasing the size of the House of Reps enough so every Representative district is the same population. Rural areas and states are disproportionately recognized by having 2 free Senators, but also by unequal population representation.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on October 29, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.

If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country's congressional districts.

The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in a particular state or focus the candidates' attention to issues of concern to the state. With the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all laws (whether applied to either districts or states), candidates have no reason to campaign in districts or states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. In North Carolina, for example, there are only 2 districts (the 13th with a 5% spread and the 2nd with an 8% spread) where the presidential race is competitive. In California, the presidential race has been competitive in only 3 of the state's 53 districts. Nationwide, there have been only 55 "battleground" districts that were competitive in presidential elections. With the present deplorable 48 state-level winner-take-all system, 80% of the states (including California and Texas) are ignored in presidential elections; however, 88% of the nation's congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

A national popular vote is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.
Posted by toto on October 30, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
I think they should ban the TV advertising to get away from the brainwashing of the uninformed American's who will believe anything and use those millions to better our own neighborhood's instead of theirs!!!!
Posted by DJDMINER on October 30, 2012 at 10:30 AM · Report this
NotSean 74
@72 I, too, would not choose to adopt a district-based approach, particularly as gerrymandered as they are today. I agree with what others said earlier, gerrymandering is a far worse problem for we Americans than the electoral college. Alas, that should be another thread.
Posted by NotSean on October 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Ipso Facto 75
@69: OMG you quibbling windbag!

I said you rephrased my comment to you, which is exactly what you did.

When I said "I have to reevaluate everything" in response to your suggestion that we agreed on something, what on earth do you think I meant? The obvious implication is that you are so frequently wrong, that if you agree with me on something then I am in danger of also being wrong. (Are you really so obtuse that you did not understand that?)

So when you bluntly declared "you are wrong about so much", you rephrased my comment, while employing all of the nuance and wit of a professional wrestler's tirade.

Get it yet?! Now stuff a fucking sock in it already.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 30, 2012 at 10:59 PM · Report this

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