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I wish I could be more optimistic about this effort:

A coalition of former congressmen is launching a campaign to change how Americans select their president by reforming the Electoral College system, saying campaigns for the White House should be reliant on the nationwide popular vote rather than simply the outcome in a handful of swing states.

The bipartisan group plans to announce its proposal Thursday and begin a state-by-state effort to amend the Electoral College so the winner reflects the view of the country instead of an individual state or two with a close vote on Election Day. The plan would seek to eliminate the possibility of a candidate winning the popular vote but losing the election, as happened to former Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

"The time is long past to not play Electoral College roulette every four years," former Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., said in an interview. "It is a throwback to 1887."

The plan, called the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, will be unveiled in Washington by Bayh; former Rep. John Anderson, R-Ill.; and other former members of Congress. The effort begins in Illinois, where legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly, followed by California and other states.

One of the best possible outcomes in 2004 would've been for Bush to win the popular vote and Kerry win the electoral college. It would've been a reversal of the 2000 situation and could've created bipartisan impetus to amend the Constitution. However, as long as Republicans see the electoral college as an institutional advantage, chances of seeing it reformed are slim.

Furthermore, the Electoral College is seen as an advantage to small states, even if most of those small states will never see a presidential candidate. Heck, most states will never see a presidential candidate. And a system that allows the candidate with less votes to become president is a system in desperate need of reform.

I couldn't find a website for the effort. I'll update if someone digs it up.

Update: Here's the website. I signed up for their updates. It should be an interesting campaign to follow over the next couple of years.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 08:56 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Logistical challenge (none)
    I don't know the details, but one issue I see with direct election is a nationwide recount in close elections. In 2000 there was no ability to make up for a close loss in Florida by recounting California -- with direct election there would be.
    •  perhaps recount language (none)
      should be written in the amendment itself. the last thing we need is for congress to come in and make a law saying "all voting machines must be diebold and recounts are hereby banned"
      •  I was at the press conference (none)
        I've seen a lot of mentions, including in your post, of writing language into "the amendment" as in a Constitutional Amendment.  There is no amendment.

        I was at the press conference this morning when this proposal was unveiled.  I think Kos and the people commenting in this thread are severely mischaracterizing and underestimating the impact of this proposal.

        Not trying to diary pimp here, but I wrote a diary about all the information I picked up at today's press conference that could help clear up misunderstandings about this proposal.

    •  Just trust Diebold (none)
      to alleviate any recount concerns.

      Or capability.

      "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

      by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:00:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re-count (none)
      Well, if we make all of the voting machines electronic (with a paper trail) and standard, then maybe a recount becomes less likely. In any case, this is something the netroots should be behind. The electoral college is a joke at this stage.

      "Hook me up a new revolution/Cause this one is a lie." - Foo Fighters

      by coryisaac on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:01:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're missing the point (4.00)
      At a national level it's a lot LESS likely that any vote will be close enough to require a recount under a national popular vote system. Even a 1 percent spread between candidates would equal more than a million votes.

      Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

      by gracchus on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:04:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not so (none)
        The fact that it would be a million vote margin is irrelevant -- recounts are justified based on percentage.

        And the 2000 election popular vote margin was less than 1 percent, or about 500,000 nationwide.

        •  Absolute numbers matter, too (none)
          500,000 votes is a clearer margin than 500, regardless of the percentage.

          Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

          by gracchus on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:11:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, not so (none)
            A margin of 500,000 nationwide has the same maginitude as a margin of 10,000 in each of fifty states.

            The point is: if recounts on average result in a 1% shift in votes, the losing candidate is justified in asking for a recount whether that 1% represents 50 or 5 million votes.

            •  eh no (none)
              if votes are in the million the nthe vote percentage required to justify a recount wil be reduced.

              eg approx 100 million people votes.if that the case have to percentage at 0.01% ie 10000 votes.

              I agree with Bush. Mccain is too angry to be President.(why wont D's recycle R attack ads? They work)

              by PoliMorf on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 12:47:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Boldly asserted (none)
                With nothing whatsoever to back it up.

                The error rate from counting and machines is not reduced as the number of ballots goes up.

                •  I explained myself badly (none)
                  I meant that when writing whatever statute would govern a national election it would be silly to put 1% as the margin of error requiring a recount.

                  if anyone with any sense is in charge of drafting that regulation, they' put 0.01% or 0.025%

                  I agree with Bush. Mccain is too angry to be President.(why wont D's recycle R attack ads? They work)

                  by PoliMorf on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 01:53:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ah. So one price of direct election... (none)
           a much greater likelihood of installing the loser, because we don't recount even when there is reasonable doubt.
                    •  Nah... recounts LESS likely (none)
                      The professors even say so. The FairVote blog (, which covers this issue, has a post about the odds of a contentious recount are two to five times more likely with the current system.... But regardless, are we saying our voting mechanics are so screwed up forever that nations all over the world can have direct elections for president with the chance of recounts, and we can't? So instead we should be stuck with a system that has young people voting at nearly 20% lower rates in the non-battleground states than the battlegrounds? Time to get a modern democracy, even in America.
        •  This is very, very bad (none)
          This will just make it easier for Bush to change enough votes to win in a handful of states (hence, nobody noticing) and win the entire election.
      •  true, but (none)
        that doesn't mean it's impossible.

        Look at 1968: 500k votes nationwide separated Humphrey from Nixon. Certainly, it could be closer than that. Take Florida 2000: what if the whole nation voted in the same percentages as Florida did? A 0.01% margin with the 120 million who vote across the country, is a mere 12,000 votes nationwide.

        There's no reason it couldn't happen. And if it did, it would be 50x as messy as the EC, with people scrounging for votes everywhere.

        I still prefer a popular vote. But this is something to keep in mind.

        LamontBlog: Blogging the 2006 CT-SEN Race

        by thirdparty on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:16:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We give up on democracy cuz we can't run elections (none)
          That hardly seems the way to go. Let's learn to run elections like a modern democracy -- nice principles like majority rule, every vote counts equally and we learn to count all the votes right.
  •  50-state campains (4.00)
    With a national popular vote, candidates would have an incentive to visit a) safe states, in order to boost their share of the vote there even if they're safely ahead, and b) opposition states in order to maximize their share of the votes there in order to maximize their minority of the vote. And that could help congressional candidates.

    Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

    by gracchus on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:00:29 AM PST

    •  exactly (none)
      right now there is no point in the dem going to, say...texas....or california for that matter. they already know the outcome in those states, and it doesn't matter if you win california by 1 vote or 1 million votes, its all the same.
    •  Or not (none)
      The result could be that candidates focus on the most populous states and ignore smaller states altogether. Why spend money on Vermont or Alabama when that money could instead be used in California?
      •  Is attention (none)
        paid in Vermont or Alabama as it is?  At least without the EC, they're still ignored but the system is fairer.

        Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

        by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:07:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But it isn't fair (none)
          As structured now, small states' votes count more.

          The electoral college is weighted toward the small states. To make it fair, you'd have to remove the "senator adjustment" that gives the lowest population 3 e.c. votes (instead of just one).

 ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

          by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:13:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which the Republican's won't do (none)
            Most smaller states (population wise) are red states, so the electoral college is weighted towards republicans.  Therefore, they have a vested interest in keeping it the same.

            I personally think the electoral college needs to die.  Having the entire election rest on 2 or 3 states is a BAD way of doing things - it makes vote tampering into a much easier way to swing the presidency.  

            The electoral college, if I recall, was mainly instituted because back a couple hundred years ago it was nearly impossible to count a nationwide ballot in any reasonable amount of time.  This is no longer the case today, so the circumstances requiring the college are extinct, and the electoral college should be as well.

            Question though - would getting rid of it require a constitutional amendment, or merely a Congressional law?

      •  Small states, large states, every vote equal (none)
        Right now most states get zip attention. The Bush campaign, richest in history, didn't poll a single person in more than 30 states. Most of the small states had no ads, no campaign visits. When every vote counts the same, every one has an equal incentive to vote, and campaigns and volunteers have an equal incentive to mobilize votes. Check out FairVote's new report on prez elections and how bad things have gotten --
      •  Small states, large states, every vote equal (none)
        Right now most states get zip attention. The Bush campaign, richest in history, didn't poll a single person in more than 30 states. Most of the small states had no ads, no campaign visits. When every vote counts the same, every one has an equal incentive to vote, and campaigns and volunteers have an equal incentive to mobilize votes. Check out FairVote's new report on prez elections and how bad things have gotten --
    •  Except (none)
      A pure popular vote just opens up the entire country to voter fraud and ballot stuffing.  An electoral college system at least helps you minimize the number of places that you'd have to investigate.

      I favor moving away from winner-take-all within each state -- break it down by congressional district (with +2 for the state's winner) or just straight proportionality with each state's vote -- but a pure national popular vote scare me.

      •  Not a realistic fear (none)
        The amount of effort and coordination required to fix a national popular-vote election would be astounding -- you'd have to phony up millions of votes. Much more difficult then fixing a state or two: It's an organizational challenge beyond even the Republicans, especially as it would have to be done completely in secret. Many states do NOT use Diebold, and the Democrats are in charge of many states, including the Democratic ones. Plus voter fraud can only really make a difference in close elections.

        A national popular vote would make it HARDER to chear, not easier.

        Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

        by gracchus on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:09:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think ti would be a tougher (none)
        sell to people who don't finesse the minute details the way we do about adding 2 to a state's winner or other better but more complicated proposals.  "Popular vote decides" is a very easy sell.

        I had dinner with my whole family around the '04 elections and had to explain to my dad, uncles, and grandparents -- smart people, all -- how the EV system works and why California has the most, 55 not 53, etc.

        Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

        by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:10:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not interested in "simple" (none)
          I'm interested in "fair".
          •  In theory, so am I. (none)
            But simple = more people participate; complicated = more people stay home or distrust the system.

            Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

            by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:19:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think . . . (none)
              . . . that people stay home because of the Electoral College.
              •  Sure they do (none)
                If your state has been written off as irrelevant.
                •  data (none)
                  Here's what I found on 2004 turnout, by state.  At 60.73%, California was in the middle.

                  Ten highest, in terms of turnout:
                  New Hampshire
                  South Dakota

                  Ten lowest (#38-47, no data on four):
                  West Virginia
                  South Carolina

                  I don't think you can draw easy conclusions -- a heated Senate race certainly helped in AK and SD despite zero Electoral College question, but SC was at the bottom despite a good Senate race.

                  •  Like you say... (none)
                    it's hard to draw conclusions.  No way to tell why people in Iowa turned more than people in South Carolina without asking that speicifc question in a poll.  My evidence is mostly anecdotal.

                    In any case, I hope this will be one of the topics of discussion in Vegas during your presentation.

                    Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

                    by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:59:25 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  dude, that list (none)
                    was a who's who of swing states.  you proved Kos' point.  MN and WI were ground fucking zero in 04!!!

                    Hillary cannot be swiftboated because everything is already known about her, unlike anyone else who is running. Hillary for President 2008!

                    by HillaryGuy on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:21:20 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I don't get this. (none)
                  I can only speak about Massachusetts, but presidential elections here are pretty much no contest.  There was not a single person who came out in 00 or 04 who thought that the state was going to go to the Democrat.

                  Yet turnout was much higher in those years than it was in 98 and 02, when there was a real contest for the governor.

                  So, why do more people here turn out when they know their vote won't count than when it probably will?  It's not logicial.

                  .08 Acres
                  .0000016% of Massachusetts political commentary

                  by sco08 on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:48:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Voting *isn't* logical. (none)
                    After all, the probability of your vote impacting the election is incredibly small... for president or governor.   Furthermore, the difference in personal impact isn't terribly large for a single elected office.

                    So, why take the time to actually vote?

                    Civic duty.

                    For me, the interesting thing is that for some reason, people feel more civic duty for "big" elections than for smaller ones.  It may also be the availability of information -- taken to an extreme, everybody in MA knew things about Bush and Kerry, but how many had ever heard of their town meeting members or school board members?

                •  Absolutely right (none)
                  The youth enagement group CIRCLE found that turnout was 17% lower among adults under 30 in the 40 non-battleground states than in the battlegrounds. It was nearly 10% among all voters. And it's getting worse -- with states increasingly entrenched in their current definition. FairVote's Presidential Election Inequality lays it all out in stark fashion:
    •  Populous areas (none)
      Yes, a popular national vote would encourage candidates to visit safe and opposition areas, provided they are populous.  The less populous areads would be completely ignored because there just aren't enough votes there to matter.  

      Why would you campaign in North Dakota when you can go to Minneapolis and talk to 20 times as many people as live in the whole state of North Dakota?

      Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space because there's bugger all down here on Earth.

      by bawbie on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:10:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends how close the election looked (none)
        I do accept that a popular vote system would favor urban areas, as more efficient to campaign in, but then so does the current system.

        Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

        by gracchus on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:13:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  EC (none)
        What the Electoral College does is it forces candidates to go to "battleground" states -- those in the center of public opinion -- and tailor their approaches to the middle.

        There's something to be said for that.

      •  I say again (4.00)
        who is campaigning in North Dakota as it is?

        Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

        by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:19:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Small states are not swing states... (none)
          ... I am pretty sure that all of the 3EV states were pretty much spoken for, so the net effect on them would be nil. And the only really battleground 4EV states I can think of are NH and ME, which you "campaign" in with Boston media buys, even though MA is a solid blue state.
          •  I realize that. (none)
            I was responding to the comment above -- "Why would you campaign in North Dakota when you can go to Minneapolis and talk to 20 times as many people as live in the whole state of North Dakota?" -- which seems to imply that campaigning would stop in N.D. without the electoral college, whereas I don't feel it exists to begin with.

            Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

            by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:22:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's not just the candidates, it's the people (none)
              People who care about a presidential election in North Dakota could get deeply involved right where they are. Even if a candidate didn't visit, proxies would - and the local parties and organizations and volunteers would have every incentive to get people out to vote. That's not true today. You can count the pennis spent on GOTV for the presidential racee in North Dakota in 2004 on the fingers of one hand.
    •  Almost right... (none)
      This is almost right.  Campaigns expend resources where persuadable voters are found.  

      A popular vote would shift campaigns away from the battleground states to the battleground regions and locales of the country.  These areas primarily lie within mid to large media markets; mid-sized cities and suburban areas.  Many of these areas are in the current battleground states, and some are in large, uncompetitive states like California, New York, and Texas.  Fewer are found in smaller states with one or two large cities.  If we moved to direct election of the president, I can imagine a Democratic presidential candidate dropping in on Oklahoma City, but I can't imagine a candidate would find it worthwhile to go to Wyoming.

    •  It would also reward good turnout states... (none)
      ... I recall turnout in WI was like 60%, while turnout in SC was like 40%. So in fact, the votes in SC almost count 50% more under the old system. Why should be penalize people in Wisconsin for doing their civic duty?
  •  Amending (none)
    The current system could be kept in place, but merely require states to divide their electoral college votes instead of having an all-or-nothing scheme.  I believe this is an approach that would be more likely to succeed then just moving to a purely popular-vote system.
    •  true, and thats another option (none)
      it would make it less likely that someone would win the popular and lose the electoral and also still give incentive for candidates to visit states where, statewide, they already know how they're going to finish in an attempt to pick up that extra EV or two.
    •  Why bother? (none)
      if you're going to amend the constition, why not just abolish the entire anachronistic sytem entirely, especially as your adjustment would be a gesture in the same direction, anyway.

      Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

      by gracchus on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:05:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  don't take a bridge too far (none)
        There are serious problems with a truly national election.  How do you handle recounts in close votes?  How do you handle the fact that it's mid-afternoon in Alaska and Hawaii when the east coast is going to bed?

        These problems aren't insurmountable, but there will be a lot of pressure to use a "quick" fix instead of a "good" fix.

        In contrast the "one delegate per congressional district, plus two for the state at large" approach keeps these problems at the state level.  Hell, it would often keep the problems at the level of the congressional district.  You could get a clear winner even there's serious problems in a few congressional districts.

        On the other hand this approach is still vulnerable to Delay tactics like gerrymandering the CDs so that the vote will go to one party instead of the true will of the state.  I'm not sure if that risk is worth switching to a state-wide proportional vote (which will tend to cause candidates to focus on the urban areas alone)... and it's still better than the current "winner takes all" approach.

      •  Because the US Constitution doesn't need ammending (none)
        State are already granted authority under the US Constitution to decide how to determine their votes. Some states already split their votes. It is probably far easier to change the state constitutions of the remaining states than to change the federal constitution.
    •  Nebraska and Maine... (none)
      ...apportion electoral votes per Congressional district with the winner of the state getting the additional two votes.  There has just never been an election in which the votes were split but it's come close in Maine.
    •  It's as bad as the electoral college. (none)
      The problem with the electoral college is that it gives a disproportionate advantage to small states.  Simply dividing the electoral votes of every state proportionally doesn't solve that problem.  For example, had that system been in place in 2000, Gore still would have lost the electoral college, even though he won the popular vote.
      •  Disproportionate? (none)
        First, there is more than one way to split the votes. States could split either on a district by district level or on a statewide level in proportion to the popular vote. Have you really done the math to see if Gore would have lost under both systems?

        Second, this has the advantage of not needing a federal ammendment. Each state has the power to decide who to split the votes under the present US constitution.

        Third, the electoral college is needed for the same reason that a filibuster is needed. The minority is being given more power so that the majority cannot run slipshod over the minority. If you had a direct vote for president, the largest 50 cities in the US would effectively control who gets elected president. Distributing electoral power more evenly throughout the entire country is a good thing over all, even if I think it could use some fine tuning.

        •  Yes, I have done the math. (none)
          Or I should say, I have seen the math that others have done.  Gore loses under all the alternative schemes that have been mentioned, and he loses because no matter how you slice them, small states have disproportionate power under the electoral college.

          Second, the plan linked doesn't require a federal amendment either.  If enough states - as few as 11 - agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, then it the winner of the national popular vote becomes the winner of the electoral vote.

          Third, bullshit.  Even if I were to agree that a president should have to get votes from different regions of the country - although, apparently, Los Angeles and New York aren't "different regions" to you - the electoral college doesn't ensure that, as shown by the last few elections.  Furthermore, no matter how the votes are distributed, the winner should have a majority - and the electoral college certainly doesn't ensure that.

          •  That violates (none)
            one man one vote under EP in the 14th amendment.  Cannot be done.  

            Hillary cannot be swiftboated because everything is already known about her, unlike anyone else who is running. Hillary for President 2008!

            by HillaryGuy on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:29:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Why should the winner have a majority? (none)
            Pure democracy is equivalent to mob rule. This is why democracy was a four letter word in the ancient and medieval eras. Rule by the people where the people looked out for the common good (rather than their own interests) was labeled republicanism by Aristotle. The difference between republicanism and democracy was held to be the same as that between monarch and tyranny.

            The founding fathers of the US understood this very well and it is why they designed the electoral college. And it is the same premise behind the filibuster. Let me ask you this, are you also against the filibuster? If not, your view is inconsistent. If so, you're arguing that brute numbers confer legitimacy. Under such a scheme, there are no inalienable rights, only the will of the majority.

            •  If you don't like democracy, (none)
              Move to Saudi Arabia.  There's no problem with "mob rule" there.  "Inalienable rights," on the other hand . . . not so inalienable.
              •  fortunately, I live in a republic (none)
                Where inalienable rights are enshrined in the constitution and can only be overridden by a supermajority.
                •  Inalienable rights like (none)
                  The right to own slaves?  The right of women to second-class citizenship?

                  The supermajority requirement has most often ensured that oppressed populations remain so for far longer than a majority would have otherwise allowed.

                  Fact is, if the Constitution had been written by people who thought Sharia law was the epitome of good government, you'd be singing a different tune on the wisdom of the supermajority.

                  Not that the Constitution actually requires a supermajority, of course.  In theory, a properly distributed minority of about 20% of the population could do it.  

                  •  True, a supermajority makes it more conservative (none)
                    In the classical sense of the word, it's harder to change.

                    Not to mention that I'm not convinced that either of your assertions is true. Show me the data that suggests that slavery would have ended or that women would have gotten the right to vote in the US sooner than it did if only a bare majority was required to change the constitution.

                    But even if history does prove your point, you're cherry picking without looking at the other side. In a pure democracy, 50% + 1 vote equals absolute power in a two party system. In a multi-party system, pure democracy often gives absolute power to a mere plurality.

                    Look at it this way, if the number of people in the US who supported changing the US Constitution to enshrine Sharia were slowly increasing, would you rather have that group be able to make changes once they can deliver 50% + 1 vote or only once they create a supermajority?

                    •  I'd rather they have the opportunity at 50% (none)
                      Than at 75%, and I'd rather be able to undo it with 50%, rather than 75%.  A supermajority does nothing but create a false sense of security for the minority - fact is, it's better to lose your rights when you still have the support of 50% of the population than when you've lost the support of 75% of the population, and it's better to get them back when you've reached 50%, rather than 75%.

                      Show me the data that suggests that slavery would have ended or that women would have gotten the right to vote in the US sooner than it did if only a bare majority was required to change the constitution.

                      I don't have to - it's easy enough to point out that had women's suffrage required 50% of the Congress and 50% of the states, rather than two-thirds of the former and three-quarters of the latter, it would have happened sooner than it did.

                      But if you want "data", then I could point to the fact that most stated had granted women full or partial suffrage long before the 19th Amendment was ratified, several through the initiative process.

                      •  I'm bowing out of the discussion (none)
                        it's easy enough to point out that had women's suffrage required 50% of the Congress and 50% of the states, rather than two-thirds of the former and three-quarters of the latter, it would have happened sooner than it did.

                        I don't think it productive to continue to discuss the issue with someone who is arguing that `it could have happened this way, therefore, it would have happened this way.'' Unlike Ibn Sina, I don't hold that if something is possible in thought, then it is possible in actuality. Nor do I believe that just because something is possible to have happened in the past that it would have happened in the past.

                        Have a nice weekend.

            •  Representative democracy... (none)
              ... can co-exist with protection of minority rights, if one has systems that truly represent most people and one has legal protections grounded in a Constitution. But when you have elections, have fair elections -- the founders would have agreed on that.
              •  I don't disagree with your post (none)
                I just disagree with the premise that an election where the winner doesn't have an absolute majority of the popular vote isn't fair.
                •  the winner should be representative... (none)
                  If a majority of people end up being "represented"  by someone they oppose, that's not representative democracy. If you have a proportional system where 20% of like-minded voters can elect one candidate to represent them out of five seats, that's all to the good. But if a candidate with 20% support represnent 100% of people rather than 20% of people, that's something other than representative democracy. Let's call it plurality-ocracy. Instant runoff voting is a great way to accommodate choice, differnet opinions and still get a majority winner when electing one person.
                  •  I'll grant you 20% isn't very representative (none)
                    But I'm not aware of any case in US history where a presidential candidate only won 20% of the vote and was elected by the electoral college. In 2000 and 2004, about half of eligible voters for GWB.  That's about as representative as you're going to get in a divided country.
                    •  Candidates with fewer votes shouldn't win (none)
                      That's the bottom line for me. If one person is going to represent me and my neighborhs, I don't want that one person to be elected when they fewer votes then someone else.....  On the 20% issue, we've had several governors winning with less than 40% in recent years, including Evan "impeach me" Meacham in Arizona. That problem with our democracy is best addressed with instant runoff voting, which balances increased voter choice with guarantees that the winner isn't intolerable to the majority.
      •  is that so bad? (none)
        So is that our goal?  try to figure out a system that we can win in?  Why can't we just go out and win with our ideas?  Our programs.  Our philosophy.  We've lost two presidential elections in a row, very close.  Why do we now need to change the whole system?  That sounds to me like we don't think we can win with our ideas and values.  So we decide if we can win that way, we need to change the rules of the game.  Screw that.  Let's change hearts and minds people.
        •  Reread the comment. (none)
          This has nothing to do with ideas, programs, philosophy, values, rules, hearts, or minds - except, perhaps, the philosophy that the one who wins the most votes across the nation should become president of the nation.

          The Amar Plan would ensure that.  It should be a top priority for anyone who considers themself a Democrat, big or little d.

          •  sorry (none)
            I can't agree.  Mostly cause I'm from Iowa and I do love the "swing-state" attention.  But trying to change the way we elect a president is precisely what I'm talking about.  Once again, we dems(big d OR little d) sound like a bunch of fucking whiners.  We can't win under the current terms, so let's change it until we can win.  Just like Al Gore in Florida.  Let's re-count the votes until we win.  I call bullshit on our side, and know we can do better.  
      •  Small States Schmall Schtates (none)
        The REAL power in the Electoral College are the BIG states. One California with 55 votes is almost equal to 16 small states.

        I doubt very seriously that California will ever want to give it's power in the national election.

        A President in his own league. The Bush League!

        by Tuba Les on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 01:45:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  California powerful in presidential elections?!? (none)
          Not for years. Presidential candidates NEVER go to California unless they want to be on Jay Leno or raise some money. If tsunamis hit California and Florida  at the same time, where do you think the president would first go?
  •  Could this be problematic? (none)
    Currently, the Republican Election Fraud Machine seems to be focused in the areas of those swing states. If we moved to a nationwide system of popular voting, could we count on their efforts exploding nationwide, beyond anyone's ability to catch it and reign it in?

    Of course, I suppose such an expansion would increase their likelihood of being caught on a larger scale.

    •  Almost right. (none)
      Requiring a majority of the popular vote would make the election harder to steal.  Now, all you need is a little tweaking in a couple of swing states.  Can you see this happening nationwide?  I can't.

      Furthermore, you would see a sharp increase in voter turnout if voters in, say, California, thought their votes actually mattered.  I have lived in New York State for over 13 years, and I have yet to cast a ballot that had any real meaning.  The results as they relate to New York State have always been a foregone conclusion long before Election Day.  I can vote, or not, and Hillary Clinton will still be the junior senator from New York, having won by a staggering margin, and Sherwood Boehlert will have won yet another term in the House of Representatives by at least as large a margin as Sen. Clinton.  Both Al Gore and John Kerry won New York by gigantic margins.  If all New York was contributing to the outcome were its 31 electoral votes, what difference would it make if a few of us stayed home?

  •  Either directly elected president (none)
    Or have EC votes be give proportionally. The current system merely entrenches and empowers small states that already have constitutional representation in the Senate. The EC as it currently stands is an idea that no longer serves a useful purpose. I consider myself an American first, an Illinois citizen a far distant second. I imagine most Americans feel the same way.

    If you do that, and fix the gerrymandering problem with the House you might just get a different type of politics. In our current politics, the Senate is, ironically, the most representative body of the American people as a whole.

    Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

    by Benito on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:04:51 AM PST

  •  Kos-- Here's the Website (none)

    Birch was on Washington Journal this morning too.

    Hillary Clinton is the Yoko Ono of the Democratic Party.

    by HighSticking on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:05:10 AM PST

  •  asdf (none)
    The checks and balances set up at the beginning were meant to protect the rights of the minority.

    -6.13, -4.46 * 2280 *

    by BDA in VA on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:05:26 AM PST

    •  actually the EV was a federalism thing (none)
      meant to protect states was senators being elected by the state government instead of directly.
    •  That's why we have the Senate. (none)
      The rights of the minority aren't being quashed by having the country elect a Prez via popular vote.

      Imagine electing Senators or Governors through an electoral vote process that uses counties -- i.e. every county in California gets a minimum of 3 votes (like the smallest states do), and the rest are apportioned through population.  It's insane -- tiny Alpine county of 1,200 people gets phenomenally more say per capita than the 750,000 people of San Francisco county.  Alpine County would be California's Wyoming.

      Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

      by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:16:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  WHICH minority? (none)
      Everyone could lay claim to membership in one minority group or another. The EV arbitrarily privileges a geographic minority, those who live in rural areas. Why that one? Why not give Catholics a stronger vote, or blacks, or snake owners, or redheads?

      Incidentally, most ethnic minorities tend to concentrate in urban areas, which means that the EV specifically lessens their voting power.

  •  I agree with your last statement... (none)
    I was hoping for Kerry to win Ohio simply so that both parties would see how flawed EVs are.  Ahhh, we can hope for 2008...

    Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

    by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:06:07 AM PST

  •  Electoral College (none)
    What! We can't get rid of the electoral college!

    Next you'll want to get rid of the Pony Express, or start letting shops open up without a pole to tie the ol' horse on!

    Can't you liberal whackos with your light bulbs, and your electricity to slow down and waitup for the rest of us? I'm still pretty skeptical about this whole "wheel" idea...

    -6.38, -4.77 Clark/Warner

    by Jordan LFW on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:09:00 AM PST

  •  Not the best fix (none)
    It's the winner-take-all Congressional seat and gerrymandered map that causes the effective disenfranchisement of voters - not the electoral college. If you were starting from scratch of course you would determine the President by popular vote - but we are not starting from scratch.

    A better fix would be to distribute House seats according to vote totals in individual states - so that a state with 10 Reps and vote totals of 50% Dem / 40% GOP / 10% Libertarian would get 5,4, and 1 Reps respectively.

    Let the People's House BE the People's House again and it will fix much of what is broken in US politics.

    RIGHT TO PLAY When kids play, the world wins!

    by joejoejoe on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:09:28 AM PST

    •  other than probably being unconstitutional.... (none)
      and many governments, even parlimentary governments don't do that (see Canada, UK).
      •  of course, if you're proposing an amendment (none)
        constitutionality becomes irrelevent.

        However, that means that all races, even house races, become statewide instead of regional races.  That means you have, say, all 9 congressmen in tennessee huddling around nashville and memphis trying to get votes there instead of broken down regions.

        It also means that you're voting on party, and not the candidate.

        •  The problem with this. (none)
          Is that if you apportion seats based strictly on the popular vote in a particular state, you cede the control over WHO gets to go to Washington to the parties AFTER THE FACT.  I'm not sure I trust state party chairpersons with that responsibility, even if I support the party's platform.

          At least with the current system, I know who the individual is who we're sending to Washington, even if he is a schmuck and I hate his guts and I'd never vote for him in a million bazillion years.  At least the 51% who voted to give the schmuck another term have seen his face and voted (supposedly) with open eyes.

          •  MIssing the forest (none)
            Propotional systems come in all varieties -- some are based on voting for candidates, some based on voting for parties, some a mix, and so on and on. Check out PR Library at:

            Without a proportional system, kiss voter choice good bye. Same deal with the Electoral College -- most states aren't going to be close in any close election, everyone will know it, and choice and accountability go out the window.

    •  and just who ... (none)
      ... would determine whom those 5 dems would be? and those four GOoPers ... and that one libertarian?

      ah, the devil hidin' in them details ...

      you seem to be empowering state central committees ... which of those 5 dems would i dial to heap praise or complain or, given that they all represent all the dem voters in my state, while they owe their lofty status to (????) ... ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

      by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:23:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We could have lists like Iraq ;). (none)
        That's proved to be a big success, right?

        I'm half serious - the debacle in Iraq aside. You could establish the list order in primary voting, the seat distribution in the general. IMHO the Soviet-style party discipline in the House is a far greater threat than the electoral college.

        RIGHT TO PLAY When kids play, the world wins!

        by joejoejoe on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:08:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  and maybe (none)
      Presidential Election should require some sort of super majority total.  51% is a part of the winner take all system, so changing from Electoral College to Popular Vote really does not solve much as it still marginalizes the losing party.  To me a better goal is encouraging coalitions.  Requiring something like a 60% victory would encourage more than 2 parties and require runoffs, which would further encourage more than 2 parties.  I know this idea is not perfect, but something like this would really break the system.  The popular vote reform is a red herring. - Political and Community Coverage of NYC

      by atomicBirdsong on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:25:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The complication of apportionment (none)
      Some sort of PR-type system might work for a state legislature, but the current system of apportioning seats to state would have to be changed for this to work nationally.  District magnitude (in this instance, the number of congressional seats awarded to a state), is related to disproportional seats to votes outcomes.  In the aggregate, this would advantage the party that tends to be distributed into the smaller states: the Republicans.  Thus, in Idaho, Republicans would win two seats, but in a state like California, seats would be apportioned more proportionally among parties (btw, even PR systems tend to have disproportional outcomes, just less than single-member district systems like the U.S.).
      •  Good points all (none)
        It was an offhand comment on my part and you bring up some important concerns. I just think that the two party system, gerrymandered districts, and winner take all system is a disaster.

        RIGHT TO PLAY When kids play, the world wins!

        by joejoejoe on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:27:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gerrymandering is the larger issue (none)
          Speaking from the Canadian perspective anyway.  Our federal (and provincial) ridings are determined by an impartial process, not legislators.  As a result we regularly get situation where there are no safe seats: sure, you get safe incumbents but it's because the people like them (or consider them the lesser evil), not because the boundaries get changed to make sure you get to pick and choose your voters.

          The other problem is "the two party system".  But not for the reason you think.  It's because people complaining about the two party system always want to try and change it from the top.  President (or Senator) or bust.

          It rarely works that way.  You need some kind of farm system, not only to get your candidates having some experience but to get the voters comfortable with the party.  No one will turn over the control of the government to people they know nothing or next to nothing about: they'll stick to the safe alternative, which in your case down there is Democrat or Republican.  And if they do decide to give some power to the new party, they hold them to a much higher standard when it comes to screwing up.

          The Confederation of Regions Party in New Brunswick provides an example of this.  In 1987, the Liberals won every single seat which threw the Conservatives, who had been in power for 12 years, into complete disarray.  In the 1991 election CoR won 6 seats out of 57, which made them the official opposition.  CoR was basically an eastern version of the people who would support Reform/Alliance/Conservatives: rightish wing, often religious, reactionary.

          CoR members made some real political goofs, usually involving one of the members opening their mouth.  In the next provincial election CoR disappeared from the political landscape and has not been heard from since.

          Now, objectively, none of the things CoR did were too insanely stupid.  You'll often hear people from established parties make the same sort of stupid gaffes, if different in the details.  But since CoR was new to the vast majority of people, the thought that came to mind was "They're all nuts.  The Tories and Liberals and NDP have some fruitcakes, but their entire party isn't like that."

          Because those members were all CoR had as a public face the actions of those members tarnished the entire party.

          In the US, you can't say all Democrats or Republicans are bad because it's easy to point to Republicans or Democrats somewhere who you think are doing an okay job, or at least an acceptable one.  And if there are some Republicans or some Democrats doing really stupid things, well that doesn't necessarily destroy the entire party because at local levels there are still party members the public are comfortable with.

          Look at your Reform party (or whatever it was called).  The only face attached to it was Ross Perot and when he started acting like an insane munchkin he dragged the whole party, such as it was, with him.  There weren't Reform Party dogcatchers or country commissioners who could absorb the bad press by showing that not everyone int he party was a nuts as Perot.

  •  Sorry, but I like our Representative Republic (none)
    and the methods of selecting our representatives just the way they are, thank you very much.  I see no need to reduce our honorable institutions to the base level of mob rule dressed up to look like a pure Democracy.

    States still have rights, you know, and I don't see any need to let the blue states tell the red states what to do.

    But that is my opinion, and you are welcome to it!  :-)

    •  So you prefer our current system (none)
      where the small red states get to tell the large blue states what to do?  Good reason for San Francisco to become it's own state, I guess.  Same for New York City.

      A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

      by Webster on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:46:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  how about (none)
        DC gets 2 senators to represent it, just like Wyoming has.

        The ONLY thing the Republicans are successful in is marketing their talking points to the public.

        by jeffwass on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:08:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about (none)
          All the people in Puerto Rico and Washington DC that want to join the U.S. as a state move to Wyoming?  That way Democrats pick up two Senate seats and a congressional seat at the expense of the Republicans.  ;-)
        •  That wouldn't be fair (none)
          There are only like 550,000 people in DC.  Wyoming has. . . oh.  Less than half a million?  Really?  Well, I guess there are just different points of view on the whole thing.

          A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

          by Webster on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:12:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, what wouldn't be "fair" is for (none)
            those packed-in-like-sardines people in the Blue States to be telling the wide-open-spaces people in the Red States what they should be doing with their land/property.
      •  Not so. (none)
        I beg to differ.  The Red States don't get to tell the Blue states what to do any more than the other way around.  That was the whole point of having equal state representation within the Senate, as opposed to the proportional representation within the House of Representatives.

        If you can get San Fran, New York, and DC successfully turned into states then more power to you.  Just leave the rules for electing people alone.

  •  Electoral College Is Necessary... (none) prevent a multi candidate general election campaign with a winner garnering a huge majority of votes in a selected region. The electoral college prevents the emergence of extreme candidates having a credible chance at victory.  I support a reform of the system in which a Congressional district is represented by an elector who casts a vote for the candidate winning the most votes in that district, and the winner of the state's popular vote taking an additional two electors.  That's all the reform  needed.    
    •  I'm in a Presidency class... (none)
      and we just studied elections.  The system you describe, theoretically, would have sent the Carter/Ford election to the House of Reps because it would have been a tie.  Nixon also would have won in 1960.  Bush still would have won in 2000, meaning we'd still wind up with someone the majority of people did not want.

      "No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody." - Rita Mae Brown (-4.75, -7.13)

      by AUBoy2007 on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:14:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i'd humbly suggest (none)
      the reform you suggest had me, until you threw that huge bone to the small states: the two additional votes per state to the statewide winner that effectively makes my vote in illinois less equal than cowboy bob's in wyoming ... ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

      by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:26:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Without the Two Additional Votes... (none)
        ...the electoral college would have to be reduced by 100 votes.  I was always under the assumption that the electors were set at the number of members each state sent to the full Congress.
        •  exactly (none)
          the proportional number (house) plus two (senate) ... that wildly skews the proportion ... see below

 ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

          by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:36:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  and if this fairness were the rule ... (none)
          ... then Gore would have beaten bush in the electoral college (226-211 or 225-211, depending on how they would have handled reduction of DC's e.v.'s)

 ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

          by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:43:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  further detail (none)
        the congressional (house) delegation ratio between Illinois and Wyoming is 19:1

        the electoral college ratio is 7:1 (IL=21 ev, WY=3)

        even the math-challenged can see the ratio's differences, and that's before sub-minimal population is accounted for ...

        curse you, cowboy bob from wyoming!!!

        if the states did not get two extra e.c. votes, it'd still be 19:1 ... i'd sure feel closer to equal that way ... equal protection, my ass! ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

        by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:35:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: further detail (none)
          Good point.  I could support elimination of the electors that exist because of the equal representation of Senate seats but I couldn't see small states voting to make such a change.  We already have one small state (Maine) and one smallish to medium state (Nebraska) voting to allot by CD so that's a do-able reform.
        •  WY to CA population: (none)

          Sure sounds fair!

          Visit and follow every 2006 Senate race.

          by AnthonySF on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:54:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i'd grant that the cap ... (none)
            ... on the number of members of the house creates an additional problem ... getting the 435-member cap adjusted is also a reasonable goal, if we are to assume equal representation is a good thing ...

            for now, though, it'd be a happy start to get the ratio of electors between california and wyoming down from 55:3 to 53:1 ...

   ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

            by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:05:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  So? (none)
      Population of South Carolina:  4 million.
      Population of New York City:  8 million.

      Who should have more of a say over what goes down, the four million or the eight million?  If the four million want something worthwhile, they should be able to peel off the required 2 million (plus one) to make it happen.  Bottom line, those of us who live in civilization (the many) should not be held hostage by the few who choose to live in the hinterland.  What if the few want to give Manhattan back to the Indians?  Do we sit back and let them?

  •  The Electoral College is Good for You! (none)
    There are several reasons why the Electoral College is good for democracy.  Yeah, we ended up on the wrong side of it in 2000, but those things shake out in the long run, and you're going to get the benefit of the close call as often as you will be shafted.  But two main reasons:

    1. If the electoral college forces candidates to focus on "a handful of swing states," a popular vote is no different.  In fact, it is worse.  Candidates would only have to focus on heavily populated areas where the price of advertising, per vote, is low.  Only courting the cheapest votes shuns a vast majority of voters, and not just those in rural areas.  Mid size or sprawling cities suffer, too.  Yeah, maybe most of those people are Republican, but I'm for democracy, not electoral gerrymandering -- even if the oher guy started it.

    2. The electoral college increases the power of your vote!  By extension, it amplifies any given GOTV campaign, and allows more people to be heard,  including those in urban areas.  I can post the statistics behind this if you like, but the electoral college increases the liklihood that your vote (or your GOTV campaign) swings the election for your candidate, no matter where you live.  Yes, it increases it more for small states than large ones, but, remarkably, not by very much  because the electoral college is still a proportional vote, though not a perfect one.

    Campaigning against the electoral college is a shortsighted endeavor.  Yes, it is bad for democrats in this current demography.  But it is not a bad thing for democracy, and it is not a bad thing for democrats in the long run.  It's like the weather at a football game -- both teams have to deal with it.  The other team is just better than us at dealing right now.  That doesn't make it unfair.
    •  so you're just shifting (none)
      from the candidates campaigning in one small area of the country to...another small area of the country (except now you're looking at major cities in many more states instead of just a handfull of states).

      The EV makes every vote beyond majority + 1 moot.

      It makes no difference whether someone wins a state by 1 or 1 million votes.  Once you're over the majority, your vote is essentially meaningless in the Electoral College.

      •  Exactly! (none)
        And that situation is far more likely to happen in a popular vote system than in an electoral college.
        •  The Stats: (none)
          Imagine you are in a nation of nine voters.  The only way your vote really has an impact, is if the other eight are deadlocked, 4-4.  Assuming that each side has a 50% chace of getting any individual's vote (and this is very likely the case in a deadlocked nation like ours) then the chance of this deadlock -- and therefore your vote counting -- is 24%.

          Now imagine that the nine voters are split into three states of three each.  The likelihood of your vote swinging your state is one half.  The likelihood of your state swing the other two states is also one half.  The two events together have a probability of 25%, which is greater than the situation above.

          When the states have proportional difefrences in population, your chance of swinging a large state are smaller, but the chance of your state swinging all the states is larger.  The result is the same.  Yes, in the actual EC, small states have a disproportional number of votes, so that is a cause for reform, but it doesn't affect the underlying outcome.

          •  You sure? (none)
            By my calculations, out of the 8 other voters, there are 256 possible vote outcomes and 70 of those have the votes split 4-4. That means a 27.3% chance of you're vote being the tie breaker.

            The argument that people's votes count more in an electoral system just doesn't make sense anyway. Everyone's vote counts more compared to who's vote? If everyone's vote counts more then we haven't really gained anything, have we?

            Of course, probabilties aside, I see the electoral system as bad on the face of it. No matter what arguments you make for it, to me they can't justify the fact that some people's votes count more than others.

      •  As an example (none)
        If you call any vote beyond a majority as a "worthless" vote (ie, it doesn't matter because you're already past the majority), here are the number breakdowns:

        If the vote was nationalized, any vote beyond 59,028,110 for Bush would be "worthless" (because Kerry got 59,028,109 votes).  That means that 3,012,496 votes were "worthless" - about 2.5% of all votes cast.

        In the electoral college, you have to combined all "worthless" votes in all 50 states + DC.

        That total comes out to be 14,530,070 votes, or 11.9% of votes cast.

        now under which system do the most number of votes matter?

        •  on top of this (none)
          one could almost call all losing votes in a state "worthless" because they dont add to anything because its a winner take all system. in a nationalized election thats not the case.
        •  You can't think of it that way (none)
          "Worthless votes" are all votes that don't break a tie.  In other words, in 50% +1, it is only the "+1" that counts.  In layman's terms, there is one such vote in a popular election.  There are 51 such votes in the EC.

          Whether you are in the majority or minority, your vote either

          1) Is cancelled out by someone else's


          2) Is superfluous majority.

          Only one vote gets to break the tie.  Only that one matters.

    •  Not so! (none)
      First, the focus on a handful of swing states means that the issues discussed the most are most relevant to those states.  Issues that affect a lot of people-- say the people of New York and California-- are not discussed, because they don't live where the voting is close.  Also, in the modern era, it will become more and more true that electronic communication will make the actual place of campaigning less relevant than the substance and message of the campaigning.  The place of campaigning won't completely disappear in significance, but it will become less important.  Additionally, shouldn't the place with the most people get the most attention?

      Second, the EC does not really increase your voting power, unless you live in a small state.  A California resident's vote is worth substantially less than a Wyoming resident's vote.  A person living in a non-swing state will have less power, because they are washed out by their neighbors, whereas a swing-stater will have more voting power.

      I don't think that it being unfair to a party is the center of its unfairness.  The most unfair part has much more to do with the residents of particular states and how their issues are played compared to the issues of other people.

      •  Swing States Arent Static (none)
        California was considered a 'swing state' until the early 1990s and got no less attention than the swing states of today.

        Without the electoral college, a popular Governor of California could run for President as an independent and have a reasonably good  chance of winning 20%+ of the vote, thereby assuring the winner of the general election would have a historically low plurality.  Reagan could have done this in 1976 without the electoral college as a deterrent.

        •  asdf (none)
          Okay, so if you lived outside of California in 1985, you had less say.  It doesn't matter that states move from swing to partisan and back over the course of decades.  It's still not fair to the people living in other states.  It's about the people at that moment in time.

          I'm fine with 3rd parties and independent candidates winning elections.  Our two-party system can make for some really stupid situations.  However, a 20% popular vote victory could be problematic.  I think that a preferencial voting system could patch that up nicely, though.

    •  Yes so true (none)
      The Electoral college needs to be expanded and a couple other minor modifications as to how the electors are elected.

      Going to a popular vote will only increase the involvement of big money, increase the amount of money needed to run and shut out 2/3rd's of the country from any meaningful participation in the election.

      •  And the current system is better? (none)
        The current Electoral College system means two-thirds of the states aren't even a tiny bit important. With a national popular vote, we all could be part of the election -- don't just think about the candidates and their activity, but all the  local party affiliates, groups, volunteers and, yes, bloggers, who could get out there and be involved where they are. If I go out and walk the neighborhood and get 10 more people to vote, it helps. Right now, I've got to pick up the phone and call some person in Ohio because they count and the rest of don't.
  •  Not sure it's a good idea (none)
    This would cause a couple of problems --

    Candidates would probably just focus on their bases, going to the largest concentration of friendly voters. So Democrats would try and get every Californian and New Yorker to the poll. Republicans would just hit the South.

    And as a few have pointed out, it would make it much more difficult to detect election fraud.

    "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right." - Salvor Hardin

    by Zackpunk on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:12:33 AM PST

  •  What I'd like to see (4.00)
    I'd like to see the popular vote replace the Electoral College, but I'd also like to see some sort of preferencial voting-- probably automated run-off for simplicity's sake.  

    I'd also like to see the House of Representatives voted for on a nationwide proportional voting system.  People would first vote for a party, and then the parties would select a number of representatives proportional to the vote.  The means of selecting the individual representatives would be left to the party's leadership, probably by a post hoc primary equivilant.

  •  Exactly (none)
    The checks and balances set up at the beginning were meant to protect the rights of the minority.

    A straight popular vote or even dividing the electoral votes lowers the attention politicians will give to minority and 'fringe' issues.

    No National candidate will care about Native-America, Cuban issues, gay issues, drilling rights problems or at least provide lip service to an issue because theie relative value will be diluted. For instance, if Florida is in play and a close vote, then a national candidate has an interest in bringing up Gulf coast drilling as an ecological issue. A national vote would dilute the issue as changing a few thousand votes in Florida which might have helped win an entire state's elecoral votes would be meaningless as an individual issue on a national scale.

  •  The electoral college (none)
    gives more electoral power to the states with lower than average population. Why would we expect 3/4 of the states to ratify a constitutional amendment, when it would lessen the electoral power of the citizens of some of those states? Will people vote to give their state less electoral power than they currently have? I would expect the states with a greater than average population to ratify it, but not the states with a lower than average population.
  •  one voter < one vote (none)
    ...a system that allows the candidate with less votes to become president is a system in desperate need of reform.

    A system that doesn't treat each individual citizen as an individual voter is in desperate need of reform. I can't believe it's been so hard to sell that concept. Someone published a chart in 2004 that clearly outlined the ratio of your vote in relation to that of voters in other states, with the smallest states rating a 1 and everyone else somewhat less than that. I couldn't find that particular chart for the life of me, but I did find this.

    Ironically, the very problem with the Electoral College is the reason it will never be abolished: the disproportionate influence of smaller states. In 1790, the differential between the most populous (Virginia) and least populous (Delaware) states was a ratio of about 10:1. Today, the ratio between California and Dick Cheney's home state of Wyoming is 70:1; the ratio of their electoral votes is only 18:1. Presidential votes in Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, Delaware, Montana, and the Dakotas thus now count five times what they do in California. And as we urbanize, the gap is widening.
  •  Where to find all the info (none)
    The plan is being driven by National Popular Vote and FairVote - The Center for Voting and Democracy. Links to the plan and website can be found here.
  •  how about (none)
    instead of this they put their collective brain power into stopping Diebold.

    If Democrats EVER want to win an election we must stop pretending Diebold is not STEALING elections for the GOP. I am pulling my hair out here because this is not getting attention.

    This needs to be issue number fucking one. Diebold in california.  Remember this when CA mysteriously goes red and teh GOP get a land slide.

  •  My $.02 (none)
    1. Have states award EVs in proportion to votes cast.

    2. Have the House be elected by proportional vote by party.  Ex: Dems get 50% of the vote, they get 50% of the seats.  Libertarians get 2% of the vote, they get 2% of the seats.  The only problem is how to get Independents seats.

    3. Repeal the 17th amendment.

    I'm still certain that what motivates me
    Is more rewarding than any piece of paper could be -- Dennis Lyxzén

    by stinerman on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:27:07 AM PST

    •  Interestingly enough... (none)
      A few years ago I happened to be in the Senate galleries.  Zell Miller was talking about introducing an amendment to repeal the 17th amendment.  He said he knew it would never pass, but he had to do it.

      I agree.

      States are supposed to be represented by the Senators in the national government.  If they were, the idea of unfunded mandates would go out of the window.  It's hard to sell, but in the end, it's what the founders wanted.

      "No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody." - Rita Mae Brown (-4.75, -7.13)

      by AUBoy2007 on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:41:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Okay, do it like that (none)
      Who decides which Democrats get to sit in those 50% of the seats?

      Or, put it more bluntly for you, who decides which Republicans get to sit in their seats?  Imagine the following campaign: the faces of the Republican Party, the ones the voters see, are Snowe and Collins and Jeffords (before he switched sides).  And as a result, a lot of people vote for them.

      Then the ones who get picked to actually sit in the House are like Delay, Santorum and Cheney.

      •  Re: Okay (none)
        The way I'd do it is to have a party convention to find out who the 435 people on the list will be.  Those names will be published before the election in newspapers, on TV, Internet, etc.  So if someone sees that Cheney is #1 on the list and Linc Chafee is #435, they can vote accordingly.

        In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to pick a party list, you could just outright vote for 435 representatives, but that doesn't scale very well.  Even someone as politically involved as I am would have trouble narrowing down thousands of possible representatives down to my 435 favorite ;-)

        I'm still certain that what motivates me
        Is more rewarding than any piece of paper could be -- Dennis Lyxzén

        by stinerman on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 08:05:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The electoral college has been corrupted (none)
    and it may be time to see it go.  The EC was set up to be a check on the citizenry to prevent them from electing a dictator.  Now that candidates select the electors and states passing laws forcing them to align their votes with what is viewed as the vote tally, the whole system has become moot.

    Where it becomes troubling is that a voting machine company could fix the machines in a small number of areas that lean right anyway and no one would question 1000 votes in one city of 100,000 people.  If they replicated that in 200 cities across the country, you'd change the vote total by 400,000.  And we know that between the "Shy Republican" or Embarassed Republican theory and Diebold's history of counting overvoting in some cases exceeding the number of eligible voters by orders of magnitude, this would be a small potatoes scam.

    A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

    by Webster on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:28:37 AM PST

  •  Link to the Coalition/Plan Information (4.00)
    News Release About Plan:

    National Popular Vote Coalition:

    Book Discussing the Plan:
    Every Vote Equal

    FYI: This plan DOES NOT require a constitutional amendment. It works through by states all deciding to give their electors to the popular vote winner, INSTEAD OF the winner of their state -- and it ONLY takes effect if enough states participate that equal a majority of the electoral college.

    This is the key to the plan. See The Shrinking Battleground. The number of states receiving attention from Presidential candidates really is quite few, AND even under a national vote plan, the top ten media markets still equal a very small percentage of the nation's voters, around 25%, so this wouldn't mean all-TV/all-large-state/all-urban campaigns.

    In any case, for one state to pass the plan alone would be foolish, especially if that state were one of the few to receive attention (and promises). But states can sign on without fear. The plan does not go into effect - i.e. such states do not turn their Electoral College votes over to the national winner - until enough states have signed on to guarantee 270 votes to the national popular winner.

    In other words, states have nothing to lose by adopting the plan while other states consider doing so.

    •  people here are extremely confused (4.00)
      Very few of the commenters understand the plan, and it seems that Kos didn't either from his OP.  The mechanism by which this works should be in an update on the front page.  A Yale Law Prof came up with this plan a few years ago, I believe.

      Also, I really can't believe that so many here are arguing in favor of the electoral college even though it is patently unfair and screwed us over in 2000.

  •  One person one vote (none)
    The Electoral system is an anachronism. The purpose of it was to give an advantage to states with low populations. They are already advantaged in the Senate.

    If an election turned because one area of the country vote more strongly for one candidate than the rest of the country this is not different than if someone was elected mayor because one area of the city voted in greater numbers than the other.

    I suppose that the defenders of the electoral system would like to use it in their states to elect governor...or mayor. So that each county or precinct would get its own set of electoral representatives in addition to the proportional representation- just like the states are for the national election.

    Regarding recounts in nationwide elections with close tallies: if the difference is less than 1/2 of one percent then the recount is automatic. If the total is greater than that then whoever demands the recount should pay for it.

    Pop-gun president lying with impunity, soundbyte policies and photo opportunities

    by Dave the Wave on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:30:07 AM PST

  •  That's just what I think... (none)
    Get rid of the winner-take-all.

    Award electors based on congressional district.  If candidate D winds 3 districts and candidate R wins 4, that's what they get.

    The winner of the state's popular vote gets the two "senator" votes.  If D wins only 3 of 7 districts, but those districts are in urban areas, they will likely get 2 extra votes.

    Or just do away with the "senator" electoral votes and make do with the Congressional districts to choose the electors (or the candidate they are supposed to vote for).  The small states with their 1 or 2 representatives would still have more effective votes per person than a state with a large number of Congressional districts.

    And, while you're at it, let's get instant runoff voting in place, too, m'kay?

    •  I'll take IRV, leave the rest (none)
      Yes for instant runoff voting, no for thinking congressional district allocation would be fair. Most districts aren't close, cities would be completely out of the picture and there's a serious partisan tilt. Go for instant runoff voting with a national popular vote.
  •  Make Senate representational of something! (none)
    Wyoming 493,000 people 2 Senators
    California 33,000,000 people 2 Senators

    That's the problem!

    Figure out a way to get this on a national ballot, and destroy the power of the small-states.  Why in the hell should Wyoming get three electoral votes and two Senators?  Until this is fixed, there won't be a fair or very worthwhile election.

    I'm a Centrist. I only vote with the Republicans when it really screws the people.

    by bwide on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:37:31 AM PST

    •  Senate Is Hardwired Into the Constitution (none)
      In order to change equal representation in the Senate, even a normal Constitutional Amendment would not be enough. All fifty states would have to go along with it:
      From Article V State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

      First they came for the human-animal hybrids...

      by GreenSooner on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:29:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I know, but... (none)
        ...there has to be some way to change this disaster!!!  Maybe the Democrats could get into power and perform some sort of nuclear option to get it changed!

        I'm a Centrist. I only vote with the Republicans when it really screws the people.

        by bwide on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:43:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bah, increase the House (none)
      Representative when Washington was President = 50,000 people

      Representative today = over 500,000 people

      I say we increase the size at least 5 fold and get it down to around 100,000 people.  Be tougher to Gerrymander then, and chances are you'd know who the person was representing you.

      (0.00,-3.13) "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it."

      by Steve4Clark on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:07:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reversals only happen in close elections (none)
    Something that's often overlooked is that reversals only happen in close elections anyway.  The country was nearly evenly split on Gore/Bush and Bush/Kerry.

    The problem has been the Republican "I got an overwhelming 51% mandate so fuck you and the horse you rode" attitude.  The winner needs to be the winner, but there's a huge difference between "I won and we'll follow my agenda, but I'm open to your concerns" and what we've seen.

    So, in my mind, the problem isn't in the details of the electoral college, it's in the remarkably immature behavior of the poor winners.

    •  And it's okay to flip a coin in close elections? (none)
      I'd prefer to rely on the votes of the people -- all the people, with every vote counted equally -- than to rely on an anachronistic system that leaves most of us completely irrelevant in electing our most powerful elected office.

      But sure, I agree that winners should show more humility -- just don't expect it too often.

  •  Hmm. (none)
    Furthermore, the Electoral College is seen as an advantage to small states, even if most of those small states will never see a presidential candidate. Heck, most states will never see a presidential candidate. And a system that allows the candidate with less votes to become president is a system in desperate need of reform.

    If the elections were based on majority vote alone, the chances of a candidate visitng small states are even less.  Why bother with Wisconsin or Arkansas if all one needs is California, New York and Texas?  I've always thought of the electoral college as a compromise giving small states equal importance, much like the Senate.  One of the Framers' chief concerns was larger states having more sway -- the electoral college is a defense against mob rule -- or the tyranny of the majority.  We must remember that this is not a democracy we live in, but a democratic republic.  

    •  Except... (none) 1790, there were just short of four million people in the country, with the most populous state having under a million and the least just under a hundred thousand.  Now, the most populous has over 33 million and the least short of 500,000.  Ain't no way Wyoming should have as much power as California.  One person, one vote.  Our Founding Fathers could never have expected this.

      I'm a Centrist. I only vote with the Republicans when it really screws the people.

      by bwide on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:58:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, that's wrong (none)
        California has way more power than Wyoming -- far more electoral votes for Cal than Wyo.  By your logic we should do away with the Senate too.  If it went to a direct election then Wyo would have NO power.  The EC is a safeguard for our federal system very similar to the Senate.  The amount of people shouldn't matter.  The tyranny of the majority is no less real now than it was then -- if nothing else it's more dangerous now than it was then.
        •  Huh... "tyranny of the majority"? (none)
          Meaning you think presidents should be elected  who lose the national popular vote and who don't have to campaign AT ALL in more than 30 states? We protect the minority in other ways than not holding fair elections.
        •  Yes, the Senate should be changed. (none)
          California has sixty times the people.  Either big states should have more say, or they should be divided into smaller states.  A state like Wyoming should have no power.  The founding fathers lived in a country where the largest state, Virginia, was about ten times the smallest, and they had to kiss the small states to get them to go against the British.  I'm all for moderating power, but the present system is a bit much.  A sixth of the country, California and New York, has four Senators, while less than a hundredth, Wyoming and North Dakota, has the same.

          I'm a Centrist. I only vote with the Republicans when it really screws the people.

          by bwide on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 03:20:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Bad idea (none)
    I realize I'm in the minority on this one, but I don't think the electoral college should go and the attempts are misguided at best.  I'm particularly worried that our side will manage to do something half-baked that will cripple ourselves and leave the R states in tact.

    Candidates will no longer have any incentive to play to the middle at all.  The most extreme candidates of each side will be rewarded.  If you think things are polarized now, you ain't seen nothing yet.  

    Every small state will be ignored.  Rural states will be especially ignored.  I realize that that's not our base at the present time, but the current system does require candidates to speak to diverse portions of the electorate.  If certain states feel ignored now, just watch with this new system.  Or I'm sure that New Mexico will have a big say if this went through.  It'll turn everything into a base vote appeal and broadcast message.  

    You're also much more likely to have 50 Floridas.  Gore's nationwide margin was 0.53% - this would lead to recounts everywhere.  Add in the fact that there is nothing near a national standard and it would making '00 look tame in comparison.


    •  feeding cynic in me (none)
      Misguided? Absolutely!

      There's so damned much to sweat right now. Any time spent on this kind of effort is time taken from trying to reclaim the government from the whackos, loonies, prevaricators and other assorted scoundrels & malefactors who are abusing the citizens here and folks abroad.

      Weaking opposition thru diffusion? Damn, people, we've a need to focus ... ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

      by wystler on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:58:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ahh, the cynic (none)
        There's so damned much to sweat right now. Any time spent on this kind of effort is time taken from trying to reclaim the government from the whackos, loonies, prevaricators and other assorted scoundrels & malefactors who are abusing the citizens here and folks abroad.

        Interesting logic. Isn't this election issue at the core of all the others? I argue that 'reclaiming the government' is what this is all about.

  •  I wish we could all be more ... (none)
    enthusiastic about this effort.

    In my mind it is "job one" as someone selling cars used to say.  The Electoral College is the compromised core of our so called "Democracy" as Putin is fond of pointing out.  It is really the last vestige of historical aristocratic distrust of the common populace's ability to govern themselves.  You touch on the "small state, big state" argument, but to my mind that is just a red herring, a distraction.  It is about power and control.

    This country, I was told in grade school, was founded on the principle of "one man, one vote!"  Isn't it about time we really had it that way?

  •  The Amar Plan in action. (4.00)
    Looks like someone finally decided to implement the Amar Plan.

    I'm optimistic about this, because unlike efforts to amend the Constitution, which require two thirds of Congress and three quarters of the states, this effort requires only enough states to agree to decide the election in the electoral college - a number of states whose electoral votes total 270.  

    Theoretically, it could require the agreement of as few as 11 states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Georgia, and North Carolina.

    •  Devil in the Details (none)
      Thanks for the Amar Plan link. As that article makes clear, states would need to determine how the "national popular vote winner" is determined.  The Amars leave this question open.

      I think it makes all the difference in the world if the plurality vote winner is considered the winner (a bad idea...though still arguably better than the EC), or if the winner is determined by some system of Single Transferable Voting (a much better system).

      First they came for the human-animal hybrids...

      by GreenSooner on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:34:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Political Challenges Are Surmountable (none)
    Academic political scientists tend to think narrowly in terms of political gains and losses, assuming that people always act in the narrow electoral advantage interest.

    History tells us otherwise.

    There was no electoral advantage in giving women or blacks the vote to existing voters.  There was no electoral advantage in expanding the franchise beyond property owners in every American state (something still not constitutionally mandated) to the existing franchise.  There was no electoral advantage to the existing franchise in the dramatic expansion of the franchise that occurred in the United Kingdom in a series of bills.  There was no electoral advantage to ratifying states in giving DC a say in Presidential elections.  There is no electoral advantage to existing states to adding new states or splitting existing states.

    Sometimes people just do the right thing.  Sometimes the calculation is that the improved sense of mandate that the winner will receive is worth a slight reshuffling of interests.

    Perhaps most important, policy always trumps process.  The electoral college can be a bipartisan issue because while some small states are reliably Republican.  Others, such as Rhode Island and Vermont and Hawaii, are reliably Democratic.  There has never been a large systemic difference between the partisan divide in the Senate and the partisan divide in the House.  This is largely a matter of historical accident, but it happens to be the case.  Likewise, gaps between the electoral college and the popular vote have been far more infrequent than one might expect.

    Also why would a Republican want a popular vote system even if it has in the past on rare occassions favor Democrats over Republicans in very close elections?  Because it would dramatically change the get out the vote part of the process in Presidential eleciton years.  Right now, even in a Presidential election year, there is little incentive for a voter in Vermont or Utah to go to the polls, since they know that their vote will not change the outcome.  In a popular vote system, in contrast, there is a strong incentive to put a lot of your resources in a Presidential campaign into getting out the vote where your support is strongest, and that, in turn can translate into longer coattails in Presidential elections.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 09:52:32 AM PST

  •  Flunking Out (none)
    Forget "reform the Electoral College". The only sane reform is to rescind the Electoral College. We have technology to count everyone, and the extra layers of "representation" have now repeatedly misrepresented the people. Discarding the Electoral College would be a trivial stroke towards actual fair elections.

    A bigger stroke would be a Federal law, even a Constitutional amendment, specifying that each American adult has the right to vote in Federal elections. There are clearly some exclusions, such as preverbal children, and demented schizophrenics, but state-level exclusions are too easily abused, as Florida voter purges and new photo ID exclusions are designed to exploit.

    If we can't even get rid of the archaic Electoral College, we're clearly past the point where we can make American elections represent the people.

    •  Keep It Simple (none)
      If we can't even get rid of the archaic Electoral College, we're clearly past the point where we can make American elections represent the people.

      There's no need to "rescind" anything to get to the end goal (elections which represent the people). This is a state issue, not a federal one.  Each state has the final say in what kind of election they want to run. Why make this more complicated than it needs to be?


      •  Jeb's Florida (none)
        The last several elections have shown we need Federal standards ensuring everyone's rights to vote are protected by the states. Those various, inconsistent, abusable state rules are the complication that we need to simplify.
    •  I'm all for a right to vote in the Constitutio.. (none)
      .. and I'm for a constitutional amendment establishment a direct popular vote by a majority of the people. But in the meantime, I'm for state and federal laws that better protect the right to vote, and I'm for state laws to establish a national popular vote.
  •  With the popular vote more people would (none)

    One of the wide expressed reasons you will get if you ask those who do not vote in Presidential elections is that they don't feel that their vote counts or would make a difference. Many of those same people will tell you that if the President was elected by Popular vote instead of the EC, then they feel that their vote would count.

    I believe also that the popular vote would be harder to rig. At least if most states were not using faulty voting machines.

    I think that once Democrats get back in power this should be something that they work at putting into place.

    Aint scared of nobody cause I want my freedom. Aint scared of nobody cause I want my freedom now.

    by eaglecries on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:01:23 AM PST

  •  Voting reform (none)
    While they are at it they should consider a parlimentary system.  If we had one Bush would be out tomorrow.  Plenty of GOP not realize the current government is dysfuntional and a threat to the county and o btw to themselves.
  •  Proposals... (none)
    Have to be deadly simple AND pass the smell test for small states. Americans will never buy an intricate system of instant run offs.

    I believe only two proposals (or variations thereof) can work:

    1. Give a bonus number of electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

    Although we can compromise on the number, I think 26 makes the most sense (one for every two states, + DC). As long as a candidate wins 257 electoral votes and the popular vote, they win the election.

    257 votes is hardly a mandate though, even with the popular vote in your favor.


    2. Majority rules with run-off election

    Every American assumes this is the way it works, so we could make it happen. If you win 51% of the certified national vote, you win the election. If you don't, the top 2 appear in a run-off a month later.

    Electoral tomfoolery of just a few hundred votes could mean Bush instead of Gore, Nixon instead of Kennedy.

    "Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

    by Jonathan4Dean on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:02:18 AM PST

    •  Americans use telephones... (none)
      .. which explains why they'll adopt instant runoff voting. Telephones work a lot better for calling someone a mile away than calling out the window. Same lesson for instant runoff voting for outmoded ways of voting.

      Forget the bonus plan. If you're going to change the Constitution, keep it simple and have a direct vote the same we elect senators and governos. If you're not going to change the Constitution, have states join together to establish a national popular vote themselves -- just like the National Popular Vote plan proposes.

  •  P,S, (none)
    There should be a law that Presidential candidates make a stop in all 50 states.

    If the Presidential season is going to last from March til November, they have plenty of time.

    "Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

    by Jonathan4Dean on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:05:57 AM PST

  •  Against removing Electoral College... (none)
    Having one big national vote makes it easier to hide tens of thousands of corrupt "extra" votes.  There are no longer 50 jurisdictions of eyes looking into matters.

    Also, Americans will be less motivated to vote when they know that the winner will win by more than a million votes.

    •  Please... (none)
      Also, Americans will be less motivated to vote when they know that the winner will win by more than a million votes.

      I could not disagree more. If you are a voter in Texas, where your voice does not mean anything, and hasn't for a long time, I would think that you might be a little more interested in the process if your vote counted the way it should.

  •  Eliminating Electoral College= an American Le Pen (none)
    Most people in France agree that Jacques Chirac was not the best choice for President in 2002.  So how did he win ?  In a direct popular vote, the right wing neo-Fascist, Jean Marie Le Pen, won 17% of the vote and came in 2nd place just 3% behind the frontrunner Chirac.  Chirac trounced Le Pen in the runoff.  

    I've heard few advoctes of direct election of the President talk about a runoff if no candidate reaches a threshhold of support.  Or what that threshhold of support would be.

    I have no doubt that in a direct election of U.S. President, a right wing extremist candidate could either win or run a very, very strong race in a crowded field.

    Are you all prepared for the possibility that Pat Buchanan or David Duke will be the new President ?

    •  Ever heard of governors and senators? (none)
      Those folks are elected by a popular vote, and wild extremists aren't running particularly rampant. Is George Bush really more moderate than he might be because of the Electoral College? I don't think so.
  •  And while we are it at... (none)
    let's repeal the 17th amendment that changed the method of selection of US Senators from their respective state legislatures to popular vote.  I cant think of another single thing that would so quickly change the dynamic of unfunded mandates on the states as well as the influence of PACs and lobbyists on the Congress.  

    Check out this site for more info:

    "I think it's more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards." Rev. Bob Edgar

    by Voxbear on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:11:20 AM PST

  •  Once again Third parties will rear their ugly head (none)
    Because we lack reforms like IRV, the ugly sectre of spoiler third parties will arise. Right now third parties collect votes from safe red and blue states whose total will likely exceed the margin of victory by either of the "Two" parties.

    So lets whip those third parties and Naderites harder and harder, those evilistas.

  •  Don't trust it. (none)
    "The bipartisan group plans to announce its proposal Thursday and begin a state-by-state effort to amend the Electoral College"

    It's largely a coincidence that the electoral vote roughly matches the popular vote. Any "state-by-state" proposal is going to involve state amendments to divide electoral votes proportionally.

    $20 says they're going to focus on blue states first. Crack California and New York's votes in half, and leave Texas and Florida alone, and there won't be a Democratic president until 2100.

    The only fair way to fix the system is with a Constitutional amendment. Which of course will never come around, because little states like their power, and the GOP likes their little states.

    •  Check out the proposal again (none)
      You've got it wrong. See www.nationalpopularvote -- it's not proportional, but states joining together to colletively award their electoral votes to the national vote winner. It only becomes active when states representing a majority of Americans and electoral votes have approved it.

      The only "conspiracy" is the conspiracy of dumbfounded silence of people not realizing just want the current system is doing to the principles of equality, accountability and majority rule.

  •  Not more recounts (none)
    Detractors of the plan have claimed that moving to a national popular vote will mean more painful, nationwide recounts.  They point to Florida and ask how that scenario would play out across all 50 states.

    Simply not true.

    In fact, we would see fewer recounts under a national popular vote.  No election since the 1800s has been decided by fewer than 120,000 ballots.  That is, the margin is too wide for a recount to change the election's outcome.

    Take a state-based election alone, and that's not the case.  Just think Florida 2000.

    UPENN's Jack Nagel has analyzed the matter - and how many fewer presidential elections would have ended with disputed outcomes since 1824 under a national popular vote.  More at the FairVote Blog.

    •  Do the math properly. (none)
      120,000 votes is (roughly) 0.1% of the turnout in well-attended US election (say a bit more than vote now, but not excessively so).

      I don't know about the US, but in elections in Canada, 0.1% difference results in an automatic recount in a riding unless the person in second place concedes.

      Spread out over 50 states, that's only 2400 votes per state.  Even in Wyoming, that's not many.  In larger states, it's microscopic.

      •  But does a recount change 120,000 votes? (none)
        Even if it's just 0.1% of votes, it would be very unlikely to change the national winner. Check out how many votes ultimately changed in the Washington state recount, say. It's MUCH more likely to be a problem when one state can steal an election with a shift of 1,000 votes..... But hey, while we're at improving our democracy, why don't we make an all-out push for public owned, fully transparent, well-funded voting process?
        •  In practicality (none)
          Recounts rarely change the results unless the vote margin is within tens of votes.

          But you said that there'd be fewer recounts.  My point is that this isn't true: 120,000 votes over 120 million voters isn't that much, especially if it's spread out and includes larger states.  It's such a small percentage of the total electorate that you'd be seeing recounts all over the place except in states where it was obvious blowouts.

          Actually, I take that back.  You'd see recounts in states even if they were obvious blowouts.  Because you're lumping all the votes together, the difference between losing 57-43 and losing 56-44 could be hugely significant at the national level even though, under the current system, it isn't.

  •  Not gonna happen. (none)
    First, changes to the Electoral College are NOT gonna happen. EVER.

    I'm not even sure it's a good idea if we could change it. When we win by way of one BLUE state, we will LOVE it.

    I'm not happy about the last two Presidentials either, but talking about RADICAL changes that could never happen in REALITY, are a waste of cyber ink. IMO

    •  Why can't states change laws? (none)
      We're not talking about a constitutional amendment here. We're talking about state statutes. And we've got 70% support in the polls for national popular vote. Here's a case where reformers can push for change with real public support -- and a nifty roadmap for change.
  •  Big Whoop (none)
    Well of course there will be no changes by 2008, because 2008 is already fixed. That is, unless we are hit by a terrorist attack or nuclear war with Iran, and Bush with all of his unitary executive power that he was given by Congress and the American people who refuse to fight it postpones the election indefinitely... I wonder what people would really do if that ever happened? I bet they would allow it, continuing to talk about it instead of seeing the urgency of Fascism taking hold in this country and taking real action...  

    My question is, how does this really help anything if the popular vote is then rigged by electronic voting machines? You see, this is what they SHOULD be coming out to change. Of course, the electoral system needs changes to assure one American one vote (as well as no candidates beholding to the corporate military complex), but unless those votes are counted without fraud, this won't do a damn bit of good.

    It is amazing how Democrats are sticking their heads in the sand about this. I truly begin to wonder just how many Democrats are in on fixing elections with these machines too. Perhaps I will send them a mail about paper ballots, because as long as DIEBOLD counts the votes, you could change the electoral college all you want but it won't mean squat.

    Also, GORE DIDN'T LOSE THE 2000 ELECTION. Too bad those who keep claiming that truth don't have the guts to set that misrepresentation straight when it is in print, especially in print in right leaning corporate whoring newspapers like the Chicago Tribune that is still printing the Republican canard that Al Gore invented the Internet.

    And please, establishment, stop blowing smoke up our as***. Any intelligent American knows THEY don't select anything in this country in reality when it comes to the President of the United States. That is merely a corporate position selected by elitist ivory tower powerplayers. Perhaps then the first step to REAL election reform in this country is for the zombified American population to wake the hell up to just how much they are being reemed daily by a system that claims THEY do anything.

    Oh, and one more question: Where the hell were these Congressmen in 2000? Yeah, I know.

  •  I'm not satisfied (none)
    I want a Constitutional Amendment

    I want to fix the system or replace it with something entirely better, not put little patches on it.

    I propose this change to Article II to replace the Electoral College with a nationwide approval-or-better ballot.

    •  So call your Member of Congress (none)
      And blow smoke about a constitutional amendment in today's climate on Capitol Hill.

      For those who really want fair representation elections, call your state legislator and get them on board for making our votes count. Kinda fun that the change can happen there. For one, most of us actually can really talk to our state representatives. For two, most of us share something in common with our state reps: absolutely no attention in presidential campaigns.

  •  One Person, One Vote (none)
    We can discuss intricacies and variations on the Electoral College all we want.  But the bottom line is some sort of Popular Vote system is needed because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

    Every office, from dog catcher to city council to Senator is determined by who gets the most votes.  President should be no different.

  •  Permanent Democratic Majority Coming (none)
    The Republicans haven't taken Florida since 1988. They've had to fix the election one way or the other ever since. Disqualifying black people wasn't enough in 2000, so they had to fix it in the recount.
    But the first time a Democrat wins the governorship and reinstates all the Democratic voters it's all over. Texas will flip in 2012 to majority minority and then it won't be possible for the Republicans to win because every extra electoral college vote they get from Wyoming will be overmatched with several rural Republican votes in New York being electoral college voted as Democrat.
    Big states disenfranchise Republicans just the way small states disenfranchise Democrats.
    •  Wishful thinking (none)
      You just can't count on this kind of trickiness -- "beating the system" with your version of the Tom Delay gerrymander. For Democrats to base a strategy on undemocratic means is not playing to their strength. Aren't they supposed to be the party of the people or was that just in FDR's day?
  •  Great op-ed: Hendrik Hertzberg on the proposal (none)
    The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg does a great piece about the National Popular Vote proposal this week. Check it out at:

    A couple choice quotes:

    "our Presidential campaigns are not only not national; in most of the country they're not local, either. They're just not."

    "For fifty years, polls have consistently shown that seventy per cent of the public favors direct election. Nevertheless, the National Popular Vote plan will meet with a lot of resistance, some of it from battleground-state politicians. But in all those spectator states there are scores of millions of voters, and thousands of politicians, who would like to get in on the game. They might prefer to see our Presidents elected not by red states and blue states and purple states, and not by big states or small states, but by the United States."

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