Skip to main content

We all can recall how how an archaic political institution reared its ugly head 12 years ago to put what should have been a clear cut election into doubt and ultimately lead to a partisan Supreme Court reversing the will of the majority of American voters of who should become President. It turned out to be a catastrophic choice for the country. The Electoral College was set up by 18th century gentlemen planters to pass judgement and affirm or overrule the expressed will of the electorate should it be deemed unacceptable by the gentry.    

Bush was the 4th person to become President with a minority of the votes.


This story appeared on the CBS Evening News just before 60 Minutes featuring both Romney and President Obama. I hope it got a large audience.

Debate over the Electoral College revived again

Seven other states -- California, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, and Hawaii -- together worth 138 electoral votes, have passed laws pledging to allocate electors in sync with the national popular vote in the same way, but have deferred action until their ranks double to states totaling at least 270 electoral votes.

Once enough states enter into the interstate compact to comprise the 270 majority of electoral votes the compact goes into effect and the nation will move to a popular vote election system.

Have the candidates campaigned in your state since the conventions? Odds are that they've ignored your state since they ignore most of the states in their battle for the key Battleground States.  

A CBS NEWS review of the Obama and Romney schedules since Romney clinched the Republican nomination in late April reveals that except for fundraisers, the candidates have not campaigned in roughly 40 of the 50 states, but those 10 anointed "swing states" are graced with public appearances over and over again.
So what are the opponents of a popular vote saying? CBS talked with an opponent Republican New Jersey State Representative Alison McHose who had this to say:
"I think our Founding Fathers had it right," McHose said. "It shows that small towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania and other states across the country are important to how we elect the President."

Even though 62 percent of Americans told a Gallup Poll last year they would support replacing the Electoral College with the national popular vote, McHose would repeal her state's popular vote law.

"If we go with the popular vote, what I believe is that you will have large urban areas like Los Angeles and Chicago determining the outcome of the elections," she said.

Sounds like a great reason for making the change to me!

Sounds like... Democracy.

Check were things stand in your state here: National Popular Vote

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

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


More Tagging tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment Preferences

  •  Agreed. (12+ / 0-)

    Years ago in college for a public speaking class we had to pick a topic and advocate both sides.

    I picked the Electoral College.  So I know the arguments in its favor.

    I just don't find them convincing.

    In 1787 the simple mechanics of running a national election in the US would have been overwhelming.  That's not the case matter how badly we manage to muck it up.

    And this long ago ceased to be the system the founders envisioned.  The expected the Electoral College to be an actual deliberative party.  They expected legislatures would name the electors.  They expected that multiple candidates from multiple regions would cancel one another out, and that elections would frequently be decided by the House.

    All of that would be an anathema to us today.  Yet this relic continues to survive.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 11:03:07 PM PDT

    •  Clarification (10+ / 0-)

      Actually, they expected the Electoral College to be multiple deliberative parties, in each of the individual states.  I don't think I stated that very clearly.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 11:04:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have always figured while it would be good (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      due to politics it would never happen. I hope this works we need it.

      Conservatives supported slavery, opposed women’s suffrage, supported Jim Crow, opposed the 40-hour work week, the abolishment of child labor, and supported McCarthyism. from 'It's The Conservatism, Stupid' by Paul Waldman July 12, 2006

      by arealniceguy on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 11:49:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Political Suicide (0+ / 0-)

        I may be missing something, but I really don't see the advantage of a bunch of solid blue states dividing up their electoral votes by popular votes while the Red states keep their winner take all system.  

        Don't get me wrong, I think the electoral college should go and be replaced by the popular vote, but it has to be ALL states not just some of the states.  In looking at those states signing the law, we would be giving up a pretty big chunk of blue electoral votes.  Hell if you assume the Republicans would get 40% of the popular vote in those states and that most, if not all are blue states, then the Democrats would be giving away approximately108 electoral votes.  I don't see the value of doing this, other than assuring us of a Republican president.

        Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

        by howd on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:16:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It takes effect when the total reaches 270 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          electors. That's a majority of electoral college votes. If that majority of electors chooses to vote by the majority of the country then the president is effectively chosen by a majority of the vote across the whole country and the electoral college becomes the anachronism it truly is.

          Safe Republican states would need to join the compact for it to reach 270, so at the point that it goes into effect it wouldn't just be the blue states that you see now.

          •  538 Total Electoral Votes (0+ / 0-)

            Even if it doesn't kick in until they reach 270 electoral votes, it still doesn't make sense to me.  There are 538 total electoral votes, that means after they reach the 270 vote mark, there are still 268 votes out there.  If the majority of states are blue states, and looking at the 7 states already signed up I would say that that is the case, then all the Blue states would be doing is diluting the democrat electoral votes while the Red states keep their winner take all.  

            Believe me, as a Democrat living in Alabama I would love to have the electoral votes distributed by popular vote, or best yet, get rid of the electoral college, but unless all the states are going to do it, then it will be a big loss for the Democrats.  

            Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

            by howd on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:19:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  270 Decides the Election (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              redlum jak

              The 270 electoral votes (the majority of the 538 total electoral votes) of the states enacting the National Popular Vote bill, awarded to the candidate with the most national popular votes in the country, guarantee the presidency to that candidate.

  •  Cool (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor, Puddytat, worldlotus, howd

    But it'll never happen. Maybe we could get NY in on the deal but we need 132 more electoral votes, so the only way to get there is to convince rural red states to give up power. How could that ever happen?

    •  You could do it with as few as 11 states... (5+ / 0-)

      California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina & New Jersey get you to 270.

      I can't see GA & TX signing on any time soon, of course.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 11:17:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  try this: "If you favor majority votes on marriage (0+ / 0-)

        .... then you're bound to favor majority votes for President."

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 12:25:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  why not TX? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eddie L, Notthemayor

        most folks I know, including conservatives, are open to the idea.

        I've heard several conservatives here say they want to get rid of it because the electoral college numbers show Obama mopping the floor with Romney, while the popular vote is much closer.

        We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

        by Mosquito Pilot on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 04:01:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The piece said 62% favor a popular vote (6+ / 0-)

      in a poll from last year. It would be interesting to see how it broke down by state.

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

      by Lefty Coaster on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 11:19:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It wouldn't matter (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus, ichibon, Eddie L

        Even if red state conservatives thought they wanted it, their Tea Party corporate lackey Reps would never allow it.

      •  Support for a National Popular Vote by State (0+ / 0-)

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

        By state (electoral college votes), by political affiliation, support for a national popular vote in recent polls has been:

        Alaska (3)- 78% among (Democrats), 66% among (Republicans), 70% among Nonpartisan voters, 82% among Alaska Independent Party voters, and 69% among others.
        Arkansas (6)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 79% (Independents).
        California (55)– 76% (D), 61% (R), and 74% (I)
        Colorado (9)- 79% (D), 56% (R), and 70% (I).
        Connecticut (7)- 80% (D), 67% (R), and 71% others
        Delaware (3)- 79% (D), 69% (R), and 76% (I)
        District of Columbia (3)- 80% (D), 48% (R), and 74% of (I)
        Florida (29)- 88% (D), 68% (R), and 76% others
        Idaho(4) - 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
        Iowa (6)- 82% (D), 63% (R), and 77% others
        Kentucky (8)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 70% (I)
        Maine (4) - 85% (D), 70% (R), and 73% others
        Massachusetts (11)- 86% (D), 54% (R), and 68% others
        Michigan (16)- 78% (D), 68% (R), and 73% (I)
        Minnesota (10)- 84% (D), 69% (R), and 68% others
        Mississippi (6)- 79% (D), 75% (R), and 75% Others
        Nebraska (5)- 79% (D), 70% (R), and 75% Others
        Nevada (5)- 80% (D), 66% (R), and 68% Others
        New Hampshire (4)- 80% (D), 57% (R), and 69% (I)
        New Mexico (5)- 84% (D), 64% (R), and 68% (I)
        New York (29) - 86% (D), 66% (R), 78% Independence Party members, 50% Conservative Party members, 100% Working Families Party members, and 7% Others
        North Carolina (15)- 75% liberal (D), 78% moderate (D), 76% conservative (D), 89% liberal (R), 62% moderate (R) , 70% conservative (R), and 80% (I)
        Ohio (18)- 81% (D), 65% (R), and 61% Others
        Oklahoma (7)- 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
        Oregon (7)- 82% (D), 70% (R), and 72% (I)
        Pennsylvania (20)- 87% (D), 68% (R), and 76% (I)
        Rhode Island (4)- 86% liberal (D), 85% moderate (D), 60% conservative (D), 71% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), 35% conservative (R), and 78% (I),
        South Dakota (3)- 84% (D), 67% (R), and 75% others
        Tennessee (11) --78% (D), 73% (R)
        Utah (6)- 82% (D), 66% (R), and 75% others
        Vermont (3)- 86% (D); 61% (R), and 74% Others
        Virginia (13)- 79% liberal (D), 86% moderate (D), 79% conservative (D), 76% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), and 54% conservative (R), and 79% Others
        Washington (12)- 88% (D), 65% (R), and 73% others
        West Virginia (5)- 87% (D), 75% (R), and 73% others
        Wisconsin (10)- 81% (D), 63% (R), and 67% (I)
        Wyoming (3) – 77% (D), 66% (R), and 72% (I)  

    •  Arkansas appears to be getting ready (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Coaster

      To go for it, according to the link given in the article. I'm thinking that more would go for it than people think, if the populace finds out it could be done.

      Women create the entire labor force.

      by splashy on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:38:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  80% of Arkansas Voters Support (0+ / 0-)

        A survey of Arkansas voters showed 80% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

        Support was 88% among Democrats, 71% among Republicans, and 79% among independents.

        By age, support was 89% among 18-29 year olds, 76% among 30-45 year olds, 80% among 46-65 year olds, and 80% for those older than 65.

        By gender, support was 88% among women and 71% among men.


  •  If the Democratic party were to adopt this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, Dave in Northridge

    as a goal, it could be done.

    Looking at current Presidential polling as a guide,
    20 states are "strongly" or "likely" Dem. Those 20 (7 of which have already passed the law) could almost get it done. Those 20 comprise 257 EV. Thereafter, all it would need is one of the big "barely" Dem states (Ohio or Florida) or a combination of a couple other barely Dem states.

    Not one single red state would be needed to cobble together enough states to convert from an electoral to a popular vote system.

    Don't ask if I'm better off now than four years ago. Ask if I'm better off than I would have been under four years of McCain.

    by WisePiper on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 01:58:11 AM PDT

    •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ichibon, Lefty Coaster

      And, granted, some of those "blue" states have one or both of the houses of their legislatures in Republican hands, but I suspect even in those states the majority of the people favor popular vote by a large margin.

      For the Dems to adopt "let the people speak" is an electoral winner.

      Don't ask if I'm better off now than four years ago. Ask if I'm better off than I would have been under four years of McCain.

      by WisePiper on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:04:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But you wouldn't be cobbling together states. (0+ / 0-)

      States wouldn't matter in a national popular vote system.  It would be national.  I think it's an abysmal idea, frankly.  Don't believe that the money to drive a national campaign - and the money to drive a national campaign to protect the role of money in a mass-market national election - could ever be competed fairly by the Left.

  •  I'm with you (4+ / 0-)

    I hate the Electoral College. In my state, my vote often is irrelevant because there are so many right wingers. If it went to a proportional vote, then my vote would actually count for a change.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:36:14 AM PDT

  •  If blue state got together and did this, but red (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sewaneepat, Clues

    states stayed the same, wouldn't we be at a disadvantage? Only states in the compact would change, not others... right?

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 03:55:37 AM PDT

    •  Yes, and it would still give the advantage to (0+ / 0-)

      small states even if everyone did it because the small states have proportionately more electors than large states because of the two electors that represent the Senate.

      They should just get rid of the electoral college altogether or if for some reason they want it keep this anachronism, electors should be apportioned by state population, not by the number of representatives and senators.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:51:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If states w majority of electoral votes join the (0+ / 0-)

      compact it won't matter what the states with a minority of electoral votes do since they will be out voted in the electorial college.

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

      by Lefty Coaster on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:31:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, because the states in the compact would be (0+ / 0-)

        apportioning their votes, so their divided  votes plus the undivided vote of the non-compact states could form a majority which could be for the non-majority candidate.

        You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

        by sewaneepat on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:41:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  States in the compact would award ALL of their 270 (0+ / 0-)

          No. States in the compact would award ALL of their 270+ votes to the candidate with the most national popular votes.  The 270+ decides the election.

          •  Got ya. (0+ / 0-)

            I should have followed the link in the diary. When it said in the blockquote "apportion their electors in synch with..." I assumed that actually meant apportion.

            Of course, what happens when one of those states backs out, perhaps at the last minute? I can envision shenanigans. Because the story just says the state would give their electors to the winner of the popular vote, no matter who wins the state and that the other states are deferring action until enough states have passed it. It doesn't say there is any provision that if some states pass subsequent legislation reversing that decision, NJ, for example, would also reverse their decision.

            I just wish we would push for a Constitutional amendment. Much safer. State laws are too easily changed.

            You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

            by sewaneepat on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 02:27:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Withdrawal (at the last minute) Not an Option (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  •  The Little Known Danger (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster

    Shoot me, but I see some advantage to the concept of the electoral college.  If we based our Presidential elections purely on the popular vote, I wonder how many election cycles we could go through with a few States with large populations determining our President before the small States would say WTF!  While I will admit there are also "irrelevant" States under the electoral system, but that's just because of the Party enrollment in those States being one sided which could be changed with an aggressive enrollment campaign (admittedly a hard task).  But going the route of the popular vote, small States would be permanently irrelevant based on their population which wouldn't change without some sort of massive population shift.

    But what is bad, if not dangerous, about the present electoral college system is the loop holes in the system regarding the selection of the electors and how they vote.

    The Constitution gives the State Legislatures the power to select the electors in each State.  Some, but not all States have State laws which tie this selection to the outcome of the State's popular vote.  But some States, like Florida in 2000, do not mandate that the State Legislature abide by the will of the people in their State when selecting electors.  While everyone was watching the Bush v. Gore SCOTUS battle in 2000, another less covered battle was going on in the Republican controlled Florida State Legislature.  They were actually voting to send the Bush electors to the electoral college no matter how the State's popular vote got decided by the Court.  Would they have really bucked the State's popular vote had SCOTUS allowed a recount and Gore came out ahead?  We'll never know.  But just the prospect of it happening in the future scares me to death.

    Also, the electors are not bound to vote for the winner of the State's popular vote.  Although its highly unlikely that they would do otherwise (only happened once ever, with one elector) since each candidate picks a slate of electors for the legislatures to approve from their most ardent supporters.  Still, by law, they are not bound to the will of the State's people.

    My point in all this, is whether you are pro or con regarding the electoral college, I think we can all agree that these loop holes need to be closed so that legislatures are bound by law to select the electors based on the State's popular vote, and those electors need to be bound by law to vote for the winner of the State's popular vote.  We need to get this possibility of a tyrannical power grab (that almost happened in Florida) out of our system of electing Presidents.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:14:19 AM PDT

    •  Small State Realities (0+ / 0-)

      In 1960, presidential campaigns paid attention to 35 states. In 2008, Obama campaigned in only 14 states after being nominated. In 2012, the presidential campaigns have been concentrating on just 9 swing states for the past five months.

      The number and population of battleground states is shrinking as the U.S. population grows.

      States' partisanship is hardening.

      Some states have not been been competitive for than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position.
      •  41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2008
      •  32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2008
      •  13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2008
      •  19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2008
      •  9 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988
      •  15 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988

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

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

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

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

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

    •  Florida Legislature Could Not Ignore Vote in 2000 (0+ / 0-)

      Because of section 1 of the United States Code, everyone recognized that there was no possibility that the Republican-controlled Florida legislature could meet after Election Day, retroactively decide to ignore the already-cast popular vote, and directly appoint Republican presidential electors favorable to George W. Bush.

      Any attempt to appoint presidential electors after the people vote in November would be unconstitutional on its face (and subject to summary judgment) because (1) the Constitution gives Congress the power to establish the day for appointing presidential electors and (2) existing federal law requires that that presidential electors be appointed on a single specific day in each four-year election cycle (namely, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November). Therefore, no state may appoint presidential electors after the results of an election become known.

      Any attempt to appoint presidential electors after the people vote in November would invalidate the “conclusiveness” of that state’s results under existing federal law specifying that presidential electors must be appointed under “laws enacted prior” to the single specific date set by federal law for appointing presidential electors (namely, Election Day on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November).

      Any attempt to appoint presidential electors after the people vote in November would be politically preposterous in the real world because there would be overwhelming public sentiment against changing the “rules of the game” after the people had voted, and the fact that the legislature would have to meet in the state capital on Election Day (because this is the only day in the four-year election cycle when presidential electors may legally be appointed).

      If the hypothetical scenario of changing the “rules of the game” were legally permissible or politically plausible, it would have occurred in the past under the current system on the numerous occasions (including 2000) where a particular presidential candidate was not favored by a particular governor and legislature.

    •  Electors are Rubberstamps for their Party (0+ / 0-)

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

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

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

  •  Actually, I believe there is another alternative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scarvegas, wordene

    IIRC, Maine and Nebraska already allocate their electors by congressional district.  Doing this nationally would mitigate the winner-take-all system that leads to the current situation with a few "swing" states determining the outcome of the election.

    •  88% of Districts Have Been Non-Competitive (0+ / 0-)

      Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.

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

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

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

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

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

      A national popular vote is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.

  •  We have a federal republic for a reason. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scarvegas, a2nite, wordene, JackND

    I can think of few greater dangers to American democracy than a single, national, popular-vote election since the advent of the age of mass media and mass money.  Not having to campaign and win a collection of actual states but rather appeal to some mass national mass-marketed political center is a frightening prospect.  This wouldn't be cities vs rural or big states vs little states: none of that would matter.  It would be pablum vs pablum controlled by mass money, in a way that would make even the current post-Citizens United climate look almost participatory.  Local organizing would be irrelevant.

    A better fix for the admitted problems of the electoral college would be a national system like Nebraska's and Maine's.  Win a congressional seat, get an electoral vote; win the popular vote of a state, get the two at-large EVs.  This would force a better re-focus on localization of the national election, which I think helps to force real issues and real positions on the candidates and parties.  

    Remember:  the vaunted Founders were fearful of the potential for a democratic tyranny: the tyranny of the majority.  That prospect is all the more fearful in our national info/marketing age.  I could easily see a single, national, popular vote system as a stalking horse for my worst fears.

    •  Small states blocking will of the Majority is (0+ / 0-)

      distorting the way our government functions and THAT is a far greater danger IMHO. It gives us a government that is MUCH more rigid and less able to respond to changing circumstances.

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

      by Lefty Coaster on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:42:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But we don't necessarily believe 100% in the will (0+ / 0-)

        of the majority, do we?  Tell ya what: let's use the never-used option #2 for Constitutional amendment, through a second Constitutional Convention.  How fast do you think an amendment - and revised preamble, and revised Article 1 Sec. 9 etc. - would pass declaring this to be a Christian nation?

        Literal democracy operates by majority will, it's true.  But that is why we have a Bill of Rights, judicial review, and a federal system: so that a perverse will of the majority cannot oppress the rights of the minority.

        This is NOT an elitist view; it's a "liberal democracy" view.  Remember that majority will preserved racial segregation in each state where it was law.  But it came, agonizingly slowly, face-to-face with the Constitution of a liberal democracy (in the classic sense).  Majority will has been the (fading!) argument against gay rights.  

        Put a trillion dollars into a one-shot national election to elect Sinclair Lewis' worst nightmare, and see what happens.

        Small-shop retail democracy is so very far from perfect, but it sure beats what would be a WalMart democracy.  Little states do have warped power; on the other hand, so do big states.  That's the Great Compromise for a combo proportional / equal bicameral legislature that is directly reflected in the electoral college.  It needs reform, yes.  Nationalization of the presidential election is not one that will ever serve the longrange interests of the progressive left.

      •  you'd really hate... (0+ / 0-)

        the representation ratios in the European Union then...

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

        by JackND on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 09:25:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  For all its trouble... (0+ / 0-)

    ...And, yes, I do count 8 years of Cheyney/Bush foisted upon us as trouble (although there was a sizable assist from the SCOTUS)...the election of 2000 would have been even less civilized had the Electoral College not been present. In 2000 the focus was all on Florida. Imagine if there had been 50 recounts! If every little hamlet had had to recount even though there were only three voters and all of them had abstained that day!

    Well, I'll grant that it would have been...ummm, interesting. Maybe even a little exciting. Talk about Must Watch TV! But the legal chaos would have been a nightmare. And the potential for disaster would have been much, much worse. The process could have spun out much, much longer, far beyond January 2001. So what would have happened? A Clinton caretaker administration? A military coup to prevent a Clinton caretaker administration? Surely someone out there is writing a counterfactual novel on this.

    For all its flaws--and again, I will admit they are many, having myself voted in a one-party (Red. hmmm...) state for most of my life--my understanding is that the Electoral College actually served us well during that Time of Pain. It focused on one state. The court cases were limited to one state's legal stipulations. The outcome turned out to be a travesty, but that was the Supremes' fault, not the EC. The archaic College was a help. Imagine having to overcome fifty travesties and you'll see why.

    •  In 2000 the popular vote was a wide margin (0+ / 0-)

      that there wouldn't have been the need for ANY recounts IMHO. Even in Florida where it would have been moot.

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

      by Lefty Coaster on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:46:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  2000 Was an Artificial Crisis (0+ / 0-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  •  If we ever get everybody eligible to vote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Lefty Coaster

    to register and actually vote, maybe this mess would work.

    As it is, they have to cobble together 270+ electoral votes and so we are left with the places with the most people never seeing the candidates during a campaign.

    With the R crew doing their their level best to keep eligible citizens from voting, though, it's unlikely this will ever change.

    I keep asking, why aren't kids automatically registered to vote upon high school graduation, assuming they will be old enough by the general election date to vote?

    Probably the same reason civics classes have been suppressed for 30 years.

    Why do I bother asking?

    I must be dreaming...

    by murphy on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:15:04 AM PDT

    •  Most kids are not 18 at the start of their (0+ / 0-)

      senior year of high school, when school registration takes place... in fact, the local schools here are hitting us parents up for registration (and money) in the last weeks of May.  Most do not turn 18 until they start going to college, etc.

      Perhaps voter registration should be like is done for the Selective Service?

      -9.88, -7.44 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

      by wordene on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 08:53:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, ON GRADUATION (0+ / 0-)

        And take civics during the year so they are ready.

        Anyhow, if you will be 18 by the general election day (even the day before or the day of) you can vote in the primary, too. At least in CA, and I'm pretty sure everywhere else.

        I must be dreaming...

        by murphy on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 07:19:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry but a state... (0+ / 0-)

    surrendering its electoral votes to one party when the other party actually won 65% of the votes in that state is far more undemocratic.

    That's an endrun around the Constitution.

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

    by JackND on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 09:27:50 AM PDT

    •  State-by-State Winner-Take-All not in Constitution (0+ / 0-)

      Now, more than 2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That's more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

      The number and population of battleground states is shrinking as the U.S. population grows.

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

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

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

      In state polls of voters each with a second  question that specifically emphasized that their state's electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not necessarily their state's winner, there was only a 4-8% decrease of support.
       Question 1: "How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?"
      Question 2: "Do you think it more important that a state's electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?"

      Support for a National Popular Vote

      South Dakota -- 75% for Question 1, 67% for Question 2.

      Connecticut -- 74% for Question 1, 68% for Question 2.

      Utah -- 70% for Question 1, 66% for Question 2.

      * *

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

      The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates.  In the current presidential election system, 48 states award all of their electors to the winners of their state. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site