Policast: House weighs changes to electoral vote system

Policast for March 5, 2013:

A proposal in the state House of Representatives would allocate Minnesota’s electoral votes in a presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote.

It’s a plan that nine states have already passed. But it will only take effect if states that control at least 270 electoral votes sign onto the measure.

DFL Rep. Steve Simon authored the bill in the House. He told MPR’s Policast that it comes down to the simple proposition that the person who earns the most votes should win an election.

“The National Popular Vote provision would simply ensure that Minnesota does what it’s entitled to do under the Constitution, which is the use the present Electoral College, not get rid of it, but use it to allocate our votes in a way that in concert with other states makes it clear that the number one vote-getter will be president of the United States,” Simon said.

Simon argued that polls show most voters favor the direct election of presidents.

But Trent England, director of Save Our States Project of the Freedom Foundation, said the Electoral College has usually worked smoothly.

“The most important thing about the Electoral College is that it uses the states in a way that creates a basic requirement that you don’t just win the White House with a raw majority vote total,” England said on MPR’s Policast. “It means that our politics over time have been much more national and I think much more moderate than it would have been in such a vast and diverse nation than if we just had a direct vote for president.”

The national popular vote proposal was recommended to pass by the House Elections Committee. Its next stop will be a hearing on the House floor.

Policast is a daily roundup of Minnesota political news hosted by Mike Mulcahy and Cathy Wurzer. Subscribe on iTunes. The entire discussion about the Electoral College can be heard on the March 5, 2013 episode.

  • oldgulph

    A survey of Minnesota voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 84% among Democrats, 69% among Republicans, and 68% among others.

    By age, support was 74% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 77% among 46-65 year olds, and 75% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 83% among women and 67% among men.

    The National Popular Vote bill ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

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

    And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don’t matter to candidates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NationalPopularVote

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • Ronald Esau

    This is legislation designed to bias the election process, bias it in favor of the large cities of the US..

    It is widely recognized that the heavy populations centers i.e. the large cities tend to vote for the liberal candidates and agenda. The population centers can be effectively persuaded by large commitments of advertising, particularly in an effort to get out the vote.

    Thus candidates from left will concentrate their efforts to those large population centers and will very effectively use their campaign money in advertising to those population centers.

    The Right will be left to trying to get messages to a disparate population in the outlying communities who tend to be more conservative. Of course, the campaign money spent will have less effectiveness and the results are predictable..

    The conclusion is that under this proposal, which is a stepping stone to a National Popular Vote, will enable national candidates to be elected by the large cities in the US. No wonder the Left been so diligently “selling” us on the idea.

    A big supporter, George Soros! Enough said.

  • Steve Q.

    @Ronald Esau are you just making things up? Our metro population has almost an even population split. If a candidate appeals to the population as a whole, he will win. Nationally, the same thing will happen, which means more moderate and logical candidates will win that appeal to average people, not extremists on either side who have to win the states they are supposed to win first, and then go after swing states by moderating later. What’s the difference between your argument that large population centers would be the focus, versus the current focus on 3 or 4 or 5 states? If we look at Minnesota, which hasn’t voted for a Republican since Nixon, and Alabama which hasn’t voted for a Democrat since the Dixiecrats moved to the GOP in the 70s, people in those states counter each other’s votes right now. Little investment is usually made by candidates to win either state, so in essence, your vote and my vote don’t count in terms of the electoral college. But if you look at the totals for the two states, and keep in mind Minnesota has a larger population than Alabama, Romney beat Obama by over 200,000 votes: Obama – 2,341,288 votes, Romney – 2,574,028 votes. Every body’s vote should count, not just the people in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

  • Steve Q.

    By the way locally, Laura Brod, who has very little in common with George Soros, in fact many liberals would say polar opposites, supports the plan and said:

    “I am one of a growing number of conservatives who support the National Popular Vote legislation because, contrary to what some folks suggest in rhetorical opposition, the many conservative supporters of the idea know that the National Popular Vote Plan is not in conflict with the Constitution and not an end run around the Constitution. In actuality, the legislation is an exercise of power by the states that is explicitly granted through the Constitution.”

  • Viking RN

    This at least honors one man/one vote. The proposals in PA and VA are designed to grant electoral votes by geography not as an expression of the small d democratic process.

    Personally I think the electoral college is outmoded and antiquated. Elections should represent a national concensus as represented by the overall winner of the popular vote.

    Do we really want a system where the winner of the electoral college actually loses the popular vote by a million plus votes?