What’s your view of the Electoral College?

Some observers speculate that the winner of the popular vote in this year’s presidential election might lose in the Electoral College, as happened in 2000 and several times in the 19th century. (Listen to a 2008 podcast about the Electoral College here.) Today’s Question: What’s your view of the Electoral College?

  • Kathryn F

    The fact that the US still uses the Electoral College just shows how stuck in their ways our government can be, whether for good or bad. The electoral college was originally used because coordinating a countrywide vote of individual citizens was near impossible when our government was formed. Today that is no longer an issue and our voting system should reflect that.

  • Rich

    The previous commenter says to scrap the system because the USA is behind the times?

    How about this: each state in the union has autonomy, and indeed many states entered the union as fully fledged nation-states. the system is deliberately designed to give smaller population states a disproportionate say in electing the president so that the majorities in say, New York, don’t completely overwhelm the people’s rights in Wyoming.

    Same goes for the Senate giving Wyoming and New York equal representation in the Senate; each state is equal in their relationship in the federal government – having more people doesn’t automatically grant additional influence, except in the house, and this people-effect is dulled for the electoral college.

    This is the United States of America, and its worth saying that line carefully, pausing after each word, to feel the impact and intent of the meaning.

  • Emery

    Yes, yes you have it right regarding how it works. What is astounding is that it was seen many years ago that the people on both coasts would fall off the tracks and need those still attached to the land to help guide them.

  • Claire

    If the founding fathers came back to life suddenly, they would probably be in favor of scrapping the Constitution and creating a new document. Things have changed. We are not a collection of sovereign states anymore.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The other reason the founders invented the electoral college, besides giving proportionally more representation to less populous states and dealing with the impracticality of a nation-wide popular election with 18th century technology, was that they didn’t think ordinary voters could be counted on to be wise enough to choose the president directly. They thought it would be better if the people would choose wise individuals whom they knew personally to go make the choice for them. Except for choosing George Washington, the electoral college has never worked as originally intended. If we were designing the Constitution from scratch, it’s a no-brainer that the president would be popularly elected. It’s long past time to abolish it.

  • GregX

    The electoral college enforces an archaic and (now) deeply manipulated system of voting and campaigning. It fosters the divisive and highly tailored political marketing on a state by state basis, it encourages candidates to campaign in specific (battle-ground) states instead of across the country and it disconnects the will of the people through a loosely transmissive apparatus. worst of all – party manipulated gerry-mandered districts further exacerbate the bias in the system. The electoral college should be scrapped and replaced with national instant run-off voting. Lets leave Supreme Court on the side-lines. (2) All congressional level seats should be state-wide elections – which essentially eliminates the congressional benefits of gerry-mandering. Legislative/state shenanigans will still apply. Any average jo really believe that their congress-person will speak to them and represent any more because they “technically” live in the same district? (3) All political positions should require a hand written candidate essay of 3000 words.

  • Jim G

    I view it as an arcane mechanism put in the constitution at the founding of our nation to provide slave states more leverage in the selection of the President than their voting population, male white voting citizens, would allow. During this present election with our Blue /Red state civil divide, the effect of the Electoral College is to limit the landscape of the election into just a few battle ground states where the parties can focus their efforts. This leaves the rest of America as spectators in an election that determines their future.

    I agree with the goals of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, under which states would agree to allocate their electoral votes in accordance with the popular vote once states representing a majority of electoral votes had agreed to do so. So far, only Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii have signed up with the efforts in some states to apportion their entire state’s electoral vote to the winner of the national popular vote. Our Minnesota legislature needs to do its job and fix this 18th century limit of the people’s power.

  • Robert Moffitt

    It works for me. I have no problem with the staus quo.

  • Scott

    The electoral college vote should be done away with! What does it say about the peoples vote? Elections are the voice of the people, not the government.

  • Melina

    I think we should do away with the Electoral College. The people’s vote is what should decide who wins.

  • Kurt Nelson

    Outdated and archaic, yet many would say that though convoluted, the College continues to be relevant to today. I disagree.

    Over at MinnPost, Eric Black has a good multi-part primer on the Electoral College, and is certainly worth the read

    Then there is this, from an election case in 1952 (Ray v. Blair), with Justices’ Jackson and Douglas writing in dissent, about the College.

    “As an institution the Electoral College suffered atrophy almost indistinguishable from rigor mortis”,

    “The demise of the whole electoral system would not impress me as a disaster. At its best it is a mystifying and distorting factor in presidential elections which may resolve a popular defeat into an electoral victory. At its worst it is open to local corruption and manipulation, once so flagrant as to threaten the stability of the country. To abolish it and substitute direct election of the President, so that every vote wherever cast would have equal weight in calculating the result, would seem to me a gain for simplicity and integrity of our governmental processes”.

  • david

    The tuition is too high. Only the greedy spawn of the rich can buy their way in.

  • Paul

    I like it. It helps people realize that voting isn’t just a popularity contest, because it demonstrates one of the repercussions for which the voter is responsible.

  • Gary F

    Get rid of the Electoral College and then states like Minnesota, and the Dakotas, and Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Mexico and others just won’t matter.

    The election will be decided by California, Texas, Ohio and the east coast states.

    Hey folks, I know you don’t like the Constitution, but in the grand scheme of things, its doing a pretty good job.

  • Michelle

    The view is hazy at best, it made but stupid sense every time it’s been explained in the past. Will check out that 2008 podcast and get back. We need a better way to determine the outcome.

    And to that previous question, Hemp was criminally prohibited, slandered and labeled “marihuana/marijuana” to instill racial aversion to the plant. Why would a Government do that except to decieve the people about the whole range of uses replaced by inferior corporate products. Hopefully the Electoral college isn’t indended to be deceptive.

  • Wally

    The Electoral College has just become another thing for the media to focus on in the “horse race” reporting on the campaign, while they ignore what really matters.

    But the Electoral College might as well be abolished, the same way we eliminated the election of U.S. Senators by state legislatures. Then, the Senate was a check and balance on popularly elected members of the U.S. House.

    But now, with 535 legislators pandering and promising for power, we might just as well also abolish the Senate, as we kiss the Republic goodbye.

    ["The tuition is too high." Funny. David, did you make that up?]

  • Ann

    I know it has advantages, but it also discourages voting. Sometimes I feel that my vote doesn’t count in Minnesota. The electoral votes always go to the Democrats.

  • Kurt Nelson

    “But the Electoral College might as well be abolished, the same way we eliminated the election of U.S. Senators by state legislatures. Then, the Senate was a check and balance on popularly elected members of the U.S. House”.

    Oh, you mean by Constitutional Amendment (17th)

  • Lou

    I really believe that it has outlived its usefullness. It was designed as a buffer between the general population and those that actually select the president as the founders did not totally trust the electoric. Now the electors are party regulars that always vote for their party’s candidate so it has no practical purpose. It is hard to say that we live in a democracy when the will of the majority of the people may be ignored as it was in 2000. Since there are fifty-one individual contests being waged, the candidates only spend their time in the battleground states where polls show a contested race and states such as California, New York, and Texas are ignored as candidates spend their time speaking to voters in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. It may be argued that this gives too mch influence to these states.

  • georges

    We have the very real possibility that Romney will win the popular vote, and Obama the Electoral College vote.

    If that should happen, how many of the Leftists here will post about how Obama stole the election and Romney should be the winner, Romney is the “real” president?

    You know, like the liberals did back in 2000, when they said Bush stole the election and Gore was really the president.

    Of course, that would require a degree of honesty not generally found in Dems/Libs/Lefties………

    Har

  • Michael Silverback

    You know, joke-of-a-georges, both the regressive Republican Party and the progressive Demoratic Party are two arms of the same monster enslaved by the one percent.

  • georges

    I see you have been reading my posts……

    …….welcome aboard.

  • Linda in Plymouth

    The electoral college preserves the ides that each state has a say, but over the past 4 years, the Presidency has appointed hard core radicals that ignore our Constitution. They have stripped states of their rights, the EPA and HSA secretaries were given vast new regulatory powers to thwart the states’ powers.

    Why we talk now about electoral college when the new facts are out that the White House knew right away our Ambassador was under attack? Why no talk about HOW do YOU trust a president that lies to the people so many times? You rather we hear their Chicago politics on smear the competition? Governo Romney’s scandal-free record of business building and investment deserves admiration, not contempt. Conservatives believe that a capitalist with the experience of Romney ends up giving far more to his investors, his employees, and to the nation as a whole than he ever takes away from the system. Romney did tireless work for his church and his family (with five clean-cut sons and eighteen grandchildren ) this could serve as a model and inspiration for any American. Instead of ignoring facts that Obama has lied, covered up for his Attorney General, spent 4 times what he said he would cut in half. If you are a woman, who would you choose for a mate? a man who makes 10 promises and keeps none, a man who lies to you so he don’t take responsibility for allowing our Ambassador to be murdered while he went back to sleep? Trust is # 1 in choice of a president. He let us all down!

  • Steve

    Electoral college is brilliant, as are its inventors! It gives fly over country a voice, so that they are not simply “bullied” by population heavy coasts.

  • Andrew V.

    People have to realize that this country was formed on the basis that we have individual states that should have individual voices.

    If popular vote was recognized then the more populous states, such as California, would overrun the election and each individual state would not have it’s own opinion heard.

    We are getting to the point in this country where state rights are being forgotten and our federal government is taking over. We need to get back to the way things were intended to be, where each state can have it’s own opinions and laws.

    If you dont like the way things are going in your state, move to a state that fits your beliefs better…

  • GregX

    the electoral college doesn’t protect small states from large states – because electoral ballots are allocated based on population. what electoral delegates do do …. is allow political district gerry mandering (every decade) to manipulate the electoral votes. the electoral system is abused by a two party structure.

  • Wally

    Yes, Kurt. 1913 was the year of the triple whammy, with the ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments and passage of the Federal Reserve Act. The 16th gave the federal government the police power to steal from the populace via the Income Tax. The 17th made it easier for consumers of federal benefits to elect politicians to provide those benefits, with the end of the states’ legislatures electing U.S. Senators. And the Federal Reserve Act gave us a PRIVATE BANK, to loan money to Washington, at interest, to fund all this folly. Never in the history of the USA was so much done in a such a short time to dismember the Constitution and erode our liberties. And please don’t say “These were put forth by a populist (or popular) movement of the people.” They were foisted on the people by bankers and rich industrialists, in a shrewd propaganda campaign carefully designed to elicit popular support, while they increased their power and profits, and We the People pay, and pay, and pay.

    Besides the Electoral College, we might as well abolish the Congress, and the Courts. We live under an oligarchy, a government of the few, with the President the Puppet in Chief. Obama will borrow trillions for social programs, Romney will borrow trillions for the military. Different paths, but the same result–national bankruptcy.

  • toto

    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.

    NationalPopularVote

  • toto

    The state-by-state winner-take-all system does not give fly over country a voice. They can be simply “bullied” by the 9 battleground states this year.

    Flyover means they are FLOWN OVER, ignored, politically irrelevant.

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

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

  • GregX

    Steve “We are getting to the point in this country where state rights are being forgotten and our federal government is taking over. ” ……………

    You know – there’s a lot of good to come from reliquishing the application of unique states rights everywhere. Uniform Business Code, Uniform Building Code, Uniform Civil and Criminal law, would make it lot easier on folks who do move around to “understand” the way things work – generally. Most of what we seem to care about is the social stuff .. sex, drugs, religion. And really, if you knew how respect others as you would wish to be respected ( meaning you can do your thing, I can do mine …NOT – I’ll behave like you cause you want me to ) then that stuff wouldn’t be over-legislated like it is now.

  • GregX

    The electoral college is the greatest conservative election crime ever perpetrated on the United States.

  • toto

    Now Minnesota, and the Dakotas, and Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Mexico and others just don’t matter. They are ignored.

    None are battleground states. Only battleground states matter.

    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).

    In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

  • Kurt Nelson

    Wally,

    A couple of things. The requirements to pass an amendment were the same in 1913 as now, and it does involve the populace, since 2/3 of the states are required to ratify. Maybe the bankers and the elite shoved it down their collective throats (really they had that kind of power across the country), but without broad popular support, it would have never passed.

    Art1, Section 8, clause1, the power of Congress to lay and collect taxes. So it took until 1913 to define part of what their power was, but it was certainly under their purview, and though I would prefer not to pay, I also believe that under Art1, Section 8, clause 5 Congress does have the commerce authority to tax income.

    What would be your alternative

  • Linus

    If we lost the Electoral college, wouldn’t states like California dictate the abolishing of state rights?

    We already have a corrupt Federal system that has removed state rights, the Feds suing our own state of Arizonia, removing millions of jobs by excess EPA regulations. And a media that is carrying water for one candidate that led to these becoming serious issues:

    Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers and other Weathermen terrorists.

    Obama’s ties to Islam and Reverend Wright’s black liberation theology.

    Obama’s eligibility to serve as president. No one vetted him in 2008, no media discussed his book where he wrote, Born in Kenya, raised in Indonesia..Its in his own book for god’s sake_ so was he lying then or now? Obama hides his college application papers and more, what is he hiding? What would be so terrible in information for a candidate to release his college records? What? Must be more than his grades he worries about just as he did an Executive Order in 2009 to have his Pasport records sealed..no other President in history ever did that. So why, what;s to hide?

    Obama’s membership in a socialist party. The American Communist Party is on record for endorsing Obama’s re-election. Birds of a feather flock together, as they say.

    Obama’s “hope” & “change” slogans stem from communist activism. Mao.

    Radical socialists including the corrupt Union bosses, involved in drafting the second stimulus bill, ObamaCare, enough said.

    Communists, socialists and other radicals on team Obama, including Obama’s top guns in the White House ( minus radical Van Jones who was exposed and resigned from Obama’s cabinet..not much media coverage there ,either.

    Obama’s relationship and funding campaigns with ACORN (2006-2008 videos of Obama speech to ACORN.

  • Tim G

    Good, lively debate. I support the Electoral College system, and here are some reasons why. It:

    • contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president

    • enhances the status of minority interests,

    • contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two-party system, and

    • maintains a federal system of government and representation.

    The Electoral College system contributes to the cohesiveness of the country be requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president, without such a mechanism, a president would be selected either through the domination of one populous region over the others or through the domination of large metropolitan areas over the rural ones. Indeed, it is principally because of the Electoral College that presidential nominees are inclined to select vice presidential running mates from a region other than their own. For as things stand now, no one region contains the absolute majority (270) of electoral votes required to elect a president. Thus, there is an incentive for presidential candidates to pull together coalitions of States and regions rather than to exacerbate regional differences.

    The practical value of requiring a distribution of popular support outweighs whatever sentimental value may attach to obtaining a bare majority of popular support. Indeed, the Electoral College system is designed to work in a rational series of defaults: if, in the first instance, a candidate receives a substantial majority of the popular vote, then that candidate is virtually certain to win enough electoral votes to be elected president; in the event that the popular vote is extremely close, then the election defaults to that candidate with the best distribution of popular votes (as evidenced by obtaining the absolute majority of electoral votes); in the event the country is so divided that no one obtains an absolute majority of electoral votes, then the choice of president defaults to the States in the U.S. House of Representatives. One way or another, then, the winning candidate must demonstrate both a sufficient popular support to govern as well as a sufficient distribution of that support to govern.

    The Electoral College actually enhances the status of minority groups. This is so because the voters of even small minorities in a State may make the difference between winning all of that State’s electoral votes or none of that State’s electoral votes. And since ethnic minority groups in the United States happen to concentrate in those States with the most electoral votes, they assume an importance to presidential candidates well out of proportion to their number.

    It is because of this “leverage effect” that the presidency, as an institution, tends to be more sensitive to ethnic minority and other special interest groups than does the Congress as an institution. Changing to a direct election of the president would therefore actually damage minority interests since their votes would be overwhelmed by a national popular majority.

    The Electoral College contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two party system. There can be no doubt that the Electoral College has encouraged and helps to maintain a two party system in the United States. This is true simply because it is extremely difficult for a new or minor party to win enough popular votes in enough States to have a chance of winning the presidency. Even if they won enough electoral votes to force the decision into the U.S. House of Representatives, they would still have to have a majority of over half the State delegations in order to elect their candidate – and in that case, they would hardly be considered a minor party.

    In addition to protecting the presidency from impassioned but transitory third party movements, the practical effect of the Electoral College is to virtually force third party movements into one of the two major political parties. Conversely, the major parties have every incentive to absorb minor party movements in their continual attempt to win popular majorities in the States. In this process of assimilation, third party movements are obliged to compromise their more radical views if they hope to attain any of their more generally acceptable objectives. Thus we end up with two large, pragmatic political parties which tend to the center of public opinion rather than dozens of smaller political parties catering to divergent and sometimes extremist views. In other words, such a system forces political coalitions to occur within the political parties rather than within the government.

    A direct popular election of the president would likely have the opposite effect. For in a direct popular election, there would be every incentive for a multitude of minor parties to form in an attempt to prevent whatever popular majority might be necessary to elect a president. The surviving candidates would thus be drawn to the regionalist or extremist views represented by these parties in hopes of winning the run-off election.

    The result of a direct popular election for president, then, would likely be frayed and unstable political system characterized by a multitude of political parties and by more radical changes in policies from one administration to the next. The Electoral College system, in contrast, encourages political parties to coalesce divergent interests into two sets of coherent alternatives. Such an organization of social conflict and political debate contributes to the political stability of the nation.

    Finally, the Electoral College maintains a federal system of government and representation. In a formal federal structure, important political powers are reserved to the component States. In the United States, for example, the House of Representatives was designed to represent the States according to the size of their population. The States are even responsible for drawing the district lines for their House seats. The Senate was designed to represent each State equally regardless of its population. And the Electoral College was designed to represent each State’s choice for the presidency (with the number of each State’s electoral votes being the number of its Senators plus the number of its Representatives). To abolish the Electoral College in favor of a nationwide popular election for president would strike at the very heart of the federal structure laid out in our Constitution and would lead to the nationalization of our central government – to the detriment of the States.

    Indeed, if we become obsessed with government by popular majority as the only consideration, should we not then abolish the Senate which represents States regardless of population? Should we not correct the minor distortions in the House (caused by districting and by guaranteeing each State at least one Representative) by changing it to a system of proportional representation? This would accomplish “government by popular majority” and guarantee the representation of minority parties, but it would also demolish our federal system of government. If there are reasons to maintain State representation in the Senate and House as they exist today, then surely these same reasons apply to the choice of president. Why, then, apply a sentimental attachment to popular majorities only to the Electoral College?

    The fact is, the original design of our federal system of government was thoroughly and wisely debated by the Founding Fathers. State viewpoints, they decided, are more important than political minority viewpoints. And the collective opinion of the individual State populations is more important than the opinion of the national population taken as a whole. Nor should we tamper with the careful balance of power between the national and State governments which the Founding Fathers intended and which is reflected in the Electoral College. To do so would fundamentally alter the nature of our government and might well bring about consequences that even the reformers would come to regret.

    Thanks for considering these point. Tim G., New Brighton

  • Steve the Cynic

    Nice ideas, in theory, Tim G. That’s what I learned in high school was the rationale for the electoral college. I have two critiques.

    1. The composition of the Senate would guarantee a large measure of federalism even if the president were elected by popular vote.

    2. The problem you imagine of extremists getting elected could just as easily be avoided by using either ranked-choice voting, or a non-partisan primary, where the top two vote getters advance to the general election. Such a system would also require candidates to appeal to broader coalitions.

  • Tim G

    Steve the C,

    Thanks for your input. Your ideas are good ones, but do we really want to tinker with the Constitution to achieve them? Is the devil we know better than the one we don’t?

    Regarding the Senate—why keep that vestige of Federalism? If the impetus to eliminate the Electoral College is to have a direct popular election, the Senate, by this argument, ought to be eliminated too. A Senator from South Dakota represents about 400,000 people. A Senator from California represents about 20,000,000 people. The SD voter thus has fifty times more leverage in selecting a Senator than their CA counterpart. That does not seem in synch with everyone’s vote should have equal weight and the one-man, one-vote mantra.

    The ranked-choice voting is interesting but how would this be implemented? By executive order? By congressional action? By the two main political parties agreeing to change the status quo? I’m not sure.

    The system we have has been functioning for 200 + years and has stood the test of time. Is it perfect? No. But it balances power between big states and small, it uplifts the voice of minority interests, it sustains an inclusive, two party system, and preserves a healthy dose of federalism—the very reason states agreed to join the union. The Electoral College is, I believe, sensible, judicious and, indeed, ingenious.

  • Lawrence

    Like most political things, much depends on which candidate/party is cheating and who you want to win or lose. For example, Al Gore and the Democrats were upset in 2000 with Florida’s electoral votes which wound up going to George Bush when there was no question about Gore’s victory in the popular election. Millions of Republicans claimed the system was fair and cheat proof. Well, 8 years later, President Obama won handily the popular vote AND the electoral college. Republicans, convinced of rampant voter fraud, opted to issue ID Cards to every one, which they hope will pay off in 2012. Cheating is hard to prove, and losing is difficult to swallow. But, more importantly, the bigger states champion who wins thanks to the electoral college, thus, like everything else in the US, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

  • Wally

    Kurt, in answer to your question: sales and excise taxes, and tariffs, the kind of taxes that ran the government just fine, until good ol’ (not as) Honest (as we all have been taught to believe) Abe Lincoln imposed an income tax to fund a war of attrition on the south.

    As far as the 16th and 17th Amendments being ratified by a popular vote of the people . . . does that make them automatically good?

    And yes, the bankers and the elite used the large and influential newspapers they had in their pockets–remember, no radio, no TV, no Internet–to pass the measures.

    The Income Tax, specifically, was sold as a tax on “the wealthy,” but in truth, the kings of commerce and banking had an inside track on the tax, and evaded/avoided paying from the start. They knew the loopholes because they helped design them. And as the income tax grew, from a tiny percentage to the confiscatory rates we have today, the bureaucracy grew to consume the revenues.

    With an honest, limited tax, we would be much more likely to have an honest, limited government, one that couldn’t afford to start wars all over the globe, meddle in the most trivial of local matters, and incarcerate millions of its own citizens.

    And as those aforementioned amendments were “sold” to a 2/3 majority of the populace, so today the majority of the populace have been sold on the myth that we have a two-party system. But the animal has two front ends, or rear ends, depending on your point of view, while it is essentially the same carnivorous creature, consuming wealth and liberty.

  • toto

    The National Popular Vote bill would change existing state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

    The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

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

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

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

    With National Popular Vote, 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.

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

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

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

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

    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 small, medium, and large states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

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    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.

    NationalPopularVote

  • Steve the Cynic

    Wally, those “confiscatory” taxes would bother you a lot less if you’d let go of the delusion that you actually own anything, or that money (even if it’s made of gold) has any value beyond what we collectively agree to pretend it does.

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

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

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

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

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    With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation’s votes!

    With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.

    The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States.

    Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as Wal-mart mom voters in Ohio.

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Wining states would not be the goal. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

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    The current state-by-state winner-take-all system ensures that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states. In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states. In 2012, 9 states will determine the Presidency.

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

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

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

    If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as Wal-mart mom voters in Ohio.

  • Treaynah

    Finally, something I feel comfortable enough to comment on.

    My husband says, why vote? It doesn’t matter.

    If there are more people voting yes than no and the yes people don’t win, then why vote? really,… because it doesn’t matter. That is a hard one to argue with! He has a tendency not to vote at all. Maybe other people feel this way too?

    Just wondering: Do the winners of the elections say to themselves in thought “what about all the people who didn’t vote, or how about all the people who voted against me” I now need to consider them too? All the “loosers” just don’t dry up and blow away, they still matter, don’t they? Well they are still here, they should matter.