Failing School

When Republicans won sweeping victories at the federal and state levels in 2010, they no doubt realized their position was a fragile one. The economy goes up and down, policies can be popular or unpopular, and the public's will is fickle. To stay in power, there's no substitute for rigging the game, which they set out to do by passing laws through state legislatures that make it more difficult for people who are likely to vote for Democrats to cast votes at all.

But last week we saw something new. Republicans in Pennsylvania have proposed changing the way the state allocates its electoral votes to give two votes to the statewide winner of the presidential race and grant the other votes one-by-one to the winner of each congressional district. At present, this system is used only in Maine and Nebraska, which each have only four electoral votes. Since the Republican legislature and governor in Pennsylvania are also now redrawing district lines, they could manage to give next year's Republican nominee as many as 12 of Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, even if he or she loses the state.

Though Pennsylvania is considered a swing state, the last Democratic presidential nominee to lose there was Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republicans in Harrisburg have figured out a way to avoid those losses. The Constitution allows each state to determine how to allocate its electoral votes, so if the Pennsylvania Legislature decided it wanted to have Punxsutawney Phil decide which candidate gets those 20 precious votes, they'd be within their legal rights. But the fact that we even have to worry about these kinds of pre-election shenanigans ought to make us pause and ask: Isn't it time we rid ourselves of the Electoral College once and for all?

Few of the Founders' mistakes are more glaring than the Electoral College. In its original form, electors would cast two votes for president, and the person who came in second would become vice president. They apparently didn't account for the possibility of a tie, and after the election of 1800 -- when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes -- Congress passed the 12th Amendment to require separate votes of the electors for each office.

In the years since, a president has taken office after gaining fewer votes than his opponent four times. Each time, people have asked whether this absurdly anti-democratic anachronism might be done away with. And each time the obstacles prove too great: Amending the Constitution would require the consent of many less populated states which mistakenly believe that the Electoral College helps them.

States with small populations, like Wyoming or Idaho, argue that they get an influence boost. But that boost is not nearly as big as the one they get from the even more anti-democratic institution known as the United States Senate. Wyoming has two-tenths of 1 percent of the American population. It gets six-tenths of 1 percent of the electoral votes (3 out of 538) for an impact three times what it deserves, but a full 2 percent of the Senate (2 out of 100), or 10 times what its population warrants. In the Senate, Wyoming is a player; for presidential campaigns, it's an afterthought.

Yet people on both sides assume that the Electoral College must be good for Republicans and bad for Democrats, despite the rather thin evidence supporting the assumption. This summer, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Rick Perry signed a letter to governors warning them against supporting an effort to undermine the Electoral College called National Popular Vote (NPV), describing it as "a back-door effort ... started by a small group of liberal activists in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, and it must be stopped."

They were right about its origins -- National Popular Vote (which is apparently participating in a "Recreate the Ugliest Website of 1998" contest) is indeed supported by liberals. The group and its allies work to convince state legislatures to pass laws pledging to grant their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote, no matter who actually prevails in their state. If states with a total of 270 electoral votes sign on, the Electoral College in its current form becomes moot, because whoever wins the popular vote will automatically win the electoral vote. So far, such state laws (written to take effect only if the 270-vote threshold is reached) have been passed in Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, for a total of 132 electoral votes.

You'll notice that all those states are heavily Democratic. It may well be that -- just as Pennsylvania Republicans assume their state will continue to be won by Democratic presidential candidates -- the legislators and governors in those states agreed to the NPV in part because they assumed that if 2000 were to be repeated, it would once again be a Republican popular-vote loser winning the Electoral College. But that need not be the case. Just before the 2000 election, journalists began to speculate that one candidate could win the popular vote, but lose when the electoral college was tallied. That candidate's campaign began preparing to argue the case for its legitimacy, and days of hand-wringing ensued. You've guessed the punchline: Everyone thought it was George W. Bush who would win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote.

The lesson is that it isn't so easy to predict who will be advantaged by the Electoral College in any given year, much less in campaigns to come. So what would happen if we could do away with all the Electoral College wrangling? Well, in every other democracy on Earth, presidential elections work in the following way. See if you can follow along, because it's pretty complicated: People vote; the votes are counted; whoever gets the most votes wins. Having a system like that wouldn't guarantee more victories for one party or another. But it would make our democracy a lot more democratic.

Comments

What often appears simple is not. The Compact being proposed would
get around the requirement for a constitutional amendment. It would
cobble the popular vote onto a system designed for the Electoral
College. Such a system has largely unanticipated, but predictable
consequences that are overlooked and glossed over by national
organizations supporting the proposition similar to the situations when
we focus on the national debt one week and lowering taxes the next.
While
I understand the good arguments for the national popular vote and would
support it, except there are some extreme risks to the Compact which
attempts to force fit it onto our inaccurate state by state voting
system.
There is no official national popular vote number complied
and certified nationally that can be used to officially and accurately
determine the winner in any reasonably close election.
There is no
national recount available for close elections to establish an accurate
number. Only in some individual states with close numbers in those
states would there ever be a recount.
Currently the Electoral
College limits the damage to states with close votes. With the national
nopular vote errors, voter suppression, and fraud in all states would
count against the national totals.

There are super efforts to make Pennsylvania spread its votes and in Nebraska to do the opposite.  All the money will be spent to spread the votes where it helps Republicans and not in Florida or Texas where it would not help them.

In any case unless there is honest voting the Electoral College will have no affect. As it would not affect any but presidential elections, and only a few of those. And even those presidential elections were far more affected by election fraud than the electoral college.

The Electoral College just proves that an individual's vote doesn't matter.  It should be the popular vote that matters.  Then, and only then, will one's vote truly matter.

Current federal law
(Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states
to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is
called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." They list the electors and
the number of votes cast for each.  The
Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes reported in the
Certificates of Ascertainment. You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment
for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of
the popular vote at the NARA web site at http://tinyurl.com/3n3syw4

The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number
of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

Senator Birch Bayh summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President by saying in 1979, "one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes."

Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: "To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . .                            

For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?"

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.

A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and 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 under the National Popular Vote approach. 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.

Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). 

It does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. 

Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states 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 wins the presidency. 

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

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

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). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed iin recent polls in closely divided Battleground States: CO– 68%, 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%, ME — 77%, NE — 74%, NH –69%, NV — 72%, NM — 76%, RI — 74%, and VT — 75%; in Southern and Border states: AR –80%, KY — 80%, MS –77%, MO — 70%, NC — 74%, and VA — 74%; and in other states polled: CA — 70%, CT — 74% , MA — 73%, MN – 75%, NY — 79%, WA — 77%, and WV- 81%. 

On Election Night, most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district… 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 consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being declared a loser detestable. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic. 

The bill has passed 31 state legislativ­e chambers, in 21 small, medium-sma­ll, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), CA (55), VT (3), and WA (13). These 9 jurisdicti­ons possess 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect. 

NationalPo­pularVote

The Electoral College was created in a time when travel and communication was slow, things that haven't been true in a long time.  The EC is an eighteenth century anachronism that needs to go away.

I would prefer if all states were to divide up their votes by district, not just Pennsylvania.  Would the author have complained had Texas voted to do this?  Somehow I doubt it, which makes this piece more partisan than philosophical.

But then, I would propose an even more sweeping reform after that.  People run actively for elector, but are not allowed to list party affiliation or who they will vote for as electors, once the votes are broken up by district.

Yes but the numbers are unaudited and due to the Feds along with our after the Electors must me named.

Like in 2000 if the election were as close given the numbers would change if the NPV were in effect?

But there is not provision for any recount on a national close election, only in some states, and only if it is close in a particular state. 

Also using the same logic as the Supreme Court did in 2000, even if there were such a recount, it would be unfair since rules are not uniform.

Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the common nationwide date for 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.

Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states.  Existing federal law (the "safe
harbor" provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state's "final determination" of its presidential election returns is "conclusive"(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day). 

The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President.  No state has any power to examine or judge the presidential election returns of any other state under the National Popular Vote compact.

With National Popular Vote, elections wouldn't be about winning states.

Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states 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 wins the presidency.

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. 

The Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution permit states to conduct elections in varied ways.  The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and preserves state control of elections and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President.

The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

Senator Birch Bayh summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President by saying in 1979, "one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes."

Hendrik Hertzberg wrote:

"To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . . 

For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?"

Dividing a state's electoral votes by congressional district 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. Under 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 is competitive in only 3 of the state's 53
districts.  Nationwide, there are only 55 "battleground" districts that are competitive in presidential elections. Under 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 becomes President.

There's a practical reason for keeping the EC, or assigning electors by district. If the popular vote is really close, we might have to recount every vote across the entire US, which would make everyone long for Florida 2000.

The reason for the EC is that the US is not a nation, but a Federation of 50 semi-autonomous States. The citizens elect the President indirectly through their States. This argues against even the electors-by-district idea.

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, and would be even more likely under a district system.
              
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.
                         
A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and 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 under the National Popular Vote approach. 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.  Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, 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.

The 1960 popular vote difference was 0.1%, enough to justify a recount across the entire US at great cost and probably with much acrimony, Florida 2000 times 50. Here are other close votes:

http://www.infoplease.com/spot...

One thing I wonder about NPV is whether the states that didn't sign on could block its implementation once they're in the electoral minority simply by refusing to make their popular vote public.  As stated above, they can determine electoral votes any way they want; a popular vote with a secret total would presumably be allowed.  That would leave the NPV signatories without a feasible way to determine their electoral vote allocation.

Le Dinde du Jour

Current federal law
(Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states
to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is
called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." They list the electors and
the number of votes cast for each.  The
Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes reported in the
Certificates of Ascertainment. You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment
for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of
the popular vote at the NARA web site at http://tinyurl.com/3n3syw4




The process is explained
at http://tinyurl.com/6fe7st 


 


Making
election returns secret is not within the realm of political possibility in the
real world. This far-fetched possibility assumes that there is a state in the country
whose legislature, governor, and voters would permit making election returns
secret for any reason.

But, how would you deal with the differences in who each state determines to be a voter? What if one state allowed 15 year olds to vote? Would all of their votes count in the popular majority?

The United States government is both a national and a federal government. Therefore, some of its structure does not make sense looking at it as either "national", or "federal". It is a blend of both. The consequences of this are having such non-democratic things as the US Senate or the Electoral College.

The author says eliminating the electoral college "would make our democracy a lot more democratic."  Exactly, and that is why it is such a bad idea.  What's so great about majority rule?  We haven't known the flaws of unfettered democracy for thousands of years?

The Electoral College is working exactly as intended, including the empowerment of smaller states.  This is the contract, as spelled out in the Constitution, under which the small states joined the union.  What, exactly, is wrong with the President being elected by the allocation of states' electoral votes?  Why is this inferior to old-fashioned, thoroughly discredited, simple majority rule?

The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections.  It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. 

The Republic is not in any danger from National Popular Vote.  It has nothing to do with unfettered democracy.
                 
Under National Popular Vote, citizens would not rule directly but, instead, continue to elect  the President by a majority  of Electoral College votes, to represent them and conduct the business of government in the periods between elections. 

One person, one vote.  The candidate with the most votes wins.  That's how virtually every other U.S. election works.

The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all 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. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only the current 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 already, that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual.  Almost 75% 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 (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI).  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.                                 

2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election. That's more than 85 million voters ignored. 

Voter turnout in the "battleground" states has been 67%, while turnout in the "spectator" states was 61%.

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

Now political clout comes from being a battleground state.

Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws presidential elections ignore 12 of  the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections.  Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections.
                             
Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group.  Support
in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Idaho – 77%, Maine -- 77%, Montana – 72%,  Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Oklahoma – 81%, Rhode Island -- 74%,  South Dakota – 71%, Utah - 70%, Vermont -- 75%, West Virginia – 81%,  and Wyoming – 69%.

Nine state legislative chambers in the lowest population states have passed the National Popular Vote bill. It has been enacted by the
District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont.

The U.S. Constitution does not require that the election laws of all 50 states are identical in virtually every respect.  The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment only restricts a given state in the manner it treats persons "within its jurisdiction." The Equal Protection Clause imposes no obligation on a given state concerning a "person" in another state who is not "within its [the first state's] jurisdiction." State election laws are not identical now.

The U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II). The Founding Fathers in the
U.S. Constitution permit states to conduct elections in varied ways.  The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and preserves state control of elections and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President. 

Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." They list the electors and the number of votes cast for each.  The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes reported in the Certificates of Ascertainment.
You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the
District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site.

mvy:  We agree that the states are free to allocate EV's as they please.  But I still think the states signing up for the NPV are acting foolishly, and I expect many voters to have second thoughts the first time they see their states' votes "flipped".

We agree that it's no fun to vote in a safe state, as mine was until recently, and I don't doubt your turn-out stats (although I did not scrutinize them).  It's also no fun to vote in a safe district like mine (NC4), nor to have a representative-for-life that one opposes like I do.  (FWIW, I always vote, even when I know my candidates' chances are hopeless.  I view it as an essential statement of opposition.)

So we agree that a constitutional republic is far from perfect.  But battleground states change, like mine did, and redistricting offers hope once a decade.

We agree that virtually all other elections are by popular vote.  But there are only 2 nationally elected offices.  They're special.  And I remain unconvinced that a less fettered democracy is superior to the state-empowering winner-take-all system.

On Election
Night, most voters don't care whether their presidential candidate wins or
loses in their state or district . . . 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 consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being
declared a loser detestable. We don't allow this in any other election in our
representative republic.

In state
polls of 800 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.

see http://tinyurl.com/3jdkx7x

 

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

see http://tinyurl.com/3nv8djt

 

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

see http://tinyurl.com/3vrfxyh

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


 


http://www.fairvote.org/presid...

Correcting the original Electoral College with the 12th Amendment was in response to the rise of parties. It was an appropriate response to an unexpected circumstance (actually to wishful thinking).

Getting rid of the Electoral College is nonsensical. It is wildly overstated to contend that the purpose of the EC was to be "anti-democratic." And it is moot.

The Constitution creates a federal democratic republic, where power is divided between state and federal government. The Meyerson article is right on one point -- the system was designed to create gridlock. The EC is part of that design. But Waldman ignores the point that the states need to be protected from the over-reach of the federal government (an idea dismissed today, but lest we forget the Fugitive Slave Act. With the way the 14th Amendment is being read these days, the only thing protecting the small states from the tyranny of the federal government is the Electoral College.

Indeed, if there were no Electoral College a candidate could conceivably campaign in just the largest cities and their suburbs and become POTUS, leaving rural and small town America unrepresented in the Oval Office.

The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections.  It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.  

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).

 2/3rds of the states and people have been just spectators to
the presidential elections. That's more than 85 million voters.

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

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."Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws presidential elections ignore 12 of  the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections.  Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections.

Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group.  Support
in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Idaho – 77%, Maine -- 77%, Montana – 72%,  Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Oklahoma – 81%, Rhode Island -- 74%,  South Dakota – 71%, Utah - 70%, Vermont -- 75%, West Virginia – 81%,  and Wyoming – 69%.

 Nine state legislative chambers in the lowest population states have passed the National Popular Vote bill. It has been enacted by the
District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont.

None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states.

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 obscurely far down  as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United
States. 

Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

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.

Evidence as to how a nationwide presidential campaign would be run, can be found by examining the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in 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 certainly did not receive
all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004. 

Because every vote is equal inside Ohio or Florida, presidential candidates avidly seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns. 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 in Ohio and Florida already knows–namely that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the state.

 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. It is certainly true that the biggest cities in those states typically vote Democratic. However, the suburbs, exurbs, small towns, and rural parts of the states often voted Republican. 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.

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

what a great post! thanks to the author or sharing this information with
us! appreciate it! 

The best reason I've  heard so far for the existence of the Electoral College. The states elect the president.

I found lots of interesting information here. The post was professionally written and I feel like the author has extensive knowledge in the subject. Thanks you for the info.

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I see the electoral college as a subversion of democracy that should be abolished.

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