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Should We Change the Way We Elect?

State Representative for Stamford Gerald Fox III weighs in on the National Popular Vote movement.

 

Would you call the current presidential election process a fair one? How about in terms of how a voters voice is ultimately weighed?

Currently, the voting system for a presidential election in the United States works as follows: You go vote, votes are tallied up across the whole state, and then the state submits its electoral college votes to whoever had the most votes in the state.

Each state has a different amount of electoral college votes. A state's population determines the number of electoral college votes it has to offer. Connecticut currently controls 7 votes. New York controls 29. California controls 55.

The National Popular Vote movement wants to change the way those states allocate their votes. The legislation it proposes currently has support of about half the states/electoral vote weight it would need to enact it. In Connecticut, the legislation has passed the House, but not the Senate.

"The winner of the national popular vote doesn't always win," said National Popular Vote Regional Director Ryan O'Donnell. "That's happened 4 times out of a total of 56 presidential elections. That's one out of 14. It's even worse when it's narrowed down in close elections. Then it's even more likely the wrong winner is going to win."

The elections O'Donnell were referring to were 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. In the most recent instance, George W. Bush was appointed to the presidency by winning the electoral college numbers despite losing the overall count among voters.

"Something that happens every election, though, is the country really gets carved up into two kinds of states: swing states and safe states," O'Donnell said. "Connecticut's a safe state. It's a spectator. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are both going to ignore Connecticut. They're not going to spend any significant amount of time here unless it's to raise money to send somewhere else."

O'Donnell wants to see all 50 states join the movement to designate each state's electoral college votes to the overall popular vote winner. Indeed, it would change the way elections were run. Even if, say, Connecticut voted all red in November, if the rest of the country voted blue, Connecticut would send it's 7 votes to the overall winner. 

Suddenly, a candidate can't just focus on winning a set number of states to make up a winning number of electoral college votes. O'Donnell sees a future where the president would need to try his or her hardest to win the mind of every single voter out there.

State Representative Gerald Fox III supports the notion. On the Government Administration and Elections Committee, Fox has voted to support the efforts of the National Popular Vote movement and said he would continue to do so in the future.

"For the past couple of years, the National Vote Movement has been trying to pass legislation across the country," Fox said. "We've had situations where the individual who got the most votes did not win the election. In a democracy such as ours, that's a difficult situation to explain."

Fox agreed that adopting such a voting plan would open up the potential weight for each individual voter. Every state could feel like a part of the process again, instead of certain states being focused on because of the electoral college votes ultimately offered there.

"There is a tremendous amount of resources placed in such a small number of states," Fox said. "I wouldn't say the current system is necessarily broken. We almost always get the individual with the most votes elected. It's more of a logic issue. The person with the most votes should always be the winner of an election."

This, O'Donnell said, was the point of his efforts.

"Every state ought to be relevant."

 -- Ed. Note: Patch reached out to State Rep. for Stamford & New Canaan William Tong, who voted Nay on the National Vote Bill, for comment, but did not hear back by press time.

Luther Weeks September 26, 2012 at 04:37 PM
@DJ, I would be in favor of a National Popular Vote, but with several prerequisites. At a general level, stronger election integrity laws, national uniformity, enforceable and enforced laws in place. Stronger laws would include voter created paper ballots, strong post-election audits, ballot security, and national recounts. There would need to be an equal franchise from state to state, uniform early voting, registration, and absentee voting provisions. All these things in a way that we could trust enforcement, integrity, and accuracy. Finally it would take a great improvement/revision of the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act, which cause problems and limit integrity of the selection of electors that we have seen in 1876 and 2000.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:41 PM
The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates. In the current presidential election system, 48 states award all of their electors to the winners of their state. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended. The Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens. The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution, and enacting National Popular Vote would not need an amendment. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, were eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century. Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election. In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:43 PM
The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes. As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:45 PM
The U.S. Constitution requires the Electoral College to meet on the same day throughout the U.S. (mid-December). This sets a final deadline for vote counts from all states. In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court has interpreted the federal "safe harbor" statute to mean that the deadline for the state to finalize their vote count is 6 days before the meeting of the Electoral College. With both the current system and National Popular Vote, 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 on the day set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. 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 http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:47 PM
The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting. The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida. Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote. The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes. The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections. No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing 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. National Popular Vote would limit the benefits to be gained by fraud or voter suppression. One suppressed vote would be one less vote. One fraudulent vote would only win one vote in the return. In the current electoral system, one fraudulent vote could mean 55 electoral votes, or just enough electoral votes to win the presidency without having the most popular votes in the country. The closest popular-vote election in American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes. The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be 200 times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM
There is nothing incompatible between differences in state election laws and the concept of a national popular vote for President. That was certainly the mainstream view when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment in 1969 for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. That amendment retained state control over elections. The 1969 amendment was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, then-Senator Bob Dole, and then-Senator Walter Mondale. The American Bar Association also endorsed the proposed 1969 amendment. The proposed 1969 constitutional amendment provided that the popular-vote count from each state would be added up to obtain the nationwide total for each candidate. The National Popular Vote compact does the same. Under the current system, the electoral votes from all 50 states are comingled and simply added together, irrespective of the fact that the electoral-vote outcome from each state was affected by differences in state policies, including voter registration, ex-felon voting, hours of voting, amount and nature of advance voting, and voter identification requirements.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote compact, all of the people of the United States are impacted by the different election policies of the states. Everyone in the United States is affected by the division of electoral votes generated by each state. The procedures governing presidential elections in a closely divided battleground state (e.g., Florida and Ohio) can affect, and indeed have affected, the ultimate outcome of national elections.
toto September 26, 2012 at 04:53 PM
The U.S. Constitution does not require that the election laws of all 50 states are identical in virtually every respect. State election laws are not identical now nor is there anything in the National Popular Vote compact that would force them to become identical. Indeed, 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) as well as congressional elections (article I). The fact is that 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.
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:02 PM
A survey of Connecticut voters showed 74% overall support for the idea that the President should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. Voters were asked: "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?" Support, by political affiliation, was 80% among Democrats, 67% among Republicans, and 71% among others. By gender, support was 81% among women, 66% among men. By age, support was 82% among 18-29 year olds, 69% among 30-45 year olds, 75% among 46-65 year olds, and 72% for those older than 65. Then, voters asked a second question that emphasized that Connecticut's electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not Connecticut's, vote. In this second question, 68% of Connecticut voters favored a national popular vote. "Do you think it more important that Connecticut's electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular vote in Connecticut, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?" Support was 74% among Democrats, 62% among Republicans, and 63% among others. By gender, support was 75% among women, 59% among men. By age, support was 75% among 18-29, 57% among 30-45, 68% among 46-65, and 70% for older than 65. NationalPopularVote
Deirdre September 26, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Every state IS relevant with the electoral college and it still remains a necessity. The Electoral college was put into place so that the smaller, less populated states had a say in the election of the president and wasn't run over by the more populous states, which would still be the case today, Its not a perfect system but to eliminate it would create so many more problems I don't think we could anticipate them. First of off could you imagine a Bush vs Gore style recount throughout the entire country and not just isolated to Florida. This subject usually comes up in heavily populated states like Massachusetts, New York and now Connecticut that don't like it that they are largely ignored during presidential elections (except when they need money) and usually states like Florida or Ohio are the focus of presidential campaigns. Well if Massachusetts, New York or Connecticut weren't pretty much one party states then they would get more attention. This kind of campaign is largely philosophical because to get rid of the electoral college would mean a constitutional amendment and I doubt that two-thirds of the states would ever vote for such an amendment.
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:38 PM
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 College votes from the enacting states. That majority of Electoral College votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:42 PM
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 76% 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 12 states and their voters will matter. They will decide the election. 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX will be ignored. In 2008, 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). More than 2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections, without influence. That's more than 200 million Americans. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:44 PM
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.
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:45 PM
With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's votes! But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. 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. Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). 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).
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As I said The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting. The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida. Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote. The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:48 PM
The National Popular Vote bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action. More than 2,110 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill. 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. 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. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win. The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect. NationalPopularVote Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc
toto September 26, 2012 at 05:50 PM
In 1960, presidential campaigns paid attention to 35 states. In 2008, Obama campaigned in only 14 states after being nominated. In 2012, the presidential campaigns have been concentrating on just 9 swing states for the past five months. The number and population of battleground states is shrinking as the U.S. population grows. States' partisanship is hardening. Some states have not been been competitive for than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position. • 41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2008 • 32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2008 • 13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2008 • 19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2008 • 9 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988 • 15 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988 http://www.fairvote.org/presidential-elections-state-by-state-hardening-partisanship
Deirdre September 26, 2012 at 08:03 PM
As usual those folks that can't stand those pesky constitutional limitations want to by-pass the constitutional amendment process by having states voluntarily enter into this "National Popular Vote" compact. This is a bad idea, it will nationalize politics, and transfer the voting power to the large urban areas that tend to favor democrats, and the rural and suburban areas will be disenfranchised, in many ways like the urban areas in states like New York and California disenfranchise the population outside of the urban areas. Also urban areas tend to have political machines that are more vulnerable to voter fraud. If we start running elections this way why not propose to get rid of the Senate since each state has equal representation, in a similar fashion they way each state has representation in the electoral college the polls might reflect that people like this idea but that's because no one ever thinks of the consequences of these kinds of changes
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:11 PM
With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome. The population of the top 5 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. 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. 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 OH and FL, 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 OH and FL. 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.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:12 PM
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, and they are ignored.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:14 PM
The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation. National Popular Vote would limit the benefits to be gained by fraud or voter suppression. One suppressed vote would be one less vote. One fraudulent vote would only win one vote in the return. In the current electoral system, one fraudulent vote could mean 55 electoral votes, or just enough electoral votes to win the presidency without having the most popular votes in the country. The closest popular-vote election in American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes. The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be 200 times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, 40 times closer than 2000 itself.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Equal representation of the states in the U.S. Senate is explicitly established in the U.S. Constitution. This feature cannot be changed by state law or an interstate compact. In fact, equal representation of the states in the U.S. Senate may not even be amended by an ordinary federal constitutional amendment. Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides: “No State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” Thus, this feature of the U.S. Constitution may only be changed by a constitutional amendment approved by unanimous consent of all 50 states. In contrast, the U.S. Constitution explicitly assigns the power of selecting the manner of appointing presidential electors to the states. The enactment by a state legislature of the National Popular Vote bill is an exercise of a legislature’s existing powers under the U.S. Constitution. In short, enactment of the National Popular Vote compact has no bearing on the federal constitutional provisions establishing equal representation of the states in the U.S. Senate.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:16 PM
The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens. The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution, and enacting National Popular Vote would not need an amendment. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, were eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. Now our current system can be changed by state laws again. Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:18 PM
A majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the Founders' rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century. Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election. In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes. The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution says "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes. As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected. The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:20 PM
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.
toto September 26, 2012 at 09:23 PM
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, there would be no more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country. During the course of campaigns with National Popular Vote, candidates will be educated and campaign about local, regional, and state issues across the U.S. They will take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

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