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Presidential election by popular vote

 
 
au1929
 
Reply Sat 11 Aug, 2007 07:39 am
What is your opinion ? Should the present method of electing the president {electoral college] be changed to election by national popular vote?
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Aug, 2007 08:30 am
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
au1929 wrote:
What is your opinion ? Should the present method of electing the president {electoral college] be changed to election by national popular vote?


You would have to amend the Constitution to do that, which would be very difficult.

An easier way would be for all states to remove their "winner take all" laws so that the winner of the popular vote would receive all of the Electoral College votes resulting in a popular vote election. This is what I've been advocating for years. I'm furious that my 2004 vote went to George Bush instead of my choice of John Kerry.

http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=69849&highlight=electoral+college

BBB
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squinney
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Aug, 2007 08:56 am
From the few articles I've read where states are addressing this issue, they seem to be doing so based on all STATE electoral votes going to the NATIONAL winner of popular votes.

After the last two national elections I thought it was a good idea. On the surface, it would appear that the most people would be represented across the country, ignoring state lines since it is a national election, if electoral votes were cast based on popular vote nation wide. But, the first step is going to have to be to make sure the votes are counted correctly. The current debate on popular vote = electoral vote seems to me to be missing the initial crucial step in fixing what is wrong... Votes are not being counted and therefore there is no confidence in the resulting popular vote. The nation will continue to be divided if this is not fixed first since the national division / fairness of elections is what I take the electoral vote changes to be addressing.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Aug, 2007 09:04 am
States Try to Alter How Presidents Are Elected
August 11, 2007
States Try to Alter How Presidents Are Elected
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
New York Times

When state Democratic leaders from around the country meet this weekend in Vermont, the California chairman, Art Torres, expects to be peppered with the sort of questions that have been clogging his in-box for weeks.

What is this about Republicans trying to change the way Electoral College votes are allocated in California? Is there a countereffort by Democrats in the works? What does it mean for presidential candidates?

Frustrated by a system that has marginalized many states in the presidential election process, or seeking partisan advantage, state lawmakers, political party leaders and voting rights advocates across the country are stepping up efforts to change the rules of the game, even as the presidential campaign advances.

In California, this has led to a nascent Republican bid to apportion the state's electoral votes by Congressional district, not by statewide vote, in a move that most everyone agrees would benefit Republican candidates. Democrats in North Carolina are mulling a similar move, because it would help Democrats there.

In more than a dozen states, the efforts have also led to a game of leapfrog in the scheduling of presidential primary and caucus dates. Most recently, on Thursday, Republicans in South Carolina moved their primary to January from February to get ahead of Florida's.

Further, there is a germinal movement to effectively abolish the Electoral College, awarding the White House instead to the winner of the national popular vote. Maryland recently became the first state to have such legislation passed and then signed into law, although legislatures in several other states have passed similar measures.

"There are different political fires all over the place," Mr. Torres said. "We felt before that we would try and maintain some order and discipline, but it has been difficult to do. This all portends a strong initiative by states to exert more power."

Each maneuver, which experts on electoral politics agree could radically change the political landscape or, just as easily, completely wash out, has added a generous dose of unpredictability to an already knotty federal election season.

"You have to be watchful of what is happening," said Bill Burton, a spokesman for Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign. "It's a reality that we have to deal with, but the people on the ground have their heads down and are working as hard as they can."

The states' efforts reflect a momentum outside Washington to "get a system that reflects public preferences," said George C. Edwards III, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University. Elected officials, state party leaders and many voters have grown weary of a system in which "candidates focus on 13 or 14 states and no other states get attention, except for fund-raising," Professor Edwards said.

In 2004, 13 states with 159 electoral votes among them were considered "in play," according to FairVote, a voting rights organization; in 1988, there were 21 such states and 272 electoral votes.

The interest in changing the way the president is elected was largely seeded by Democrats after the 2000 election, but has since been embraced by Republicans as well.

"We have discovered what our founding fathers learned as well, which is that you can manipulate election outcomes by setting those rules," said Michael P. McDonald, an associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University.

In the last legislative session, lawmakers in eight states considered bills that would give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote rather than the presidential candidate chosen by state voters; the measures would take effect only if states representing a majority of the 538 electoral votes made the same change.

"The idea of the states banding together and being able to set the rules of the game to directly elect the president is a new idea," said Pete Maysmith, the national director of state campaigns for Common Cause, which advocates a national popular vote. "And I think it is grabbing people's attention and gaining momentum."

Far more potentially significant in the near term, however, is a recent move by the lawyer for the California Republican Party to ask voters in a ballot measure to apportion electoral votes by Congressional district. With numerous safe Republican districts around the state, this change could represent roughly 20 electoral votes for a Republican candidate who would otherwise presumably lose the entire state, which has been reliably Democrat in recent presidential elections.

"We think it is the most effective way of having California count," said Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the ballot effort, the Presidential Election Reform Act. "Candidates love California in the spring when they come out to raise money. But after that, as long as California is not in play, it tends to be ignored."

Mr. Eckery said that polling on the issue would cost $300,000 to $500,000, and gaining enough signatures to get the initiative on the June 2008 state ballot would cost a few million dollars more. Fund-raising has already begun, and proponents and opponents of the measure believe the effort will attract ample donors.

While assigning electoral votes by Congressional district is a movement lacking broad national support, both Republicans and Democrats agreed that should the effort by California Republicans gain steam, other states might consider it as well, if for no other reason than to counter the anticipated Republican gains here. Only Maine and Nebraska currently use such a system.

Had the electoral votes been allocated by Congressional district nationwide in 2000, President Bush's electoral margin of victory would have been just over 7 percent, or eight times his take that year, according to FairVote.

If the California measure succeeds, "it would make it impossible for a Democrat to win the White House" in a close election, predicted Steve Schmidt, a Republican consultant who ran Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's most recent campaign in California and has been an adviser to the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

Democrats and other interest groups have already promised to take steps to defeat such a proposal.

In the North Carolina legislature, Democrats nearly signed off on a similar measure this summer, until the national party chairman, Howard Dean, stepped in to get the issue tabled for the session.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Aug, 2007 09:50 am
squinney wrote:
But, the first step is going to have to be to make sure the votes are counted correctly. The current debate on popular vote = electoral vote seems to me to be missing the initial crucial step in fixing what is wrong... Votes are not being counted and therefore there is no confidence in the resulting popular vote. The nation will continue to be divided if this is not fixed first since the national division / fairness of elections is what I take the electoral vote changes to be addressing.


IMO, this is really the larger issue. Unitl such time as gerrymandering is eliminated, the vote is controlled to only allow those that are actual citzens to register and vote, and the vote counting process is fixed so that it is 100% accurate the rest of it doesn't really matter.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 08:28 am
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:
An easier way would be for all states to remove their "winner take all" laws so that the winner of the popular vote would receive all of the Electoral College votes resulting in a popular vote election. This is what I've been advocating for years. I'm furious that my 2004 vote went to George Bush instead of my choice of John Kerry.

And you think you'd be less furious under a system that gave your vote to George Bush based on the votes of everyone else in the nation, rather than just everyone else in your state?

If you think that your vote goes to the winner because you voted for the loser, then your vote will go to the winner regardless of the system. There's only two choices that you have: either alter your perception and realize that your vote goes to the candidate for whom you voted, or else start voting for winners for a change.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 08:33 am
fishin wrote:
IMO, this is really the larger issue. Unitl such time as gerrymandering is eliminated, the vote is controlled to only allow those that are actual citzens to register and vote, and the vote counting process is fixed so that it is 100% accurate the rest of it doesn't really matter.

How does gerrymandering affect electoral votes? Except for Maine and Nebraska, gerrymandering doesn't play a role in presidential elections -- unless you are contending that the state boundaries are the products of gerrymandering.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 08:40 am
joefromchicago wrote:
fishin wrote:
IMO, this is really the larger issue. Unitl such time as gerrymandering is eliminated, the vote is controlled to only allow those that are actual citzens to register and vote, and the vote counting process is fixed so that it is 100% accurate the rest of it doesn't really matter.

How does gerrymandering affect electoral votes? Except for Maine and Nebraska, gerrymandering doesn't play a role in presidential elections -- unless you are contending that the state boundaries are the products of gerrymandering.


I wasn't intending to imply that gerrymandering had anything to do with EC votes. It does affect voting for every political office EXCEPT the Pres/VP and should be eliminated to clean up the process.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 08:43 am
joefromchicago wrote:
fishin wrote:
IMO, this is really the larger issue. Unitl such time as gerrymandering is eliminated, the vote is controlled to only allow those that are actual citzens to register and vote, and the vote counting process is fixed so that it is 100% accurate the rest of it doesn't really matter.

How does gerrymandering affect electoral votes? Except for Maine and Nebraska, gerrymandering doesn't play a role in presidential elections -- unless you are contending that the state boundaries are the products of gerrymandering.
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 12:02 pm
I'd be in favor of a system that allocated the states electorial votes based on the % of the popular vote in that state. For example, if 40% of California votes for the republican and 60% for the democrat then that is how the EV should be allocated.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 12:15 pm
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
joefromchicago wrote:
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:
An easier way would be for all states to remove their "winner take all" laws so that the winner of the popular vote would receive all of the Electoral College votes resulting in a popular vote election. This is what I've been advocating for years. I'm furious that my 2004 vote went to George Bush instead of my choice of John Kerry.

And you think you'd be less furious under a system that gave your vote to George Bush based on the votes of everyone else in the nation, rather than just everyone else in your state?

If you think that your vote goes to the winner because you voted for the loser, then your vote will go to the winner regardless of the system. There's only two choices that you have: either alter your perception and realize that your vote goes to the candidate for whom you voted, or else start voting for winners for a change.


Is that the point, though? I'd think the concern is that, as a result of the Electoral College, your vote in a national election might be worth less than the vote of a fellow American - merely because he happens to live in a different state.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 02:28 pm
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
[quote="old europe
Is that the point, though? I'd think the concern is that, as a result of the Electoral College, your vote in a national election might be worth less than the vote of a fellow American - merely because he happens to live in a different state.[/quote]

Bingo, you got my point.

BBB
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 02:54 pm
maporsche wrote:
I'd be in favor of a system that allocated the states electorial votes based on the % of the popular vote in that state. For example, if 40% of California votes for the republican and 60% for the democrat then that is how the EV should be allocated.

That has been proposed before (it was one of the alternatives considered by the senate judiciary committee under Birch Bayh in the 1970s). It has some problems, though. If only whole electoral votes are to be awarded, then whether a popular vote percentage is rounded up or down becomes enormously important, especially in small states with few electors. For instance, if a Republican candidate receives 16% of the vote in the District of Columbia (which would be a marked improvement over Bush's 9.34% of the vote in 2004), would the GOP candidate get one of DC's three electoral votes or none of them?

Furthermore, in a race with multiple candidates, the math becomes even more complicated. For example, in 1992, Delaware voters gave 44% of their votes to Clinton, 35% to Bush I, and 20% to Perot. How do you split up the state's three electoral votes between them? One each? How would that be fair, given that Clinton received over twice as many votes as Perot?

On the other hand, if fractional electors are allowed, then much of the mathematical difficulties disappear. In that prior example, Clinton would get 1.32 electoral votes, Bush I would get 1.05 votes, and Perot would get .6 votes, with the remaining .03 going to assorted goofball fourth party candidates.

There remain some problems, however. It seems evident that, in order to award fractional electors, the constitution would need to be amended (the twelfth amendment clearly envisions actual whole humans serving as electors, not mathematical fractions). That's a problem, because one of the most compelling reasons for clinging to the electoral college is the fact that other proposals would require the onerous burden of a constitutional amendment. More importantly, as a fractional elector system would closely mimic the results of the popular vote, there seems to be no reason to prefer a system that permits fractional electors over instituting a true popular vote system. The only reason to hang onto the electoral college would be to increase the relative weight of small states over large states, which no one seems too eager to endorse.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 03:01 pm
But in that case, wouldn't the proposal to have states give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote circumvent all these constitutional issues?

It would leave the Electoral College in place, would avoid the rather tedious rounding up or down or splitting of votes, and wouldn't be an obstacle even if several candidates are running for President.

Is there something I'm missing?
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 03:12 pm
old europe wrote:
But in that case, wouldn't the proposal to have states give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote circumvent all these constitutional issues?

It would leave the Electoral College in place, would avoid the rather tedious rounding up or down or splitting of votes, and wouldn't be an obstacle even if several candidates are running for President.

Is there something I'm missing?


IMO, yes.

In the 2000 election the deciding difference was ~543,000 votes. And that came (after 34 days of arguing) with a court order. The actual votes weren't recounted to get an accurate tally. And that was just Florida. In other states things like absentee ballots weren't included before the EC votes were decided because there weren't enough of them to overcome the difference in the already counted votes.

If the EC delegates are to be allocated to the popular vote winner then every single vote has be be counted accurately - something that, for whatever reason, we have never been able to do - and every single precinct would be subject to possible recounts in a close race.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 03:15 pm
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
old europe wrote:
Is that the point, though?

That's certainly BBB's point. She has been saying the same thing for quite a while now. As she stated back in February: "my issue is the winner-take-all laws enacted by most states that I find unacceptable. In New Mexico, my vote was given to the candidate for whom I did not vote."

old europe wrote:
I'd think the concern is that, as a result of the Electoral College, your vote in a national election might be worth less than the vote of a fellow American - merely because he happens to live in a different state.

There is a miniscule difference in the "weight" of votes due to the fact that small states have disproportionately more electoral votes than are warranted by their populations. In that regard, however, BBB has nothing to complain about. As a citizen of New Mexico (five electoral votes), her vote is worth more than the votes of citizens in 34 more populous states.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 03:19 pm
old europe wrote:
But in that case, wouldn't the proposal to have states give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote circumvent all these constitutional issues?

It would leave the Electoral College in place, would avoid the rather tedious rounding up or down or splitting of votes, and wouldn't be an obstacle even if several candidates are running for President.

Is there something I'm missing?

See my comments here and here and here.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 04:25 pm
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
I'm somewhat surprised that y'all seem to think that concerns about vote fraud would be such a major obstacle to a popular vote system. Probably because I can't remember a single case of recounted votes in this country here. Different cultural background, I guess. I agree that this would be a concern when switching to a popular vote system, but I don't see it as a hurdle that couldn't be overcome.

Apart from these technicalities, the other major point you had mentioned in your earlier posts, joe, were concerns about compromising the two-party system and suddenly having several candidates running for presidency. While I don't see how changing the voting system from the current electoral to a popular vote one would have the effect of making it easier for third candidates, it raises a valid point. How would you determine the winner of the popular vote? Would it simply be the candidate who gets most of the popular vote, or would you have to institute some kind of system where you would end up with runoff elections?

So my question here is: would you have to change the Constitution if you wanted to institute a system that relied on an interstate compact and possible runoff elections in case that no candidate wins a certain majority?
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 06:19 pm
Re: Presidential election by popular vote
old europe wrote:
I'm somewhat surprised that y'all seem to think that concerns about vote fraud would be such a major obstacle to a popular vote system. Probably because I can't remember a single case of recounted votes in this country here. Different cultural background, I guess. I agree that this would be a concern when switching to a popular vote system, but I don't see it as a hurdle that couldn't be overcome.


Most of Europe uses a Parliamentary system of government and don't have direct elections for the positions of Prime Minister/Chancellor/Premier. In those countries the recounts would be in the close races for the MPs not at a national level.

In countries that use the semi-presidential system you have both a Prime Minister and a President which again, we don't have.

Since we don't use a Parliamentary system for selecting our President the same system of controls doesn't exist here. The EC, in a round about way, provides that for us.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Aug, 2007 06:50 pm
I don't see how a Parliamentary system would make a difference. If a country uses a system of party-list proportional representation, you would just vote for a list of candidates that has been selected by the party instead of giving your vote to a Presidential candidate. However, the party that gets the majority of the vote would then proceed to elect the Prime Minister/Chancellor/Premier.

If the results would be contested, that would still mean you would have to do a national recount.

I admit that these effects are somewhat mitigated when you use a mixed system with two votes, where you give one vote to a party or party list and the other vote to a representative of a local voting district who is then elected MP. The advantage is that local issues can have a certain weight in national elections, whereas the downside could be that you end up with issues about gerrymandering or the weight of individual votes.

The thing is: in the Electoral College system, you seem to end up with the negative effects of both worlds. Local issues wouldn't play a role due to the lack of a Parliament, but votes still have a different weight depending on where you are voting.

The only advantage, as far as I can see, is therefore a rather low risk of widespread or even national recounts.
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