Heed Consequences of Changing Electoral System

It is highly unlikely that we will ever see a direct election of our president, but we ought to at least think of the consequences of different proposals before we alter the process.

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  • Susan Anthony

    Darren: Now, flyover country is not protected. "Flyover country" is literally "flown over" and ignored in presidential general elections, like 38 states, throughout the country. Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . . Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2015 was correct when he said "The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president," “The presidential election will not be decided by all states, but rather just 12 of them. 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. With the end of the primaries, without the National Popular Vote bill in effect, the political relevance of 70% of all Americans was finished for the presidential election. In the 2016 general election campaign Over half (57%) of the campaign events were held in just 4 states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio). Virtually all (94%) of the campaign events were in just 12 states (containing only 30% of the country‘s population). In the 2012 general election campaign 38 states (including 24 of the 27 smallest states) had no campaign events, and minuscule or no spending for TV ads. More than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested on voters in just the only ten competitive states.. Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). Over 87% of both Romney and Obama campaign offices were in just the then 12 swing states. The few campaign offices in the 38 remaining states were for fund-raising, volunteer phone calls, and arranging travel to battleground states.

  • Susan Anthony

    Darren: Newt Gingrich summarized his support for the National Popular Vote bill by saying: -- No one should become president of the United States without speaking to the needs and hopes of Americans in all 50 states. … America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally. The National Popular Vote bill accomplishes this in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with our fundamental democratic principles. The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former Congressman John Buchanan (R - Alabama, and former Senators David Durenberger (R - Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R - Utah). Supporters of the National Popular Vote bill include former Senator Fred Thompson (R - TN), Governor Jim Edgar (R - IL), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Bob Barr (Libertarian - GA), and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R - GA). Saul Anuzis, former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for five years and a former candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, supports the National Popular Vote plan as the fairest way to make sure every vote matters, and also as a way to help Conservative Republican candidates. This is not a partisan issue and the National Popular Vote plan would not help either party over the other. The Nebraska GOP State Chairman, Mark Fahleson. Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote: --A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College. Some other supporters include: Laura Brod who served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2003 to 2010 and was the ranking Republican member of the Tax Committee. She was the Minnesota Public Sector Chair for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and active in the Council of State Governments. James Brulte the California Republican Party chairman, who served as Republican Leader of the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1996, California State Senator from 1996 to 2004, and Senate Republican leader from 2000 to 2004. Ray Haynes who served as the National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2000. He served in the California State Senate from 1994 to 2002 and was elected to the Assembly in 1992 and 2002 Dean Murray was a member of the New York State Assembly. He was a Tea Party organizer before being elected to the Assembly as a Republican, Conservative Party member in February 2010. He was described by Fox News as the first Tea Party candidate elected to office in the United States. Thomas L. Pearce who served as a Michigan State Representative from 2005–2010 and was appointed Dean of the Republican Caucus. He has led several faith-based initiatives in Lansing.

  • Susan Anthony

    Darren: The National Popular Vote bill, without changing anything in the Constitution, would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country. It does not kill the Electoral College. The bill would replace 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 later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting 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 retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections, and uses the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. The “scheme” ensures that every voter is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country. Every voter, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state counts and national count. The bill would take effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538. The bill in 2017 has passed in the New Mexico Senate. It was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 35 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia, Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California, Colorado (9), Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico (5), New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by the District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (19), New Jersey (14), Maryland (11), California (55), Massachusetts (10), New York (29), Vermont (3), Rhode Island (4), and Washington (13). These 11 jurisdictions have 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

  • Darren McKinney

    Have you nothing better to do, Ms. Anthony? Popular vote schemes merely seek to promote an unconstitutional tyranny of the effete coastal majority. And if you want to kill the Electoral College and its protection of the flyover-country minority, you‘ll need a constitutional amendment, plain and simple. That means two-thirds votes in both the House and Senate, and then approval by 38 states. So, good luck with that.

  • Susan Anthony

    The proposal to join the NPVC is states exercising their exclusive control of how to award their electoral votes. A survey of Connecticut voters in 2009 showed 74% overall support for the idea that the President should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. In 2009, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed the National Popular Vote bill The bill would replace 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 later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting 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 retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections, and uses the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It ensures that every voter is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country. Every voter, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state counts and national count. 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.

  • Susan Anthony

    In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until this election, 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 (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states) (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote for President is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range - in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled. Most Americans don‘t ultimately 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 no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don‘t allow this in any other election in our representative republic. The bill in 2017 has passed in the New Mexico Senate. It was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia, Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California, Colorado (9), Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

  • Susan Anthony

    Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1 “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." 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, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in states where there was a popular vote, 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 winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes became dominant only in the 1830s, when most of the Founders had been dead for decades, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state. The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state‘s electoral votes. There is nothing in Article II (or elsewhere in the Constitution) that prevents states from making the decision now that winning the national popular vote is required to win the presidency.

  • Susan Anthony

    Congressional consent is not required for the National Popular Vote compact under prevailing U.S. Supreme Court rulings. However, because there would undoubtedly be time-consuming litigation about this aspect of the compact, National Popular Vote is working to introduce a bill in Congress for congressional consent. The U.S. Constitution provides: "No state shall, without the consent of Congress,… enter into any agreement or compact with another state…." Although this language may seem straight forward, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in 1893 and again in 1978, that the Compacts Clause can "not be read literally." In deciding the 1978 case of U.S. Steel Corporation v. Multistate Tax Commission, the Court wrote: "Read literally, the Compact Clause would require the States to obtain congressional approval before entering into any agreement among themselves, irrespective of form, subject, duration, or interest to the United States. "The difficulties with such an interpretation were identified by Mr. Justice Field in his opinion for the Court in [the 1893 case] Virginia v. Tennessee. His conclusion [was] that the Clause could not be read literally [and this 1893 conclusion has been] approved in subsequent dicta." Specifically, the Court‘s 1893 ruling in Virginia v. Tennessee stated: "Looking at the clause in which the terms ‘compact‘ or ‘agreement‘ appear, it is evident that the prohibition is directed to the formation of any combination tending to the increase of political power in the states, which may encroach upon or interfere with the just supremacy of the United States." The state power involved in the National Popular Vote compact is specified in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 the U.S. Constitution: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors…." In the 1892 case of McPherson v. Blacker (146 U.S. 1), the Court wrote: "The appointment and mode of appointment of electors belong exclusively to the states under the constitution of the United States" The National Popular Vote compact would not "encroach upon or interfere with the just supremacy of the United States" because there is simply no federal power -- much less federal supremacy -- in the area of awarding of electoral votes in the first place. In the 1978 case of U.S. Steel Corporation v. Multistate Tax Commission, the compact at issue specified that it would come into force when seven or more states enacted it. The compact was silent as to the role of Congress. The compact was submitted to Congress for its consent. After encountering fierce political opposition from various business interests concerned about the more stringent tax audits anticipated under the compact, the compacting states proceeded with the implementation of the compact without congressional consent. U.S. Steel challenged the states‘ action. In upholding the constitutionality of the implementation of the compact by the states without congressional consent, the U.S. Supreme Court applied the interpretation of the Compacts Clause from its 1893 holding in Virginia v. Tennessee, writing that: "the test is whether the Compact enhances state power quaod [with regard to] the National Government." The Court also noted that the compact did not "authorize the member states to exercise any powers they could not exercise in its absence."

  • Susan Anthony

    With the National Popular Vote bill in effect, it would not force electors to vote for a candidate they don‘t want. All of the 270 presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority. States have enacted and can enact laws that guarantee the votes of their presidential electors The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors). If any candidate wins the popular vote in states with 270 electoral votes, there is no reason to think that the Electoral College would prevent that candidate from being elected President of the United States Pennsylvania law empowers each party’s presidential candidate to nominate all elector candidates directly. The presidential nominee is, after all, the person whose name actually appears on the ballot on Election Day and who has the greatest immediate interest in faithful voting by presidential electors. North Carolina law declares vacant the position of any contrary-voting elector, voids that elector’s vote, and empowers the state’s remaining electors to replace the contrary-voting elector immediately with an elector loyal to the party’s nominee. The Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act has a state-administered pledge of faithfulness. Any attempt by a presidential elector to cast a vote in violation of that pledge effectively constitutes resignation from the office of elector. The Act provides a mechanism for immediately filling a vacancy created for that reason (or any other reason).

  • Susan Anthony

    No statewide recount, much less a nationwide recount, would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 58 presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires. “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg 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 minuscule 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 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. 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. 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. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, 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.

  • Susan Anthony

    Now, a presidential candidate could lose despite winning 78% of the popular vote and 39 states. With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation‘s votes!

  • Susan Anthony

    The National Popular Vote bill ensures that every voter 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. With the current system of electing the President, none of the states requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state‘s or district’s electoral votes. Since 1828, one in six states have cast their Electoral College votes for a candidate who failed to win the support of 50 percent of voters in their state Not a single legislative bill has been introduced in any state legislature in recent decades (among the more than 100,000 bills that are introduced in every two-year period by the nation‘s 7,300 state legislators) proposing to change the existing universal practice of the states to award electoral votes to the candidate who receives a plurality (as opposed to absolute majority) of the votes (statewide or district-wide). There is no evidence of any public sentiment in favor of imposing such a requirement. If the current Electoral College type of arrangement were essential for avoiding a proliferation of candidates and people being elected with low percentages of the vote, we should see evidence of these conjectured outcomes in elections that do not employ such an arrangement. In elections in which the winner is the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by that office, historical evidence shows that there is no massive proliferation of third-party candidates and candidates do not win with small percentages. For example, in 905 elections for governor in 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote. Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.-- including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912 and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996). Americans do not view the absence of run-offs in the current system as a major problem. If, at some time in the future, the public demands run-offs, that change can be implemented at that time.

  • Susan Anthony

    There are good reasons why no state awards their electors proportionally. Although the whole-number proportional approach might initially seem to offer the possibility of making every voter in every state relevant in presidential elections, it would not do this in practice. The whole number proportional system sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives, regardless of the popular vote anywhere. It would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote; It would reduce the influence of any state, if not all states adopted. It would not improve upon the current situation in which four out of five states and four out of five voters in the United States are ignored by presidential campaigns, but instead, would create a very small set of states in which only one electoral vote is in play (while making most states politically irrelevant), It would not make every vote equal. It would not guarantee the Presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country. The National Popular Vote bill 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 and DC becomes President

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