Saturday, November 25, 2006

Electoral College vs. Popular Election

Few unfortunately know the reasons the Founding Fathers and drafters of the federal Constitution of the U.S. gave to support the electoral college.

Another populist movement is afoot to choose the President/Vice President by popular, direct-democracy, majority vote.

If that happens, people who want to effect the outcome of an election in a key state, let's say Al Gore's own state (which he lost in 2000), would establish residency in order to vote. As well, there would be coordination for voters to establish residency in 11 largest states. The smaller population states would be "left behind" in the populist dust. There will also be more attempts than we've ever seen to register questionable voters (let's say illegal aliens and the underaged)(and the deceased see ACORN).

Note: some articles reference Birch, others Evan Bayh

Q: Why do you think we should abolish the Electoral College?

A: "I think our president should be chosen by the majority of the American people. That is ordinarily the case. But in 2000, as we all recall, we elected this president with fewer votes than the other candidate got. I just don't think in the modern era that is appropriate."

Check status:


free republic;o=time;s=Electoral%20College

CA: Schwarzenegger vetoes national presidential vote bill (Electoral College)
Contra Costa Times ^ | Sep. 30, 2006 | SAMANTHA YOUNG

Popular Nonsense. An unfair and ill-conceived attempt to ditch the Electoral College.
NRO ^ | April 19, 2006, 6:02 a.m. | Tara Ross

Posted on 04/19/2006 5:32:15 AM PDT by .cnI redruM

Opponents of the Electoral College have conjured up yet another scheme by which they hope to undermine America's unique system of electing presidents. If they are successful, the Electoral College could essentially be eliminated at the behest of a handful of states, without the bother of a constitutional amendment.

As Ronald Reagan might say, "There they go again!"

This latest anti-Electoral College effort, the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, was announced on February 23. Five states are currently considering the NPV plan: Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, California, and Louisiana. The Colorado state senate acted on the bill quickly, approving it on April 14.

If enacted, the NPV bill would create an interstate compact among consenting states. Each participating state would agree to allocate its entire slate of electors to the winner of the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect when states representing 270 electoral votes (enough to win the presidency) have agreed to the compact. The eleven most populous states have 271 electoral votes among them, and could thus make this change on their own. If one populous state failed to enact the plan, it could easily be replaced by a handful of medium-sized states.

NPV touts the ease of this change as one of the plan's best features. Electoral College opponents have tried and failed many times in their efforts to obtain a constitutional amendment. Such a process requires the consent of two thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states. It's much easier to obtain the consent of a mere eleven states. And if eleven states get to change the rules of the presidential-election game, without so much as a nod to the remaining thirty-nine states, then why should NPV supporters care? After all, presidential elections can already be won with the votes of only eleven states. So any unfairness in the NPV plan merely reflects the inherent unfairness of the Electoral College system.

It is true that America's presidential-election system technically could allow the eleven largest states to pick the president. But the incentives inherent in the Electoral College work in the opposite direction, making such an outcome extremely unlikely. The Electoral College encourages presidential candidates to build national coalitions of voters. The compromises that a presidential candidate would have to make to obtain the votes of, say, California and Texas, guarantee that any candidate who manages to obtain the votes of the eleven largest states will also obtain the votes of a majority of states. The last presidential candidate to accomplish this feat was Reagan in 1984, and he obtained the votes of every state except Minnesota. (He also lost the District of Columbia.)

NPV's legislation, on the other hand, does not ensure national coalition building. To the contrary, the proposal gives the eleven largest states incentives to work against the remaining states: Getting rid of the Electoral College would allow presidential candidates to win with positions that are not at all in the interest of less populous states. To be sure, and as NPV points out, candidates now focus largely on battleground states, but the only reason other states aren't battlegrounds is because they are, by and large, happy with one of the candidates positions. Moreover, so-called "safe" and "swing" states change constantly. As recently as 1988, California voted consistently Republican. Texas was a safe Democrat state until it began voting Republican in 1980.

The subversive plan to ditch the Electoral College
Townhall ^ | May 8, 2006 | Phyllis Schlafly
Posted on 05/08/2006 9:04:56 PM PDT by okiecon

A plot is afoot to change the constitutional form of government in the United States by ditching the Electoral College. John Anderson, Birch Bayh and John Buchanan, three losers who were defeated in the 1980 Reagan landslide, are scheming to change the U.S. Constitution without complying with the amendment process.

The Constitution requires that a president be elected by a majority of votes in the Electoral College, with each state's vote weighted based on its population. But some who took an oath to defend our Constitution are plotting to undermine its essential structure by a compact among as few as 11 of the most populous states.

The plan of this Campaign for the National Popular Vote is to get states with at least 270 votes in the Electoral College to enact identical bills requiring their own electors to ignore the winner of their state's election and cast all their state's ballots for the candidate who the state believes received more popular votes than the other candidates nationwide, even if he fails to win a majority of the popular vote.

The campaign gang of frustrated liberals has lined up sponsors for bills in California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri. They have already persuaded the Colorado Senate to approve their proposal.

It's ridiculous and un-American to try to force electors to vote against their constituents. Yet the campaign proposes requiring a state like Louisiana to vote for the candidate who won in other states such as New York.

The U.S. Constitution established the method of electing presidents and it has served us well for more than two centuries. It isn't broke and doesn't need fixing.

The Electoral College represents the inspired genius of our Founding Fathers. It was part of the great compromise the transformed the country from 13 rival colonies into a constitutional republic.

This great compromise gave the United States a Congress consisting of the Senate based on equal representation of the states and a House of Representatives based on population. The Electoral College is the mirror image of this brilliant compromise and allows all states to be players in the process of electing the president.

Commentaries: Graduating from the Electoral College?
Posted by: Admin on Friday, September 01, 2006 - 07:48 PM PST

by Norman M. Olney

As we slowly but inexorably head towards Presidential Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2008, it is prudent to remind ourselves of certain civics and history lessons from our nation's past that we have, perhaps, forgotten in the fast and hectic pace of the present.

Our nation is not a true democracy in the literal sense, but, instead, a Federal Republic that grants limited self-rule to its separate states. One of the best examples of this is the way we elect our presidents. Your individual vote on Election Day is not cast directly for a particular presidential candidate, but, instead, for the slate of Electors chosen to represent that candidate in your state. In all but two states at present, the entire slate of Electors whose presidential candidate wins the largest popular vote in their state solely represents that state in the Electoral College.

Each state has as many Electors as it has United States Senators and Representatives. The Electoral College presently totals 538 Electors based on 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, plus 3 electoral votes from our nation's capitol, the District of Columbia, as a result of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On December 15, 2008, the winning slates of Electors will cast their votes in their respective state capitols. There is no constitutional requirement that an Elector vote for the candidate that the Elector is pledged to. This has given rise, in our nation's past, to situations where a few Electors have ignored their pledge and have voted for someone else, or were otherwise independent or uncommitted. The most significant recent example of this occurred in 1960, when 14 Southern Democratic Electors voted for Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia instead of for John F. Kennedy. One Oklahoma Republican Elector also cast his ballot for Senator Byrd instead of for Richard M. Nixon.

The votes of the Electors, as certified by the states, will then be sent to Congress. Vice-President Richard Cheney, as President of the Senate, will open the certificates and have them counted in the presence of both the Senate and the House of Representatives in joint session on January 6, 2009. It is only at that time that the next President and Vice-President of the United States will be officially elected. However, in the event that neither major party ticket obtains a majority of at least 270 electoral votes, the matter would then be thrown to the new Congress to decide.

The latter outcome is very unlikely to occur in 2008, unless a significant threat arises from a major third party candidate, or the electoral vote is a 269 tie, or, alternatively, could be so close that the trustworthiness of pledges by individual Electors becomes a question of conjecture. These possibilities will be dealt with later in this analysis.

Count 'Em

By Hendrik Hertzberg
Published February 27th 2006 in The New Yorker

Last Thursday morning, in one of the smaller function rooms at the National Press Club, in Washington, an ad-hoc bunch of amateurs, once-weres, might-bes, and goo-goos floated an initiative that, with a little luck, could enable our ramshackle republic to take a long, and long overdue, step toward a more perfect union. The idea behind their initiative is this: that the President of the United States should be elected by the people of the United States.

This idea is neither new nor outlandish, but for most of the past couple of centuries it has been dismissed as unachievable. The Electoral College is enshrined in the Constitution itself, so getting rid of it would require the concurrence of two-thirds of both houses of Congress plus three-quarters of the state legislatures. That’s not going to happen.

But maybe it doesn’t have to. The promoters of the Campaign for a National Popular Vote, as they’re calling themselves, have come up with an elegant finesse. Instead of trying to change the Constitution, they propose to apply it, one bit in particular: Article II, Section 1, which instructs each state to “appoint” its Presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Here’s how the plan would work. One by one, legislature by legislature, state law by state law, individual states would pledge themselves to an interstate compact under which they would agree to award their electoral votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote. The compact would take effect only when enough states had joined it to elect a President—that is, enough to cast a majority of the five hundred and thirty-eight electoral votes. (Theoretically, as few as eleven states could do the trick.) And then, presto! All of a sudden, the people of all fifty states plus the District of Columbia are empowered to elect their President the same way they elect their governors, mayors, senators, and congressmen. We still have the Electoral College, with its colorful eighteenth-century rituals, but it can no longer do any damage. It becomes a tourist attraction, like the British monarchy.

There is very little doubt about the constitutional and legal feasibility of this plan. The power of state legislatures to direct the choice of their states’ electors, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled, is essentially unlimited. As the Court pointed out in one well-known case,

the State legislature’s power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary; it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by State legislatures in several States for many years after the Framing of our Constitution. (Bush v. Gore, 2000)

The political feasibility of the plan is another matter. Its initial backers are middleweights at best. Its originator is a scientist—John R. Koza, a Stanford professor who teaches courses in genetic algorithms and made a small fortune by co-inventing the rub-off instant lottery ticket...

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