Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 1, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

YET STILL MORE PLEDGE WEEK....Don't know what to do with your stimulus check? Send it to us! Or at least a piece of it, anyway. We promise to stimulate you in return. There's one more day left to go in our pledge week and we could use your help. As always, you can donate via check, PayPal, or credit card. Just click here.

And speaking of money, how much would you give to get rid of the Electoral College? Democrats hate it because of the 2000 election, and Republican should hate it because it almost cost them the 2004 election. Everyone should hate it. But what to do about it?

In our April issue, Michael Waldman says that although a constitutional amendment would be nice, it ain't gonna happen. But there's another solution that's both elegant and feasible:

The National Popular Vote is a campaign to get each state to pass a law entering into a binding agreement to award all their electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote in all fifty states and Washington, D.C. This provision would only go into effect when states whose electoral votes total a majority of the Electoral College — currently, 270 votes — sign the compact.

....Last April, Maryland became the first state to sign the compact. New Jersey followed suit in January of this year, as did Illinois in April. The measure has passed one house in seven states and, as of this writing, had passed both legislative houses in Illinois and was awaiting the governor's signature. It is being actively debated in more than a dozen other states.

That's 46 electoral votes so far, 224 to go. Read the whole piece for all the details.

Kevin Drum 12:53 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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Comments

Why not just propose to get rid of the Electoral coollege altogether, if you're going to support this superficial and stupid idea?

Further, unless such a stipulation is both universal and mandatory nationwide, its adoption by individual states would probably violate the Constitution's equal protection clause -- so really, what's the point?

Posted by: Democracy Bimbo on May 1, 2008 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

None of this should happen unless we federalize federal elections. Which we ought to do anyway. It's crazy that every state has its own registration requirements and bullshit hoops you gotta jump through.

Posted by: Chris M on May 1, 2008 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

What's the point?

To start an honest dialog (which you obviously aren't interested in doing, so don't expect you to understand.

The election fraud that allowed 2000 & 2004 elections that were stolen by the criminal cabal behind dur chimpfurher was made possible by gaming vote counts in states that could be used to manipulate outcome in electorial college.

If we are to have free, fair, open, and verifiable elections (which the United States currently does not have), then we need a system where a few key political hacks in certain states like FL and OH (there are more) and the corpocracy that owns the MSM and military-industrial complex cannot hijack the will of the people.

Hat's off to the states and politicians that are willing to get this process rolling - it will be harder to game national vote counts and even harder to maintain the current "get over it" mindset that is a result of the media coverage after elections are stolen.

Posted by: on May 1, 2008 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

I was thinking about donating, figured I'd take a look at the article on the National Popular Vote, then quit reading when I got to the words "Below is a remarkable pair of maps..." and there were no maps below or anywhere on the page. The heck with donating, too.

Posted by: Swift Loris on May 1, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody look into the astounding numbers Bush got in the fully Diebolded Deep South in 2004?

This idea does have problems as long as the states have so much leeway over the reliability of their votes.

Posted by: Boronx on May 1, 2008 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

I assume this map is the same as what you'd see in dead tree version. Pretty interesting.

Posted by: has407 on May 1, 2008 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Democracy Bimbo: Further, unless such a stipulation is both universal and mandatory nationwide, its adoption by individual states would probably violate the Constitution's equal protection clause...

That's far from clear. There are several possible challenges to the NPV. Which are viable, and whether the NPV would stand up, has generated quite a bit of debate. Unfortunately, much of the debate is, as you tellingly put it, is "stupid and superficial".

Posted by: has407 on May 1, 2008 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't the NPV law be unconstitutional? The Constitution gives each state the power to decide how its electors vote. NPV would take away that power.

Posted by: captcrisis on May 1, 2008 at 6:12 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't the NPV law be unconstitutional? The Constitution gives each state the power to decide how its electors vote. NPV would take away that power.

Under the NPV, each state that passed such a law would be doing precisely that. It's not Federal legislation.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 1, 2008 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it just make more sense to follow the Maine/Nebraska model and allocate evs by congressional district with the two for senators going to the highest vote total in the state? Again, you'd need a critical mass of big states to go along first (split California and no democrat wins, ditto for republicans and Texas) there are conservative parts of liberal states and liberal parts of conservative states, why should those voters be, in essence, meaningless? Breaking it down to the district level would make each person's vote more meaningful in more places. So, if we can solve the district apportionment problem, why not do this?

Posted by: Northzax on May 1, 2008 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

It will be a cold day in the underworld when AL passes this!

Posted by: Mezon on May 1, 2008 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

So if enough blue states sign up and few red ones do (as seems to be the trend) the Republic party could never win the popular vote and lose the election, but the Democrats still could. Genius. Is this the Rove plan for election reform?

Posted by: Jack H. on May 1, 2008 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Nameless at 1:35 am:

You seem like a real asshole. Here's an idea--why don't we tackle fraud and get rid of the electoral college?

Posted by: on May 1, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

That was me at 8:38 am.

Posted by: douglasfactors on May 1, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

That was me at 8:38 am.

To clarify, we can't exactly "get rid" of the electoral college, barring a constitutional amendment, but the National Popular Vote campaign is a nice way to work around it.

Posted by: douglasfactors on May 1, 2008 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

I read an article in Discover magazine a number of years ago about how the Electoral College magnifies the importance of each person's vote. If the Electoral College goes away, you can bet that voter apathy will skyrocket, since each person's vote will become even *more* insignificant. Getting rid of the electoral college, despite all of its problems, is really a bad idea. Instead, how about fixing all those voting machines (starting with getting rid of any with the name 'Diebold' on them).

Posted by: estamm on May 1, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Depending upon state laws to implement this major change in the electoral system is a terrible idea. It's not hard to imagine a state with a Republican state legislature and governor withdrawing from the scheme ("due to the serious flaws of the Democratic candidate, along with the fact that our state voted by a large majority for the Republican" for example) shortly after the election. This withdrawal would need just a short (1 day) session of the state legislature and the governor's signature.

Posted by: Bill Smugs on May 1, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

I don't mind the electoral college. Most elections, 2000 aside, it has worked just fine. And there are good arguments for why it does matter for little states to have some say in elections; I have to be persuaded that bypassing the electoral college will be an advantage to me or a big enough problem to deserve my attention.

Some bigger problems are the lack of national standards for conducting elections, transparency in vote counting, voter suppression, the length of the campaign season, the role of money/swiftboat attacks and conservative media bias. The list goes on and on. Let's address those problems first.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 1, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I read an article in Discover magazine a number of years ago about how the Electoral College magnifies the importance of each person's vote. If the Electoral College goes away, you can bet that voter apathy will skyrocket, since each person's vote will become even *more* insignificant.

That's BS. The electoral college may magnify my vote since I live in Florida, but it certainly renders votes in many states meaningless, like Democrats living in Texas or Republicans in California.

I wish people would read the linked article before throwing out comments. The electoral college hasn't "worked fine" in most elections. As the article states, it's failed to elect the popular vote winner 4 times including 2000, and that doesn't count the near-disasters. And it undeniably focuses attention on swing states, not small states. Florida and Ohio aren't all that small, and that's where the money's been going recently.

Sure, we need to ensure the fairness of elections by working on voter suppression, transparency in tallying etc... but I've never understood why people assume working on one problem means you can't work on another. Rendering the electoral college toothless gets rid of one set of problems. We should still be working on the others.

Posted by: Chris Howard on May 1, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

State legislatures choose the electors by whatever method the legislature wants.

The fight to get direct election of Senators was much tougher. The legislatures didn't want to give up there power to choose Senators, but "the people" demanded it.

So the voters in the states had non-binding Senatorial elections and tried to force the legislatures to adhere to that vote. By the time the constitutional amendment got ratified, many (most?) states had ways of forcing the legislature to follow the will of the voters.

There would be ways to ensure that all states actually sent the "correct" electors to DC to vote in January.

After a couple of decades of this, the constitutional amendment eliminating the electoral college would pass.

Posted by: PDX Pete on May 1, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I read an article in Discover magazine a number of years ago about how the Electoral College magnifies the importance of each person's vote.

Really? It seems to me that it renders my vote useless. I'm a Democrat in SC. Even if 49% of SC voters vote for the Dem candidate, ALL of the state's electoral votes are going to the Republican candidate.

Posted by: kc on May 1, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Given the collapse of the Republican party along with the changing demographics of the U.S., all the Democrats need to do is stay calm that they will eventually be the one, dominate party in the U.S.

Over 100 Democratic Congressmen are running unopposed as compared to about 25 Republicans. Only one Democratic senate seat in up for grabs versus several Republican seats.

Given that blacks and Hispanics have a much higher birthrate than whites and given that most immigrants become automatic Democratic voters, why mess with the constititution when demographics will given the Democrats evey thing they want.

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 1, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Before everyone ridicules the Discover magazine article that you didn't read, here is a link to it.

http://discovermagazine.com/1996/nov/mathagainsttyran914

The first paragraph states: "When you cast your vote this month [the article was written in 1996], you're not directly electing the president--you're electing members of the electoral college. They elect the president. An archaic, unnecessary system? Mathematics shows, says one concerned American, that by giving your vote to another, you're ensuring the future of our democracy."

Another graph:
"Natapoff’s self-chosen labor has taken him more than two decades. But now that the journal Public Choice is about to publish his groundbreaking article, he can finally relax a bit; he might even take a vacation. In addition to this nontechnical article, which skimps on the math, he’s worked out a formal theorem that demonstrates, he claims, why our complex electoral system is provably better than a simple, direct election. Furthermore, he adds, without this quirky glitch in the system, our democracy might well have fallen apart long ago into warring factions."

So, before people go whole hog for scrapping the electoral college, perhaps they should read why that might NOT be a good idea, instead of berating me.

Posted by: estamm on May 1, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

This is SUCH a bad idea!

Switching to NPV magnifies the potential for voter fraud. States with strong majorities of one party will just do whatever they can, legal or illegal, to maximize the margin of victory for their preferred candidate because margin of victory in each state will now matter on the national level. It strongly motivates voter fraud.

Posted by: Mike on May 1, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

No small state has any incentive to pass such a law, and if enough states passed it that it actually went into effect for them, the small states would have even less incentive to join. On top of that, depending on election dynamics, many states could well opt out at any point, and there is nothing short of a constitutional amendment that would prevent such gaming of the system.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on May 1, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

If the electoral college is a problem, and it has not functioned as intended since at least 1800, the Senate is also a problem. Both of these institutions are archaic and beyond outmoded. Among the world's democracies they are the least democratic. The election of representatives through these institutions was problematic for the founders and they have grow increasingly less democratic as time has gone on. This is the case because of population growth and because of the democratic innovations outside of the United States.

It is quite clear that at the beginning of the 21st century the United States is the least democratic nation among the stable democracies.

Posted by: bellumregio on May 1, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Seems like so many of you either didn't read or didn't understand the article...

States agree to allocate their electors to the candidate who won the popular vote nationally. Their state total wouldn't matter anymore. Large-state small-state blue-state red-state doesn't matter: if 270+ electoral votes worth of states agree, then we will have a national plan to move the Electoral College from potentially harmful reality to neutered quaint tradition.

People who think that the Electoral College is fine the way it is will have to explain that we're supposed to happily grin and bear it when the popular vote WINNER doesn't actually win the election. Regardless of for whom you will vote, this is the type of situation that has the potential to equally upset and inflame each party.

People who think that states should divide their electors into congressional districts missed that part that explained how that will throw the presidential election to the folks who gerrymandered the district in the first place. From the article, only 7% of the population lives in "contested" congressional districts - a smaller percentage than people who live in swing states.

Posted by: rusrus on May 1, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

I guess there's not much to lose in such a campaign. It won't guarantee results of course.

Posted by: B on May 1, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Before everyone ridicules the Discover magazine article that you didn't read, here is a link to it.

Fair point, but your paraphrase didn't provide Natapoff's rationale. Having now read the article, I will certainly concede that mathematically, districting increases the power of each vote in a large electorate because there's a greater chance that a smaller number of votes can turn the election. However, I still don't buy it in practice. With the current party split in the 50 states, districting only increases the real voting power of the voters in states without a clear majority, i.e. the swing states, of which there are currently very few.

Posted by: Chris Howard on May 1, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Given the collapse of the Republican party along with the changing demographics of the U.S., all the Democrats need to do is stay calm that they will eventually be the one, dominate party in the U.S.
Posted by: superdestroyer on May 1, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

This assumes that parties are incapable of change. I'll grant you that, yes, if the Republican Party continues on with the same platform - it will eventually fade into an eternal minority party.

But, if the party were to roll with the changes, and realize that there will always be "conservatives" as a foil for "liberals," they can remain at near-50% forever: all they need to do is brush-off that dust from the 50's and get with the times a little more...

Let's not forget that we're programmed to want a fight. If we were a one-party country, there'd be no excitement come election time, and the pundits just can't be havin' that...

Posted by: rusrus on May 1, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Given the language used to describe this "National Popular Vote" thingy in the excerpt, it would appear to be unconstitutional.

Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution states:

NO STATE SHALL, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF CONGRESS, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, ENTER INTO ANY AGREEMENT OR COMPACT WITH ANOTHER STATE, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Since this thing is an "agreement or compact" that the States are entering into with each other, it would be unconstitutional unless and until, the states who want to adopt this thing obtain the "consent of Congress."

Interestingly, this provision of the Constitution does not appear to require that Congress pass a law, which must be signed by the President to validate this "agreement or compact." Instead, it requires only that Congress give it consent. I would take this to mean that each House of Congress must give its consent, probably in the form of a joint resolution, for each state that wants to be a party to this "agreement or compact" before it would be binding on any one state.

Posted by: Chicounsel on May 1, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The Maine/Nebraska system would throw close races with a strong 3rd-party candidate into the House of Representatives, a pernicious unintended consequence.

The NPV concept is a bit better, but has the same weakness. If the idea is that the EC votes unanimously for "the candidate who wins the national popular vote in all fifty states and Washington, D.C," that sounds cool, but what about a situation like 1992, where the n.p.v. broke 43-37-19? Do you want to enact (or preserve) a system where a plurality translates so quickly into a majority?

Much better would be a simple popular-vote system with either an instant or a true runoff. Works in France. (That alone will doom it with most American voters, of course :)

Posted by: Tim Morris on May 1, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

rusru,

Most voters are uninterested in the fight. Cities like Chicago, Philly, Baltimore, DC have not had a comparative general election for mayor in decades and there is not prospect for changes. Given how few competitive elections there are now, there is no reason to believe that the U.S. cannot function as a one party state. The real election will be in the Democratic Primary where manipulation will be much easier.

Posted by: on May 1, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Why do this rather than pursue a constitutional amendment? At least with amendment, you only need 2/3 of the states to force Congress to put it out to the states - at which point you need 3/4 of the states.

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress...."

Posted by: christor on May 1, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

People who think that the Electoral College is fine the way it is will have to explain that we're supposed to happily grin and bear it when the popular vote WINNER doesn't actually win the election.

Posted by: rusrus on May 1, 2008 at 10:43 AM

That's a fairly easy to explain. You're suppose to "grin and bear it" when the candidate with the most popular vote does not win because the popular vote is not the measure that the Founding Fathers wanted to be used to decide the winner of the Presidental election.

An analogy would be to say that the winner of baseball game should be the team that gets the most hits instead of the most runs. Why should a team that gets the most hits lose to a team that has fewer hits but more runs? LET EVERY HIT COUNT!!

Posted by: Chicounsel on May 1, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Chico,

No shit, sherlock. But in this case, you see, the founding fathers made a mistake. That's what we're talking about here. Be quiet now and let the adults converse about the best way to fix the problem. Baseball analogies are beyond stupid, in this case.

Posted by: thersites on May 1, 2008 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

@Chicounsel, hat tip to thersites

There's a problem with a system that will allow 50%+1 of the voters in 11 states (CA, FL, GA, IL, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, and TX) decide the election. By my calculations, that will get 271 electoral votes and (based on 2004 voting numbers) only represents 27.3% of voters.

NOTE: Before you all get in a huff on how these states don't have the same voter profiles and all that happy horseshit, note that I just used these states as a group of "large electoral vote" states...

Posted by: on May 1, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

This NPV thing is the biggest waste of time and energy I have ever seen. Does anyone seriously think that a minority of states are going to be allowed to switch the election of the president of the United States from the Electoral College to a popular vote? Do you think the other states who want the Electoral College will sit by while over 200 years of practice is erased? There are numerous Constitutional arguments for striking it down, and the SC will waste no time whatsoever in using them. They will either call this a compact and reinvigorate the Compact Clause (which has been allowed to atrophy due to dubious interpretation) to require the consent of congress (Art. 1 Sec 10 par. 3), or they will call it a "treaty alliance or confederation" and it will be struck down under (Art. 1 Sec. 10 par. 1). They also might strike it down under a Prinz v. United States theory of violating a structural provision of the Constitution. It makes me think the whole thing is a really silly prank.

Why do this rather than pursue a constitutional amendment?

The answer is because they can't. There is no way 3/4 of the states will agree to a popular election. This a cute way of circumventing the amendment requirement and giving power to a minority of states to change the constitution.

Posted by: Brad on May 1, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a problem with a system that will allow 50%+1 of the voters in 11 states (CA, FL, GA, IL, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, and TX) decide the election. By my calculations, that will get 271 electoral votes and (based on 2004 voting numbers) only represents 27.3% of voters."

This is exactly correct. A nationwide popular vote will effectively disenfranchise the people in the small states. And, in fact, it will even disenfranchise people even in the large states that don't happen to live in the big cities. Candidates will have no choice but to concentrate their campaigns in the biggest cities in the biggest states, and ignore everyone else.

There are a lot of problems with the electoral college system, and it certainly needs reforming (as does the rest of this quite outdated and effectively obsolete 18th century constitution). But there's a certain genius to it as well. It keeps the big states and cities from predominating. It goes too far in giving the small states too much say, but a nationwide popular vote goes too far in the other direction. Unfortunately there simply is no proper balance possible because it's simply not possible to be fair and equitable in a nation this large.

Abraham Lincoln didn't win the popular vote.

Posted by: mike on May 1, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK
I read an article in Discover magazine a number of years ago about how the Electoral College magnifies the importance of each person's vote.

This is only possible with a particularly crabbed operationalization of "importance". After all, since the total power of all individual votes combined is fixed, as long as you have the same number of individual votes, it is mathematically impossible to change the mean power of a vote, and increasing the power of any one vote necessarily reduces the power of another.

Now, it could be that procedural changes could increase, say, the power of the median vote, but that's not the same as increasing the importance of each person's vote.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 1, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK
To clarify, we can't exactly "get rid" of the electoral college, barring a constitutional amendment, but the National Popular Vote campaign is a nice way to work around it.

Its not erally a nice way to work around it, because it doesn't really deal with the problem; so long as the US is not an executive dictatorship, the disproportionate allocation of power in the legislature is a bigger problem, and if the US is an executive dictatorship, fiddling around with the voting system doesn't address the problem there, either.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 1, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK
Given the collapse of the Republican party along with the changing demographics of the U.S., all the Democrats need to do is stay calm that they will eventually be the one, dominate party in the U.S.

Yeah, the same way that worked for the Democratic (then, Democratic-Republican) party when first the Federalists and then the Whigs imploded. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of American history would recognize that though the party of Jefferson has always outlasted its major opponent, it never ends up more than momentarily as the "one, dominant party" in the U.S. as a result; the defunct party is fairly swiftly replaced.

And anyone with even a basic grasp of the incentives inherent in the kinds of voting used in the U.S. would understand why the U.S. always ends up with two major competing parties, even if one of the two in power at any given time implodes entirely.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 1, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK
And speaking of money, how much would you give to get rid of the Electoral College? Democrats hate it because of the 2000 election, and Republican should hate it because it almost cost them the 2004 election.

Republicans who can do math and have decent understanding of the distribution of partisan affiliation in the country love it since it disproportionately magnifies the voting power of right-leaning regions. Also, it reflects Republican aesthetic preferences, which is why (unlike the more proportional system used by Democrats) the Republican primary system (praised recently by Hillary Clinton) is very similar to the EC system in being very close to state-by-state, winner-take-all.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 1, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely

It the past is was white Europeans differing over the shape of politics. In the future, identify politics reinforced by government programs like affirmative Action. The idea that politics in the U.S. needs two parties is not shown in cities like Chicago where there was only been only relevant party for decades. If Chicago can function with one big pork barreling party, there is not reason to believe that the U.S. cannot function the same way.

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 1, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

"This is only possible with a particularly crabbed operationalization of "importance". After all, since the total power of all individual votes combined is fixed, as long as you have the same number of individual votes, it is mathematically impossible to change the mean power of a vote, and increasing the power of any one vote necessarily reduces the power of another."

The article in question counts the "importance" of a vote as the power it holds to change an election result. To grossly simplify, in a three-vote election, if there is one vote for A and another for B, the third vote has the ability to change the result.

As Chris Howard says upthread, "districting increases the power of each vote in a large electorate because there's a greater chance that a smaller number of votes can turn the election."

Posted by: steverino on May 1, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that politics in the U.S. needs two parties is not shown in cities like Chicago where there was only been only relevant party for decades. If Chicago can function with one big pork barreling party, there is not reason to believe that the U.S. cannot function the same way.
Posted by: superdestroyer on May 1, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Don't use Chicago as an example - it is certainly not a utopia...

Also, you're not serious about having only one party, are you? Even if it were the Democratic Party, there has to be more than one choice in town... The goal for progressives should be more parties, not less. There are more than one issue we're facing these days, and these issues have more than one side... You can't expect one party (or even two, three, or four) to faithfully represent "your" side to each and every issue.

But, in this country, the best we're likely to get is two parties (sad).

Posted by: rusrus on May 1, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

mike wrote: A nationwide popular vote will effectively disenfranchise the people in the small states. And, in fact, it will even disenfranchise people even in the large states that don't happen to live in the big cities. Candidates will have no choice but to concentrate their campaigns in the biggest cities in the biggest states, and ignore everyone else.

This is absurd... The people in small states won't be the least bit disenfranchised. Collectively, their votes will be worth less because there are *fewer of them*, but the vote of each person in Idaho, for example, will be worth just as much as the vote of each person in New York City. In the current system, it is non-swing state voters who are disenfranchised -- it doesn't make any difference whether the turnout in Utah, for example, is 20% or 80%, because the Republican is going to win either way. So under a national popular vote system, the votes of people from Utah, or Idaho, or Rhode Island, or D.C. will be worth something, while right now, because they aren't "swing states", those votes (and voters) are ignored.

(However, I oppose the NPV campaign -- I think it's the wrong way to change the process, and I think that having many states direct their electors based on the outcome of fifty other states with fifty different sets of election laws is a recipe for chaos in a close election. The right way to make the popular vote count is to make the presidential election a truly national election, controlled at the federal level.)

Posted by: Alex R on May 1, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The election fraud that allowed 2000 & 2004 elections that were stolen by the criminal cabal behind dur chimpfurher was made possible by gaming vote counts in states that could be used to manipulate outcome in electorial college.

Anyone who believes this krep is one of three things: stupid, ignorant or delusional. Take your pick.

Posted by: Brian on May 1, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

i'm not exactly sure how the NPV proposal is supposed to solve the problem of the 2000 election, viz, that the supreme court involved itself in appointing a president.

upthread, allusions have been made to the various legal issues NPV raises (i would add that it would potentially violate the VRA prohibition on diluting minority votes). maybe legally these arguments are strong or they're not (i have no idea), but that's kind of not the point.

consider, if NPV had been in place in the 2000 election, then obviously bush would have challenged NPV in court. would he have won in the supremes? considering the shamelessly lawless decision actually rendered in bush v gore, i personally have no doubt that the supremes would have happily thrown out NPV on whatever legal analysis they could plausibly have slapped together, provided it elected a republican president.

and that's the problem. if the ill you're trying to solve is to prevent another situation where the supremes decide who the president will be, then NPV seems like a really, really bad way to achieve it. if NPV is in place, the next time there's a mismatch between the popular and electoral vote, that election is going to the supreme court, to be decided in accordance with whom the judges want to be president. that seems like a bad outcome, to me.

Posted by: snuh on May 1, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why people think it will be 'easier' for states to accept awarding ev delegates to a candidate who might not have won the vote in their state. This seems more controversial than getting rid of the electoral college. It's also likely to be prone to free rider problems - with states opting out at the last minute when they saw the election swinging away from the likely winner of the state.

Posted by: cw on May 2, 2008 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

New York Times Letters
November 16, 2000

AWAITING A PRESIDENT, FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA; The Bulwark

Letter from Kenneth J Dow rejects calls to eliminate Electoral College, which he claims is bulwark against widespread vote fraud

To the Editor:

While there are reasons to consider scrapping the Electoral College (news article, Nov. 13), we should be aware that the college is a bulwark against widespread vote fraud and renders most voting irregularities moot. Electing the president by direct popular vote would expand the motivation and opportunity to alter vote counts.

Vote fraud is no doubt easiest to perpetrate in regions dominated by one party. But currently, there is no motivation to cheat in a state that one side dominates and no effect if cheating does occur there. In direct popular election, every questionable vote is as important as the next, and partisans with a grip on any backwater hamlet or city ward would have the incentive and the ability to help their candidate illegally. It would be nearly impossible to know where problems might lie.

This year, we need to resolve the disputes in Florida. Without the Electoral College, we could be drowning in inquiries and challenges in every state.

KENNETH J. DOW
New York, Nov. 13, 2000

Posted by: kd on May 2, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

NPV is unconstitutional under Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution which prohibits any state, without the consent of Congress from entering into any Agreement or Compact with
another State.

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Posted by: Ferris on March 13, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK
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