Political Animal


September 14, 2011 1:25 PM Pennsylvania GOP cooks up ugly electoral scheme

By Steve Benen

It’s not surprising that Pennsylvania Republicans would start to get a little frustrated when it comes to presidential politics. It’s a key swing state that’s generally pretty competitive, but in each of the last five cycles, Pennsylvanians have backed the Democratic candidate.

But there’s no reason to translate that frustration into an ugly scheme like this one.

A new proposal is pushing the often-forgotten Electoral College into the spotlight as Pennsylvania officials ponder the state’s role in next year’s presidential race.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is trying to gather support to change the state’s “winner-takes-all” approach for awarding electoral votes. Instead, he’s suggesting that Pennsylvania dole them out based on which candidate wins each of the 18 congressional districts, with the final two going to the contender with the most votes statewide.

So far, the idea has received support from colleagues of the Delaware County Republican in the state House and from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

There’s no great mystery here. Barack Obama easily won Pennsylvania in 2008, and if he wins the state again next year, that’s 20 electoral votes — a significant prize. If Republicans can rig the game in advance of the election, and split up the state’s electoral votes by district, they can ensure at least half of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes will go to the GOP ticket, even if most of the state votes Democratic.

In a close national race, an obnoxious scheme like this can alter the entire presidential election, all because Republicans are afraid to fight on a level playing field. The appropriate response from the GOP should be to nominate a strong candidate and present a worthwhile agenda, not to shamelessly rig an election.

As Republicans have become increasingly radicalized, the “war on voting” has become far more intense. We see this in the voter-ID laws and restrictions on voter-registration drives, not to mention GOP efforts to undermine labor unions. But divvying up “blue” states’ electoral votes, while leaving “red” states as winner-take-all, is fundamentally offensive to how our democracy is supposed to operate.

And in case this weren’t quite offensive enough, Nick Baumann reports that Republican officials are also running things in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and may follow Pennsylvania’s lead.

Kevin Drum added, “As recently as a couple of decades ago this would have been a bridge too far for most of the party’s mandarins: conservative pundits and senior GOP officials would have sounded off against it because it was just too raw a deal even for flinty political pros. But now we live in the era of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and Tom DeLay and Fox News. There’s really no one left who might object to this merely out of a decent respect for institutional integrity and fairmindedness.”

Republicans are simply out of control. They know no limits; they have no shame.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • zmulls on September 14, 2011 1:33 PM:

    What I hope is the effective deal-killer for this, is that the state will lose *tons* of media revenue (advertising and polling, not to mention hotel/restaurant $$ for candidate visits) if the state is no longer a significant prize....

  • Sam on September 14, 2011 1:33 PM:

    Not a word about this on Politico's front page. It's really shocking that a systematic nation wide scheme by one political party to alter the electoral college and suppress the vote for electoral gain gets little to no mention in the political press.

  • c u n d gulag on September 14, 2011 1:37 PM:

    If you can't beat 'em, CHEAT 'EM!

    One of the things the Republicans hate most about America, is what makes it America - that nasty 'democracy' thing-a-giggy.

  • DAY on September 14, 2011 1:38 PM:

    Yet again I say Politics is War.
    Republicans take no prisoners, and Democrats observe the rules of the Geneva Convention.

  • Arlington BigFish on September 14, 2011 1:41 PM:

    I stand second to none in my detestation of Republican skulduggery, but don't states have the right to decide how their electoral votes will be distributed? I think Nebraska already did this a few years ago. We may not like the outcome, and it's obviously a ploy to take electoral votes away from Obama, but it's not an attempt to take the ballot away from anyone.

  • bushworstpresidentever on September 14, 2011 1:45 PM:

    "Republicans are simply out of control. They know no limits; they have no shame."

    And that is why come January 20, 2013, you will be able to say hello to President Romney or President Perry.

  • thebewilderness on September 14, 2011 1:49 PM:

    I don't think people truly grasped in 2006 how outraged the Republican leadership was when they discovered they had not achieve the permanent Republican majority they were promised.

  • right on September 14, 2011 1:49 PM:

    "Republicans are simply out of control. They know no limits; they have no shame."

    And that is why come January 20, 2013, you will be able to say hello to President Romney or President Perry.

    Right. Why would they have any limits? There are never any consequences for anything they do -- the corporate media just sit and let them go.

  • robert on September 14, 2011 1:51 PM:

    Counter Attack! Democrats should immediately introduce a Constitutional Amendment in the Senate to abolish the Electoral College. The slogan: "Take the Supreme Court out of the Presidential Election".

  • CA Pol Junkie on September 14, 2011 1:54 PM:

    Republicans would establish a de-facto dictatorship (think Mexico and the PRI) as long as they were the ones in charge. The charge gets overused, but this really is un-American. I would hope that there is some legal defense on this under equal protection or other grounds.

  • scott_m on September 14, 2011 1:54 PM:

    Progressives can use this opportunity to restart the conversation about getting either getting rid of the electoral college entirely via amendment or making it truly representative via states signing on to the compact of proportionally assigning electors, which goes into effect once a threshold states sign on.

  • Josef K on September 14, 2011 1:54 PM:

    Republicans are simply out of control. They know no limits; they have no shame.

    That's the sad thing about democracy, isn't it? Sometimes certifiable loons get into positions of power, and are just clever enough to ensure they stay there.

    At least until they start a civil war, at which point anything goes.

  • Ben on September 14, 2011 1:59 PM:


    So, recognizing the importance of local and state level elections, what are Democrats doing to improve their party? How are they trying to promote better redistricting? How are they fighting for better state legislatures?


  • ameshall on September 14, 2011 2:00 PM:

    And the GOP is winning. And the Democratic Party is doing nothing to stop them. Steve, why are we waiting for some fictional sane Republican to do the right thing and speak out against the GOP's blatant election-rigging? There's an opposition party called the Democrats who should be waging war against these tactics, but they are completely inept. While Wasserman-Schultz and other Democratic leaders are tweeting about community pot lucks and campus meetings, the GOP is implementing a battle plan and going for broke. It's like watching a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Screech.

  • JDM on September 14, 2011 2:03 PM:

    This is a power-grab by the GOP, but it's actually a very good idea for democracy. It gets at the wasted vote problem embedded in the electoral college. And frankly, if Obama's numbers in PA continue downward, he may lose the state, in which case he could cherish the ability to win some electoral votes there while losing statewide. The best response for Democrats would be to move similar legislation in states like Texas that have huge pockets of Democrats that are never represented in the EC. In any case, this is not "un-American." The EC in the constitution gives states the power to allocate their EC votes any way they like--proportional representation, winner take all, district by district, or just vote by state legislature (although that would face a 14th amendment and 15th amendment challenge today). Finally, if as few as 25% of the states adopted this, it would make another Bush v. Gore almost mathematically impossible--ie, no candidate could win the EC while losing the popular vote.

  • T2 on September 14, 2011 2:09 PM:

    if you can't win on sound policy and honesty, you cheat. That's the GOP/TP.

  • CA Pol Junkie on September 14, 2011 2:18 PM:

    JDM, if every state did this Republicans would have a massive structural advantage in elections because Democratic voters are more concentrated in fewer districts. Pennsylvania would likely give more electoral votes to the Republican than to Obama even if Obama were to win the state. That's nothing less than a rigged election.

  • matt w on September 14, 2011 2:18 PM:

    This is utterly despicable. If state governments can rig the election system so that people in different places don't vote under the same rules, then we don't have a democracy anymore. And when the government no longer depends on the consent of the governed... well, I know what the Tea Party would say. If Obama wins a popular vote majority and loses the electoral college because of this, I don't think he should surrender power.

    At the very least, Perry should be called on to either condemn this or to push for the same system in Texas.

  • zandru on September 14, 2011 2:22 PM:

    scott_m is right. The PA scheme wouldn't be that bad - IF ALL THE STATES DID IT. Of course, the goal is to get just the big, Democrat-leaning states to buy in. California Republicans tried to ram this through, if I remember correctly.

    As scott_m notes, this is a good time to open the discussion of the whole "Electoral College" deal. Time to push HARD for electing the President by direct popular vote. Forget the wackazoid "NPV" scheme; all we want done on a state level is registering voters and counting votes.

    As an added bonus, Presidential candidates would need to spend some time where the voters are. Hint: it's not distant rural Freeperville or Tea-Bagistan...

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 14, 2011 2:25 PM:

    DAY is correct. Democrats treat politics as if it's a dinner party instead of a boxing match.

    Democrats could have extincted Republicans for at least a generation in 2008. Instea, all we got was milquetoast lameassery (as usual) that didn't even bother to tell the story of Republican fiscal recklessness of the previous 8 years, much less the vacuous and malevolent content of their economic policies and actions that lead to the Great Recession and the obnoxious wealth redistribution of the last 30 years.

  • JDM on September 14, 2011 2:26 PM:

    Matt W, people already vote under dramatically different rules in our democracy, and have done so since the founding. If you look at voting by mail, for example, or weekend voting, or registration practices or even ex-felon voting. And this system is already in place in Nebraska and Maine. Finally, are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that Obama shouldn't surrender power if he loses the Electoral College? Yikes. Go join the Tea Party, they could us an extremist like you.
    And Junkie--you may be right about the structural advantage it would give the GOP, although another way to say that is that Democrats have an existing structural advantage in the way the House is structured, and yet remain in the minority (they begin with a larger number of safe seats, and should therefore have more resources to pour into swing ones).
    My point is, this is not CHEATING. It's trying to change electoral laws prior to an election. Calm down, people. This fixes several large problems in the Electoral College.

  • jlt on September 14, 2011 2:26 PM:

    The republican baggers are UGLY..what is news about that!
    The plan is convoluted..that might be the downfall..and the fact that it is exposed!

  • ga73 on September 14, 2011 2:45 PM:

    The problem is that the Democrats always try to stick to norms and expect their opponents to do the same. The norms however are not the rules. We need to change the rules to get rid of the electoral college because right now, Republicans in the legislature are perfectly within their rights to do this. In fact, the constitution is clear on this:

    "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."

  • 2liberal on September 14, 2011 2:49 PM:

    Nebraska and Maine already split their votes by CD. I think this column is overwrought.

  • CA Pol Junkie on September 14, 2011 2:54 PM:

    JDM, actually Democrats are currently at a structural disadvantage in the House, Senate, and electoral college because Democratic voters are concentrated in urban areas and in larger states. Democrats have some districts with 90% performance, but a district is just as safe with 60% performance. Republicans have alot of the latter.

  • 2Manchu on September 14, 2011 2:54 PM:


    We do. I think Maine does, too. Ironically, Obama gained one electoral vote (thanks to strong support in Omaha and Lincoln) in 2008. Many Repubs and media conservatives here had such a hissy fit that there was a proposal in the Unicameral to end the split vote and adapt winner-takes-all. Luckily nothing came from it. For now.

    But like many here have stated, this should be adopted by every state.

    Captcha phrase: format, rearsuc. That sounds kind of dirty. I like it.

  • bruce k on September 14, 2011 2:56 PM:

    This is a much better way to apportion electoral college votes than winner-take-all. I'd be interested to see an analysis of 2008 done by using Congressional districts to award electoral votes.

    However, I think all states should have the same system.

  • craig on September 14, 2011 2:57 PM:

    I see nothing wrong with this. They won elections and it is allowed by the Constitution. Personally , I think every state should do this. This is at least slightly better than the EC. Although I think the Presidency should be elected by total vote, scrapping the electoral college completely by amendment.

    I suspect the republicans would whine about total vote though because it takes away their advantage of rigging the states and their ability to play games because it would be a simple equation.

    My two cents.

    PS - I do think the Democrats should grow a pair and fight fire with fire. None of this no one likes ugly stuff. That is bull crap only losers think that. They should go out and fight for what they want.

  • rrk1 on September 14, 2011 3:01 PM:

    It pays to remember that the Rethugs have a 48 member majority in the House. So if the electoral votes were distributed by the winner in congressional districts and all the current Rethug congressional districts voted Rethug again in 2012 Obama could lose unless the 100 votes (2 perstate from the Senate) could make up the difference. In such a system the presidency would reflect the majority party in Congress, and installing a divided government would be more difficult.

    There needs to be a uniform system, not a piecemeal system. We don't have one now, and allowing states to decide how to allocate their electoral votes will make an already undemocratic system much worse. Every voters needs to know their vote counts as much as everyone else's, and is not handicapped by the size of the electoral delegation in their state compared to the size of other delegations. If there were truly one-man-one-vote, unlike now, it's likely that many more people would bother to vote.

    Get rid of the Electoral College, and the Senate too, while we're doing it.

  • Gregory on September 14, 2011 3:15 PM:

    So much for the "permanent Republican majority."

  • danimal on September 14, 2011 3:28 PM:

    The way to fight this is to support the National Popular Vote project. That is the best way to stop the shenanigans. In fact, if PA and the other briefly-red states try this, the National Popular Vote project has a real chance of catching on.

    Partisans like the gamesmanship like we're seeing in PA; most Americans just want a fair election in which their vote counts. Just a few more states and the system is effectively reformed.

  • CA Pol Junkie on September 14, 2011 3:44 PM:

    A helpful guide to what would happen if this were done nationally is here.

    2000: Bush received 271 electoral votes, but would have won 288 if electoval votes went by district
    2004: Bush would have won 31 additional electoral votes
    2008: John McCain would have won 64 additional electoral votes

  • chi res on September 14, 2011 3:53 PM:

    JDM: The best response for Democrats would be to move similar legislation in states like Texas that have huge pockets of Democrats that are never represented in the EC.

    A little political reality: Democrats don't "move legislation" in states that are effectively controlled by Republicans.

    What's "best" is not always possible, something that many so-called "progressives" have yet to learn.

  • liam foote on September 14, 2011 4:00 PM:

    Being from a family of dedicated Badgers and Cheeseheads, I would like to see Wisconsin remain a winner-take-all state, as it seems likely to return to a reliable blue in 2012 and beyond. But, frankly, Dairyland is divided evenly now and could go either way.

    We don't have the level of electoral significance of Ohio, certainly, and I would think voters in that state would object to becoming far less consequential.

    This GOP move makes sense. Three of these are swing states with hefty electoral votes, including PA (20), OH (18) and WI (10), plus a Dem-leaning MI (16), for a total of 64 electoral votes.

    Assuming solid red and blue remain constant, the winner in Florida takes the White House. As Sen. Rubio will be on the GOP ticket in 2016, Bob's your uncle.

  • exlibra on September 14, 2011 5:09 PM:

    What's undemocratic is the whole d...d Electoral College. Why some "power broker" should stand between me and my preferred candidate is something I could never bend my little Polack mind around...

  • SecularAnimist on September 14, 2011 6:12 PM:

    I really don't understand what is supposed to be inherently "ugly" about this "scheme".

    Sure, in this case it might be to the advantage of Republicans and to the disadvantage of Democrats, which is unfortunate, but that doesn't make it inherently "ugly" or wrong or undemocratic.

    If anything, it seems like a reasonable approach to addressing the complaints that many people -- including many progressives -- have expressed about the Electoral College system. And it is certainly something that state legislatures have the legitimate power to do.

    Am I missing something?

  • Chromehawk on September 14, 2011 7:25 PM:

    1 ) Didn't Colorado try to do that in 2004?
    I seem to remember Steve Benen in particular about the thought of those 9 votes getting split where Kerry got a few.

    of course -- that was put forward to the voters.

    2 ) And a BACKDOOR attempt around the electoral college is so much more ethical?

    3 ) If PA does this, more will follow. And the time will come that the race will be close but a 3rd party candidate will pick up a few districts here and there and low and behold ... they are the tie breaker!

    Regardless, what is the key to is this ethical or not?

    Again ... Benen was ecstatic about Colorado doing the very same thing for Kerry and that is the key.
    IF they send it to the voters AND the voters say ... yea lets do this.
    THEN shut up.
    If the voters say "NO" ( as they did in Colorado ) then it doesn't happen.

    And if you don't want to ASK the voters of PA what they think?
    Then do NOT go crying about how "DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES" have been violated.

  • zandru on September 15, 2011 12:52 AM:

    NPV is a recipe for Constitutional Crisis

    ... just as soon as a state's votes go to one party, but the state's legislature decides to award all of its electoral votes to the loser. It would end up in the courts in states across the country (because the NPV "compact" doesn't take effect unless some minimum number of EVs are signed on).

    If you want a smarter allocation of "electoral votes", abollish the Electoral College altogether and go for direct popular vote of the President. Period.

    Oh, and get rid of the d***d Senate. It's incapable of reforming itself, and was deliberately designed to be UNDEMOCRATIC.

  • toto on September 15, 2011 1:55 AM:

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes— enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the exclusive power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    A survey of 800 Pennsylvania voters conducted on December 16-17, 2008 showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 87% among Democrats, 68% among Republicans, and 76% among independents.By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 81% among 46-65 year olds, and 78% for those older than 65.By gender, support was 85% among women and 71% among men.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO - 68%, FL - 78%, IA 75%, MI - 73%, MO - 70%, NH - 69%, NV - 72%, NM— 76%, NC - 74%, OH - 70%, PA - 78%, VA - 74%, and WI - 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK - 70%, DC - 76%, DE - 75%, ID - 77%, ME - 77%, MT - 72%, NE 74%, NH - 69%, NV - 72%, NM - 76%, OK - 81%, RI - 74%, SD - 71%, UT - 70%, VT - 75%, WV - 81%, and WY - 69%; in Southern and border states: AR - 80%,, KY- 80%, MS - 77%, MO - 70%, NC - 74%, OK - 81%, SC - 71%, TN - 83%, VA - 74%, and WV - 81%; and in other states polled: CA - 70%, CT - 74%, MA - 73%, MN - 75%, NY - 79%, OR - 76%, and WA - 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should get elected.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), CA (55), VT (3), and WA (13). These 9 jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

  • Dilip on September 15, 2011 8:34 AM:

    @ChromeHawk is exactly right. Here is the link:

    There is plenty of blame to go around. Parties always tend to do whatever helps them win. Democrats are no different in this regard.

  • zandru on September 15, 2011 9:15 AM:

    toto writes a lot, but a key phrase is citing "78% overall support for a national popular vote for President"

    That's support for electing the President by national popular vote, not for "NPV".

    As I said, this sounds like the public is ready to amend the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College. The smart thing would be to actually push for a constitutional amendment, rather than private little agreements between states that would most certainly be challenged in court if ever invoked.

    I mean, REALLY - can you imagine a situation in which Texas, just as an example, goes big for Big Swingin' Dick Perry - but the popular vote nationwide favors "Hussein" Obama? And so Tejas would be required to give all its votes to the DEMOCRAT?

    NPV is a recipe for disaster. The popular vote has public support. Don't waste this support on some kind of Rube Goldberg nightmare.

  • toto on September 15, 2011 11:23 AM:

    The Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

    To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. With that daunting threshold, enough of the public is NOT ready to amend the Constitution.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The smart thing is to support the National Popular Vote, that is 49% of the way towards going into effect.

    Interstate compacts are supported by over two centuries of settled law. Interstate compacts exist because the states are sovereign. If there were no Compacts Clause in the U.S. Constitution, a state would have no way to enter into a legally binding contract with another state. The Compacts Clause, supported by the Impairments Clause, provides a way for a state to enter into a contract with other states. The enforceability of interstate compacts under the Impairments Clause is precisely the reason why sovereign states enter into interstate compacts. Without the Compacts Clause and the Impairments Clause, any contractual agreement among the states would be, in fact, no more than a handshake.

    Come the end of voting on Election Day, most voters don't care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being declared a loser detestable. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

  • zandru on September 15, 2011 12:31 PM:

    More from Toto

    "Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate."

    So push for a Constitutional Amendment for direct election of the President and scrapping the Electoral College in its entirety. And don't sell "the public" short. Americans can make good decisions, if we're given good information.

    There are plenty of existing organizations - Common Cause, ACLU, League of Women Voters, MoveOn, etc etc - who could work on the "education" end, even if the Democrats are too short-sighted or timid to do it.

    Republicans won't - they benefit massively from the advantage the EC gives to small, unpopulated states.

  • toto on September 15, 2011 3:35 PM:

    The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution, and enacting National Popular Vote would not need an amendment. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, are an example of state laws eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.

    Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

    The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

    The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  • chromehawk on September 15, 2011 7:45 PM:

    Okay the NPV.

    1 ) Once the threshold is reached ... reached or maintained?
    Did you not notice the change in electoral seats?
    What happens when you HAD 274 electoral college votes allocated to the NPV and then ... OOPS now you only have 268 cause 6 votes got switched?

    2 ) Yep I looked at that list of states.
    DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), CA (55), VT (3), and WA (13)

    Republicans carry those states ... err ... NEVER!!!!

    Which means the only way THOSE states give their votes to someone who won the national popular vote and not their state vote is when those states swap to REPUBLICAN!

    Cause pretty much ... if a Republican carries CA, MA, MD, or LMAO DC?
    They WILL win the electoral college vote too!

    So what this means so far is the NPV movement? Benefits ONLY Republicans.

    3. Now note what you have there.
    Popular vote winner.
    No minimum.

    This means 3rd parties.
    It means someone could very feasibly come in 2nd place in every state in the nation.
    Hell they could come in 2nd place in their HOME state.

    And woops.
    They are President of the US

    If we had a situation with 5-6 viable candidates with nothing to lose?
    The President of the U.S. selected by th NPV could have less than 20% of the popular vote.

    Think I am kidding?
    If NPV were active in 2008 -- Hillary would have ran independent.
    So would Huckabee and probably Romney.

    What about 2016?
    Hillary and Biden too old. No one on the horizon ... no heir-in-waiting.
    The Republicans have no obvious leader or go to person ...

    I could see Schuman v. Brown v. Romney v. Bachman v. v. v. v. v.

    Remember -- since you did the NPV they do not have to WIN anything!
    Just get more total votes than anyone else.
    And the more people that run?
    The lower the bar.
    Until ... very possibly ... the President of the US is elected with *gasp* 8% of the popular vote.
    Cause that was the highest!

  • toto on September 15, 2011 9:50 PM:

    1 & 2) The bill says: "Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term."

    Any attempt by a state to pull out of the compact in violation of its terms would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and would be void. Such an attempt would also violate existing federal law. Compliance would be enforced by Federal court action.

    The bill would not be in effect with enacting states with less than 270 electoral votes.

    3)Under the current system of electing the President, no state requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state's electoral votes.

    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 an 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 apocalyptic 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 the last 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).