There should be Instant Runoff Voting
Go ahead and push for your Popular Vote through the backdoor simply because you know the chances of you and yours can't get it done Constitutionally. You know it's bad when bad laws are passed and have the same effect as amending the Constitution but that is where we are at. If it continues, I personally don't see myself living in the U.S. New Zealand is looking pretty good. At least there you can pretty much open up a business within 24 hrs. without all the red tape this country is now operating under. Cheers!
Last edited by vesper; 08-10-13 at 03:12 PM.
The U.S. Constitution says "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 normal way of changing the method of electing the President is not a federal constitutional amendment, but changes in state law. The U.S. Constitution gives "exclusive" and "plenary" control to the states over the appointment of presidential electors.
Historically, virtually all of the previous major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation's first election in 1789. However, now, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states.
In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all method (awarding all of a state's electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all method is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states.
In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the 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, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state.
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.
Based on historical evidence, there is far more fragmentation of the vote under the current state-by-state system of electing the President than in elections in which the winner is simply the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the jurisdiction involved.
Under the current state-by-state system of electing the President (in which the candidate who receives a plurality of the popular vote wins all of the state's electoral votes), minor-party candidates have significantly affected the outcome in six (40%) of the 15 presidential elections in the past 60 years (namely the 1948, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential elections). The reason that the current system has encouraged so many minor-party candidates and so much fragmentation of the vote is that a presidential candidate with no hope of winning a plurality of the votes nationwide has 51 separate opportunities to shop around for particular states where he can affect electoral votes or where he might win outright. Thus, under the current system, segregationists such as Strom Thurmond (1948) or George Wallace (1968) won electoral votes in numerous Southern states, although they had no chance of receiving the most popular votes nationwide. In addition, candidates such as John Anderson (1980), Ross Perot (1992 and 1996), and Ralph Nader (2000) did not win a plurality of the popular vote in any state, but managed to affect the outcome by switching electoral votes in numerous particular states.
With 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 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).
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.
And, FYI, with the current system, it could only take winning a plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation's votes.
You and others have repeatedly gone on at length about how the EC and winner-take-all, which is really my problem not EC per se, protect the rights of small states. I've repeatedly asked for a reasonable explanation of how this can be - and have gotten silence.
So here's what I think. The EC was instituted primarily to thwart popular vote. Electors have no Constitutional responsibility to vote in accordance with the way their states tell them to. In reality that doesn't happen all that often but it is legally permissible. What the EC with winner-take-all effectively does is give all the real voting power to a small number of undecideds in a small number of traditionally undecided states. The rest of us - including most of those small states you profess to care about - can stay home on election day. Our vote matters not one bit.
We are a republic, not a democracy - at least not in the traditional sense. How we elect people has NO bearing on that. How we elect people has no real bearing on our Constitutional protections. If we went to direct popular vote tomorrow we would still be a republic. We would still be protected by the Constitution.
Last edited by Gaius46; 08-11-13 at 03:37 PM.
Quo usque tandem abutere, Trump, patientia nostra?
Similarly, if the "regionalism" that worries you refers to a situation in which candidates are captive to the parochial interests of a handful of states, you may want to stop and look around: that's how it works now (the handful of states in question are generally called "swing states"), though the current primary system plays a role in this, as well.
The original intent of the electoral college may well have been to "thwart the excesses of majoritarianism," as the original design (as described in Federalist No. 68) was to have a small, elite group of independent men deliberate on the best choice for the office:
It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes.Mixing up current interests with the interests of the Founders seems to be a common fallacy these days. Suggesting, as people often do (and have done even in this thread), that a body created when the country was a staggering 95 percent rural was intended to protect rural areas against the influence of urban population centers is just silly. That may be a consideration on the minds of the EC's proponents today when the country is 80%+ urban, but I somehow doubt it was foremost on the minds of folks living in a country that was 5% urban.They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office.
Obviously the actual functioning of the electoral college in the present day is completely perverted from its working at the end of the 18th century. Today it's a slightly awkward algorithm for aggregating state-level popular votes, not a mechanism for a small group of elites to meet in smoky rooms and theoretically choose the best man for the job. Far from an independent group of individuals who aren't beholden to anyone to "prostitute their votes," today's electors are slates of party hacks, who in some states (those with "faithless elector" laws) can in principle be punished for deviating from the pre-ordained party line.
The electoral college is a majoritarian system today, it just aggregates state-level majorities instead of taking a single national majority (though of course historically there have only been four times where these two methods differed). Are there reasons to do it the former way instead of the latter? Maybe, but the reasons don't ultimately rely on appeals to the Founders' intent, which our current system has long since disregarded, or objections against direct democracy or majoritarianism, neither of which make sense in this context.
Until we're straight on what the EC was supposed to be, what it is now, and what we want it to be going forward, I'm not sure these conversations can be very fruitful or illuminating.
If a Democratic presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state's dedicated Democratic party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. If a Republican presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state's dedicated Republican party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who collects 270 votes from Electoral College voters from among the winning party's dedicated activists.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).
I know the point. It doesn't matter. What matters is the fact that electors have no Constitutional responsibility to be faithful to the will of their state, which inevitably leads to the conclusion that the EC was not designed to protect small, rural states from the whims of large urban ones.
Quo usque tandem abutere, Trump, patientia nostra?