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Thread: The electoral college

  1. #231
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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by pbrauer View Post
    You almost had me convinced, however something would change if the election was decided by popular vote. I don't know if this has been covered but if the election were decided on popular vote then there would be many more people running. The election could be won by person receiving a low percentage of the votes, but more than anyone else.
    They would hold a run-off then, until they had 50% + 1.

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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by TiredOfLife View Post
    They would hold a run-off then, until they had 50% + 1.
    Not the way they are currently attempting to do this with the National Popular Vote Compact. Holding a runoff election would require a constitutional amendment.
    There should be Instant Runoff Voting

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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by Anagram View Post
    Not the way they are currently attempting to do this with the National Popular Vote Compact. Holding a runoff election would require a constitutional amendment.
    I haven't been following it closely, or at all in this case. Thanks for the update.

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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by mvymvy View Post
    One more time.

    The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates.

    The National Popular Vote bill would change current state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. When states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes enact the bill, the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed majority of 270+ ELECTORAL COLLEGE votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

    The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution, and enacting National Popular Vote would not change anything in the Consitution. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, were 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 for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states 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.

    The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country. One person, one vote.

    40 states were left behind in the 2012 presidential campaign. The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state, ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, in 2012 did not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. 10 of the original 13 states are ignored now. Candidates had no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they were safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

    80% of the states and people were just spectators to the presidential election. That's more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans.

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

    National Popular Vote has NOTHING TO DO with pure democracy. Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly. With National Popular Vote, the United States would still be a constitutional republic, in which citizens continue to elect the President by a majority of Electoral College votes by states, to represent us and conduct the business of government in the periods between elections.
    Well you can post it one more time two more times or a zillion times and that does not change the facts that this bill is using measures to try and be implemented withouth using the Constitutional means through an Amendment! It is damn hard to get an Amendment passed. The proposers of this NPV plan have little regard for the Constitution. Like I have stated earlier, there have been those among us since the beginning of this great country that have been hell bent on changing things. Nothing new. But this same bunch who like to do it using a backdoor access like they do through our court system to achieve what they can't at the ballot box is getting old.

    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 05:12 PM.

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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by vesper View Post
    Well you can post it one more time two more times or a zillion times and that does not change the facts that this bill is using measures to try and be implemented withouth using the Constitutional means through an Amendment! It is damn hard to get an Amendment passed. The proposers of this NPV plan have little regard for the Constitution. Like I have stated earlier, there have been those among us since the beginning of this great country that have been hell bent on changing things. Nothing new. But this same bunch who like to do it using a backdoor access like they do through our court system to achieve what they can't at the ballot box is getting old.

    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!
    There is no NEED for an amendment. National Popular Vote changes NOTHING in the Constitution.

    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.

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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by TiredOfLife View Post
    I haven't been following it closely, or at all in this case. Thanks for the update.
    After more than 10,000 statewide elections in the past two hundred years, there is no evidence of any tendency toward a massive proliferation of third-party candidates in elections in which the winner is simply the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by the office. No such tendency has emerged in other jurisdictions, such as congressional districts or state legislative districts. There is no evidence or reason to expect the emergence of some unique new political dynamic that would promote multiple candidacies if the President were elected in the same manner as every other elected official in the United States.

    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.

  7. #237
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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by vesper View Post
    I know some like yourself think the Electoral College as a fusty relic of a bygone era, an unnecessary institution that one day might undermine democracy by electing a minority. but did any of you feel that way when JFK was elected on the basis of the electoral vote? No of course not. This attempt to overthrow the electoral college is just another effort to destroy another institution that has added to the success of this country. It ain't broken yet you all want to change it...why? I will tell you why because the Constitution is the only thing standing in the way of the left in reforming this country into some European Socialist country.

    Another history lesson...
    James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 makes clear that the Founders fashioned a republic, not a pure democracy. To be sure, they knew that the consent of the governed was the ultimate basis of government, but the Founders denied that such consent could be reduced to simple majority or plurality rule. In fact, nothing could be more alien to the spirit of American constitutionalism than equating democracy will the direct, unrefined will of the people.

    Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power, including the arbitrary will of the people. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the national government and the states. Madison noted that these twofold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.

    Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Oh well to Constitution Shredders, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.

    First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. And we all know those areas are Democratic strongholds. So what are you wanting to do with a popular vote is make every election a Democratic win?
    Yes, I definitely think that is what is behind this effort to tear down the institution of the Electoral College.

    Another thing to think about is...
    The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation.

    Also, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving. Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, And on that note I must say I have never met a leftie that was interested in restraining the power of the federal government. Hell they want the federal government to be the answer to all their needs without responsibility and Uncle Sam the father/provider for most of their children.

    If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic.
    Thank you for this history lesson, however it's not needed. I'm familiar with everything you've said. I'd also appreciate you not making assumptions about my motivations - your whole insulting comment about electing a minority. You don't know me.

    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 05:37 PM.
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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by vesper View Post
    I know some like yourself think the Electoral College as a fusty relic of a bygone era, an unnecessary institution that one day might undermine democracy by electing a minority. but did any of you feel that way when JFK was elected on the basis of the electoral vote? No of course not. This attempt to overthrow the electoral college is just another effort to destroy another institution that has added to the success of this country. It ain't broken yet you all want to change it...why? I will tell you why because the Constitution is the only thing standing in the way of the left in reforming this country into some European Socialist country.

    Another history lesson...
    James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 makes clear that the Founders fashioned a republic, not a pure democracy. To be sure, they knew that the consent of the governed was the ultimate basis of government, but the Founders denied that such consent could be reduced to simple majority or plurality rule. In fact, nothing could be more alien to the spirit of American constitutionalism than equating democracy will the direct, unrefined will of the people.

    Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power, including the arbitrary will of the people. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the national government and the states. Madison noted that these twofold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.

    Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Oh well to Constitution Shredders, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.

    First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. And we all know those areas are Democratic strongholds. So what are you wanting to do with a popular vote is make every election a Democratic win?
    Yes, I definitely think that is what is behind this effort to tear down the institution of the Electoral College.

    Another thing to think about is...
    The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation.

    Also, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving. Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, And on that note I must say I have never met a leftie that was interested in restraining the power of the federal government. Hell they want the federal government to be the answer to all their needs without responsibility and Uncle Sam the father/provider for most of their children.

    If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic.
    Discussions of the electoral college often dredge up a lot of confused thoughts, many of which are apparent in your post. Getting rid of the electoral college wouldn't result in "pure democracy" because you don't vote for a person to make decisions on your behalf in a pure democracy. So if the conversation is about how to best elect a President to represent you, we're already by definition not talking about pure democracy. We're obviously talking about a representative democracy.

    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.
    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.
    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.

    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.

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    Re: The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius46 View Post
    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.
    There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector's own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders. The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    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).

  10. #240
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    The electoral college

    Quote Originally Posted by mvymvy View Post
    There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector's own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders. The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    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).
    Friend please cease with the cut and paste jobs. They are annoying in the extreme. They don't further your agenda. They just cause people to stop reading.

    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.
    Don't be a grammar nazi - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 1 #7

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