Monday, September 19, 2011

PA Electoral College votes

I am not usually in favor of amending the Constitution unlike some of my "conservative" friends who swear fealty to the document but want repeal the amendments they don't like and propose all sorts of changes.

After the 2000 election when Al Gore got 500,00 votes more than Bush I was disappointed that there wasn't a bigger push to scrap the Electoral College. The founders made it hard to change the process of electing a President as they didn't trust the people to elect the leader of our country and put it in the hands of state legislatures. The person with the most votes would be President and the the second place finisher would be Vice President. The election of 1800 revealed a flaw in the system when the ticket of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr both got the same amount of votes and the House of Representatives had to decide the thing after 20 something ballots. The 12th amendment was passed shortly after that. The constitution was a living document even then.

Now Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate have to decided to try to game the system proposing to award Electoral Votes by congressional distinct instead of the winner take all standard that is used by 48 other states. Nebraska has the CD requirement and is looking at changing it because the President won one of five of the Electoral votes in 2008.

I actually like the idea of awarding the electoral college vote by congressional districts but every state has to sign up for it to work. It doesn't require a constitutional amendment If Texas. Mississippi, California, Utah, New York, etc agree to it I'm all for it but that is not going to happen.

Be careful what you ask for as it just might backfire.

Some people in the Pennsylvania Republican party are freaked out by this idea.

House GOP fret over new Pa. electoral plan

Capitol Ideas is all over it.

In this case I'm all for amending the constitution scrapping the Electoral College. The winner of the popular vote should be the President.


Anonymous said...

There will be a major push to abolish the Electoral College if Obama wins the election next year but Romney/Perry win the popular vote.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Americans are dumb enough to elect neither Rick "Pray away the nation's problems" Perry nor Mitt "Corporations are people" Romney. We can be pretty dumb... however, even we're not that stupid.

Anonymous said...

On the Electoral College, see Federalist No. 68 and Anti-Federalist No. 70 and 72.

It is a little simplistic to say that they merely didn’t trust individuals to make the right decision. Hamilton instead wanted the population to elect electors that “will most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” The Federalists that supported the Electoral College also supported it on the grounds that it more strongly supported a central form of government (federalism.) Lastly, there was also concern that, absent weighting the vote, smaller states would have less of a voice in the process. Basically, they also wanted to enhance the status of minority interests guaranteeing them at least equal weight to other sparsely populated states. For instance, even the smallest state would have 3 votes (one for their House member and two for each Senator.)

The Anti-Federalists argued more along the lines of your perspective, “that the sacred rights of mankind should dwindle down to Electors of electors, and those again electors of other electors.” The Anti-Federalists were against a strong central form of government and wanted to remain a decentralized union with stronger state’s rights. Direct election by the people (popular vote) was the logical extension of that.

If your argument is that the popular vote should prevail as the Anti-Federalists argued, it is inconsistent to oppose the Republican Plan. I say that because the Republican plan is closer to the Anti-Federalist model in that it brings the election of the president closer to the people than the present system.

toto said...

Republican legislators seem quite “confused” about the merits of the congressional district method The leadership committee of the Nebraska Republican Party just adopted a resolution requiring all GOP elected officials to favor overturning their congressional district method for awarding electoral votes or lose the party’s support. While in Pennsylvania, Republican legislators are just as strongly arguing that they must change from the winner-take-all method to the congressional district method.

Dividing Pennsylvania’s electoral votes by congressional district would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system and not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania.

The district approach would provide less incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in all Pennsylvania districts and would not focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state as a whole. Candidates would have no reason to campaign in districts where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

Due to gerrymandering, in 2008, only 4 Pennsylvania congressional districts were competitive.

In Maine, where they award electoral votes by congressional district, the closely divided 2nd congressional district received campaign events in 2008 (whereas Maine’s 1st reliably Democratic district was ignored)

In Nebraska, which also uses the district method, the 2008 presidential campaigns did not pay the slightest attention to the people of Nebraska’s reliably Republican 1st and 3rd congressional districts because it was a foregone conclusion that McCain would win the most popular votes in both of those districts. The issues relevant to voters of the 2nd district (the Omaha area) mattered, while the (very different) issues relevant to the remaining (mostly rural) 2/3rds of the state were irrelevant.

When votes matter, presidential candidates vigorously solicit those voters. When votes don’t matter, they ignore those areas.

Nationwide, there are only 55 “battleground” districts that are competitive in presidential elections. 88% of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.

Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and guarantee that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states becomes President. "

toto said...

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.

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

Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states wins the presidency.

National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state and district (in ME and NE). Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate.

With National Popular Vote, elections wouldn’t be about winning states or districts (in ME and NE). No more distorting and divisive red and blue state and district maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast.

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). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed iin recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO– 68%, 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%, ME — 77%, NE — 74%, NH –69%, NV — 72%, NM — 76%, RI — 74%, and VT — 75%; in Southern and border states: AR –80%, KY — 80%, MS –77%, MO — 70%, NC — 74%, and VA — 74%; and in other states polled: CA — 70%, CT — 74% , MA — 73%, MN – 75%, NY — 79%, WA — 77%, and WV- 81%.

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.

The 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.