Skip to comments.Electing president by National Popular Vote a bad idea
Posted on 08/14/2010 9:21:12 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Election Night 2012. President Barack Obama has easily won the backing of Massachusetts voters for a second term in office, but Republican Sarah Palin, riding a national wave of anti-incumbent sentiment, captures a narrow lead in the popular vote. As a result, Massachusetts 12 electoral votes go to Sarah Palin, and with those 12 votes, Palin is elected president.
Sound impossible? Not under a National Popular Vote system, which Massachusetts is one step closer to implementing now that Gov. Patrick has signed legislation authorizing the commonwealth to join a multi-state compact to change the way we elect the president.
The National Popular Vote movement, which is being spearheaded in Massachusetts by Common Cause, would scrap our current system by awarding the states 12 Electoral College votes to the candidate who captures the most votes nationwide. That means a candidate who fails to top the ticket in Massachusetts could still end up with all of our states electoral votes.
Why would Common Cause and the Massachusetts Legislature be pushing for such a radical change in the way we elect a president? The answer lies in the 2000 presidential election.
Ten years ago, Democrat Al Gore received over half a million votes more than Republican George W. Bush nationwide. But following the Florida recount, Bush emerged with enough electoral votes to become our 43rd President, despite losing the popular vote.
The 2000 election marked only the fourth time in our nations history where the winner of the popular vote did not become president (the same outcome occurred in 1824, 1876 and 1888). Considering its happened only four times in 56 election cycles tells me the Electoral College system works well and doesnt need to be changed.
Our nations Founding Fathers did a good job when they crafted their Grand Compromise more than 200 years ago, providing each state with a number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives proportional to their population while giving every state large and small two seats each in the U.S. Senate. The number of Electoral College votes each state has is equal to the number of U.S. senators and representatives from that state.
Proponents of the National Popular Vote dont like the Electoral College system, and are trying to circumvent the Constitution to change the way Americans elect their president.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides a process by which the Constitution can be amended. A two-thirds vote is required in both branches of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states legislatures, before an amendment can take effect.
Supporters of the National Popular Vote are trying to bypass this process entirely by passing legislation on a state-by-state basis. The goal is to get enough states to join the compact to produce the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president.
Five other states have already signed on, including Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington. These five states represent 61 electoral votes, and Massachusetts brings that number up to 73.
Supporters of the National Popular Vote initiative should be careful what they wish for, given the unintended consequences that could result. After all, the system theyre advocating would force some states to cast their electoral votes for a candidate who did not receive the support of a majority of the states voters. Theres also a possibility that in some states, the electoral votes could go to a candidate who doesnt even qualify for the ballot.
Consider what happened in the 2004 presidential election. Although John Kerry captured more than 60 percent of the vote in Massachusetts that year, Bush received the most votes nationwide. If the National Popular Vote had been in place six years ago, all of Massachusetts 12 electoral votes would have gone to Bush, even though less than 40 percent of the states residents who went to the polls that year cast a ballot for him.
The current electoral system works because it ensures every state and every region has a say in the process. As Tara Ross, author of Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, notes: Presidential candidates must build national coalitions of voters to get elected.
Historically speaking, the candidate who builds the broadest coalition will win, Ross writes. Thus, presidents are good representatives for all Americans; they do not merely represent one region, state or special interest group.
As a local newspaper noted in a July 22 editorial, The election of the president is, by the design of the fathers, a contest to win states, not merely to win votes. That legislators in this state, one of the original adopters of the Constitution, would subvert that design in the name of a fashionable populism is horrifying.
I couldnt agree more. The National Popular Vote is bad public policy, not only for Massachusetts, but also for our country.
The National Popular Vote always seems to gain traction whenever Democrats lose, or whenever they are losing.
I haven’t read the article but I’m simply agreeing with the headline.
If this country wants the 10 or 12 largest cities to decide who all future presidents will be then electing the president by National Popular Vote would be perfect. Everybody else can just stay home.
And on top of that, even if the above scenario was in place, Massachusetts has a nice habit of enacting ex post facto laws, similar to what they did after Ted Kennedy died. The law would be changed right after the election to ensure that “the will of the people of Massachusetts” was “respected.”
Notice they are all "blue" states. So, if this had been in place in 2000, it would have changed...absolutely nothing.
Eliminate the unit rule whereby the winner of the popular vote gets ALL of the state’s electoral votes.
Obama and the Dems trying to pull a Honduran Zelaya (aka Hugo Chavez). Then they will use the “popular vote” to eliminate the 22nd Amendment on POTUS term limits.
The problem with this is that a small state which does it makes itself worth less to a presidential candidate. It also renders "swing states" impotent because candidates will know that they can always win a number of electoral votes from these states, instead of having to campaign hard to win all of the electoral votes from them.
Maine and Nebraska award one electoral vote each by congressional district, with two electoral votes in each state going to the statewide winner. The other 48 states award them winner take all. Each state could opt to split their electoral votes based on the popular vote within their state, or by congressional district, or some other method.
Americans elections have far more problems than how we vote..
Voting fraud is a political art among democrats..
Other than that republicans need to be able determine what a RINO looks like..
The move to caste electoral votes for the national vote leader is a double duty weapon. If the democrat wins the popular vote, they win no matter how few states they win. If the democrat loses, but would have won under the regular electoral system, then they start filing law suits against all the states that passed the measure. There would be electoral chaos, much worse than 2000. The election of 2012 would be tied up in court and Obama’s term would continue until SCOTUS decided it.
This measure is bad news and needs to be challenged before there is an election.
I don't believe that this falls under "States Rights" in the US Constitution.
The only such "unit rule" consists of 48 individual state laws which specify a winner-take-all awarding of the states' electoral votes.
Both Maine and Nebraska award their electoral votes based on congressional district voting. The other 48 states, if they choose to do so, are perfectly free to do that as well.
The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as obscurely far down in name recognition as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States.
When presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all rules, the big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004.
Likewise, under a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.
For example, in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles.
If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 21% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.
“Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a Presidents 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 National Popular Vote compact is, first of all, a state law. It is a state law that would govern the manner of choosing presidential electors. A Secretary of State may not ignore or override the National Popular Vote law any more than he or she may ignore or override the winner-take-all rule that is currently the law in 48 states.
There has never been a court decision allowing a state to withdraw from an interstate compact without following the procedure for withdrawal specified by the compact. Indeed, courts have consistently rebuffed the occasional (sometimes creative) attempts by states to evade their obligations under interstate compacts.
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 bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).
The congressional district method of awarding electoral votes (currently used in Maine and Nebraska) would not help make every vote matter. In NC, for example, there are only 4 of the 13 congressional districts that would be close enough to get any attention from presidential candidates. A smaller fraction of the country’s population lives in competitive congressional districts (about 12%) than in the current battleground states (about 30%) that now get overwhelming attention , while two-thirds of the states are ignored Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.
The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used 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.
Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.
State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award electoral college votes were eventually enacted by 48 states AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, .
The Founding Fathers only said in the U.S. Constitution about presidential elections (only after debating among 60 ballots for choosing a method): “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.”
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 rule) 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.
In 1789 only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all rule to award electoral votes.
There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule (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 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 rule.
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 rule is used by 48 of the 50 states.
Oh, really? This is the 2008 election, by county. Notice where Obama's "nationwide popular vote" came from?
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