Skip to comments.California Assembly approves electoral vote change
Posted on 05/19/2011 6:11:55 PM PDT by SmithL
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I live in Maryland and don't know of this. What are you talking about?
I live in MD too - you didn't know about this ???
MD passed this insane law about 2 years ago. Won't go into effect unless enuf states with 270 electoral votes [required to win presidency] also sign on.
The result of this is to effectually wipeout the electoral system in our Constitution. If all states signed on, the winner of the popular vote [even by one vote] could claim a 538-0 victory ...
The Senate hasn’t voted on it yet. They’ll amend the bill to say that in the even that the majority (Democrat) party wins the state electors but a Republican wins the popular vote, the law is null and void, or the Senate gets to override the bill.
As an interstate compact, the bill would take effect when enacted, in identical form, by states that have a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Congress might actually have to approve this since all of these state laws IMPLY an agreement and/or compact ...
Not much chance of that ...
You're referring to the Florida vote, which Bush did win. Officially, Gore did win the popular vote nationally in that election.
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%, 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%.
Congressional consent is not required for the National Popular Vote compact under prevailing U.S. Supreme Court rulings. However, because there would undoubtedly be time-consuming litigation about this aspect of the compact, National Popular Vote is working to introduce a bill in Congress for congressional consent.
The U.S. Constitution provides:
“No state shall, without the consent of Congress, enter into any agreement or compact with another state .”
Although this language may seem straight forward, the U.S. Supreme Court has method, in 1893 and again in 1978, that the Compacts Clause can “not be read literally.” In deciding the 1978 case of U.S. Steel Corporation v. Multistate Tax Commission, the Court wrote:
“Read literally, the Compact Clause would require the States to obtain congressional approval before entering into any agreement among themselves, irrespective of form, subject, duration, or interest to the United States.
“The difficulties with such an interpretation were identified by Mr. Justice Field in his opinion for the Court in [the 1893 case] Virginia v. Tennessee. His conclusion [was] that the Clause could not be read literally [and this 1893 conclusion has been] approved in subsequent dicta.”
Specifically, the Court’s 1893 ruling in Virginia v. Tennessee stated:
“Looking at the clause in which the terms ‘compact’ or ‘agreement’ appear, it is evident that the prohibition is directed to the formation of any combination tending to the increase of political power in the states, which may encroach upon or interfere with the just supremacy of the United States.”
The state power involved in the National Popular Vote compact is specified in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 the U.S. Constitution:
“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors .”
In the 1892 case of McPherson v. Blacker (146 U.S. 1), the Court wrote:
“The appointment and mode of appointment of electors belong exclusively to the states under the constitution of the United States”
The National Popular Vote compact would not “encroach upon or interfere with the just supremacy of the United States” because there is simply no federal powermuch less federal supremacyin the area of awarding of electoral votes in the first place.
All of the states you mention ARE irrelevant under the current system.
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 method (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.
Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter. Almost 75% of the country will be ignored —including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign,, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.
Policies important to the citizens of flyover states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to battleground states when it comes to governing.
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 as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States.
Evidence as to how a nationwide presidential campaign would be run, can be found by examining the way 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 methods. 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.
Because every vote is equal inside Ohio or Florida, presidential candidates avidly seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns. The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate in Ohio and Florida already knowsnamely that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the state.
Even 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 Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.
In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.
Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.
There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states. It is certainly true that the biggest cities in those states typically vote Democratic. However, the suburbs, exurbs, small towns, and rural parts of the states often voted Republican. If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.
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.
The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.
No recount would have been warranted in any of the nations 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.
Senator Birch Bayh (DIndiana) summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President in a Senate speech by saying in 1979, “one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes.”
Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: “To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, youd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, youd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . .
For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 electionand, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.
Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?”
Under the CURRENT system, candidates do not care about issues specific to CA. They use CA only as an ATM.
You need to read the bill again.
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 says: “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.”
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 method that is currently the law in 48 states.
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, along district lines (as has been the case in Maine and Nebraska), or national lines.
The National Popular Vote movement began in 2006.
Many people wrongly believe the presidential election system we have today is in the Constitution, and think that any change would need an amendment. But 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 nations 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.
You don’t have a very good imagination.
The small states are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but 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.
None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states.
12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes) are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota),, and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections Despite the fact that these 12 lowest population states together possess 40 electoral votes, because they are not closely divided battleground states, none of these 12 states get visits, advertising or polling or policy considerations by presidential candidates.
These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has “only” 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 lowest population states as important as an Ohio voter.
In 2004, Bushs cumulative vote lead of 650,421 in the 6 then reliably Republican states only got him 19 electoral votes, while Kerrys cumulative vote lead of 444,115 in the 6 then reliably Democratic states, got him 21 electoral votes.
Senator Robert E. Dole of Kansas, the Republican nominee for President in 1996 and Republican nominee for Vice President in 1976, stated in a 1979 floor speech:
Many persons have the impression that the electoral college benefits those persons living in small states. I feel that this is somewhat of a misconception. Through my experience with the Republican National Committee and as a Vice Presidential candidate in 1976, it became very clear that the populous states with their large blocks of electoral votes were the crucial states. It was in these states that we focused our efforts.
Were we to switch to a system of direct election, I think we would see a resulting change in the nature of campaigning. While urban areas will still be important campaigning centers, there will be a new emphasis given to smaller states. Candidates will soon realize that all votes are important, and votes from small states carry the same import as votes from large states. That to me is one of the major attractions of direct election. Each vote carries equal importance.
Direct election would give candidates incentive to campaign in States that are perceived to be single party states.
The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.
In the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by nine state legislative chambers, including one house in, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont.
I have advocated the representative award of electoral votes. One electoral vote for the winner of each district and winner of the overall state vote getting the extra two votes as a "bonus".
In MD, where I live, Obama won 10-0, whereas [under my plan] he would have only won 7-3 [or something like that].
This plan puts ALL districts on a level playing field since all districts [theoretically] represent the same number of people.
Have no fear.
There have been 22,000 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 10 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. The electors are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges. Faithless electors are not a practical problem, and most states have complete authority to remedy any problem there could be, by means of state law.
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).
Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the “canvas”) in what is called a “Certificate of Ascertainment.” You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site at
The U.S. Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 4) provides:
“The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.”[Spelling as per original]
The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.
Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the common nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.
Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states. Existing federal law (the “safe harbor” provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state’s “final determination” of its presidential election returns is “conclusive”(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day).
The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and requires each state to treat as “conclusive” each other state’s “final determination” of its vote for President. No state has any power to examine or judge the presidential election returns of any other state under the National Popular Vote compact.
Right on the money. Currently, vote fraud doesn’t matter much except in battleground states.
With a national popular vote, the machines in big cities can pump up vote totals and could greatly change national results.
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