Democrats Propose Constitutional Amendment Disposing of Electoral College


Or at least making it completely irrelevant.

The timing for this is a little odd since Romney is doing better in the popular vote and his big barrier is cracking the electoral college.

The approach, proposed by the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wouldn’t abolish the Electoral College, but would give the winner of the popular vote an extra 29 electoral votes, which would reduce the electoral college to a complete formality and nullify another big chunk of the “States” part of the United States.

Considering who it comes from, it can’t be entirely dismissed as more wackiness from a crazy congressman, it is however fairly unrealistic to imagine a Constitutional amendment being shepherded through on such a controversial issue. It would be easier to imagine some future Supreme Court packed full of Wise Latinas deciding that the electoral college and state based elections discriminate against the minority vote and are therefore unconstitutional.

Swing states are not about to toss away the advantage that comes with being able to determine elections and the attention that comes with it. Population heavy states would benefit from this arrangement. Many smaller states would not and the act of passing an amendment by bypass the states would require getting it through the states and that’s a paradox that renders it unworkable.

The one good thing that can be said for the popular vote is that it liberates trapped votes in red and blue states. That would certainly be a factor in California where immigration has overrun the states with Democratic dole voters, where McCain got 5 million votes in 2008 but none of which went to McCain. Or New York where he picked up 2.7 million votes and none in the electoral college. But that could be done by backing away from the winner-takes-all system that dominates most states, a system that benefits the dominant political party in a state. This is the case in Nebraska, where Obama lost in 2008, but still picked up one electoral vote.

  • mmichlin66

    Absolutely aggree! The culprit is not the electoral college per se – it is the winner-takes-all system. There are enough electors to be representative of the popular vote. It may be easier to dismantle the winner-takes-all system on the state-by-state basis than to go through the Constitutional amendment process. One more positive thing it can bring (within few years) is the appearance of significant additional parties. Today, in order to have realistic chances to be elected (on all levels) one must aline with either Republican or Democratic party (how many elected independents do we have?!) and the voters must do the same. So what a pro-choice-atheist-conservative should do? Removing the winner-takes-all system will provide for more focused parties that different people can aline with.

  • JoJoJams

    Firstly, the electoral college was a brilliant system set by the founding fathers. This keeps the big cities from running the country. That said, I agree with getting rid of the "winner take all" aspect. The electoral votes of a state should be broken down to give the less populated areas an actual say. Eg: I have the misfortune to be an Illinoisan. No matter that the majority of the rest of the counties are basically "red", Chicago runs this state, and it is nearly always for democrats. I think the one exception was when Reagan took it. I would like to see the 20 electoral votes from Illinois divied out to the rest of the state in some manner. Chicago can get 11, and divy the other nine up by counties, in some way (all debatable on how the divying goes – I'm just tossing the idea out there). The biggest thing, if this is done, is to NOT do the ridiculous "gerrymandering" of districts to give any advantage to anyone! It should just go by county lines. It's certainly an idea who's time has come.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      I can sympathize. I'm a New Yorker. And in states where the urban pop outweighs the rural pop, you have big cities calling the shots while the conservative countryside is shut out.

      • Mary Sue

        I have US relatives that don't bother to vote because the big city centers just nullify all the votes in the surrounding area.

    • kohler

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), without needing to amend the Constitution. It has 49% of the support necessary to go into effect

      Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

      When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

      The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

      The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

      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 for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent 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 Small 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%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

      The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

      NationalPopularVote
      Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

      • JoJoJams

        So, basically, you are saying replace an old "winner take all", by state, system with a "winner take all" nationally system? Seriously?? Mob rule, in other words. No matter the "popular" view of this idea of yours, which would change our representative Republic in to a mob-rule democracy, our fore-fathers most CERTAINLY set up the current system to avoid just such a lunatic and short-sighted idea. And by the way, there is a lot to be said for only "landowners" being the ones allowed to vote, but that's a different debate and moot to this argument. For all of your fluffy argument above, you are espousing nothing more than a pure (and untenable) democracy – mob rule. No thanks. The only "change" I will get behind is divying the electoral votes out in the state, in stead of the "winner take all". But for SURE, the "winner take all" per state is MUCH preferable to what you are espousing! Your way would be the end of this Republic. Seriously. And I guarantee you the forefathers would be with me on this, and most certainly against you on your idea.

  • Mike Holladay

    In today's mix, the Democrats want no part of an Electoral College vote by congressional district with the overall state winner getting the 2 Senate votes, even though it would be the most representative (just like Nebraska) Here's how the 2000 and 2008 elections would have looked: 2000 Actual Bush 271; Gore 266 – revised = Bush 292 and Gore 246, 2012 Actual – Obama 365 to McCain 173 and revised would have been Obama 290 and McCain 248. In neither case would the final count changed the winner, but as state by someone earlier, it appears a lot of conservative votes get blocked by the "big cities"

    • Surak

      The proposal you describe is the one I support. It would give a voice to California's and New York's conservatives, not to mention Texas's leftists, and put more areas in play than just Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. But just try to find a fairness-minded lefty who would actually support this – no way, it's all about power.

    • kohler

      Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.

      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.

      The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in a particular state or focus the candidates' attention to issues of concern to the state. With the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all laws (whether applied to either districts or states), candidates have no reason to campaign in districts or states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. In North Carolina, for example, there are only 2 districts (the 13th with a 5% spread and the 2nd with an 8% spread) where the presidential race is competitive. In California, the presidential race has been competitive in only 3 of the state's 53 districts. Nationwide, there have been only 55 "battleground" districts that were competitive in presidential elections. With the present deplorable 48 state-level winner-take-all system, 80% of the states (including California and Texas) are ignored in presidential elections; however, 88% of the nation's congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

      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 matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.

      • JoJoJams

        What you are stating is that the popular vote decides the election!!! My God man!! Our forefathers came up with the electoral college to avoid just that!! So what if a candidate "ignores" politicking in certain states! They can't be politicking in every state of the union, and we, as a nation, get to see what they are doing/saying in some of these swing states anyway! What you are suggesting is pure lunacy, if you look at the forest instead of the dang tree in front of your face!!

  • Cork Hutson

    What is interesting and telling is that the Electoral College is the epitomy of "fairness" in terms of giving all states equal weight in choosing our President. One would think that progressives, those champions of "fairness" would actually be for that! Except when they are losing, which is, I guess, not fair to them!

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Progressives champion group fairness, which requires removing representation rather than adding it

  • kohler

    With the current state-by-state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes, the minority party voters in each state are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don't matter to their candidate.

    And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don't matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    A shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

    80% of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That's more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

    The number and population of battleground states is shrinking

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

    • JoJoJams

      Really?? Ignored?? All the fluff you are spouting is nonsense! And you're just rooting for the popular vote. The electoral college is still much needed, and was a fantastic "invention" of the founding fathers. Despite what you spout as the popularity of a "popular" vote, it is nothing more than mob rule. The rest of your argument is just as specious. The present system works best in this REPUBLIC!! A democracy is inherently worse than a republic. You keep pushing what our founding fathers were adamantly against – a popular vote!! And it is YOU who are inaccurate and wrong!

      • ALEXANDER

        I am really sick of dumb argument of this type. Every vote SHOULD COUNT: END OF STORY

  • Red

    Why an extra 29 electoral votes only to the winner of the popular vote? That could still create a scenario where some candidate lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote by more than 29. Why not make it something overwhelming, like an extra 200 electoral votes to the popular-vote winner? That would almost certainly guarantee an overall election victory for the popular-vote winner.

  • Jack

    The entire purpose of the electoral college is to give small states a say in the election, and to prevent the largest states from dominating outcomes of elections. If this were to come to pass, CA and NY would end up choosing the president, and the citizens of states like RI and SD would have no say in the matter.

    • kohler

      With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes 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 26% of the nation’s votes!

      But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

      Among the 11 most populous states in 2004, the highest levels of popular support, hardly overwhelming, were found in the following seven non-battleground states:

      * Texas (62% Republican),

      * New York (59% Democratic),

      * Georgia (58% Republican),

      * North Carolina (56% Republican),

      * Illinois (55% Democratic),

      * California (55% Democratic), and

      * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

      In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:

      * Texas — 1,691,267 Republican

      * New York — 1,192,436 Democratic

      * Georgia — 544,634 Republican

      * North Carolina — 426,778 Republican

      * Illinois — 513,342 Democratic

      * California — 1,023,560 Democratic

      * New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

      To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

      Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE –75%, ID -77%, ME – 77%, MT- 72%, NE – 74%, NH–69%, NE – 72%, NM – 76%, RI – 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT – 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

      In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

    • http://twitter.com/undefined @undefined

      Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

      Kerry won more electoral votes than Bush (21 versus 19) in the 12 least-populous non-battleground states, despite the fact that Bush won 650,421 popular votes compared to Kerry’s 444,115 votes. The reason is that the red states are redder than the blue states are blue. If the boundaries of the 13 least-populous states had been drawn recently, there would be accusations that they were a Democratic gerrymander.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE –75%, ID -77%, ME – 77%, MT- 72%, NE – 74%, NH–69%, NE – 72%, NM – 76%, RI – 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT – 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

      In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

    • http://twitter.com/undefined @undefined

      With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's votes!

      But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

      Among the 11 most populous states in 2004, the highest levels of popular support, hardly overwhelming, were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
      * Texas (62% Republican),
      * New York (59% Democratic),
      * Georgia (58% Republican),
      * North Carolina (56% Republican),
      * Illinois (55% Democratic),
      * California (55% Democratic), and
      * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

      In addition, the margins generated by the nation's largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
      * Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
      * New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
      * Georgia — 544,634 Republican
      * North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
      * Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
      * California — 1,023,560 Democratic
      * New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

      To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

  • TrexCret93

    I am writing a petition to the government to abolish the electoral college, if you want to help go to http://wh.gov/Rfey.

  • http://twitter.com/TrexCret @TrexCret