Forget The Constitution. Let’s Elect Our Presidents By Popular Vote.

Every four years we have an election in the United States to decide who will be our president. And, every presidential election the question arises as to why we use the indirect electoral vote method for choosing our presidents instead of a direct popular vote method. This is especially true when an election is close as the case in the Bush – Gore election of 2000. To my knowledge, every democracy that isn’t a parliamentary system, elects their presidents by popular vote. The United States is the exception.

In the United States, the voters in each of the fifty states, when voting for their presidential candidate of choice, are actually voting for electors who will then go to what we call the Electoral College and cast the the electoral votes of their state according to their states laws. Each state has electoral votes equal to the sum of their number of representatives in congress and the number of Senators (each state has two Senators). Some states allocate their electoral votes in proportion to the way their citizens vote and for other states the winner in their state gets all the states electoral votes. In some states the electors are legally bound to vote as their state laws dictate and in others they are not. Today, it takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Our electoral system may seem a bit strange, but our Founders always had a reason for everything they did. Among other reasons, our electoral system was designed so that the big states couldn’t ru rough-shod over the smaller states.

Over the years groups have formed tp promote an amendment to the constitution to provide for electing our presidents by popular vote. But, there is an organization called National Popular Vote (NPV) that is working behind the scenes to achieve the popular vote system without changing the constitution. Maggie at Maggie’s Notebook did an excellent piece on this the other day. Folks, you really need to read this article.

What the NPV is doing is working within states to get them to pass legislation that would make it law that the state’s electoral votes would always be cast for the candidate who won the popular vote nationally. (You can find the NPV Home page here.)

Would American voters be so stupid as to go along with such an idea? Why, for example, would the voters of a state like California, which always votes overwhelmingly for the Democratic presidential cnadidate, ever agree to give all of their electoral votes (55) to the Republican candidate just because he won the national popular vote by say less than 100,00 votes? Californians would never agree to that, would they? My friends, never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter. From Maggie’s article we learn:

States which have passed legislation: California (55), Washington (12), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), New Jersey (14), Massachusetts (11), Vermont (3), Hawaii (4) and the District of Columbia (3). [Washington DC is not a state, it is a federal district, but does have 3 Electoral votes] = 132 votes already designated as Winner Take All (National Popular Vote)

Bills have been introduced: Idaho (4), Wyoming (3), Texas (38), Florida (29), Georgia (16), South Carolina (9), Tennessee (11), Indiana (11), and Ohio (18).

Legislation has passed both Houses: Colorado (9) and Rhode Island (4).

Legislation has passed in one House: Oregon (7), Nevada (9) , New Mexico (5), Arkansas (6), Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), New York (29), Maine (4), Michigan (16) and Delaware (3).

Legislation has passed 1 Committee: Montana (3), Oklahoma (7), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Alabama (9), Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Kentucky (8), West Virginia (5) and Alaska (3).

Hearings have been held: Utah (6), Arizona (11), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Nebraska (5), Kansas (6), Missouri (10), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (20) and New Hampshire (4).

Legislation is underway at some stage in every state.

So, how smart are the American voters? NPV says they are getting close to the half way point of have enough states pass their plan to account for 270 electoral votes. In theory that could be achieved with less than a third of the states going along with their plan. According to Maggie’s article, there is a lot of bipartisan support for the NPV plan. Unless there is a massive movement to reject the NPV movement, I predict that in a few years our president will be elected by popular vote and that will be a sad day indeed. That would end the last vestiges of states rights. In 1913 the american voters were stupid enough to pass the 17th Amendment to our constitution taking away the states right to appoint Senators. I’m sure it was an easy sell. It just sounded right that citizens should be able to elect their Senators. The American voter in 1913 did not know their history and why it was important for the states to be able to appoint Senators to look after the rights of their states. Here is a rhetorical question for you. Do you think Americans today know their history any better than Americans did in 1913?

Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

35 thoughts on “Forget The Constitution. Let’s Elect Our Presidents By Popular Vote.

  1. I don’t know about all of this, We are already going down a dangerous road. Look what California just did. Soon, I doubt we will ever see a GOP on the ticket as I read it.
    How are primary elections conducted in California?

    All candidates for voter-nominated offices are listed on one ballot and only the top two vote-getters in the primary election – regardless of party preference – move on to the general election. A write-in candidate will only move on to the general election if the candidate is one of the top two vote-getters in the primary election.

    Prior to the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, the top vote-getter from each qualified political party, as well as any write-in candidate who received a certain percentage of votes, moved on to the general election.

    The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act does not apply to candidates running for U.S. President, county central committee, or local office.
    http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/2012-elections/june-primary/faqs-primary-2012.htm

  2. Ugg. Sad indeed. Of course the Democrats would just love to get rid of that whole electoral college thing. It stands in the way of the socialist worker’s paradise.

    And speaking of the electoral college, how do you think they will do in the NCAA tournament this year?

  3. I do not support electing the president by popular vote because I share the view of James Madison that a popular vote would eventually incur tyranny of the majority. The United States is not a democracy; those who argue for a popular vote seem not to know this. The United States is a federal republic founded on democratic principles. Our founding fathers understood that democracy works best at the local level, where most city governments, indeed even most school boards, have a parliamentarian structure.

    Preserving the Electoral College protects the sense of the people with respect to presidential elections, even in spite of the fact that the Electoral College is a formality. If 51% of the citizens of California vote for Obama, then the state of California goes for Obama … we don’t need to amend the Constitution simply to placate the desires of under-educated morons. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    1. “… we don’t need to amend the Constitution simply to placate the desires of under-educated morons.”

      Apparently I didn’t explain what the NPV is doing well enough, Mustang. NPV is not promoting a constitutional amendment to change to a popular vote in presidential elections. In their plan the electoral college will continue to decide the presidential elections. What they are doing is trying to get enough states to pass a law that requires their eletoral college deligates to vote for the candidate won the national popular vote. If enough states, whose cumulative electoral votes are 270 or more, then a candidate who won the poplar vote would always wi the electoral college vote. That could be as few as 14 states, I think. So, ket’s say your state passes such a law. In a presidential election the people of your stae vote by large magin for the Republican candidte. But, at the national lebel the Democrat eeked out a majority of the popular vote. Your state’s eletoral college deligates would by law have to vote for the Democrat.

      The goal of the NPV is to achieve popular vote for presidents without having to amend the constitution. They are well on the way to acheiving their goal.

    2. 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.

      The National Popular Vote bill would change existing 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.

      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.

      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. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ Electoral College votes from the enacting states. That majority of Electoral College votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

      The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the “mob” in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Florida, while the “mobs” of the vast majority of states are ignored. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive are ignored, in presidential elections. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. At most, 9 states will determine the 2012 election.

      The Republic is not in any danger from 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 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.

  4. I’ve written a couple of post on this in the past and it bothers me because this is a national effort at doing an end run past the constitution. While I understand that states have the right to decide how to dole out their electors this goes beyond that because it is being done on a national level under the guise of being done in the separate states. From what I have read they are close to the 50% range needed but all the states that have signed on are the easy ones, it should be harder for them to get the remaining states needed, at least I hope that is correct.

    1. I’m trying to understand how if it were in place for this election, how would the voters of California react if Romney won a narrow plirality but under normal rules Obama won the electoral majority except he wouldn’t because California would have to give their electoral votes to Romney. There would be riots!

  5. Jim, thanks for the nice link. I really appreciate it. One of the things I’ve noticed from the comments at my place by a couple of people working on the NPV (I think) is they want us to believe the Electoral College stays as it is. They have to be Democrats, because they also think we’re stupid. That’s why I am so befuddled that Tom Tancredo is supporting that.

    Let me see if I understand this: The state votes. The Electoral College votes not as the state voted but for the person with the most popular votes from all over the U.S. Yep, that really represents me, doesn’t it?

    1. It really is insane, Maggie. Can you imagine the reaction if California had to givr their electoral votes to a Republican? People are mot thinking when they agree with this nonsense. But sadly, too many Americans don’t think when they vote either.

      1. Most Americans 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 think it’s wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

        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%.

        In state polls of voters each with a second question that specifically emphasized that their state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not necessarily their state’s winner, there was only a 4-8% decrease of support.

        1: “How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?”

        2: “Do you think it more important that a state’s electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?”

        Support for a National Popular Vote

        South Dakota — 75% for Question 1, 67% for #2.
        see http://tinyurl.com/3jdkx7x

        Connecticut — 74% for Question 1, 68% for #2.
        see http://tinyurl.com/3nv8djt

        Utah — 70% for Question 1, 66% for #2.
        see http://tinyurl.com/3vrfxyh

        NationalPopularVote

    2. The National Popular Vote bill would change existing 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.

      The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate.

      The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

  6. 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!

    1. 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 will not reach out to about 80% 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.

      80% of the states and people have been just spectators to the presidential elections. That’s more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans.

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

    1. If you support the current presidential election system, believing it is what the Founders intended and that it is in the Constitution, then you are mistaken The current presidential election system does not function, at all, the way that the Founders thought that it would.

      Supporters of National Popular Vote find it hard to believe the Founding Fathers would endorse the current electoral system where 80% of the states and voters now are completely politically irrelevant. 9 of the original 13 states are ignored now. In 2008, presidential campaigns spent 98% of their resources in just 15 battleground states, where they were not hopelessly behind or safely ahead, and could win the bare plurality of the vote to win all of the state’s electoral votes. Now the majority of Americans, in small, medium-small, average, and large states are ignored. Virtually none of the small states receive any attention. None of the 10 most rural states is a battleground state. 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX are ignored. That’s over 85 million voters, 200 million Americans. Once the conventions are over, presidential candidates now don’t visit or spend resources in 80% of the states. Candidates know the Republican is going to win in safe red states, and the Democrat will win in safe blue states, so they are ignored.

      States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election.

      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. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation’s 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.

      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.

      With national popular vote, with every vote equal, candidates will truly have to care about the issues and voters in all 50 states and DC. A vote in any state will be as sought after as a vote in Florida. Part of the genius of the Founding Fathers was allowing for change as needed. When they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t give us the right to vote, or establish state-by-state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes, or establish any method, for how states should award electoral votes. Fortunately, the Constitution allowed state legislatures to enact laws allowing people to vote and how to award electoral votes.

  7. Everybody knows that the people in California are among the stupidest in the world. What other state could breed generation after generation of dumb as poop Valley Girls? Who else could make a fad of not using toilet paper? Who else could stoop to the dumbest state legislative move ever by limiting the retail price of electric power, and leaving the wholesale price to generating companies outside California? Pure idiocy!

    With elections decided in California and like areas, states who are rich in natural resources would be forbidden to mine their minerals, or harvest their own trees. Other states would not be allowed to generate electric power, either. Tax money would all flow to those states with the most votes. Yeah, that makes sense.

    Our founding fathers had a good idea my NOT yielding to the power of the majority. Our current system makes lots of sense from an historical perspective. So, when I hear somebody talk about changing the electoral system, I know that they have no clue about the history of our nation, or about the idea of protecting the minority.

    1. Pure democracy always leads to tyranny. As our government and politicians continue to ignore our constitution, we get closer and closer to being a pure democracy.
      Yesm there is something wrong with the folks in California.

      1. 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 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.

  8. Such changes also shift a great deal of electoral power to metropolitan areas. Many metropolitan areas suck on the teat of the federal government in one way or another and, at the same time, comprise an oligarchy.

      1. 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).

    1. With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.
      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 far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States. Suburbs and exurbs often vote 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.

      A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as 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 do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.

      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 knows. When and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

      With National Popular Vote, when every vote is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

      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.

      Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would 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 Walmart mom voters in Ohio.

  9. Despite s.e.’s many arguments in favor, I still fail to see how the popular vote makes it mandatory that politicians campaign in every state. If I’m a politician, I concentrate on population centers under that circumstance. Which generally means, I campaign on the coasts and when I’m in office I enact “give stuff to the coasts” policies.

    That fact is that the different states have unique characteristics. Setting up a system where the voters in a particular state have their “voice” taken away because a larger state went overwhelmingly for a particular candidate, swinging the nationwide popular vote to that candidate, seems the greater of two evils.

    Also, while campaign appearances may take place mostly in swing states, that hardly means the rest of the country is ignored. I guarantee that non-swing state voters have access to election news, to what campaigns are saying in the swing states, and are probably suffering nearly the same election fatigue as the swing state voters.

    It seems that centralizing political power (which means power over our lives) farther and farther from where people live is a bad idea. (Note Paul Ryan’s speech in Cleveland yesterday http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/10/paul-ryan-and-the-fight-to-save-civil-society.php ). What we need to do is bring the political power closer to the people, not farther away in Washington.

    Note: Under a popular vote system, my stump speech in California goes like this: “I will never let California go bankrupt.” My stump speech in Illinois goes like this: “I will never let Illinois go bankrupt.” My stump speech in New York goes like this: “I love the Yankees! And I will never let New York, or any fashionable East Coast government, go bankrupt.” My second line in each of those speeches is, “And I’ll give you guys lots of stuff… Whatever stuff you want.” Unsaid, of course, is that the money to bail out those states and give them that stuff will come from the people in the middle of the country.

    1. It is absolutely insane, Pat. The first one state would to give their electoral to the candidate they opposed, all hell would break loose.

      That character, s e, sent seven other lengthy diatribes. I decided to spam them. It takes all kinds, so it is said.

  10. This president does not have a clue, He thinks That education and energy is the solve all ? well he is clueless because we have had education the hole time and we have been doing energy research before his time! What are all these kids going to do when they get out of school and there no jobs! So Its down hill from here! You think it bad now just what and see…….

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