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Nate Silver Says National Popular Vote is Now "Bad" For Democrats. We Should Still Pass It In CT

by: abg22

Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 12:13:48 PM EST

( - promoted by ctblogger)

In a recent post Nate Silver informs us that the current Electoral College map favors Democrats, because GOP voters are more inefficiently distributed across the country than Democratic voters:

Two more presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, will be contested under the current Electoral College configuration, which gave Barack Obama a second term on Tuesday. This year's results suggest that this could put Republicans at a structural disadvantage... A large number of electorally critical states - both traditional swing states like Iowa and Pennsylvania and newer ones like Colorado and Nevada - have been Democratic-leaning in the past two elections. If Democrats lose the election in a blowout, they would probably lose these states as well. But in a close election, they are favored in them.

Does that mean that Democrats should give up trying to pass the "National Popular Vote" (NPV) interstate compact in Connecticut? No, it does not. Does it mean Republicans will stop obstructing the passage of NPV? No, it does not.

The Electoral College is enshrined in the US Constitution, but about a decade ago, an elegant solution was devised (Yale Law School Professor and Connecticut resident Akhil Amar is one of the people usually credited) to circumvent the need for a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College by creating a "compact" among states to voluntarily award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Thus the National Popular Vote movement was born. The compact idea is gaining momentum: nine states and the District of Columbia, with 132 electoral votes combined, have already signed onto the idea, with more and more states coming on board every year. The compact becomes operational when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes - that is, 270 of 538.

The first national popular vote bill was introduced in Connecticut in 2007 by Rep. Andrew Fleischman. In 2009 the Connecticut House became the 28th state legislative chamber in the country to pass the National Popular Vote bill. But the push for NPV, strenuously opposed by Republicans in the General Assembly, has stalled since 2009.

Most of the GOP arguments against NPV have been, to quote the Vice President, malarkey. In the Norwich Bulletin, Ray Hackett argued that the legislature simply doesn't have time to address the fairness of our voting system because this is a distraction from focusing like a laser on slashing services for the poor and sticking it to public workers. State Senator Michael McLachlan thought it was more important to introduce a birther bill into the Government Administration and Elections committee in 2011 than to address National Popular Vote. Chris Powell argued in the Journal-Inquirer that we need to maintain the Electoral College status quo in order to dilute the effect of millions of "illegals" fraudulently voting in California and New York, and thereby stealing the election for Democratic candidates. Lowell Weicker's budget director Bill Cibes objects to NPV because he thinks it would not increase our state's political influence, which is not only factually debatable, but also completely misunderstands the rationale for doing it in the first place.

Are there some good arguments against neutering the Electoral College? Yes, there are. As BlastFromGlast and others (from across the political spectrum) have pointed out, getting a clear, undisputed national vote count is not as simple as it sounds. The election was a week ago, but there are hundreds of thousands of votes still to be counted in Arizona, California, Washington, Alaska, and storm-battered New York. It doesn't matter because none of these are swing states -- under NPV that would not be the case. But the answer here is not to maintain the Electoral College system, but to streamline, professionalize, and ultimately federalize election administration, as election law expert and "Voting Wars" author Rick Hasen has argued. The genuine travesty of election administration in America needs to be addressed at the roots, not papered over with a ludicrous 18th century anachronism.

Arguments against Connecticut adopting National Popular Vote legislation simply do not add up. The bottom line is that the Electoral College system means that not every vote counts equally. The fact that it is clearly not in the partisan interest of Democrats right now to adopt the compact is all the more reason to do it now, in the 2013 legislative session. Doing it now would send a clear message that it really doesn't matter which party benefits in the short term, or which states gain influence, from NPV. What matters is the principle of one person, one vote. Every voter in America gets an equal voice in our great democracy.


abg22 :: Nate Silver Says National Popular Vote is Now "Bad" For Democrats. We Should Still Pass It In CT
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Can you imagine this election as a national popular vote election? (4.00 / 1)
We are still counting ballots in Arizona, maybe Washington State. In NJ they are letting people vote after the election, if they claim they tried voting by email or fax and the line was down. Suppression and suppression charges would be rampant. Because of the Electoral College that does not matter in this presidential election.

The initial counts on the Connecticut Secretary of the State's website were off significantly - in just two towns the error in presidential vote shorted Romney by over 12,000 votes and Obama by 2000. (To their credit they corrected those errors yesterday.)

I am all for a national popular vote, if we had a national fair, and credible voting system like some other democracies. We could start down that road with fixing the 12th amendment to the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act. Require paper trails, audits, and recounts before the winner is declared. Then we need uniformity, integrity, enforceable, and enforced.

Our main difference is over the order and method. I say we should fix the flawed election system before we make it more risky. A constitutional amendment to change to the NPV is a lot of work, but probably less work than the prerequisite of  fixing the 12th amendment and getting a safe election system. Yet, why make things worse in the hopes that pending or actual crisis would force a better system - we can see how well that works with the Help America Vote Act and the Patriot Act, and soon with the, so called, Fiscal "Cliff".

because Connecticut voters count: http://www.CTVotersCount.org

Current System is Unimaginable (0.00 / 0)
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), ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, in 2012 did not reach out to 41 states and their voters. Candidates had no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they were safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

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

Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to 'battleground' states when it comes to governing.

The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that 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 7 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

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 current 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.

To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

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

There is nothing incompatible between differences in state election laws and the concept of a national popular vote for President. That was certainly the mainstream view when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment in 1969 for a national popular vote by a 338-70 margin. That amendment retained state control over elections.

The 1969 amendment was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, then-Senator Bob Dole, and then-Senator Walter Mondale.

The American Bar Association also endorsed the proposed 1969 amendment.

The proposed 1969 constitutional amendment provided that the popular-vote count from each state would be added up to obtain the nationwide total for each candidate. The National Popular Vote compact does the same.

Under the current system, the electoral votes from all 50 states are comingled and simply added together, irrespective of the fact that the electoral-vote outcome from each state was affected by differences in state policies, including voter registration, ex-felon voting, hours of voting, amount and nature of advance voting, and voter identification requirements.

Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote compact, all of the people of the United States are impacted by the different election policies of the states. Everyone in the United States is affected by the division of electoral votes generated by each state.  The procedures governing presidential elections in a closely divided battleground state (e.g., Florida and Ohio) can affect, and indeed have affected, the ultimate outcome of national elections.

For example, the 2000 Certificate of Ascertainment (required by federal law) from the state of Florida reported  2,912,790 popular votes for George W. Bush and 2,912,253 popular vote for Al Gore, and also reported 25 electoral votes for George W. Bush and 0 electoral votes for Al Gore. That 25-0 division of the electoral votes from Florida determined the outcome of the national election just as a particular division of the popular vote from a particular state might decisively affect the national outcome in some future election under the National Popular Vote compact.

The 1969 constitutional amendment, endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, then-Senator Bob Dole, and then-Senator Walter Mondale, and The American Bar Association and, more importantly, the current system also accepts the differences among states.

The Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution permit states to conduct elections in varied ways.  The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and preserves state control of elections and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President.

What about if... (0.00 / 0)

all 50 states awarded electoral votes like Maine and Nebraska already do. The candidate who wins the state would receive 2 votes , with all others going to the winner of each Congressional district.

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

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