(David McNew/Getty Images)

In a tight presidential race, either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney could lose the popular vote yet still win the majority of Electoral College votes and gain the White House. The National Popular Vote movement, which California endorsed last year, seeks to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who wins the popular vote. We look at efforts to reform the Electoral College system.

Guests:
Jack Rakove, professor of history, American studies and political science at Stanford University and author of books including "Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America"
John Koza, chairman of National Popular Vote Inc. which advocates implementation of nationwide popular vote for president
Trent England, vice president of policy at The Freedom Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit, and director of the Save Our States Project
Ace Smith, principal at SCN Strategies and a 30-year veteran of state and national politics

  • James Ivey

    In Wyoming, each electoral vote represents approximately 189,386 individual citizens. In California, each electoral vote represents approximately 685,307 individual citizens. So, each Wyoming vote counts as much as nearly 4 California votes. Ridiculous.

    • Exactly! If not abolished, the Electoral College should at least be proportional, so that there is one Elector per Representative, and none per Senator…currently the system favors smaller and more rural states (and their citizens), in a world and nation that is increasingly urban/metropolitan.

      • JF

        Fundamentally the Electoral college offers the advantage of each vote counting as much as possible. That means there are states where an individuals vote counts more than a vote cast in another state. This effectively means there are much higher odds a small number of voters in a given state could decide a election. The alternative to this is that each vote nationwide count the same, which in turn means each of our votes count less. It’s much harder in this system for a small number of voters to decide an election

        I wish this topic was discussed more widely. Its possible some people might think differently about what state they choose to live in factoring that clearly voting in some states, namely swing states, matters much more than other states. The trade off is between each vote counting the most versus each vote counting the same.

        • s e

          In our presidential election system,, where you live should not determine how much, if at all, your vote matters.

          Even in the handful of states where a presidential vote matters to the candidates, the value of a vote is different.

          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 votes from the enacting states.

    • johnqeniac

      No. As the guest said, the only states where your vote matters are niether the small (wyoming or whatever) or the large (california) but the ‘contested’ – those that, for whatever freak reason have nearly an even split of the population on either side. That’s why, as the guest said, in the electoral system you can easily have a handful of votes by a handful of benighted locals determining the future of the entire country for 300 million people. for the same reason the stinking electoral college also maximizes the odds that small scale local voting fraud can determine a national election. The EC stinks. Period.

  • Jonathan

    A great youtube video explaining the electoral college is

    How the Electoral College Works and

    The Trouble with the Electoral College by CGP Grey

  • ally

    please REMIND the speaker who referenced the 2000 results that in the opinion Bush v Gore, the Supreme Court wrote that ruling applies only to that election. that’s right. only to that election.

  • chrisco

    There have been maybe 100 countries emerge into so-called democracy. They have looked to the US in many ways. Bicameral legislatures are popular, and our independent judiciary is often used as a model. Nobody, not one country, has adopted the Electoral College position. Nor should they. It is outdated, undemocratic, and unacceptable. Small states already have way disproportionate influence on our federal government via the Senate. They should not have the Electoral College advantage as well.

    Moreover, if there was no Electoral College but merely a popular vote winner, then Texas and California, for example, would matter very much. Voters there would be engaged, voters everywhere would matter. Unlike now. Although I guess we are lucky to NOT be bombarded by the commercials that they are getting in Ohio, FLorida etc.

    • ally

      precisely! AND not one modern democratic country runs elections on a partisan level (i.e., through the states). all of them have a national NONPARTISAN board to run and oversee the elections. imagine if we had one ourselves for the 2000 election…oh the places we might have gone!

    • Rhet

      If you were an elite who owns, let’s say, vast mineral deposits in an under-populated state, the electoral college would be one mechanism to protect your assets.

      The rich have assets (land, home, mines, factories), the poor have debts and consumables (laptops and TVs).

      It is thus today, and it was in 1776.

      • johnqeniac

        do the poor have laptops?

        • Beth Grant DeRoos

          Actually many many poor have laptops here in the states and elsewhere. As well as cell phones. Poor isn’t what it used to be in some places.

  • geraldfnord

    0.) Do the electors go to the candidate with a plurality, even a 34-33-33 such in a three-way vote?
    1.) Is there hysteresis?—that is, if a state joins the effective compact and then leaves, is the bill phrased such that in that case the compact were broken and the older system back in effect?

    For me, any system which retains first-past-the-post for each individual state is deeply flawed; ranked-preference voting produces a much better reflexion of the popular will, and that’s what I (at least) want.

    • s e

      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 bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

      If the compact is only enacted by states with less than 270 electoral votes, as it is now, the enacting states use their current method of awarding electoral votes.

      With the current system of electing the President, no state requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state’s electoral votes.

      Not a single legislative bill has been introduced in any state legislature in recent decades (among the more than 100,000 bills that are introduced in every two-year period by the nation’s 7,300 state legislators) proposing to change the existing universal practice of the states to award electoral votes to the candidate who receives a plurality (as opposed to absolute majority) of the votes (statewide or district-wide). There is no evidence of any public sentiment in favor of imposing such a requirement.

      If an Electoral College type of arrangement were essential
      for avoiding a proliferation of candidates and people being elected with low percentages of the vote, we should see evidence of these conjectured outcomes in elections that do not employ such an arrangement. In elections in which the winner is the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by that office, historical evidence shows that there is no massive proliferation of third-party candidates and candidates do not win with small percentages. For example, in 905 elections for governor in the last 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote.

      Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.– including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912, and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

      Americans do not view the absence of run-offs in the current system as a major problem. If, at some time in the future, the public demands run-offs, that change can be implemented at
      that time.

      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!

  • johnqeniac

    Electoral College is a totally, totally corrupt, undemocratic system designed by the monied elite for the monied elite. It stinks, let’s face it. From Wikipedia: “Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.” Electoral College is manifestly undemocratic. It stinks!

  • Does the electoral college system favor Republicans or Democrats?

  • chrisco

    While I condemn the Electoral College, it is kind of a blessing to be left out of the campaign. Because all that really means is we don’t see the stupid 30-second political ads. We can still hear the speeches, read about them etc. Because modern-day campaigns in the swing states primarily means mass media advertising. And that is not edifying.

    • johnqeniac

      try turning off your tv – bless yourself.

    • s e

      The 80% of the states and people ignored by campaigns 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 the handful of
      ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

      During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most
      important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

      Compare the response to hurricane Katrina (in Louisiana, a “safe” state) to the federal response to hurricanes in Florida (a “swing” state) under Presidents of both parties. President Obama took more interest in the BP oil spill, once it reached Florida’s shores, after it had first reached Louisiana. Some
      pandering policy examples include ethanol subsidies, Steel Tariffs, and Medicare Part D. Policies not given priority, include those most important to non-battleground states – like comprehensive immigration reform, water issues in the west, and Pacific Rim trade issues,

      “Maybe it is just a coincidence that most of the battleground states decided by razor-thin margins in 2008 have been blessed with a No Child Left Behind exemption. “
      Wall Street Journal

      Six current heavily traveled Cabinet members, have made more than 85 trips this year to electoral battlegrounds such as
      Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a POLITICO review of public speeches and news clippings. Those swing-state
      visits represent roughly half of all travel for those six Cabinet officials this year.

  • Rhet

    Let’s say some monied elites own most of the resources of a state that has a small population. What other reason exists for considering that state equally with a highly populated state (in elections, in lawmaking) than to protect those monied elites’ interests?

    • johnqeniac

      i hate the electoral system as much as every other patriotic american hates it (excluding of course the putrid rich), and i am 100% in favor of throwing it onto the dungheap of history, but if you think of the division of the people of this country (again, excluding the thin patina of venal putrid rich) as largely between those of liberal metropolitan populations and conservative rural populations, then it does seem to me that the rural conservatives may fare disastrously under a popular (and therefore democratic) vote.

      • s e

        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, and they are ignored.

        Rural state polls support for a national popular vote: VT–75%, ME–77%, WV–81%, MS–77%, SD–75%, AR–80%, MT–72%, KY–80%, NH–69%, IA–75%,SC–71%, NC–74%, TN–83%, WY–69%, OK–81%, AK–70%, ID–77%, WI–71%, MO–70%, and NE–74%.

        NationalPopularVote

        • johnqeniac

          Interesting….. thanks for the detailed arguments and information. Anyway, I am for a national popular vote.

      • s e

        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 Wal-mart mom voters in Ohio.

  • Andygoldberg

    I agree with the caller who pointed out that we are a republic of 50 states, and that is how our democratic republic was designed to elect our president.

    • johnqeniac

      First of all, just saying ‘we are a republic of 50 states’ and we were ‘designed to be that way’ doesn’t actually say anything about whether election of the president by popular vote rather than a bunch of elitist pigs is fundamentally inconsistent with the basic principles of democracy. More importantly, who freaking cares what a bunch of fat, wealthy elite landowners ‘designed our system to be’ 250 years ago, for god’s sake?! These guys ‘designed’ a system to serve their own selfish interests. And even if it was a state of the art system 250 years ago, we’re a completely different society now – we have about as much to do with freaking 18th century agrarian colonial america as we do with aliens from the planet Zandor! Are we freaking bound to fealty to a bunch dead old white buys dressed in tights no matter how bad their ‘design’ was?! I say ‘No!’. Show some freaking gumption, some initiative, some innovative spirit, man! Show some dignity! To H— with the founding fathers!

    • s e

      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 votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

      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.

  • Stephen Schmid

    Here is my biggest problem with the electoral college:

    By forcing candidates to focus on swing states, they have a strong
    incentive to pander to the issues most important locally in those
    states, and may take a position that is not in the interest of the
    country as a whole.

    For example, in Ohio, coal is popular. So both President Obama and Gov.
    Romney are touting the use of coal, even though from a health and
    environmental standpoint, coal is awful for the nation as a whole.

    • Great point. And gay marriage and global climate change (bigger coastal concerns) hardly mentioned.

    • Kenji Yamada

      Stephen, it seems to me that the incentive to focus on swing states isn’t a result of the electoral college as such, but of the fact that states allot all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in that state. States are constitutionally free to allot their electoral votes as they please, which means they could instruct their electors to cast votes according to the proportion of the state popular vote. Whether it would serve their interests as a state to do that is another question, of course.

  • Cooper

    I’d like to know whether voter participation and Democratic participation is higher in the swing states because people feel like they can
    make a difference

    • s e

      Yes.

      In 2008, voter turnout in the then 15 battleground states averaged
      seven points higher than in the 35 non-battleground states.

      If presidential campaigns now did not ignore more than 200,000,000 of 300,000,000 Americans, one would reasonably expect that voter turnout would rise in 80% of the country that is currently ignored by presidential campaigns.

  • Paul k

    It’s a candidate it gets 60 percent of the vote in California why can’t we give him 60 percent of our electoral college votes? it seems to me that that takes care of the problem with the popular vote!

    • s e

      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.

      Any state that enacts the proportional approach on its own would reduce it own influence. This was the most telling argument that caused Colorado voters to agree with Republican Governor Owens and to reject this proposal in November 2004 by a two-to-one margin.

      If the proportional approach were implemented by a state, on its
      own, it would have to allocate its electoral votes in whole numbers. If a current battleground state were to change its winner-take-all statute to a proportional method for awarding electoral votes, presidential candidates would pay less attention to that state because only one electoral vote would probably be at stake in the state.

      The proportional method also 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.

      If the whole-number proportional approach had been in use throughout the country in the nation’s closest recent presidential election (2000), it would not have awarded the most electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide. Instead, the result would have been a tie of 269–269 in the electoral vote, even though Al Gore led by 537,179 popular votes across the nation. The presidential election would have been thrown into Congress to decide and
      resulted in the election of the second-place candidate in terms of the national popular vote.

      A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by
      state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.

      It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one
      U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman. It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census. It wouldpenalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).

      Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.

  • johnqeniac

    Shafer seems to be intent exaggerating the dangers of democracy (1 man 1 vote). He keeps saying how horrible it would be. The guy is so hidebound it’s sickening.

  • johnqeniac

    Why does this ‘Freedom Foundation’ guy so hate democracy (1 man 1 vote)?

  • Andygoldberg

    John Koza suggested that candidates would not ‘campagin’ in non-swing states. But, voters in these states are getting more than enough information to make their choice. Does the current deluge of campaigning in swing states make their voters any better informed than voters in California or Texas?

    • johnqeniac

      No, it’s all propagandistic lies and garbage form both candidates to distract us from the real issues facing this country. But the beef with the elitoral college is that it is not democratic (1 man 1 vote). What do you have against true democracy? Why do you hate the idea of the people electing their leaders directly? Are you OK with that in principle?

    • s e

      Candidate now ignore 80% of the states and people.
      We have been merely spectators to presidential elections.

      We 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 the handful of ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

      During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most
      important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

      Compare the response to hurricane Katrina (in Louisiana, a “safe” state) to the federal response to hurricanes in Florida (a “swing” state) under Presidents of both parties. President Obama took more interest in the BP oil spill, once it reached Florida’s shores, after it had first reached Louisiana. Some
      pandering policy examples include ethanol subsidies, Steel Tariffs, and Medicare Part D. Policies not given priority, include those most important to non-battleground states – like comprehensive immigration reform, water issues in the west, and Pacific Rim trade issues,

      “Maybe it is just a coincidence that most of the battleground states decided by razor-thin margins in 2008 have been blessed with a No Child Left Behind exemption. “
      Wall Street Journal

      Six current heavily traveled Cabinet members, have made more than 85 trips this year to electoral battlegrounds such as
      Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a POLITICO review of public speeches and news clippings. Those swing-state visits
      represent roughly half of all travel for those six Cabinet officials this year.

  • Nick

    What about proportional representation in the executive branch? Or having multiple winners? I think we can all agree that the current system encourages only two parties, encouraging political deadlock, social division, and failing to accurately represent the range of views and opinions Americans hold.

    • Bill_Woods

      How would one office be divided ‘proportionally’? Four days per week for one candidate and three for the other?

  • Stephen Schmid

    Regarding the need for a runoff if we switched to a popular election – the better solution is a ranked choice vote which would eliminate runoffs. This would prevent, for example, a Nader candidacy from allowing Bush to defeat Gore.

    • Rhet

      Except Nader didn’t cause Gore’s defeat at all…

      Jeb Bush removed over 50,000 Democrats from voting rolls in Florida in 2000 illegally to ensure his brother won. Bush won FL by 300 votes.

  • chrisco

    For this reason, I hope Obama loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College. Maybe then we can finally rid ourselves of this albatross. I think Democrats are in favor, mostly. Maybe the above-mentioned result would get the Republicans on board.

    • s e

      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.

      NationalPopularVote

      Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • 99to1

    Under the NPV pact, the Electoral College could be effectively nullified with the votes of as few as 11 states affirming this winner-take-all vote pact.

    The result would be only to exchange the present Winner-take-all system based on the Electoral College, for another winner-take-all scheme based on the popular vote.

    The result of any Winner-take-all allocation of votes is the nullification of minority opposition votes– a “minority” which, in this time of a bifurcated national electorate, is effectively half of all voting Americans.

    So, I find the rationale of the NPV advocates lacking in logical and ethical consistency.

    If they were serious about equalizing every citizen’s individual vote across the country, they’d be advocating Electoral College reforms to assign popular voting outcomes proportionately.

    • s e

      Any state that enacts the proportional approach on its own would reduce its own influence. This was the most telling argument that caused Colorado voters to agree with Republican Governor Owens and to reject this proposal in November 2004 by a two-to-one margin.

      If the proportional approach were implemented by a state, on its own, it would have to allocate its electoral votes in whole numbers. If a current battleground state were to change its winner-take-all statute to a proportional method for awarding electoral votes, presidential candidates would pay less attention to that state because only one electoral vote would probably be at stake in the state.

      The proportional method also 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.

      If the whole-number proportional approach had been in use throughout the country in the nation’s closest recent presidential election (2000), it would not have awarded the most electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide. Instead, the result would have been a tie of 269–269 in the electoral vote, even though Al Gore led by 537,179 popular votes across the nation. The presidential election would have been thrown into Congress to decide and resulted in the election of the second-place candidate in terms of the national popular vote.

      A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.

      It would penalize states, such as Montana,
      that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman. It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census. It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).

      Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.

      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.

    • s e

      The National Popular Vote 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.

      Based on the current mix of states that have enacted the National Popular Vote compact, it could take about 25 states to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the compact.

      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 votes from the
      enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

      National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes 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).

      With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast.

      Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

      When and where voters matter, then so are the issues they care about most.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    The electoral college was put in place to protect us from “low information voters.” The two party system works and prevents a fragmented multiple party system.

    • s e

      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 current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,453 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only
      17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the
      substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders. The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

      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).

    • s e

      The current state-by-state winner-take-all system does not protect the two-party system. It simply discriminates against third-party candidates with broad-based support, while rewarding regional third-party candidates. In 1948, Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace both got about 1.1 million popular votes, but Thurmond got 39 electoral votes (because his vote was concentrated in southern states), whereas Henry Wallace got none. Similarly, George Wallace got 46 electoral votes with 13% of the votes in 1968, while Ross Perot got 0 electoral votes with 19% of the national popular vote in 1992. The only thing the current system does is to punish candidates whose support is broadly based.

  • Ann terry

    The electoral college dicourages voters unless they represent equally the amount to each candidate vs all for the winner

  • johnqeniac

    This ‘freedom foundation’ is total phony tool of the repubs. the guy clearly hates freedom more than anything.

  • David N

    One big problem with the popular vote is the voting system itself: the plurality vote has been shown to produced polarized outcomes. Moderates are always squeezed out. Is there any hope of fixing this as well, perhaps by moving to an approval vote?

    • Stephen Schmid

      I’ve withdrawn my reply.

      • David N

        Any non-plurality system fixes this specific problem. Ranked systems have their own issues (sometimes giving moderates an *unfair* advantage, and also being more confusing to explain to voters). A great visualization of the (sometimes perverse) outcomes of various voting systems is at: http://zesty.ca/voting/sim/

    • johnqeniac

      Define ‘moderate’. What is an example of a ‘moderate’ policy? Only have half the pointless wars? Only torture half as many people and deny them half their human rights? Only give bail outs without any strings attached to half the reckless financial corporations? Only illegally surveil on half the people? What? What? What does a ‘moderate’ want to see?

      • David N

        I’m not sure if you literally want me to define such a well-understood term, but generally, for any one issue, you can usually draw a line between any two candidates’ positions, where any point on that line reflects a position between the two. One candidate may prefer to increase spending while the other may prefer to reduce spending. If those candidates are representative of a respective extreme, you might consider a candidate offering a viewpoint midway between them as a ‘moderate’.

        If it turns out that the population’s views on the matter can be described by a normal distribution centered on that moderate position, you might say that the moderate should win this (simplistic) election. However, with a plurality vote, the moderate candidate is unlikely to win. The very system of voting is predisposed to selecting a winner between the candidates closer to an extreme, especially when you consider the “wasted vote” psychological factor that biases votes toward the top two or three parties.

        A simple change that would largely solve that problem would be to switch to an approval vote: you can cast one vote for as many people on the ballot you want. Whoever gets the most votes wins.

  • ifonul

    The US needs two things to get rid of this crazy two party system: popular vote and two rounds of voting. If nobody gets the majority, a second round should be organized between the two leading candidates from the first round. This would make people think about alternatives to the same old Democratic/Republican choices. What happens now in Washington is dysfunctional, crazy. But voting for somebody else is just useless. If I had two rounds, at least I could choose the lesser evil in the second round. It’s the first time I vote in US elections and I find the system one of the most un-democratic I have ever seen. It’s really *not* all votes are equal, quite the opposite.

    • Stephen Schmid

      I’ve withdrawn this reply.

    • David N

      Two-round voting (by which I assume you mean the Hare or IRV methods) sound great in theory, but in practice they can result in some very strange outcomes. See http://zesty.ca/voting/sim/ for some interesting visualizations of this. Otherwise, I agree that the plurality vote is terrible and that we should be focusing at least as much attention on it as we are about the electoral college.

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