Saturday, September 14, 2019 -
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Electoral College

The electoral college has gotten a bad rap recently, but I for one think it’s a brilliant institution. Our founding fathers designed a way to elect our chief executive that respects the diversity of a country this large.

The cornerstone of American democracy is checks and balances. Were the executive to be elected purely by popular vote, concentrated populations would decide the fate of the country.

Rapid globalization and shipping off industry to developing countries where labor is cheaper (and usually less safe and humane) has already led to the trend of megalopolises, or supercities, where countries are dominated by a few urban areas.

That’s why the current National Popular Vote bill — currently awaiting Gov. Polis’ signature — baffles me. The proposal is, frankly, strange. One might assume something called National Popular Vote actually advocates for a national popular vote. It doesn’t. (Not that that would be a good idea; one need look no further than Brexit to see where a “first past the post” approach can lead.)

This bill requires states to cast their electoral votes for whomever wins the popular vote. Essentially, the state’s electors cede their voice to the voters of supercities. I can’t figure out why any Coloradan would bother voting in such a case.

The ultimate irony? As it stands, this bill goes into law without you or I ever having a say. Some lawmakers and activists recognized that irony and are planning to gather the signatures needed to put this on the ballot for . . . a popular vote!

People are frustrated that a candidate who won the popular vote is not president, but it’s happened long before the 21st century. Google Grover Cleveland. The electoral college insures that no region of the country is disenfranchised.

Making constitutional or procedural changes based on party politics usually doesn’t work out very well. Just ask former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid how his support for the “nuclear option” has worked out for Senate Democrats when it’s come to Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at shana@ijn.com

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News



Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher | shana@ijn.com


9 thoughts on “Electoral College

  1. s e (@oldgulph)

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.
    Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting, crude, and divisive and red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes, that don’t represent any minority party voters within each state.

    Reply
  2. s e (@oldgulph)

    Voters in the biggest cities in the US have been almost exactly balanced out by rural areas in terms of population and partisan composition.

    16% of the U.S. population lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Rural America has voted 60% Republican. None of the 10 most rural states matter now.

    16% of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities. They voted 63% Democratic in 2004.
    The population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States.

    The rest of the U.S., in suburbs, divide almost exactly equally between Republicans and Democrats.

    Reply
  3. Shana GoldbergShana Goldberg Post author

    Where are you getting your data from? According to the US census among other sources 60%+ of the nation’s population lives in cities.

    I don’t see this as a red/blue party issue but about representation, and knowing that my state’s votes count.

    Reply
    1. s e (@oldgulph)

      US Census. Top 50 and top 100 cities.

      Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter equally in the state counts and national count.

      Reply
  4. s e (@oldgulph)

    The U.S. Constitution says “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 normal way of changing the method of electing the President is by changes by state legislatures in state law.

    Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation’s first election in 1789. However, now, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states.

    In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all method (awarding all of a state’s electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all method is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states.

    In 1789, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state.

    In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

    The National Popular Vote bill is 64% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

    Reply
    1. Shana GoldbergShana Goldberg Post author

      You are not actually addressing the concern. (You also have not stated the source of your data.) What is the point of someone from Colorado voting knowing that its electors are bound to vote according to the national popular vote, which obviously will be determined by the naton’s most populous states, of which Colorado is not one?

      Reply
      1. s e (@oldgulph)

        Every voter, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
        Every vote would matter equally in the state counts and national count.

        The vote of every voter in the country (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green) would help his or her preferred candidate win the Presidency. Every vote in the country would become as important as a vote in a battleground state such as New Hampshire, Ohio, or Florida. The National Popular Vote plan would give voice to every voter in the country, as opposed to treating voters for candidates who did not win a plurality in the state as if they did not exist.

        The National Popular Vote bill would give a voice to the minority party voters for president in each state. Now they don’t matter to their candidate.

        In 2012, 56,256,178 (44%) of the 128,954,498 voters had their vote diverted by the winner-take-all rule to a candidate they opposed (namely, their state’s first-place 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 presidential candidates.
        Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004.
        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).
        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).

        Reply
      2. s e (@oldgulph)

        In total New York state and California cast 16% of the total national popular vote

        In total, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania cast 18% of the total national popular vote.
        Trump won those states.

        The 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political candidate. In 2016, among the 11 largest states: 7 voted Republican(Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia) and 4 voted Democratic (California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey). 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.

        Reply
  5. Yaakov Watkins

    Every state has its own standards for figuring out who is a citizen and who is allowed to vote. If we eliminated the electoral college and California voted Democrat, every citizen in the US would have standing to challenge their results

    Reply

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