January 24, 2013

"Virginia State Senate Moves Ahead on Electoral College-Rigging Bill."

What, exactly, makes this "rigging"?


machine said...

Dirtbag move...no other way around it....

machine said...

"National Republicans, frustrated with their failure to win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections, are pushing to change the electoral allocations only in states Obama carried."

Another proud moment for the GOP...

JimM47 said...

I wish all states would do this. And maybe if this ploy works, they will.

But given that it is a settled norm of our political system that states, for all practical purposes, allocate their electoral votes winner-take-all, any deviation is subject to cries of "rigging." Yes, two states can already split their votes 3-1, but that is qualitatively different than allowing the state's popular vote swing differently than the Electoral Vote.

[Meme-able version] Xzibit says: "Yo dawg, I heard you like the Electoral Colege \ So I put an Electoral College in your Electoral College"

edutcher said...

It's only rigging if Republicans do it.

machine said...

Dirtbag move...no other way around it....


They can't do stuff like that.

We're the only ones who are allowed to do stuff like that.

Ann Althouse said...

Will anyone actually argue the position that what the Republicans are doing is "rigging"?

It's not enough to say I hate when they find ways to take political advantage because I'm on the other side. It must be that you would say the same political advantage-taking by Democrats would be impermissible. Not just unwise or too hardcore, but actually cheating.

Ann Althouse said...

Let's not get bogged down in reacting to the first comment, which is the preemptive snark against the predictable snark. With snark and countersnark already nailed down, please don't keep saying that or this comments thread will get old fast.

Move on to the question asked.

Michael said...

Former Virginia resident here (left about two months ago).

(To answer your question, Ann, I have no doubt that plenty of commentators will argue that this is "rigging." They have a narrative to push. Doesn't make them right, of course..)

Remember how many people claimed that proportional allocation would have kept George W. Bush out of the White House in 2000? Why aren't they applauding this move to make the Electoral College more responsive to the people?

damikesc said...

I think this will have a lot of unforeseen consequences. But it seems better than either the current setup or a national popular vote.

How is it rigging? It's not. It's an asinine term that the press will run with.

MadisonMan said...

I wouldn't call it rigging. It's downsizing the Electoral College votes. You get smaller pieces by winning, and to get bigger pieces you have to win more.

Any Political Party will be very against it until it works in their favor.

sparrow said...

"countersnark" would be a great name to post by, if you could live it to it

Nathan Alexander said...

I'm not sure how to think about this.

If the premise is that Democrats do better in high-density population areas, and Republicans do better in low-density population areas, then this could be considered "rigging" by giving more weight to the low-population density areas.

The US political system has worked so well because of the checks and balances. The checks include the three co-equal branches of govt.

But the balances include the balancing of population versus geographic area.

If you don't have that balance, then a few population-dense areas can control the govt to the detriment of everyone else: the Hunger Games scenario.

The Electoral College helps balance that.

I think this new system is actually helpful in Virginia, because the northern counties in VA are population dense, extremely blue, and utterly dependent on a larger, powerful, corrupt, wasteful central govt.

So it is "rigging" only in the sense that it makes it easier for Republicans to win under the current alignment of interests.

Lauderdale Vet said...

I think it's less like "rigging" than it is now. Break apart California, Texas, everything.

Imagine the battles over gerrymandering after that's done.

Henry said...

Why does everyone (the Republicans, the Democrats, the commenters at Slate) assume a static system?

Known Unknown said...

I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. I know exactly what it's like to be governed under the whims of the Masters to the East.

machine said...

"then this could be considered "rigging" by giving more weight to the low-population density areas"

Transferring a higher value to the "real Amuricans"...it's a dirtbag move, hence the need to defend it....

machine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Brown said...

machine said...

Transferring a higher value to the "real Amuricans"...

Hey stupid shit:

Where were you when the Democrats wanted to disband the Electoral College entirely after the 2000 election?

Oh, cheering it on.

Never mind.

dbp said...

States where the overall outcome is locked-in like Texas, NY and CA will not do this. Not for the least reason that the party that wins the state in presidential elections also controls the legislature.

But there are a number of states where Republicans control the governorship and legislature but lose the national elections. What is a marvel is that they haven't done this yet.

Republicans can do this in WI, MI, PA, VA, FL and OH--all of which they lost in the presidential election.

Mike said...

It's "rigging" because it basically gets rid of the concept of "one person, one vote" giving more significant votes to people in rural (i.e, Republican) areas. If this scheme had been implemented in Ohio, Obama would have won 52% of the popular vote and gotten 20% of the electoral votes. This would basically guarantee Republican victory in presidential elections as long as they won rural areas, even if it meant they got only 30% of the popular vote.

I can't see how you can justify that. I can't see how that survives a challenge under Bush v. Gore (remember all that 14th Amendment stuff about equal votes?) And I can't see that this can be interpreted by black people as anything other than an attempt to disenfranchise them, whether that is the intention or not.

MadisonMan said...

I do think that something like this "rigging" is less important to voter integrity than re-doing how districts are drawn. More math in District Drawing, less politics. (I know, I know, math is hard, especially for PoliSci majors).

Let P be the perimeter of the District, and let A be the area. Minimize both.

Henry said...

I draw attention this squib of high dudgeon: It gets worse. You'll notice that the 2nd, 4th, and 10th districts were squeakers...

So if a candidate gets 9 to 4 electoral votes because he or she wins some squeakers, that is, in Weigel's words, "less democratic". But if a candidate gets 13 to 0 electoral votes because he or she wins the state by a squeaker, that's ... what?

Weigel is so determined score points that he creates an utterly muddleheaded comparative. The Virginia proposal is "even less democratic than other vote-split schemes".

Even less? His implication is that vote-split schemes (by percentage, by district) are less democratic than something and the Virginia bill even more so. But what could that something else be? The status quo? Florida in 2000? Such short memories these kids have.

Astro said...

As the system works now in most places, cities have an advantage in get-out-the-vote since a lot of voters are concentrated in a small area. It's easy to send a few buses around to buy - er, bring in - hoards of voters. And of course, cities tend to be controlled by the Democrat party.

This scheme defuses some of that advantage. For far too long the large cities have dominated the politics in some states. (In my case I'm thinking of Atlanta and Georgia. For years the city of Atlanta has been sucking in money from the rest of the state for it's own pet projects, many of which end up supporting the party that controls the city.)

In a larger sense what this does is it lessens the punishment on people who chose to live in more rural areas. Though, in this last presidential election, this scheme would have given Obama some of the state's votes that all went to Ronmey.

Astro said...

Er, Romney, I think his name was Romney.

Henry said...

BTW, I heartily dislike the idea of the two at-large votes. We live in a representative democracy. Make things represent things. Don't have any of this bonus-point crap.

Brian Brown said...

I can't see how you can justify that. I can't see how that survives a challenge under Bush v. Gore (remember all that 14th Amendment stuff about equal votes?)

Maybe we can use the constitution as our guide:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress

Note: Electors could be appointed by a state's legislature, or the legislature could empower the governor to choose electors.

Nah, that would be like too hard and stuff.

garage mahal said...

Republicans have given up trying to get people to vote for them. It's like a coup d'etat against the people.

Sneaking it through on MLK day when a legislator was away was really a nice touch.

Icepick said...

Awarding an electoral vote for each Congressional district doesn't seem like rigging. I don't think it is particularly prudent for any one state to do that by itself, but that part doesn't seem unfair in and of itself.

However, awarding the final two electoral votes to the candidate that wins the most districts does seem like rigging. Someone points out at the linked article that Obama won the state by 150,000 votes. But under the new scheme he would have not only lost most of the Congressional districts, he would have lost the final two votes as well.

That last part just leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Note that this scheme doesn't really add more incentive for Gerrymandering districts. That incentive (to cram all of one's opponents voters into as few winning districts as possible) already exists. In fact holding more Congressional seats has traditionally been more important to a state's interest than in helping to throw the odd Presidential election.

Icepick said...
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Icepick said...

Republicans have given up trying to get people to vote for them. It's like a coup d'etat against the people.

Unlike, for example, when five people decide that the government can do whatever the fuck it likes.

Icepick said...

If we're going to accept an Electoral College, we must accept that occasionally we will get outcomes that counter-act the popular vote. (Assuming we allow a popular vote for the Presidency.) That is an old and established tradition, and not a bad one.

The nation was not established as a democracy, but as a Republic, and a federal republic at that. The whole structure of the government has been designed for competing interests to constantly try to check each other. The Electoral College was just another manifestation of that, as well as an acknowledgement of the practicalities of counting votes in a nation as large as this one. (In a practical sense it was larger in 1789 than it is now. I can get from Florida to Hawaii or Alaska in a day. How far could I get in a day in 1789?)

Those that want to abolish the Electoral College either don't think about the downside. You think Florida was a nightmare in 2000? Imagine doing that for the entire nation. The Electoral College at least prevents that bit of nonsense.

Icepick said...

More math in District Drawing, less politics.

Mathematics in this case would just be applying a formula. Then the political decisions get pushed off onto the people that determine the formula. The only difference is that this will obscure how the rigging is done.

Mike said...

Maybe we can use the constitution as our guide:

So then you think Bush v. Gore was decided incorrectly? That the state should have been allowed to appoint its electors however it wants?

Like it or not, the 14th Amendment applies to elections. You could not create a system with a poll tax or where only certain voters were counted. And you can't create a system where, in effect, some people's votes count more than others. A legislature would not necessarily violate that; this vote-weighting scheme does.

I don't think any of you would be saying this was hunky dory if Democrats were doing it in a red state.

Chef Mojo said...

It's no more "rigging" than hundreds of years of gerrymandering. The Dems love them some gerrymandering! See, that's ok. They particularly love gerrymandering to make safe minority race districts. Bah, the claim of rigging only comes up when things like this go against them.

As a Virginian, and a rural one at that, I'm very glad to see this happening, even though it may occasionally go against my interests. It's like having the Electoral College in place on a state level.

But then, you Dems probably believe that the Electoral College is "rigging."

Icepick said...

I don't think any of you would be saying this was hunky dory if Democrats were doing it in a red state.

But I'm damned sure that the lefties would all be talking about what a wonderful idea it was in those circumstances. Just like I'm sure that if Gore had lost the popular vote but won the electoral college vote in 2000 we'd all be hearing about what a scared institution the EC is.

garage mahal said...

If voters won't pick us, we'll pick THEM!

The Godfather said...

It's "rigging" to some, because it's being done by Republicans to enhance their political prospects. So when Democrats oppose voter ID laws to enhance their political prospects, that's "rigging", too, right?

Maybe it would be better to look at the proposed changes on their merits and query whether they are good or bad. If the present system unfairly benefits urban areas and suburbs to the detriment of rural areas and exurbs, the change could be good, regardless of who benefits in the short run. Demographic changes could result in the same system benefiting Democrats some day. At one time, rural areas were dominated by Democrats and there were a lot of Republicans in cities. Could happen again.

Brian Brown said...

Mike said...

So then you think Bush v. Gore was decided incorrectly? That the state should have been allowed to appoint its electors however it wants?

You're pretty dense.

The state of FL had already decided how it's electors were appointed. The FL State Supreme Court tried to alter that decision and the Supreme Court stopped them.

You bringing a "poll tax" into a discussion of this is silly.

Brian Brown said...

this vote-weighting scheme does.


Icepick said...

And let's get over this disenfranchised voter crap. Elections have consequences, and one of those consequences is that those who voted for the losers cast meaningless votes - they've been disenfranchised.

Not to mention that gerrymandering means many are disenfranchised before the election is even held. garage mahal isn't going to worry that my vote doesn't mean anything (I'm white in a black district) because he doesn't want my vote to count period.

Chef Mojo said...


The Virginia General Assembly is a part time legislature that meets only for 45 days this year, being an odd numbered year. It so happens that MLK Day falls during session, and they frequently work and pass legislation on that day. This vote being on MLK Day is nothing sinister. It's just business.

Icepick said...

If voters won't pick us, we'll pick THEM!

That is why Dems want to import a new citizenry, yes.

Shawn Levasseur said...

Apparently the conversation here is swaying more towards the validity of the EC itself and not the Virginia bill that would change how that state casts its EC votes.

The plan is a slight variation on what Maine and Nebraska have been doing for years. Admittably both states are so small that the vote is rarely split.

If it's "rigging" in that it's only being done in states where GOP usually loses. Well, there's nothing stopping Dems from trying to do the same in the other states.

Though to be honest the "rigging" claim is just a disingenuous argument.

I'm curious to see how such a plan changes congressional districting. Gerrymandering will take on a different shape when a district serves two separate purposes. Creating safe districts to minimize the risk of losing congressional elections is a different dynamic from trying to maximize electoral votes. I suspect it will be a positive influence.

Chef Mojo said...

And don't worry, Dems. It most likely won't become law, as the Obama administration will use the DOJ to sue the Commonwealth under the Voting Rights Act, thus thwarting the will of Virginian voters.

See. The "rigging" goes both ways! It's ok when Maine and Nebraska do it...

Mike said...

See. The "rigging" goes both ways! It's ok when Maine and Nebraska do it...

Nebraska and Maine have not set up a system where you can 45% of the popular vote and 80% of the electoral vote, which is what this system does. They give the at-large EV's to the winner of the popular vote.

Mike said...

I also think the GOP's efforts would be better focused on winning elections instead of playing fancy vote games so they can win them without getting a majority of the votes. But I'm funny that way.

Xmas said...


If they give one at-large vote to the winner of the state's popular vote and one to the winner of the most congressional districts, that would be pretty interesting.

This requires some more statistical analysis for sure. It would certainly make elections late in a decade (years 7,8,9,0) interesting in states with big demographic shifts. And it would make congressional district mappings an even bigger political fight.

Brew Master said...

Anyone who thinks this is rigging the vote does not understand the constitution.

What this appears to be attempting is trying to reassert the balance for which the EC was designed.

The whole reason the EC exists is to balance the power between less densely populated areas of the country, and the more densely populated.
The Founders came up with the EC because the knew that without it, Urban areas would dominate the political process and enact legislation to benefit those areas. They also understood that what is good for large cities/States, isn't necessarily good for rural areas/States.

That is the nature of Federalism, which many people do not grasp. Or if they do grasp, do not like. Our current system is very heavily weighted towards dense urban populations. The majority of States with at least one large metropolitan area all vote one way, and have for years. The more metro areas a state has, the more likely they are to vote just one way. A prime example of this is the state of Illinois. The city of Chicago and its machine politics runs the entire state.

Despite the EC designed by the founders to combat just this scenario, it has come to pass. The urban centers of America are driving the policy for the whole country.

Virginia's proposal, as it seem to me, is attempting to reassert some balance back to the federalist view. Is it the right way to do so? Maybe, maybe not, but constitutionally it is their right to try any method they deem fit. It is not 'rigging'.

One thing that I'd like to find out is how the popular vote in California, NY, Illinois, or Texas would change if they instituted the same scheme. How many current republican/democrat voters in those states don't even bother to vote, knowing full well that they will be voting for a loser with almost 100% sureity? How would that change if they knew that their vote would actually count towards an EC representation for their district? How much would this influence the party balance of the state legislatures? District drawing becomes so much more important under this scheme.

Anthony said...

I don't know if it's "rigging" or not, but it's dumb. It's fighting the last war. How likely is this same outcome in 2016 or 2020?

Of course, I may be giving Carrico too little credit - he may have thought that through already, but Weigel may be too dense to have thought that far ahead.

edutcher said...

Mandating all-black districts in inner cities is also rigging.

But Lauderdale has a point. Break up PA, NY, IL OH, VA, NJ into a couple of city-states and all the downstate areas as separate entities - the state of Gotham and the state of New York, the state of Philadelphia and the state of PA, the state of Chicago and the state of IL.

Then let's see who wins what.

Besides, Barry will finally have the number of states right.

furious_a said...

"then this could be considered "rigging" by giving more weight to the low-population density areas"

The EC already does that by giving Vermont (or Wyoming) the same number Of EVs foe their Senators as it does for Texas (or California).

furious_a said...

"last war", above.

VA Republicans pushing this apportionment scheme are as forward-looking as the Senate Dems pushing amendment of the filibsuter rule.

"You're gonna miss meeee when I'm goooone."

Anonymous said...

We could settle this quick using the new standard of evidence introduced by Garage Mahal in the Gallup Abortion Poll thread: No Republican has said "we're trying to rig the Electoral College", therefore Republicans are not trying to rig the Electoral College.

Unknown said...

"Rigging" is setting up a system that results in the successful election of a candidate receiving fewer votes than his opponent. Pretty simple.

Talk about obtuse.

Paulio said...

I guess it seems like "rigging" because they aren't proposing on principle, but clearly to get a pre-determined outcome. If it were a principle-driven decision, they might also make this move in states like TN, or GA, where they control the state legislature. But there's not a peep from the national party or those states to adopt a similar program. So the only states that are doing it are the ones where Democrats win state-wide, but Republicans dominate locally.

Just seems so ad hoc. Also, could result in an election where the President wins 3-4 million less votes nationally than his competitor. I think that will cost the Republicans in the long term, if they come to be seen as the skeezy, cheaty party. Right now I think that's the Democrats, and they are still able to win with it. What happens if the Democrats are also the more virtuous party--then the Republicans will cease to exist.

toto said...

Republican legislators who want to split state electoral votes in states that have recently voted Democratic in presidential elections, do not want to split electoral votes in states that reliably vote Republican in presidential elections.

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

If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country's congressional districts.

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

Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

A national popular vote is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.

toto said...

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.

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%.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

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

When the bill is enacted by states with 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 has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


toto said...

Given the historical fact that 95% of the U.S. population in 1790 lived in places of less than 2,500 people, it is unlikely that the Founding Fathers were concerned about urban voters dominating the political process and enacting legislation to benefit those areas.

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.

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.

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.

Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote.

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.

toto said...

In 2012, Virginia Republicans got 51% of U.S. House of Representatives vote, but won 73% of seats

toto said...

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 15 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 current presidential election system makes a repeat of 2000 more likely, not less likely. All you need is a thin and contested margin in a single state with enough electoral votes to make a difference. It's much less likely that the national vote will be close enough that voting irregularities in a single area will swing enough net votes to make a difference. If we'd had National Popular Vote in 2000, a recount in Florida would not have been an issue.

The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
“It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg

Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 57 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets.

Paulio said...

The other issue that makes this seem like "rigging" is that the folks arguing for it as just plain old constitutional law and that it's just a mechanism to make sure rural interests are taken care of ignore the extent to which gerrymandering has compromised the "interests" of urban clusters in these states. It's not as if districts are drawn by some objective force, it's a highly manipulated system that is massivley overrepresenting a small sliver of the population and now it will be exacerbated further. If you want to talk about the founder's intent, this was not what they had in mind.

Kirk Parker said...

"However, awarding the final two electoral votes to the candidate that wins the most districts does seem like rigging."

Why? That just mirrors how the EC itself works on a national level.

toto: tl;dr. Get your own blog, dude!

Nathan Alexander said...

See, I was thinking that this would decrease gerrymandering and overrepresentation of single slivers.

Right now, a politician just has to campaign in the urban centers to win enough votes to take a state's electoral votes.

It is easier to tailor a winning message to a homogenous group whose self-interests align very closely, or between aggregations of similar homogenous groups.

The interests of blacks, hispanics, whites, and asians all living in a city are much closer to identical, regardless of income status, than of two nearly identical individuals living in two different remote rural parts of a state.

With this new system, a politician would have to care about crafting a message that could win the support of more than just a narrow slice of urban dwellers.

That would be far better for democracy than the utter vapid stupidity of the National Popular Vote notion, where a politician could appeal to New York, Chicago, and LA and become President Coriolanus Snow (Hunger Games President).

Gospace said...

"It's "rigging" because it basically gets rid of the concept of "one person, one vote" giving more significant votes to people in rural (i.e, Republican) areas. If this scheme had been implemented in Ohio, Obama would have won 52% of the popular vote and gotten 20% of the electoral votes. This would basically guarantee Republican victory in presidential elections as long as they won rural areas, even if it meant they got only 30% of the popular vote."

The constitution gives you no right at all to vote for president- none of the states need to take a popular vote. That's simply how the states have all decided to do it. The legislatures could simply appoint electors, at random, or any other way they chose. Wouldn't that be fun if one state decided to do so...

Right is right! said...

Liberals are just worried that the nigger voters that they have bought and paid for won't count for much as before. Good.

bbkingfish said...

The Republicans want to change voting rules to obtain more favorable election results. What would we call that if Hugo Chavez did it in Venezuela?

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C berg said...

State legislatures have authority under the U.S. constitution, its vote rigging, in a sense, that the GOP (is the only doing this in red states), the we are having "sham elections",

Instead of doing away with having people vote for president, they allow voting but make it so that despite a person winning an entire state, they cannot win the election, much like in dictatorships, in many dictatorships you can "vote" for someone else but its not going to really count.

For instance, a governor of a state is elected by statewide popular vote, would the loser be elected, of course not, neither would a us senator.

Although in theory a congressional district, is "one person one vote", the maps are drawn to minimize it for political advantage by packing urban voters into areas, and nobody actually tallies districts almost exactly, they estimate it, so an urban district make actually have more voters then exists.

If done nationally it still does not make sense, and voters in small states that have one or two congressional districts would not really have a voice. A proportional vote is a more fair system, for instance if romney won 40% of the wisconsin vote, he would get 4 votes, and obama six, but then would the statewide winner get votes, and what about states that have fewer votes, for instance in california winning by 2% extra would get you 1 more electoral vote but not montana, and smaller states have more say because the size of the us house is capped since the 1920s.

The only fair way is the national popular vote, although a recount of many close areas would be a disaster, unless we have completely federalized elections and standards instead of each state deciding hours,machines,etc

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