Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Massachusetts and the Electoral College

According to boston.com, The Mass. legislature has voted 28-9 to bypass the Electoral College.

Under the law, which was enacted by the House last week, all 12 of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.
Sounds reasonable, right? Well, not if you are the founding fathers who (by my guess) were better at this than the current slate of state senators in one of the original 13 colonies.

Because the law of unintended consequences strikes swiftest and decisively in politics, imagine this scenario.

In 2012, the people of Massachusetts vote in the majority to re-elect Barack Obama. If the Republican challenger were to win the popular vote, not one of the electoral votes from the Bay State would go to our current president. The will of the people would have been thwarted completely.

I can only hope that their governor has the sense to not sign this bill into law.

4 comments:

toto said...

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. It would no longer matter who won a state. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The current winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states ensures that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Massachusetts is ignored.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President (for example, ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote), including current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

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). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

toto said...

A survey of 800 Massachusetts voters conducted on May 23-24, 2010 showed 72% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

Voters were asked

‘How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?’

By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 86% among Democrats, 54% among Republicans, and 68% among others. By gender, support was 85% among women and 60% among men. By age, support was 85% among 18-29 year olds, 75% among 30-45 year olds, 69% among 46-65 year olds, and 72% for those older than 65.

Massachusetts voters were also asked a 3-way question:

‘Do you prefer a system where the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states on a nationwide basis is elected President, or one like the one used in Nebraska and Maine where electoral voters are dispensed by Congressional district, or one in which all of the state’s electoral votes would be given to the statewide winner?’

The results of this three-way question were that 68% favored a national popular vote, 16% favored awarding its electoral votes by congressional district, and 16% favored the existing statewide winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of a states electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide).

http://www.nationalpopularvote.com

Doug H. said...

toto,
Thank you for your thoughtful (and rather long) comments. Fortunately for us, our founding fathers knew better than to put the vote for the president directly into the hands of the populace. Their concern rested in the fact that a corrupt president may try to assert this very idea, thereby undermining the other two branches of government.

Anonymous said...

The other reason popular vote is Bad is because it does not weight the states equally. States with small populations can be completetly ignored. If I want to win the popluar vote I pretty much just have to make the people of Califorina, Texas, and New York happy. Screw all the other states. Electoral college is here to stay, the Dakotas will never let it go!


Greg