National Popular Vote Bill Advances

The interstate compact to award electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote has not had a lot of success in Connecticut. The bill is designed to circumvent the electoral college, which the framers of the bill see as outmoded and undemocratic, and would take effect once states with an electoral college majority join the agreement.

In past years, the bill has been passed out of the Government Administration and Elections committee, but has never been brought up for a vote in either chamber. Could that change this year? This year’s bill, which was recently passed out of committee, may yet make it to the floor, perhaps as soon as next week.

Connecticut is routinely ignored by presidential candidates, despite our relatively high population density, because we don’t carry much weight in the electoral college. If this bill is enacted by enough states, maybe more candidates will come to the area. We’ll see what happens, but it’s definitely an issue to keep an eye out for.

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28 responses to “National Popular Vote Bill Advances

  1. Al Gore’s next documentary

    An Inconvienent Document, that old piece of paper called the Constitution.

  2. Oh SNAP!

  3. That old piece of paper also gives the power to select Presidential electors exclusively to the states (U.S. CONST. art. II, § 1, cl. 2.), compacts between states do not need Congressional consent where they do not increase the power of the states relative to the federal government and do not encroach on federal powers (U.S. CONST. art. I, § 10, cl. 3; Virginia v. Tennessee. 148 U.S. 503, 521-22 (1893); U.S. Steel Corporation v. Multistate Tax Commission. 434 U.S. 454 (1978)), and Congressional consent, should it be held to be necessary, may be granted after the formation of the compact and may be impliedly given (Virginia v. Tennessee, 148 U.S. at 521).

    Of course, if this bill eventually passes enough states to become operative (states whose cumulative electoral votes adds up to 50%+1), it will be challenged by opponents, but there is a strong argument as to its constitutionality.

  4. Yeah, whatever.

    Kind of mocks that whole “let every vote count” phrase, never mind equal protection of the law when you will arbitrarily over rule the decision of your electorate based on the actions of other states.

    That we even entertain theoretical notions that granting states the power to establish their own specific procedures of selecting electors somehow grants them the right to count votes in other states towards their own selection shows how absurd we have become in our legal system.

  5. Kind of mocks that whole “let every vote count” phrase, never mind equal protection of the law when you will arbitrarily over rule the decision of your electorate based on the actions of other states.

    How is ensuring that the person who won the most actual votes is the winner not letting every vote count? I’m not saying I’m sold on this idea, but it seems sound.

    In 1876 and 1824 the House decided the election, not the people (1876 was an especially crooked one). In 2000, the Supreme Court decided it. How the hell is this worse than that?

  6. That we even entertain theoretical notions that granting states the power to establish their own specific procedures of selecting electors somehow grants them the right to count votes in other states towards their own selection shows how absurd we have become in our legal system.

    Some states select electors based on congressional district. So we already do this.

  7. Kind of mocks that whole “let every vote count” phrase, never mind equal protection of the law when you will arbitrarily over rule the decision of your electorate based on the actions of other states.

    That mocks the “‘let every vote count’ phrase” and having a President elected by a minority of voters doesn’t?

    Also, the idea that a one actual vote margin in California resulting in a 55-0 electoral vote split somehow respects the notion of “let every vote count” or “one person, one vote” is patently absurd.

    That we even entertain theoretical notions that granting states the power to establish their own specific procedures of selecting electors somehow grants them the right to count votes in other states towards their own selection shows how absurd we have become in our legal system.

    “[G]ranting states the power to establish their own specific procedures of selecting electors” isn’t some “theoretical notion,” it’s Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution:

    Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors…

    (emphasis added)

    Not to mention that the way the electoral college actually works isn’t remotely close to what the Framers envisioned.

  8. Some states select electors based on congressional district. So we already do this.

    Somewhat of a tangent, but I’m against this spreading to other states because of the ridiculous gerrymandering that takes place in creating congressional districts. In Maine and Nebraska it isn’t as big a deal because they have such a small number of CDs, but any medium or large state adopting this method would result in only a tiny number of CDs being involved in electing the President, rather than widening the field.

  9. Also, the idea that a one actual vote margin in California resulting in a 55-0 electoral vote split somehow respects the notion of “let every vote count” or “one person, one vote” is patently absurd.

    Do you think it’s fair that California has 2 senators, the same as Vermont, Alaska, or Wyoming? If you are for the national popular vote bill, do you also favor more proportional representation in the Senate?

  10. Do you think it’s fair that California has 2 senators, the same as Vermont, Alaska, or Wyoming? If you are for the national popular vote bill, do you also favor more proportional representation in the Senate?

    The Senate is not the president.

  11. Do you think it’s fair that California has 2 senators, the same as Vermont, Alaska, or Wyoming? If you are for the national popular vote bill, do you also favor more proportional representation in the Senate?

    This is obviously a very different question than how we elect the President, but its one where both sides present persuasive arguments. If you are interested in the opposite view (opposite to the way we currently do it), I recommend Sizing Up The Senate.

  12. This is obviously a very different question than how we elect the President, but its one where both sides present persuasive arguments. If you are interested in the opposite view (opposite to the way we currently do it), I recommend Sizing Up The Senate.

    They are related: the number of electors for a given state is the number of Senators plus the number of Congressmen.

    I don’t have an issue with the electoral college. In our country, states were intended to be prominent political entitites. That’s why small states and large states each have 2 Senators. The US states have a fair amount of power, more so than regions of other countries do (in many countries, provinces can’t levy taxes but instead are allocated monies from the federal government, for instance). States have fairly wide latitude in setting their laws, more so than in many other countries. In addition to small states having 2 senators, the states, through the electoral college, have more of a role in choosing the President than just the national popular vote.

    So yes, this means that small states get more “bang for their buck” on election day, but the country is, in theory, a collection of states (the “United States”). An individual in a small state gets more say in the senate, and gets more say in how his state budget will be structured than a resident in a large state.

    Some people make the argument for the electoral college on more practical grounds of recounts and such (could you imagine a national recount is the question they pose) but I think this is a rather useless argument. We’ve got to fix our voting to make it more reliable: force some sort of ID (and let the poor people get free IDs if they can’t afford the $10 or whatever), have reliable machines, etc. We have several national ATM networks that spit out money all over the county. I’ve never heard of someone getting ripped off by an ATM. If we can do ATMs, we should be able to figure out if you’ve already voted that day. If FedEx or UPS can track all their packages, can’t we figure out who’s voted?

  13. Not to mention that the way the electoral college actually works isn’t remotely close to what the Framers envisioned.

    The Founders certainly didn’t envision welfare or food stamps either; and they never would have allowed those receiving aid from other taxpayers to vote on how much more they could take from their donors.

  14. Quick, who is the junior senator from Minnesota. Oh yea, that’s still not decided yet.. And folks think we can somehow come up with this mythical “national popular vote” number? Where does that come from? How do you appeal irregularities in a state that doesn’t give a darn ’cause they’re not part of the compact?
    Any close count is going to end up in some court, anyway, so how is that significantly different than 2000? At least the scope was contained to one state — imagine a country full of lawyers quibbling about votes in all 50 states. Just wonderful.

  15. gmr – I think you are missing the point that I was making about California. I wasn’t making the argument that California is getting less bang for its buck, or that small states get more (and that case is a lot weaker to make with regards to the Electoral College, than it is to the Senate, given that the Electoral College apportionment includes the number of Representatives).

    The point that I was making is that the winner-take-all nature of the EC renders the votes of the minority in any given state meaningless. Let me restate it differently:

    Also, the idea that a one actual vote margin (or no difference in %) in the State of Yukon resulting in a 100%-0 electoral vote split somehow respects the notion of “let every vote count” or “one person, one vote” is patently absurd.

  16. And folks think we can somehow come up with this mythical “national popular vote” number? Where does that come from?

    The results of presidential elections are not “mythical.” If you are interested, they are all here.

    Any close count is going to end up in some court, anyway, so how is that significantly different than 2000?

    In 2000, the closest election in recent history at 0.5%, the margin in Florida was ~500 votes (give or take), while the national margin was more than half a million. The difference is that, had the national popular vote been in effect, all the Brooks Brothers Riots in the world wouldn’t have necessitated a 2 month legal battle.

  17. 1) If you thought Florida 2000 was fun, try to imagine what a national recount would look like.

    2) On the constitutionality of it, I think most people quite reasonably expect and prefer that we amend the constitution if we wish to make a change this significant. This elaborate attempt to skirt the amendment process looks and feels dishonest, regardless of the legal rationalizations.

  18. I read an interesting piece on this recently. I think it was penned by George Will. The basic premise was that the separate powers (House, Senate, President) were also to be elected differently. He explained that The Founders consciously decided for:

    1) The House to be chosen by The People
    2) The Senate to be chosen by state legislative assemblies
    3) The President to be chosen by the electoral college.

    I haven’t bothered to research it. But the idea that this was a conscious decision seemed outlandish enough that I took it as truth.

    If we could repeal the rest of 1913 (income tax and The Federal Reserve Corporation), I’d consider compromising and repeal the direct election of Senators. Frankly, I wonder why it was changed. I mean, The Founders were pretty smart guys. I’m sure they had very sound reasons for not wanting direct election of the House, but not the Senate.

  19. Typo:

    I’m sure they had very sound reasons for not wanting direct election of the House, but not the Senate.

    I’m sure they had very sound reasons for wanting direct election of the House, but not the Senate.

    And speaking of The Fed… have journalists gotten all their requests fulfilled by the Treasury and the Fed?

    If so, great! If not, has Dodd subpoenaed the requests yet?

    If so, great! If not, why does Dodd oppose transparency?

  20. In 2000, the closest election in recent history at 0.5%, the margin in Florida was ~500 votes (give or take), while the national margin was more than half a million. The difference is that, had the national popular vote been in effect, all the Brooks Brothers Riots in the world wouldn’t have necessitated a 2 month legal battle.

    If the national popular vote had been in effect, then the two candidates would have run completely different campaigns, and it’s almost impossible to determine what the national popular vote totals would have been. Bush would have tried to “run up the score” in Texas. Bush would have campaigned in NY and CA, trying to get more votes. Gore would have also campaigned in both places. Neithr candidate would have campaigned the way they did.

  21. The point that I was making is that the winner-take-all nature of the EC renders the votes of the minority in any given state meaningless. Let me restate it differently:

    There was a special election around Albany a few weeks ago. The vote margin is a handful of votes. When they finish counting, the minority is not going to be represented in Congress.

    So yeah, elections result in one side winning and the other side losing. We elect all of our representatives and Senators that way Contrast this to say, Germany, in which you vote twice: once for the local guy from your district [most votes wins, just like here] but then you also vote for your party. The parties have lists and then these party votes are allocated proportionally, usually with a 5% hurdle. So if the Democrats got 40% of the party votes, the Republicans 35%, the Libertarians 10%, the Greens 8% and the Socialists 7%, then that’s how the party seats would be allocated. Then coalitions have to be formed, and the small parties often have disparate power.

    So why is first past the post a bad thing for the electoral college?

  22. The results of presidential elections are not “mythical.” If you are interested, they are all here.

    Ooh, good reminder of why I’m spending less time here. From the same site

    Popular Vote Data Sources by State

    Note: There is no federal government agency that is in charge of compiling official Presidential Election popular vote statistics. The individual states are responsible for this function.

    No one contests / questions the mythical national popular vote numbers because no one cares. To try use it select the next Prez and watch the lawyers come out.

    1 state, Minnesota, still can’t agree on a vote count from last November and people think a national vote is a good idea.

  23. My understanding is that our system was setup so that the States elect a president, not the people directly. While the whole notion of an interstate compact to change that may be legal I have to agree with others who have pointed out that it’s essentially an end-run around the Constitution. If you want the people to directly elect the president then make a case for it and amend the Constitution.

  24. Looks like the state of Washington is about to join Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey in passing the National Popular Vote bill:

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_wa_xgr_electoral_college.html

    Hopefully Connecticut will pass the bill this session, as well. It’s in our best interest: Once every vote counts nationwide, presidential candidates will pay vastly more attention to our issues here in CT, and we ourselves will have much more reason to get involved in local politics (instead of driving to New Hampshire)!

  25. Hopefully Connecticut will pass the bill this session, as well. It’s in our best interest: Once every vote counts nationwide, presidential candidates will pay vastly more attention to our issues here in CT, and we ourselves will have much more reason to get involved in local politics (instead of driving to New Hampshire)!

    A national popular vote wouldn’t change the primaries, so NH would still have a lot of influence. In a national popular vote, candidates would behave differently, but what makes you think they’d campaign more in Connecticut?

    The campaigns would be much more mass advertising based, with campaigns occurring in areas with large numbers of presumed undecided voters. There’d also probably be more of a GOTV effort for the base in states where it really isn’t necessary now: Democrats in DC, Republicans in UT, etc. I don’t think CT would necessarily change CT’s stature much in the national campaign, except candidates might stop on the way between Boston and NYC.

  26. Hopefully Connecticut will pass the bill this session, as well. It’s in our best interest: Once every vote counts nationwide, presidential candidates will pay vastly more attention to our issues here in CT, and we ourselves will have much more reason to get involved in local politics (instead of driving to New Hampshire)!

    Not a chance; they’ll pander to cities and nothing else.

    Kiss the 2nd ammendment good-bye for starters.

  27. Hopefully Connecticut will pass the bill this session, as well. It’s in our best interest: Once every vote counts nationwide, presidential candidates will pay vastly more attention to our issues here in CT, and we ourselves will have much more reason to get involved in local politics (instead of driving to New Hampshire)!

    I have yet to see anyone explain how this proposed bill would address the fact that different states have different requirements for determining voter eligibility. For instance, some states permit convicted felons to vote, while others don’t. Some states require voters to show a photo ID; others permit any form of ID, etc. Because a presidential election crosses state lines, it’s tough to allow, for example, a convicted felon in state X to vote when a convicted felon in state Y cannot.

  28. Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors…

    Ah, NOW I finally understand the end game for the Democrats:

    1) Establish that there are no rules for what a state Legislature may do in selecting Presidential Electors;

    2) Try this multi-state lottery thing for chosing the President;

    3) Declare it’s not working and let’s simply let the State Legislatures appoint the electors themselves and be done with all this messy election stuff.

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