Author Topic: The electoral college, and the NPV Interstate Compact  (Read 367 times)

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Offline SuperColinBlow

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If the EC was required to abide by the PV Trump wouldn't be in the WH, and the world would be a better place.

That's in the past. I'm talking about what if it happens in the future? The compact wasn't in force in 2016. In the future it may be.

Sorry I erased my last post as you were answering; I had meant to revise it a bit.
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Offline MH

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No, the majority is more concerned about getting to the cottage for the weekend, playing Fortnite, or who wins Survivor.

Hence the system works for them.  They shouldn't vote.

Offline SuperColinBlow

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There are a few reasons why we still have an electoral college, why it is still useful. Bear with me, here. But if you feel like skipping what amounts to a small essay, hey, it's a free country! (Or one can just skim what's in boldface, whatever.)

Note, that my statistics use 1864 as the terminus ante quem, since elections before that, some states were still using a non-popular vote to elect their electors. 1864 was the first U.S. election in which all participating states used a popular vote to elect electors. I don't consider the 1876 election because it was decided, not by the electoral college or popular vote, but by a special congressional commission.

It omits the need for a runoff election. The American attitude toward too-frequent elections is "you mean I have to vote AGAIN? We just did that last year! I do not foresee a presidential runoff with enough people voting in both rounds to accurately reflect public opinion. Out of the 39 elections in question, the winner  of the popular vote won a plurality but not a simple majority of popular votes in 14 elections. (Three of those cases were, of course, the upsets of 1888, 2000 and 2016.) This historical data means a runoff would have been necessary 36% of the time, if we actually did runoffs. And we don't like runoffs.

It provides at least some minimal protection for the smallest states against the largest ones. You cannot have fewer than 3 electors, so the mathematics of the situation is somewhat over representing these 7 states and DC (these eight have only 3 electors due to their low populations). Now, in the largest states, they complain about this, and it's generally those states in which a national popular vote is most favored over the continuance of the electoral college.

It prevents a clash between Cities and Rural areas. Relating to point #2, if we had a nationwide popular vote to decide the presidency, the rural areas would be hideously outvoted. Democratic, yes, but not fair at all, considering those rural areas contribute a lot to the economy, particular in FOOD. Residents of more rural areas would become 2nd class citizens. This is also why we have a Senate!

The United States is a federation, not a unitary state. If we had a less federal nature ("Less federal" meaning more centralization) to our Union, a direct national popular vote would be more appropriate. Countries in the western hemisphere that use a nationwide popular vote have stronger central governments than the USA. The electoral college favors a balance between state and federal power, a key aspect to the constitution and a key aspect to our day to day lives and the way the federal government works.

It favors a two-party system, which minimizes the occurrence of a winner getting <50% of the popular vote (see point one). As much as Americans **** about their two-party system, they keep re-electing Democrats and Republicans. There is technically nothing to stop Americans from voting a third party into Congress or the Presidency; in the 19th century there was actually a great 3rd party presence in the House and a little in the Senate. The "don't throw your vote away" attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Whew.... OK, I'm done....for now!

Take me to the woodshed and tear up my argument if you feel like it! ;D
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Offline ?Impact

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It clearly states in Article I Sec 10, no state may enter into a compact/agreement with each other without the consent of Congress.

That relates to commerce, you are stretching the interpretation far too much there.


Offline SuperColinBlow

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That relates to commerce, you are stretching the interpretation far too much there.

How do you know it relates to commerce? I think it's admirably clear that states cannot make compacts with each other.
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Offline ?Impact

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How do you know it relates to commerce? I think it's admirably clear that states cannot make compacts with each other.

I don't read a single thing in it that affects things like elections.

Contracts clause

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

Import-Export Clause

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's [sic] inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

Compact Clause

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.






Offline Omni

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How do you know it relates to commerce? I think it's admirably clear that states cannot make compacts with each other.

The NPVIC is not attempting to get rid of the EC, they are simply using ambiguity in the Constitution that allows states to sign on to agree that its electors will vote, not for their state winner, but for whoever wins the popular vote. As such, once states with with electors who number at least 270 sign on, then whoever wins the pop. vote will win the electors as well. 

Offline segnosaur

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Quote
That relates to commerce, you are stretching the interpretation far too much there.
How do you know it relates to commerce? I think it's admirably clear that states cannot make compacts with each other.
Keep in mind that various states already do make agreements with each other... (for example, multiple states may agree to maintain transportation infrastructure impacting each of them.) So interstate compacts do exist.

The constitution says that an interstate compact can also be entered into with congressional approval. So if enough states agree to enter an agreement, you would figure congress would probably go along.

Offline segnosaur

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There are a few reasons why we still have an electoral college, why it is still useful.

It omits the need for a runoff election.
That is neither a good nor bad thing, as there are advantages and disadvantages to it. Other countries manage to survive run-off elections, I'm sure the U.S. could survive.

Even if you wanted to avoid run-off elections, there are ways to avoid them even if an agreement/compact is created. (E.g. select the winner of the popular vote if there is a clear difference between candidates, otherwise resort to whatever mechanism the electorial collage would have used.)

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It provides at least some minimal protection for the smallest states against the largest ones.
Smaller states are already protected through the senate (where each state gets equal representation regardless of population.) Giving them an advantage in both the Senate and the presidental elections may seem like a little overkill to some.

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It prevents a clash between Cities and Rural areas. Relating to point #2, if we had a nationwide popular vote to decide the presidency, the rural areas would be hideously outvoted.
But that clash still exists under the current electoral college. But instead of the small number of rural residents complaining "We're being outvoted!" you have a large number of urban residents complaining "Why is the majority being subject to the whims of the minority, given the fact that the minority is working to take away our rights?"

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Democratic, yes, but not fair at all, considering those rural areas contribute a lot to the economy, particular in FOOD.
Food is something that they get paid for.

And lets face it, while someone like Trump may talk about how he is standing up for the farmers, the fact is the legislative agenda is still geared towards benefiting the wealthy. (And many of those rural residents have been negatively affected by tariffs that Stubby McBonespurs enacted.
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The United States is a federation, not a unitary state. If we had a less federal nature ("Less federal" meaning more centralization) to our Union, a direct national popular vote would be more appropriate. Countries in the western hemisphere that use a nationwide popular vote have stronger central governments than the USA.
That doesn't sound like an advantage OR a disadvantage....

Many other democracies in the world function quite well with stronger central governments.  If the electoral college is eliminated, the balance of power may shift slightly, but people in the U.S. will still have their jobs, they will still live in relative peace and have a higher standard of living than most other nations in the world. And individual states will still maintain a significant amount of independence.

And now the disadvantages of the Electoral college:

- As I pointed out before, it gives excessive political power to people based on nothing more than where they live. (So much for the concept that "all men are created equal".... now its "some men are created equal, but the ones that live in cowpatch, Montana are more important than those that live elsewhere")

- It reduces voter turnout. How many people in California or New York sat out the 2016 election because they figured "No need to vote... Clinton will win our state anyways". If the president were selected by popular vote, people might be more motivated to actually go to the polls

- It encourages politicians to concentrate on only a small number of 'swing states'. If you look at the last election, neither candidate visited states like Texas, California, Oregon, Washington, etc. Yet both candidates made a lot of stops in Florida. If the presidency were decided by popular vote (either through the voting compact or by eliminating the EC altogether) then candidates may be obliged to spend more time in other states instead of just assuming "I'll win the whole state anyways".

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-last-10-weeks-of-2016-campaign-stops-in-one-handy-gif/
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 12:54:12 pm by segnosaur »

Offline ?Impact

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- As I pointed out before, it gives excessive political power to people based on nothing more than where they live. (So much for the concept that "all men are created equal".... now its "some men are created equal, but the ones that live in cowpatch, Montana are more important than those that live elsewhere")

In Canada, those who live in a bright red muddy potato field are the most important

Offline John Mark Taylor

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In Canada, those who live in a bright red muddy potato field are the most important


I thought it was those living in the frozen tundra.

Offline segnosaur

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In Canada, those who live in a bright red muddy potato field are the most important
I thought it was those living in the frozen tundra.
The population of PEI is ~146k, and they have 4 MPs.

The smallest Territory by population is Nunavut at ~33k, and they have 1 MP.

So yeah, it looks like at least some of the northern residents have more political power (on a per person basis) than PEI residents.

https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=cir/red/allo&document=index&lang=e

Offline SuperColinBlow

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I don't read a single thing in it that affects things like elections.

Contracts clause

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

Import-Export Clause

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's [sic] inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

Compact Clause

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

I do. It says no compacts between the states, without permission of Congress. What's there to read into?
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Offline SuperColinBlow

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How do you know it relates to commerce? I think it's admirably clear that states cannot make compacts with each other.

Keep in mind that various states already do make agreements with each other... (for example, multiple states may agree to maintain transportation infrastructure impacting each of them.) So interstate compacts do exist.

The constitution says that an interstate compact can also be entered into with congressional approval. So if enough states agree to enter an agreement, you would figure congress would probably go along.

How do you know they would? Considering that it's mostly Democratic states that have entered the compact, would a future Republican Congress likely consent to it?

Also, those compacts have to be approved by Congress. That is one of the reasons Congress exists.

Segnosaur: does one person/one vote always guarantee liberty? Sometimes it enables the majority to run roughshod over the rights of the minority. This idea that because you won the majority in the election, gives you the right to do what the heck you want is ridiculous. (Just so you know, that is NOT a reference to the 2016 election....) Not saying that OPOV is a bad thing. But checks and balances are equally as important to ensure a democratic society. "I won the majority so I can govern how I want" is the path to dictatorship not democracy. Democracies have turned into dictatorships before.

I said that the small states get MINIMAL protection against the larger ones. When the Union was formed, there wasn't such a great disparity between the states' electoral vote counts. Today, while it's still out of proportion enough to provide (again MINIMAL) protection to the smallest states, the most populous states can still make up for it. California has 38 million people, it gets 55 electoral votes. Wyoming has a herd of buffalo and half a dozen ranchers, it gets 3. It keeps those states from being entirely stripped of their influence and interests; it does NOT however usurp the power of states like Ohio, California, Texas, etc...if you looked at the map, you'll see that there are only six states with >20 electors. Even if you won those six largest states, you're still 79 votes short of the presidency. Most states are "in the middle", between, say, 10 and 19 (good for 178 votes). The remaining 169 votes are in the states with between 3 and 9 electors.

In fact, the EC is far more democratic in that respect than the Senate. Part of the reason for the disparity in the EC is the winner-take-all system. Any state can change its laws from WTA to the Maine-Nebraska system. (Not sure exactly what the term for that is, but it's 2 votes for the state overall, 1 each per congressional district). A bunch more states used to use that system, today, only those two states do. But since Congress gives the state legislatures the authority to govern the election of its electors, any other state could nix the WTA if they wanted to. To me, that is a better idea than this compact.

Of course, large states that are reliably red or blue would dislike this. The Democrats will give up some of those 55 blue votes when you pry them from their cold dead hands. But others states may not be as reticent.

Everything in politics can, depending on how you look at it, be both a blessing or a curse; a double-edged sword.

"Many other governments...function well with centralized governments."

Not the largest ones....like the US. Sweden is run well centrally....with a population of 10 million over an area the size of New England. Can you say the same for a country with 320 million people that fills up a third of the North American continent?
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 07:04:50 pm by SuperColinBlow »
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Offline ?Impact

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I do. It says no compacts between the states, without permission of Congress. What's there to read into?

You are making a very broad interpretation. Kind of like a comma allows any gun nut to tote the latest fully automatic rifle whenever and wherever they want. Read the full paragraph to get context.