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

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Offline SuperColinBlow

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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.

OK, I'm willing to bet we both have some truth to what we say. I did read the full paragraph. So did you. Maybe we can find a constitutional expert somewhere? Do you know any American law professors? In the mean time I'll see what I can track down online as far as articles. Don't forget though, it could be taken to court to be overturned, by someone reading it the same way I am. Lawyers, at least here, are pretty good at that crap. It would be a shame, too if it happened right in the middle of an election...like before the electors actually voted!
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Offline TimG

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One thing that seems to be lost: any state can change their system now and there is no need for a compact. The reason they don't is the current system gives an advantage to states. This advantage virtually guarantees that the system is not going to change.

Offline segnosaur

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OK, I'm willing to bet we both have some truth to what we say. I did read the full paragraph. So did you. Maybe we can find a constitutional expert somewhere? Do you know any American law professors? In the mean time I'll see what I can track down online as far as articles.
The wikipedia page itself has a section on constitutionality.

I'd say the arguments are... mixed. There are legal arguments that congress doesn't need to approve it because it doesn't constitute a compact and/or its covered because of rules allowing states to decide how to allocate EC votes. There are also legal arguments that approval is necessary. There would probably be a court challenge to the law (probably by either the republicans, or a smaller state that saw its favored candidate lose).

But then again, there's also the chance congress would approve the measure anyways, making the issue mot.

Offline Omni

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The wikipedia page itself has a section on constitutionality.

I'd say the arguments are... mixed. There are legal arguments that congress doesn't need to approve it because it doesn't constitute a compact and/or its covered because of rules allowing states to decide how to allocate EC votes. There are also legal arguments that approval is necessary. There would probably be a court challenge to the law (probably by either the republicans, or a smaller state that saw its favored candidate lose).

But then again, there's also the chance congress would approve the measure anyways, making the issue mot.

I was just looking at a state by state map of EC districts and by my count the approval rating is at 192, 78 short of the 270 required to make NPV effective. It seems the idea is gaining support and must be contributing to another stressful day at the current White House.

Offline segnosaur

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I was just looking at a state by state map of EC districts and by my count the approval rating is at 192, 78 short of the 270 required to make NPV effective. It seems the idea is gaining support and must be contributing to another stressful day at the current White House.
As much as I would like to see the compact passed (or some other way to eliminate the effects of the Electoral college) I don't really hold that much hope.

Most of the states that have joined are solidly democratic, and there aren't that many states left that might potentially join with enough electoral votes to make a difference. Any state with a republican governor or state legislature is unlikely to join (given the fact that they realize it would harm the GOP at the federal level). That currently leaves out states like Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas for example.  (The states may 'study' the bill, but its unlikely that the bill would proceed regardless of how popular it is with voters.)

Offline Omni

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As much as I would like to see the compact passed (or some other way to eliminate the effects of the Electoral college) I don't really hold that much hope.

Most of the states that have joined are solidly democratic, and there aren't that many states left that might potentially join with enough electoral votes to make a difference. Any state with a republican governor or state legislature is unlikely to join (given the fact that they realize it would harm the GOP at the federal level). That currently leaves out states like Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas for example.  (The states may 'study' the bill, but its unlikely that the bill would proceed regardless of how popular it is with voters.)

I would agree the solidly GOP districts won't budge come hell or high water and of course why would they. It certainly won't happen before 2020 but I wonder if the popular vote then is even more substantial than it was in 2016 against Trump and he is still in the WH if the backlash might not become much stronger. Maybe the Dems will get the chance to do some of their own gerrymandering and the scales will tip. 

Offline segnosaur

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I would agree the solidly GOP districts won't budge come hell or high water and of course why would they. It certainly won't happen before 2020 but I wonder if the popular vote then is even more substantial than it was in 2016 against Trump and he is still in the WH if the backlash might not become much stronger. 
I still can't see that happening.

While a large number of people may be in favor of switching to an election based on popular vote, I doubt it will be a major "election issue" (I still think things like the economy, health care, etc. will be the main issues most elections will be fought over.)

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Maybe the Dems will get the chance to do some of their own gerrymandering and the scales will tip.
Not sure if gerrymandering is that relevant here. You're talking about an electoral college based on state boundaries. Those are pretty fixed. (Gerrymandering refers to redrawing district lines, which is a different issue.)

The scales may eventually tip to the democrats anyways, but I figure that will be due more to changes in the U.S. demographics (with minorities, generally a block that favors the Democrats, making up a larger part of the population.)

Offline SuperColinBlow

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One thing that seems to be lost: any state can change their system now and there is no need for a compact. The reason they don't is the current system gives an advantage to states. This advantage virtually guarantees that the system is not going to change.

Well that was the purpose of the compact. Amending the U.S. constitution requires approval of 38 states (either state conventions or state legislatures). This was supposed to bypass the need for an amendment.

To me, there's the possibility of not everyone agreeing on its legality, whether it's realy a compact or an informal agreement or whatever anyone cares to call it. A lawsuit filed during the election would, as far as I know be a disaster.
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Offline segnosaur

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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....)
No, one person/one vote doesn't guarantee liberty. The protection of liberty largely comes from the courts anyways, not from the legislature or presidency.

Yes, there is the potential for the "majority running roughshod over the minority". But the electoral college doesn't prevent the chance of abuses; it just changes the people who are most likely to do the abusing from the majority to the minority.

Consider this: Trump has managed to get 2 hard-right nominees on the supreme court. (Then there are also dozens of similar  judges appointed to the lower levels.) He has done so despite the fact that he lost the popular vote and only got elected thanks to the electoral college. Now that the balance of the supreme court has shifted to the right, you are looking at the possibility of:
- Elimination (or at least severe curtailing) of abortion rights
- Continuing voter rights suppression
Many people would consider those to be significant loses of rights, yet they were not done by a majority imposing its will on the minority, but on the minority imposing its will on the majority.
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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.
Who said they can "govern how they want"? They still have to follow the constitution and the basic laws of the land.

The electoral college does nothing to prevent the "rise of a dictatorship", since there is no reason to think a Trumpian "EC-installed" authoritarian couldn't similarly eliminate democratic principles.
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I said that the small states get MINIMAL protection against the larger ones. ...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
They wouldn't be entirely stripped Wyoming of their influence anyways, since they would still have equal representation in the senate to California.
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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?
Why does geographic area really matter?

Yes, the U.S. is a country with a lot of population and land mass. That doesn't necessarily mean that decentralization is mandatory.

And more importantly, why are you assuming that simply electing the president by popular vote is going to significantly change the way the U.S. functions? The power of each state to control its internal affairs will not be significantly affected. Its a minor change to the way the executive branch is elected. There will be no additional power given to the federal government as a result.

Offline Omni

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This may be a bit of a swerve off the topic but I can't help but point to the endless lies the current AG Barr, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the country, is telling even under oath, on behalf of his EC elected boss. All of these scandals I would think should cause the majority of US citizens to again for for someone other than Trump, but the current EC could still keep him warming the seat in the oval office.

Offline Boges

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I'm coming to this thread a bit late but a good way to make the EC more democratic would be to count the district the EC votes is meant to represent instead of the entire state.

Each District is a separate race for President. So the Presidential Race would more resemble the race for the House, or it may not if people like a congressperson of a different party.

People aren't being well serviced democratically by win or take all races where all of the EC votes go to one candidate or another in a race that's otherwise very close.

Offline ?Impact

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I'm coming to this thread a bit late but a good way to make the EC more democratic would be to count the district the EC votes is meant to represent instead of the entire state.

Doesn't that further open the door to gerrymandering?

Offline SuperColinBlow

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Doesn't that further open the door to gerrymandering?

You're right: it would base most states' electors on gerrymandered districts!
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Offline SuperColinBlow

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This may be a bit of a swerve off the topic but I can't help but point to the endless lies the current AG Barr, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the country, is telling even under oath, on behalf of his EC elected boss. All of these scandals I would think should cause the majority of US citizens to again for for someone other than Trump, but the current EC could still keep him warming the seat in the oval office.

Not necessarily! he could just as easily lose the EC vote in 2020. Water can support a ship; water can upset it.
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Offline JBG

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Someone brought this up in the thread about the next POTUS. I thought it merited discussion, especially after the curious reversals of 2000 and 2016.
Rutherford B. Hayes and John Quincy Adams were elected in similar "reversals."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Interstate_Compact

It's unconstitutional, for one thing. It says explicitly in Art. I, Sec. 10 that no state may, without the permission of Congress, enter into any compact with another state or states. For another thing, I very much doubt, as I stated in the other thread, that my own state's 10 democratic electors would ever in a million years vote for a republican, even if they had to according to this compact.
You are absolutely right and I have posted on other fora on that issue. I knew instinctively that the compact idea just didn't seem right. People thought it was because of the deprivation of the will of voters in that particular state. There is no bar to a State Legislature overriding the judgment of its people in picking presidential Electors. That is why the Supreme Court stopped the recounts in 2000. But compacts are, without Congressional approval a no-go.

If we abolished the EC, what exactly could replace it? How could a direct, national, popular vote work?
There would have to be a runoff. People would not like the result. Also the "action" in a presidential campaign would shift from swing states Ohio and Florida to the suburbs of New York City, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Seattle and Chicago. Why? Because voters in those areas "swing" locally but cannot swing their states.  Those areas, in other words are vote-rich but don't dominate their states. Their votes suddenly become important since the popular vote would be determinative.  Could be very annoying where I live, 40 km. from New York City.
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