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Author Topic: Major campaign underway to nullify Electoral College  (Read 87309 times)
zorkpolitics
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« on: February 25, 2006, 12:00:57 pm »
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In what is probably the most serious challenge to the way the Electoral College functions in 200 years, a collection of former officials have banded together to make the Electoral College state by state system irrelevant.  They are campaigning to get enough states to award their electoral votes to the National Popular vote winner, rather than their state winner. Thus guaranteeing that the national popular vote winner will win.
Clearly this would shift focus from campaigns in battleground states, to campaigns to maximizing turnout in each parties safe states. 
It would not be surprising if that kind of a campaign was even more polarized than current campaigns, with candidates pandering to their base and ignoring swing voters.

see:
http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/npv/
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2006, 01:06:31 pm »
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And what State politician in his right mind is going to pass this?  No safe State is going to give the opposing party the chance to claim its electoral votes, and no swing State is going to want Presidential attention diffused away from it.  Possibly this might sneak in via a referendum in a few states, but not enough to reach the 270 electoral vote margin to make this work.
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2006, 05:44:51 pm »
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Notice the "former" in their titles.
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2006, 06:03:10 pm »
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Hopefully this will fail so it doesn't screw up the system. And it looks like it will fail as well.
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2006, 10:51:18 pm »
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I really hope this does fail because to get rid of something so importent to our political process and history is bull sh!t!   
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2006, 08:56:30 am »
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What state in their right mind would agree to this?  Does a state like NY want to be forced to give its electoral votes to George Bush, whatever their voters say?

I wonder if this is even constitutional.  It seems a back-door way to change the constitution without an amendment.  I give it the thumbs down.
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2006, 02:57:25 pm »
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Oh fun, game theory.

Let O = {A, B, C, D} be a set of possible policy outcomes, S = {set of states}, and Di = {0, 1} be a decision set, where i represents state i.

Let F(x)i = Ui, where

(1) U is the total benefit gained by state i, measured in terms of the attention that it receives from presidential campaigns, and, by extension, from first-term presidents and political parties.

(2) F(x)i is a function with a domain as the set of possibly policy outcomes O.

Define
A = Republican candidate is the winner, and the Republican candidate is highly attuned to the needs of the battleground states
B = Republican candidate is the winner, and the Republican candidate is highly attuned to the needs of all the states
C = Democratic candidate is the winner, and the Democratic candidate is highly attuned to the needs of all the states
D = Democratic candidate is the winner, and the Democratic candidate is highly attuned to the needs of the battleground states

Suppose that there are 20 states i=1...5 have a function defined such that
F(A) > F(B) > F(D) > F(C)

i=6...10 have F(x)i defined such that
F(B) > F(A) > F(C) > F(D)

i=11...15 have F(x)i defined such that
F(D) > F(C) > F(A) > F(B)

i=16...20 have F(x)i defined such that
F(C) > F(D) > F(B) > F(A)

Now define
Di = 0: state i DOES NOT award its votes to the popular vote winner.
Di = 1: state i DOES award its votes to the popular vote winner.

Now define an aggregate state decision function

Sum(i=1...n=20) {G(X)i} = O{P(A),P(B),P(C),P(D)}

Where G(X)'s domain is defined over D {0, 1} and its range is a probability distribution of the set of outcomes.
Since F(X)i takes domain of O, we can simply substitute F(X)i on the right-hand-side to obtain the aggregate state
decision-->utility function

Sum(i=1...n=20) {G(X)i} = Ui

It is easy to see that P(A) and P(B) are increasing functions in Sum(i=11...n=20) {G(X)i}, in the sense that, if the Democratic
candidate were to lose the popular vote but win the electoral vote, outcomes may be shifted from P(C) to P(B).

On the other hand, the Republican candidate's popular vote basis becomes evenly spread across the country, so Democratic states still prefer P(B) over P(A). The same goes
for Republican states with Democratic Presidents for Sum(i=1...n=10) {G(X)i}.

Furthermore,the likelihood of the popular vote and electoral vote going in different directions, while
possible (and strong in our current memory from 2000) is extremely small, it having occured only once in 112 years, and then under heavy dispute. There
are well documented theoretic reasons for this that apply irrespective of how close an election is.

It is also easy to see that P(B) and P(C) are increasing functions in Sum(i=1...n=20) {G(X)i}, and they take on significant values as
states that have more electoral votes choose D = 1. For example, if CALIFORNIA were to adopt D = 1, the Democratic candidate's
guarantee-victory threshold under the criteria of winning the electoral vote but not the popular vote increases from 270 EVs to 325 EVs,
causing a substantial shift in the Democratic candidate's calculus towards F(C) over F(D). The same goes with TEXAS on the Republican
side, shifting his calculus from F(A) toward F(B). The probabilities here are NOT extremely small.

Since battleground states have a strict preference F(A) > F(B) and F(D) > F(C) and Sum(i) {G(X)i} is nonincreasing in utility otherwise,
they have a clear preference for D = 0.

Safe states on the other hand are confronted with a conflicting set of factors. They strictly prefer F(B) > F(A) and F(C) > F(D), but D = 1 is nonincreasing
over the partisan probabilities. If any safe state chooses D = 0 or D = 1, therefore, they are not maximizing their potential utility. The safe states'
ideal would be all-states > battleground-states, yet at the same time without punishing their party relative to the other party.

I argue this is a classic collective action problem easily solved by contract theory. Suppose that New York and Texas, for example, both have roughly an equivalent
number of electoral votes. The legislature of New York can then act unilaterally and pass a bill awarding its votes to the popular vote winner on the condition
that Texas does the same, or on the condition that a list of named states does the same, or on the condition that states satisfying certain characteristics do the same.
Texas then faces a strict preference with no risk to reciprocate by passing a similiar bill of its own, establishing a collective benefit for both states without
sacrificing partisan preferences.
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2006, 11:28:37 pm »
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I ran across a relevant article from Discover magazine in 1996. I'll have to look up the actual paper its based on, but the theory is interesting. It suggests that given that there are more uneven elections than there are even elections, voter power is maximized in an electoral college system compared to direct voting. Baseball fans will particularly appreciate the case study in the article.
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2006, 02:43:45 pm »
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Yeah, I hope all the Blue (Dem) states sign onto this.
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2006, 08:37:31 am »
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This is a ridiculous scheme.  We should stick with the current system.

And why would any state want to throw away its voting power by adopting a proposal like this?  It reall doesn't make any sense to effectively hand your voting power to other people.
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2006, 08:54:36 am »
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Add David Broder, the senior columnist for the Washington Post to those opposed to this idea. His column today explains why.

Quote
...

So, they argue, let's move to a system in which all votes count equally, because that will force the candidates to campaign and advertise everywhere.

That argument is a bit curious. It seems to assume that voters in New York and Texas are somehow excluded from awareness of everything that happens in the campaign -- as if the newspapers and TV stations in their states were not covering it every day.

Meanwhile, it ignores the implications of a direct election plan for two of the fundamental characteristics of the American scheme of government: the federal system and the two-party system.

It is no accident that the Founders chose to elect the president by counting votes in the states, since they wanted to emphasize that this is a federal republic with sovereignty shared between the states and Washington. Past efforts to abolish the electoral college have foundered on the objections of small states, which worry that they would be ignored in the pursuit of giant voting blocs in big population centers. Have their claims no merit?

As for the party system, past proposals for direct election have snagged on the question of allowing a simple plurality to win or requiring a runoff if no candidate receives more than, say, 40 percent of the vote. Richie conceded in an interview that no runoff provision would be possible under this scheme unless all 50 states agreed -- an unlikely eventuality.
...

That is why a change of this scale requires careful consideration -- something the amendment process provides and this mechanism is designed to circumvent. A change of this sort should not be created by 11 of the 50 state legislatures.
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2006, 08:21:29 am »
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2006, 09:14:37 pm »
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If only the eleven largest states joined this pact, the required 270 electoral votes would be in their control.  It should be struck down by the Supreme Court.  If the Electoral College is to be abolished, it should be done Constitutionally.  But it shouldn't be changed.  The founding fathers knew what they were doing.  The president is chosen by the states, not by the people directly.   
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2006, 01:41:07 pm »
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And why would any state want to throw away its voting power by adopting a proposal like this?  It reall doesn't make any sense to effectively hand your voting power to other people.

You don't seem to understand how it would work.  Each state law would only go into effect once a sufficient number of other states have passed similar laws as well.

Let's say that the 11 biggest states (which collectively have 271 electoral votes) all decide that they are being screwed by the small states in the electoral college.  If those 11 states all decide to vote as a block for the popular vote winner in every election, then the popular vote winner will always win.  So I don't think it's as simple as "handing your voting power to other people".  You're also taking away voting power from other states.
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2006, 06:22:54 pm »
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If only the eleven largest states joined this pact, the required 270 electoral votes would be in their control.

You're also taking away voting power from other states.

Not exactly.  Rather, you're ceding it to the nation as a whole, because the result in those top 11 states depends on the result in the national popular vote.  It's not as if the national popular vote is some disembodied entity that exists external to any statewide result.

Also, the required 270 votes are already in the control of the top 11 states.
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« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2006, 08:06:12 pm »
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And why would any state want to throw away its voting power by adopting a proposal like this?  It reall doesn't make any sense to effectively hand your voting power to other people.

You don't seem to understand how it would work.  Each state law would only go into effect once a sufficient number of other states have passed similar laws as well.

Let's say that the 11 biggest states (which collectively have 271 electoral votes) all decide that they are being screwed by the small states in the electoral college.  If those 11 states all decide to vote as a block for the popular vote winner in every election, then the popular vote winner will always win.  So I don't think it's as simple as "handing your voting power to other people".  You're also taking away voting power from other states.


I understand the proposal perfectly well.  It's a crazy and unconstitutional scheme to subvert the voting process without getting a constitutional amendment.

It's certainly far worse than the present system, whatever its shortcomings.
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zorkpolitics
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2006, 09:10:01 pm »
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One could make a case that this kind of alliance among the states violates Article I, section 10 of the constitution:

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation;
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2006, 06:40:34 pm »
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This idea won't go away and is even starting to gain a little momentum:
National Popular Vote plan cleared the Colorado Senate on April 17th.

Bills have been introduced in California, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri. California and Missouri have scheduled hearings for April 25, and the senate and house bills in Illinois have 25 sponsors, including leading Republicans, Democrats and independents.
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2006, 10:56:04 pm »
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This idea won't go away and is even starting to gain a little momentum:
National Popular Vote plan cleared the Colorado Senate on April 17th.

Bills have been introduced in California, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri. California and Missouri have scheduled hearings for April 25, and the senate and house bills in Illinois have 25 sponsors, including leading Republicans, Democrats and independents.


The House bill in IL has 18 sponsors (16 D, 2 R) and has not been scheduled for any hearing by committee. It would seem unlikely to move this late in the session.

The Senate bill has seven sponsors (5 D, 1 R, 1 I) and also has been left to die in Rules since it was filed.
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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2006, 02:26:07 pm »
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And why would any state want to throw away its voting power by adopting a proposal like this?  It reall doesn't make any sense to effectively hand your voting power to other people.

You don't seem to understand how it would work.  Each state law would only go into effect once a sufficient number of other states have passed similar laws as well.

Let's say that the 11 biggest states (which collectively have 271 electoral votes) all decide that they are being screwed by the small states in the electoral college.  If those 11 states all decide to vote as a block for the popular vote winner in every election, then the popular vote winner will always win.  So I don't think it's as simple as "handing your voting power to other people".  You're also taking away voting power from other states.


I understand the proposal perfectly well.  It's a crazy and unconstitutional scheme to subvert the voting process without getting a constitutional amendment.

It's certainly far worse than the present system, whatever its shortcomings.

I don't see why it would be unconstitutional. Each state can award its electors on any basis it chooses to. They are not at all bound by the popular vote within the state.
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zorkpolitics
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« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2006, 05:45:21 pm »
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May Update:
April 25-The California Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee today approved National Popular Vote's bill (AB 2948) to enact the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote” in California.  Would Arnold veto a CA bill?

http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/npv/

Still, no state has yet passed a bill for the national poplar vote
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« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2006, 01:51:04 am »
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Can I ask what people think of this idea then?

Each state holds an election for the president, but instead of awarding electoral college votes en masse to the winning candidate across the state, each congressional district is allocated one electoral college vote (435), each states senators (50 x 2) account for another two votes with are allocated on votes cast across the state in the conventional manner.

District of Columbia having no congressional represenation would elect it's three electoral votes using a system of d'Hondt PR.
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« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2006, 03:03:19 pm »
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Can I ask what people think of this idea then?

Each state holds an election for the president, but instead of awarding electoral college votes en masse to the winning candidate across the state, each congressional district is allocated one electoral college vote (435), each states senators (50 x 2) account for another two votes with are allocated on votes cast across the state in the conventional manner.

District of Columbia having no congressional represenation would elect it's three electoral votes using a system of d'Hondt PR.

Sounds nice, but horrid in practice.  Gerrymandering then starts affecting Presidential, not just House races, too.
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« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2006, 05:51:40 pm »
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The electoral college should have been thrown out with the slaves are 3/5th of a person part.
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« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2006, 06:06:36 pm »
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That part never existed.
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