The old MIT counter on the home page just rolled past the 1,000,000 mark yesterday! The counter was first placed on the web site in January of 1999. Great to see so much interest in the topic and the site.
Yesterday saw the debut of the new mock election. A signficant improvment over the one that I hosted in 2000, the mock election tracks results via data, maps, and statistics in all US States as well as Canadian Provinces, European and other countries. Either the free or paid levels of site membership is required in order to participate in the mock election.
I have put a lot of work into trying to solve several shortcomings with the popular User Prediction feature. The problems have been the following:
- Lack of the ability to predict individual Congressional Districts in Nebraska and (especially) Maine.
- User annoyance for Members of managing multiple logins and passwords
- The presence of some degree of spamming by some users
- Due to ip limitations to control spamming, the inability of some legitimate users to create predictions
I have attempted to address all of these issues with today’s upgrade. The User Prediction section now has the ability to call and change results for individual congressional districts in those states that choose electors by congressional district (Maine and Nebraska). The compiled median results also support these individual electoral votes.
Members no longer have to choose username and password (essentially the ability to skip step 1). Once members have logged into the site, the software automatically recognizes their prediction. For those many site visitors and predictors, I have created a new Free version of site membership. This “User” level of membership allows for creating and updating user predictions, posting comments to polls, and participating in the soon-to-be-launched mock election. The one hassle, however (and I apologize in advance), is the need to register. This process also includes a email-verification step in an attempt to limit spamming.
Current predictions can be completely upgraded to the new format (all versions) – individual congressional districts are called for the same candidate as the currently-chosen statewide winner. The process is:
1. If you have not signed up, please do so here.
2. Then, upgrade your user prediction here
Please submit a bug if there are any problems.
I have modified the deluxe edition of the Electoral College Calculator to include the complexity of choosing Presidential Electors by Congressional District for the States of Maine and Nebraska. So far to date, the voters of these states have always awarded all Presidential Electors to one candidate. However, the possibility exists (particularly in Maine CD2) for a split result. The calculatore now supports this possibility.
There is an interesting article in the New York Times (May 5, 2004) by Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale, titled 2-for-1 Voting that proposes cross-endorsement of Presidential Electors between Nader and Gore.
As quoted from the Article:
“electors will be named by each state’s political parties. But Ralph Nader is running as an independent. When he petitions to get on the ballot in each state, he must name his own slate of electors. While he is free to nominate a distinctive slate of names, he can also propose the very same names that appear on the Kerry slate.
If he does, he will provide voters with a new degree of freedom. On Election Day, they will see a line on the ballot designating Ralph Nader’s electors. But if voters choose the Nader line, they won’t be wasting their ballot on a candidate with little chance of winning. Since Mr. Nader’s slate would be the same as Mr. Kerry’s, his voters would be providing additional support for the electors selected by the Democrats. If the Nader-Kerry total is a majority in any state, the victorious electors would be free to vote for Mr. Kerry.”
Given the lack of Instant-runoff voting (IRV) for Presidential Electors, this is a possible alternative to the “wasted vote” problem. Currently, the process of fusion is practiced regularly in New York as well as occasionally in several other states. Fusion is the process of combining votes from several party lines into a single total. In New York, for example, 2000 featured Bush on the Republican and Conservative ballot lines while Gore was on the Democratic, Liberal, and Working Families ballot lines (Buchanan was also listed under two parties – Right to Life and Buchanan Reform). The choosing of Presidential Electors is based on the fusion (or combining) of the votes for each ballot line of the candidates. However, this is generally practiced for only the same candidate. The legal possibility of different candidates cross-endorsing the same set of electors and allowing fusion is likely an issue to be determined by individual state laws.
As an historical note, cross-endorsement was actually somewhat common in the late 19th century. For example, in 1892, a set of electors in North Dakota were cross-endorsed by both the Populist and Democratic parties. In a very interesting result, two of these fusion electors and one Republican Elector received the highest number of total votes, creating the only occasion of a state casting electoral votes for three different parties (one Democratic, one Republican, and one Populist).
I’m interested in hearing any legal analysis of this possibility – especially in “battleground” states.