Top 5 reasons to get rid of the Electoral College

1. It will make every vote count. I grew up in Virginia which, at the time, was reliably Republican. My vote meant little in the Presidential race. Then I moved to Massachusetts and later New York where my Republican friends’ votes were meaningless.

That’s ridiculous. With the winner-take-all elections we have now, people who are in the minority party in their states have no real reason to come out and vote.ElectoralCollege-638x370

By having a popular vote for the President, every vote will count. Democrats in Utah and Republicans in Hawaii won’t feel their votes are wasted.

2. It will force candidates to campaign everywhere. Right now, there are states that rarely see a political campaign, where the candidate visits only to raise money and then disappears. The candidates also pay an inordinate amount of attention to whatever issues are important to those states that are in play, even if those issues would hurt the rest of the country. (Admittedly, some of that will still go on with our current primary system.)

Getting rid of the electoral college means a vote is a vote, no matter where it is. A vote in Idaho is meaningless to a Democratic candidate now, but it would be worth just as much as one in a swing state if we get rid of the electoral college.

3. It will help get people in those non-swing states involved. It should increase voter participation, and even help the local economy.

4. It will get rid of “red states” and “blue states.” This concept does nothing to help political discourse, and only divides us more.

5. It will make it clear that the President represents the people, not the states. And, more importantly, all the people, not just the ones in the states that elected him.

Right now, a President can lose the election and still win. That has happened three times in our history, most recently when Gore got more popular votes than Bush yet Bush won the electoral college. We ended up with a guy a majority of Americans voted against. How is that democracy? That’s winning by a loophole. And it could easily happen again.

(EDIT:  Be sure to read the very extensive debate on this topic in the comments!)

(EDIT #2:  Obviously, this was written before the 2016 election, so now we have two examples of a candidate winning the popular vote and losing the election within a period of 16 years.)

(EDIT #3:  If you’re really interested in this topic, I dedicated an entire chapter to it in my book HOW TO ARGUE THE CONSTITUTION WITH A CONSERVATIVE.)

62 thoughts on “Top 5 reasons to get rid of the Electoral College

  1. I have absolutely NOTHING to say against this. Not. A. Thing.

    How about this as an extra thinker: Give the VP some actual executive powers. The office of President clearly isn’t run by just the President; there’s a Cabinet and a host of support that must be used. But bringing the VP into an active role – with the President still in command – would make it easier on the highest office, while also providing some useful work for a position that right now is little more than getting votes from a couple demographics. (And an IN CASE OF EMERGENCY label tagged on.)

    I sometimes wonder if the very structure of the Presidency might stand some updating. Backdating, rather. I wonder what effect there would be if the top vote-getter became President and the second place vote-getter would become Vice President. (While the 12th Amendment would normally preclude this approach, since the Electoral College would no longer be in existence, the new procedure would bypass the 12 Amendment.)

    Under the current political makeup of our country, this would give the both major parties potential opportunities as well as difficulties. Do you continue to run as a P/VP party ticket? That would give you a combo-pack to propel your top guy. But now you need to consider the threat of the “other parties” guy gaining the now more potent office of VP. Or do you run two or even three candidates? In that case, we the voters end up with more viable possibilities to choose from.

    Two positives that would hopefully come from the strategies are: 1.) Vice Presidents who are more than window dressing; that truly are ready to become President, and; 2.) Forcing the parties to take each other seriously, seeing as the chances are good(?) that one party will have the President and the other the Vice-President.

    Could something like that happen? Sure. Will it? Probably not. Every time a political party gets their guy in the Oval Office, the first thing done is consolidate and manipulate to make sure their guy is still there four years later, and that their new guy is there in eight. Playing nice with the other party is foolishness, since it doesn’t serve anybody but the American people.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That’s seem pretty definitive for you, Mike. It didn’t work at the time, true. (Though I might suggest that the personalities of Washington and Adams caused more conflict than political differences.) But I do know that sometimes you simply have to try something to find out. And, in this case, perhaps try them again. The political animosities are similar, but there are many other things that could affect it. One quick thing would that might make for an interesting result would be if the voters would choose to add their own “check and balance” by selecting a candidate from each party. *shrug* Hard to say.


      • The Electoral College is the most corrupt system in government (Too approachable, pressure to vote for some one you don’t want, WHAT’S THAT? SOUNDS FASCIST TO ME!


    • While I do admire your reasoning about bringing the VP into a more active role, I don’t think it is a good idea to make the first most voted candidate president, and the second most voted candidate Vice President. More often than not, there will be tension between the two candidates, causing discord among the staff in the Presidential Office. I do agree with you about the VP encouraging the people to vote for the president for a second time, but, sadly I do not think that having the two most voted candidates be in the same office. Like Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided cannot stand.” And like my dad says, “A room full of ‘Yes’ men never succeed in the end.” although I am still young, and still have a lot to learn in this particular subject, I am certain about this one topic. Thank you for sharing this view on the President and the Vice President though, I have never heard this point of view before, and it really interested me by hearing your side of the argument.


  2. The flip side of forcing candidates to campaign everywhere is that party hacks have an incentive to commit election fraud everywhere. I.e., in a state where one party is the overwhelming favorite, it is easy for the local government to connive with that party to bring its favored candidate’s proportion of the vote from, say, 70% to 80%, and if one party is better than another at this tactic, it can swing the election. At least with the Electoral College, the only states worth cheating for are the ones that could be flipped from 49% to 51%, and those are the ones where, by definition, both parties already have a strong presence and the resources to watch one another for malfeasance.

    My alternative to both the EC and national popular vote: Pick ten voters at random from each district. Give them an all-expenses-paid vacation to some hotel in the middle of nowhere, where they can interrogate the Presidential candidates at length. Then let those 4,350 voters elect the next President. Not only does this eliminate the unfairness of the EC, but it makes political advertising much less effective, and therefore gives candidates less of an incentive to raise heaps and heaps of money.


    • Seth–I think you vastly underestimate the difficulty of raising a party’s tally in a state by 10%. That’s a huge change in the vote and could not be done without attracting notice. In contrast the number of votes that were at issue in Florida in 2000 was much smaller, less than 1% of the state total..but enough to shift Florida’s electoral votes and change the results of a national election so that the person who got the fewest votes ended up winning.

      Creating a system where the person who gets the most votes doesn’t win the election is one of he few instances in which the Founding Fathers did something demonstrably stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud, coercion, intimidation, confusion, and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

      National Popular Vote would limit the benefits to be gained by fraud or voter suppression. One suppressed vote would be one less vote. One fraudulent vote would only win one vote in the return. In the current electoral system, one fraudulent vote could mean 55 electoral votes, or just enough electoral votes to win the presidency without having the most popular votes in the country.

      The closest popular-vote election in American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes.

      The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.

      For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election–and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

      Which system offers vote suppressors or fraudulent voters a better shot at success for a smaller effort?


  3. I think the lack of fairness in the Electoral College can be illustrated by looking at the extreme ends of the power of a vote.

    Wyoming gets 3 Electors with a population of 493,000.
    Texas gets 32 Electors with a population over 20 million.

    Wyoming 1:165,000
    Texas. 1:652,000

    Granted, no one is winning elections with Wyoming, but the fact that the vote holds that much more value makes zero sense in a democratic system.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Also, the fact is that at one point in our history, the electoral college made sense. It was neccesarry. Almost all of the practical considerations are no longer needed. We dont live in a democracy. We live in a republic. But lets at least have our leaders picked by us, not picked by someone else who in theory is picked by us.

    But while we’re at it, lets make primaries all on the same day. Its beyond ridiculous the powers that some states have that others are missing. By the time New Jersey votes in its primary, for example, the two candidates are all but chosen, so it makes the desire to vote in a primary somewhat weak. Its not like we dont have the technology to have one day for ALL primaries, and one day for the general.


  5. Personally, I think #4 (eliminating the fiction of red and blue states,which serves only to distract and manipulate the electorate) is the most significant reason to eliminate the electoral college. Aside from that, I think whether it continues to exist or not is a moot point until/unless our antiquated winner-take-all voting system is updated to a system that actually gives people a voice in their government. But that’s just my opinion.


    • Any state that enacts the proportional approach on its own would reduce its own influence. This was the most telling argument that caused Colorado voters to agree with Republican Governor Owens and to reject this proposal in November 2004 by a two-to-one margin.

      If the proportional approach were implemented by a state, on its own, it would have to allocate its electoral votes in whole numbers. If a current battleground state were to change its winner-take-all statute to a proportional method for awarding electoral votes, presidential candidates would pay less attention to that state because only one electoral vote would probably be at stake in the state.

      The proportional method also could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

      If the whole-number proportional approach, the only proportional option available to an individual state on its own, had been in use throughout the country in the nation’s closest recent presidential election (2000), it would not have awarded the most electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide. Instead, the result would have been a tie of 269–269 in the electoral vote, even though Al Gore led by 537,179 popular votes across the nation. The presidential election would have been thrown into Congress to decide and resulted in the election of the second-place candidate in terms of the national popular vote.

      A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.

      It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman. It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census. It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).

      Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach, which would require a constitutional amendment, does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.

      A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.


      • I wasn’t referring to using proportional voting to assign electoral college votes. That would be a step sideways, at best. I was referring to using proportional voting in ALL federal elections.


  6. 1) You’ve got to be joking. Seriously. Especially in presidential elections, nobody’s vote counts. We know this because they don’t count every vote. We have _never_ seen a recount come back with the same number as the first count. There may have been cases of a subsequent recount matching a previous one, but I can’t name any.

    Worse, even in some glorious future where new forms of counting ballots actually do record all votes correctly, look at what you’re saying: out of more than 127 million votes nationwide, a single vote will _now_ be considered crucial?

    Voting is an expressive activity, not a productive one.


  7. 2) It will only force candidates to campaign “everywhere” if by “everywhere” you mean “every city”. Except, of course, cities are ridiculously uniform in their voting habits. The swing areas are actually the suburbs around cities, but the local media centers are the cities themselves. Candidates will still concentrate their finite resources in areas where they will sway undecided voters. This will not be “everywhere”. It may differ from election year to election year, just as the current system does.


    • If by “every city” you mean “where the vast majority of Americans live” then I agree with you that a lot of effort will be spent there.

      I’m not sure why appealing to most Americans is a bad thing, though. That certainly isn’t the case now.

      Politicians will still spend most of their money trying to get swing voters, but the key is that they will not limit themselves to six or eight key states. Swing voters are everywhere. For that matter, a campaign will do its best to get huge turnouts among its supporters to offset the opponent’s huge turnout. A huge turnout for the Democratic candidate in Massachusetts under the current system isn’t that important for the Democratic candidate who will carry the state no matter what — but that huge turnout does become important when every vote counts, where those extra thousand votes could mean winning the entire country.

      You make some good points in that a direct election also has its problems — but those problems are minor in comparison to the ones the Electoral College now has.


      • But it’s not just swing voters. Swing voters generally represent the best bang for the buck, but parties can also improve their numbers by appealing to “the base” by flogging abortion or union agendas (respectively). Boosting turn-out among the extremists tends not to do good things for the country.


    • With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Wining states would not be the goal. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

      Candidates would reallocate their time, the money they raise, and their ad buys to no longer ignore 80% of the states and voters.

      With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.
      The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States.

      Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

      If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

      A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.

      The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

      With National Popular Vote, when every vote is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

      Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.

      In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

      Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

      There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states.

      With a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

      Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as waitress mom voters in Ohio.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Swing voters do NOT generally represent the best bang for the buck

      The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of campaign attention was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012- and that in today’s political climate, the swing states have become increasingly fewer and fixed.

      During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

      In 1960, presidential campaigns paid attention to 35 states.
      In 2008, Obama only campaigned in 14 states after being nominated.
      In 2012, the presidential campaigns only cared about 9 swing states.

      The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

      States’ partisanship is hardening.

      19 states (including California with 55 electoral votes) with a total of 242 electoral votes, have voted Democratic, 1992-2012
      13 states with 102 electoral votes have voted Republican, 1992-2012

      Some states have not been been competitive for more than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position. In a study before the 2012 election:
      • 41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2008
      • 32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2008
      • 13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2008
      • 19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2008
      • 9 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988
      • 15 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988


  8. 3) Those in “non-swing states” are already visited by candidates. That’s where grass-roots contributions come from. Here in Massachusetts, we saw Obama several times during the 2012 campaign, despite the fact that he had this state in the bag just by wearing a donkey button.


      • 80% of the states and people were merely spectators to the 2012 presidential election. The fundraising events in battleground and non-battleground states are generally only accessible to those who pay (handsomely) for the privilege of being heard. Other citizens of those states have no influence. They are ignored. That’s more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

        More than 99% of campaign attention was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012.

        The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

        Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to the handful of ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

        In apportionment of federal grants by the executive branch, swing states received about 7.6% more federal grants and about 5.7% more federal grant money between 1992 and 2008 than would be expected based on patterns in other states.

        During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

        Compare the response to hurricane Katrina (in Louisiana, a “safe” state) to the federal response to hurricanes in Florida (a “swing” state) under Presidents of both parties. President Obama took more interest in the BP oil spill, once it reached Florida’s shores, after it had first reached Louisiana. Some pandering policy examples include ethanol subsidies, Steel Tariffs, and Medicare Part D. Policies not given priority, include those most important to non-battleground states – like water issues in the west, and Pacific Rim trade issues.

        “Maybe it is just a coincidence that most of the battleground states decided by razor-thin margins in 2008 have been blessed with a No Child Left Behind exemption. “ – Wall Street Journal

        As of June 7, 2012 “Six current heavily traveled Cabinet members, have made more than 85 trips this year to electoral battlegrounds such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a POLITICO review of public speeches and news clippings. Those swing-state visits represent roughly half of all travel for those six Cabinet officials this year.”


  9. 4) “Red states” and “blue states” are determined by self-selecting social organizing behaviors, best illustrated by the dual mathematical models Delaunay tessellation and Voronoi diagrams. Those who value their personal liberty more will _tend_ to spread themselves out, and those who value interpersonal interaction more will _tend_ to congregate in dense living situations.

    That’s why maps which paint counties red or blue show the country as mostly red. Fortunately, we vote by individual person, not by occupied area.

    But nationwide voting will never change this.


  10. 5) *Now* we get to the crux of the matter. The office of the presidency is not meant to _represent_ anybody. It’s the executive position. And more to the point, it is the position which governs the interactions _between_ the states, not _in_ them. (And yes, commander-in-chief of the military and leader of the diplomatic interactions with other nations.) The entire point is that a majority of _states_ have to agree on who will apply and execute the laws that deal with their inter-actions.

    State-level government deals with the day-to-day governance. Murder, for example, is not a federal crime (unless the victim is a federal agent); typical violence, theft, local acts of force or fraud are the jurisdiction of the states (or municipalities, or the people).

    The president is not a governor.


    • This is an opinion, and not a fact, though. I agree that the Founding Fathers never intended the President to (a) have as much power as it currently has and (b) represent “the people.” Times change. I don’t think we should limit ourselves, Amish-like, to the rules of the world of 250 years ago.


      • Personally, I think the office of President has reached a cult-like status, and that we ought to DRASTICALLY scale back both the power and the deference given the position. It’s a JOB. A temporary job, at that.


    • a majority of _states_ do NOT have to agree

      With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation’s votes!


  11. Now, the five best reasons off the top of my head for keeping the Electoral College:

    1) Accountability. The Constitution places the responsibility for running elections on the states, but the federal level of government has the authority to make sure that the states are doing that, and not depriving their citizens of their voice. We also have several amendments enumerating rights of the people that the states may not infringe in this regard (race, gender, age 18, no poll taxes, etc.).

    If we were to have a nationwide election, just who would oversee it? The U.N.?

    2) Logistics. People made a big deal of Dubya winning Florida by 537 votes, and that the electoral process in Florida was a genuine cluster-mess-spaghetti-bowl. And it was. But so was Rhode Island, Michigan, Nevada, California, and West Virginia. The difference is that those states were not close enough to force a recount.

    But nationwide, the difference between Dubya and Gore was 1%. This is close enough to require a nationwide recount. A strong argument could be made that the nation would have been better off if we’d still been trying to determine the winner by the time 9/11 rolled around, but the markets wouldn’t have done well under ten months of indecision.

    3) Concentration. Yes, I know you said that local economies do well when campaign funds are dumped on them, but there is a strong argument that there is already too much money in politics, and that this money is coming from less-than-savory places. In states where the decision is foregone, extra spending there only leads to more central corruption.

    4) Federalism. We already have too many people believing in nationwide answers to local problems because somehow we’re “one nation, indivisible”. One size fits all, we’re really one culture, states are an antiquated notion… it’s all lead to a completely unmanageable centralized top-heavy government, believing that Texas and New Hampshire will react the same way to the same procedures.

    Even stupider than that, I recently entertained a pitch where someone claimed we should have four presidents and one arch-president; each president would preside over the four major subnations, and the arch-president would head the military and foreign negotiations. I countered with a proposal of fifty sub-presidents, called “governors”, but agreed that the arch-president should be limited to interstate interactions and foreign relations (including the military).

    5) It mobilizes party machinery in states where that’s most needed. Those swing states you decry are the places where the parties most hone their forward platform planks, exactly to get the pragmatic voters in the middle. Nationwide voting encourages the parties to regress and flog their extremist old planks to mobilize “the base” into coming out in bigger numbers. You may believe this is more representative, and it may be, but I hardly believe it’s a good thing.


    • The absence of a meaningful presidential campaign in most states diminishes voter turnout in the ignored states. A 2005 Brookings Institution report entitled Thinking About Political Polarization pointed out:
      “The electoral college can depress voter participation in much of the nation. Overall, the percentage of voters who participated in last fall’s election was almost 5 percent higher than the turnout in 2000. Yet, most of the increase was limited to the battleground states. Because the electoral college has effectively narrowed elections like the last one to a quadrennial contest for the votes of a relatively small number of states, people elsewhere are likely to feel that their votes don’t matter.”

      Diminished voter turnout in presidential races in non-battleground states weakens down-ballot candidates and party power, thereby making the state even less competitive in the future.

      When John McCain pulled out of Michigan, the state’s GOP Chair had almost no money to give his candidates. Anuzis said that McCain’s decision not to contest the state “leaves a tremendous hole in our ground campaign that we must now fill” in its fight for congressional, judicial, and state-level candidates.

      The California and New York GOP Chairs, for example, probably see a great need to mobilize party machinery in their states.


  12. To respond to Mark’s points above:

    1. States would still oversee their elections, just like they do now. The only difference will be that at the end of the day, they will provide the totals without regard for who “won the state.”

    2. I don’t agree that logistics is a good reason to stand in the way of democracy. “But it will be hard!” doesn’t convince me.

    3. I disagree; I think you’re going to get that no matter what.

    4. This won’t change federalism; all it does is change how we elect the President. I don’t see any other change happening politically …

    5. But that happens now. The parties always try to get their faithful to vote. And if they do that too much, they lose (as we saw in the last two elections — the GOP scared away many moderates).


  13. The National Popular Vote bill would change current state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

    The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

    National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate.

    And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don’t matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    With National Popular Vote, elections wouldn’t be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast.

    Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

    When and where voters matter, then so do the issues they care about most.

    In the 2012 election, only 9 states and their voters mattered under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. 9 states determined the election. Candidates did not care about 80% of the voters– voters in 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and in 16 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. 2012 campaigning was even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. In 2008, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. More than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, have been just spectators to the general election.

    Now, policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states – that include 10 of the original 13 states – are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing, too.

    Charlie Cook reported in 2004:
    “Senior Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd pointed out yesterday that the Bush campaign hadn’t taken a national poll in almost two years; instead, it has been polling [the then] 18 battleground states.”

    Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer acknowledging the reality that more than 2/3rds of Americans were ignored in the 2008 presidential campaign, said in the Washington Post on June 21, 2009:
    “If people don’t like it, they can move from a safe state to a swing state.”

    Since World War II, a shift of only a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 15 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 7 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 Million votes.


  14. Elections carry the risk of conflicts over recounts.

    The current presidential election system makes a repeat of 2000 more likely, not less likely. All you need is a thin and contested margin in a single state with enough electoral votes to make a difference. It’s much less likely that the national vote will be close enough that voting irregularities in a single area will swing enough net votes to make a difference. If we’d had National Popular Vote in 2000, a recount in Florida would not have been an issue.

    The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

    The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush’s lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore’s nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

    Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

    The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

    The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
    “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg

    Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

    The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 57 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.


  15. Presidential candidates currently do everything within their power to raise as much money as they possibly can from donors throughout the country. They then allocate their time and the money that they raise nationally to places where it will do the most good toward their goal of winning the election.

    Money doesn’t grow on trees. The fact that candidates would spend their money more broadly (that is, in all 50 states and DC) would not, in itself, loosen up the wallet of a single donor anywhere in the country. Candidates will continue to try to raise as much money as economic considerations permit. Economic considerations by donors determines how much money will be available, not the existence of an increases number of places where the money might be spent.

    Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 10 of the original 13 states are ignored now.

    If every vote mattered throughout the United States, as it would under a national popular vote, candidates would reallocate their time, attention, and the money they raise.


  16. With the Electoral College and federalism, the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interests within the confines of the Constitution. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it.

    The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate. That is not what the Founders intended.

    The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

    States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond.

    Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).


  17. If you think the election system should be skewed so as to strengthen and favor the two-party system, it is difficult to see what public purpose is served by the current system’s perverse discrimination in favor of regionally divisive third parties and against broad-based third parties with nationwide support.

    Under the current system, segregationists such as Strom Thurmond (1948) or George Wallace (1968) won electoral votes in numerous Southern states, although they had no chance of receiving the most popular votes nationwide. While candidates such as John Anderson (1980), Ross Perot (1992 and 1996), and Ralph Nader (2000) did not win a plurality of the popular vote in any state, but managed to affect the outcome by switching electoral votes in numerous particular states.

    A June 1992 nationwide poll showed that Perot had 39% support, incumbent President George H. W. Bush had 31%, and Bill Clinton had 25%. Such a division of the popular vote, if it had persisted until Election Day, would have either elected Perot outright or thrown the presidential election into the House of Representatives.

    Minor-party candidates affected the outcome by either shifting states from one candidate to another or winning electoral votes outright in the 1948, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential elections.

    If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics.


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  26. You are wrong. Every vote counts. But it counts only in your state. You should not impose your choice on anyone else. The line between democracy and the tyranny of the many is very thin. And history shows that it’s almost always been broken in Democratic countries. The electoral college prevents fraud and a dictatorship of the masses.


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  29. Pingback: Republicans are anti-democracy

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