Proposal to elect the president based on popular vote is about time, and logical.

Rep. Steve Simon has authored a House bill to change the way the Electoral College works. The bill would allocate Minnesota’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. That is a big change, but it has bipartisan support, including my Republican Representative Pat Garofalo.  If it passes, it could be possible for a candidate to win in Minnesota, but still lose the Minnesota electoral votes.

That seems odd doesn’t it? But, in reality, we don’t elect our Minnesota senators by using an electoral college based on county population, so why should we do it for the president. Every vote should count, and every person in the US should care about the presidential race. That is not the case right now. If you are a Democrat living in Alabama, you have no input in the presidential race. If you are a Republican living here in Minnesota, you also have no input into the presidential race. In fact, because of the Electoral College, more than 80% of Americans get ignored by presidential candidates every election. That means less than 20% of the population in so-called “swing states” decide who the president is for the rest of us. In 2012, it was Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia, 13% of the nation’s population!

It seems so logical to elect the person who gets the most votes. That is what every other election does. It would engage more people. Democrats in Alabama have somebody to vote for, just like Republicans in Minnesota. How many people feel like their vote doesn’t count, so they don’t vote? That changes with popular vote. As I said before, we don’t elect others using an Electoral College type system, why reserve an old outdated system to vote?

Many opponents are against it because it means Democrats will more easily win by concentrating on metropolitan areas exclusively, but I would argue that isn’t the case. In the Electoral College, Minnesota has ten votes and Alabama has nine. That is plus 1 vote for the Democrat. Minnesota, hasn’t voted for a Republican since Nixon, and Alabama hasn’t voted for a Democrat since the Dixiecrats moved to the GOP in the 70s. But if you look at the vote totals for the two states in 2012, Romney beat Obama by over 200,000 votes: Obama – 2,341,288 votes, Romney – 2,574,028 votes, despite the fact that Minnesota has half a million more people and a much larger voter turnout, Romney won.

The truth is, that electing a president by a national popular vote would elect moderates, almost every time. Super-liberal Democrats concentrating metropolitan areas would be no more likely to win that super-conservative Republicans concentrating on the south and rural areas. That frightens both Democrats and Republicans. But every vote should count, and I think a lot more would be accomplished without the extremist candidates parties put forward.

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5 thoughts on “Proposal to elect the president based on popular vote is about time, and logical.”

  1. A survey of Minnesota voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 84% among Democrats, 69% among Republicans, and 68% among others.

    By age, support was 74% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 77% among 46-65 year olds, and 75% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 83% among women and 67% among men.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote
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  2. The concept of making every vote equal is worthwhile yet I wonder if it would really change the election strategy. From the last election, we know that both MN and AL were ignored but if you lived in Iowa, the Presidential and VP candidates were there all the time. With a national vote, wouldn’t the candidates largely shift to the big population markers — NY, LA, Houston, — places that were largely ignored in recent elections ? Iowa would fall into the same category as Alabama — flyover country. It may also make for less in-person campaigning and more television.

    The concern would be that as candidates focus on the national stage, the interest in voting may actually decline … as the real problem in gerrymandering. Look at the results in Texas, where the Congressional races had one CD with a 5 point margin, another with a 10 point margin and all the rest were 20, 30, 40, all the way up to 100 point margins (yes, some districts the Dems did not even offer a candidate).
    Nationally, I would prefer that we find a way to eliminate gerrymandering before we change how the Electoral College votes.

    BTW, isn’t the proposal based being applicable once a certain number of states agree to the concept … so without a Constitutional Amendment change, there would be chaos if some states did it the old way while some did it the new way … Keith Ellison co-sponsored a bill last session to provide for direct elections.

    1. In 2008, voter turnout in the then 15 battleground states averaged seven points higher than in the 35 non-battleground states.

      In 2012, voter turnout was 11% higher in the 9 battleground states than in the remainder of the country.

      If presidential campaigns now did not ignore more than 200,000,000 of 300,000,000 Americans, one would reasonably expect that voter turnout would rise in 80% of the country that is currently ignored by presidential campaigns.

    2. With National Popular Vote, every vote would be equal. 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. Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. 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.

      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.

      The main media at the moment, TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. Candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

      In the 2012 campaign, “Much of the heaviest spending has not been in big cities with large and expensive media markets, but in small and medium-size metropolitan areas in states with little individual weight in the Electoral College: Cedar Rapids and Des Moines in Iowa (6 votes); Colorado Springs and Grand Junction in Colorado (9 votes); Norfolk and Richmond in Virginia (13 votes). Since the beginning of April, four-fifths of the ads that favored or opposed a presidential candidate have been in television markets of modest size.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/us/politics/9-swing-states-are-main-focus-of-ad-blitz.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    3. Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states 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.”

      The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

      Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

      In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

      The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

      The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state’s electoral votes.

      As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

      The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.

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