Comments for: Five reasons to dump the Electoral College

Posted Dec. 04, 2012, at 2:14 p.m.

In his Nov. 29 Bangor Daily News OpEd, Richard Posner gives five reasons to keep the Electoral College. But his five reasons can easily be summed up as: “Well, yes, the Electoral College is arcane and undemocratic, but it’s not all that undemocratic or all that bad.” But the Electoral …

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  • Anonymous

    If more states split their electoral votes by district, like Maine and Nebraska, it would make the college more democratic.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, since congressional districts are gerrymandered, the Maine/Nebraska system would be even more undemocratic. Romney would have won roughly 2/3 of the Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania and Ohio although he lost both states. Consider that the Democrats won a majority of the votes for Congresspeople but lost a majority of the seats in the House. Either we stick with the present system or go do a direct popular vote.

      • s e

        A survey of Maine voters showed 77% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

        In a follow-up question presenting a three-way choice among various methods of awarding Maine’s electoral votes,

        * 71% favored a national popular vote;
        * 21% favored Maine’s current system of awarding its electoral votes by congressional district; and
        * 8% favored the statewide winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of Maine’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide).

        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 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 small, medium, and large states with 243 electoral votes. The Maine Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill on April 7, 2008. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

        NationalPopularVote
        Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

        • Anonymous

          I agree with this attempt to eliminate the need to have a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College. However, declining electoral vote numbers with each census might throw us back to the old Electoral College system.

  • Nat

    Do you want to get rid of the Electoral College? Great, let’s allow the five largest states decide everything in our national elections. Even better, let’s just have a dictator, or an emperor.

    • Anonymous

      You’re not making any sense. If you have a point to make, make it.

    • Anonymous

      Since Maine is such a cheap state in which to advertise, Maine would get far more attention in a direct popular vote system. Every vote would count.

    • Anonymous

      Currently we allow two mediocre states to determine our National Elections, they are called Florida and Ohio. I have to believe five states would be a better representation than two.

    • It would actually require the ten most populous states, whether by national popular vote or electoral college, to determine the president, and these states do not have universal support for one party.

      • s e

        To flesh that out . . .

        With the current state wnner-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!

        But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North
        Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York,
        Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

        In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted”
        popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally:

        * Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267
        * New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436
        * Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634
        * North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778
        * California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560
        * Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342
        * New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826

        To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). 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).

  • Jonathan Albrecht

    This was all discussed at the Constitutional Convention. Given that, the Electoral College is unnecessary, outmoded, and undemocratic and should be abandoned. The undemocratic Senate was intended to be undemocratic with good reason. One man one vote is not necessarily a good thing nor is unfetterred democracy. But basing the Senate on states which if they had any lost their “rights” in the Civil War is more undemocratic, outmoded, and unnecessary. The Senate should exist as a check on the house and president but be filled by popular vote nationally and be limited to 25-50 Senators. All Federal elections should be funded through taxes.

    • Yawningattrolls

      The electoral college was implemented because the founding fathers felt that the common man was incapable of thinking/voting for themselves; I feel that it’s still necessary after I read the comments posted by the political pundits on here……..

      • s e

        The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the “mob” in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Florida, while the “mobs” of the vast majority of states are ignored. 9 states determined the 2012 election. 10 of the original 13 states are politically irrelevant in presidential campaigns now. In 2008, 98% of the campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive are ignored, in presidential elections. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states.

        The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,453 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the
        elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders. The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

  • Anonymous

    No, we should not dump the electoral college. This is the system of country — states can opt to do what Maine and one other state has done and split their votes proportionally, but we shouldn’t do away with it entirely. States should be given the decision, not the Federal government.

    • Anonymous

      As the Constitution can only be amended by 2/3 of the sitting Congress and 3/4 of the states, the states do have the final say. Once we have an election in which the Republicans win the popular vote, but lose the Electoral College, the momentum for an amendment will be powerful.

      • s e

        The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), without needing to amend the Constitution.

        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.

        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 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.

        The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium, and large states with 243 electoral votes. The Maine Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill on April 7, 2008. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

        NationalPopularVote
        Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

        • Anonymous

          Understood. I wanted to avoid a lengthy description of this alternative in briefly responding to wolfndeer’s post. The interesting issue is if states representing 272 Electoral Votes pass the National Popular Vote bill and then, by the next census, those states reflect only 265 Electoral Votes, we could go back and forth between systems, even right up to Election Day! However, it could be effected more quickly than a Constitutional amendment and is entirely legal.

          • s e

            Article III of the compact includes
            It “shall govern the appointment of presidential electors in each member state in any year in which this agreement is, on July 20, in effect in states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes.”

    • Anonymous

      Wow. Common sense.

      • Anonymous

        Be quiet, Mr. Dishonesty.

        • Anonymous

          Ok. Ms Character assassination.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not a woman.

          • Anonymous

            Oh I see its bob today. I apologize. Mr Character assassination.

          • Anonymous

            I wish you would actually demonstrate some character for once — that would be the day. And enough with the paranoia, I’m not on here with multiple handles. Again you demonstrate that you’re just mean spirited and don’t care much facts or having proof for what you say.

          • Anonymous

            Ok MR Character Assassination.

    • Scott Harriman

      Splitting the electoral votes among Congressional districts still reduces the value of individual votes.

      For example, a Republican voting for Romney in southern Maine effectively throws away his vote, since the 1st District leans so heavily towards the Democrats.

    • s e

      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 National Popular Vote 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.

  • Anonymous

    I think the author has one thing wrong. If there was a tie in the electoral college, it would be the House who voted for the pres and since the present House is repub, Romney would have been elected and the Senate votes for the VP and that could have been Biden. Then again, I could have it mixed up.

    • Anonymous

      You are correct.
      Let us now contemplate with wonder and awe how this “activist” who gets such a basic fact wrong is afforded a forum to pontificate on the glories of mob rule.

  • Anonymous

    Electoral College is out dated, time to go.

  • Anonymous

    Living in Maine it’s hard to believe your vote really matters in a Presidential election. All we hear is Ohio, New york And California controls everything. Popular vote makes you feel your vote is more important.

  • Anonymous

    Good thing we live in a republic Mr Riechard. We elect people to represent our interests apportioned by population and geography. Now you don’t have to concern yourself with something being “undemocratic”.

    • Anonymous

      We’re a democratic republic and since our founding, we’ve moved more and more to being a democracy. Notice how we essentially have the general population voting in elections and on large issues? We have a hybrid system and your comment is just highlighting your pettiness, as they usually do.

  • Anonymous

    In getting rid of it we also need to stop voting on Tuesday and make it a Saturday vote.

    • Anonymous

      Most states allow early voting. Pick a day.

    • Scott Harriman

      The day of the election doesn’t matter since you can vote early on any day of the week. You can even vote by mail.

  • Anonymous

    But, the Electoral College allows the Dems to declare Obama’s victory as a landslide, when, in reality, it was just a couple of percentile.

    • Anonymous

      It was a landslide. Get over it.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t buy the landslide argument to begin with. In term of Electoral Vote victory percentages it doesn’t compare to historical landslides to wit:

      James Monroe’s 231 electoral votes to John Quincy Adams’s 1 electoral vote in 1820. (99.2% margin)
      Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 523 electoral votes to Alf Landon’s 8 electoral votes in 1936. (97% margin)
      Ronald Reagan’s 525 electoral votes to Walter Mondale’s 13 electoral votes in 1984. (95.2% margin)
      Richard Nixon’s 520 electoral votes to George McGovern’s 17 electoral votes and John Hospers’s 1 in 1972. (93.3% margin)

      Or popular vote landslides
      26.2% : Warren Harding’s 60.3% to James M. Cox’s 34.1% in the 1920 presidential election
      25.2% : Calvin Coolidge’s 54.0% to John W. Davis’s 28.8% in the 1924 presidential election
      24.3% : Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 60.8% to Alf Landon’s 36.5% in the 1936 presidential election
      23.2% : Richard Nixon’s 60.7% to George McGovern’s 37.5% in the 1972 presidential election
      22.6% : Lyndon Johnson’s 61.1% to Barry Goldwater’s 38.5% in the 1964 presidential election

      • Anonymous

        Some people have trouble with math I see.

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