Question about the electoral college

I have a lot of heated conversations on RO, I thought I’d go for something a little more interesting.

This is about the Electoral College.

Most of us know the current system is grounded in the Constitution. Some people like it and some people don’t. Obviously it would take a, not impossible, though an unlikely change to the Constitution to change the law of the land.

So with that,…

Question: Does a state have the right to decide how it wants to award its electors? That is, most states currently give all of the electors to the person that wins 51% of the vote, though a few states do it differently, like rewarding votes more proportionally.

So, does a state have the right to award electors based on other criteria that the state decides (presumably though a statewide referendum or vote)?

If yes (and I think most of you would agree states have the right to award their electors in different ways), can you think of any limitations?

Just curious…I want to get a few answers before I respond.

It looks like you’re fishing for a debate on the National Popular Vote Initiative. If, God forbid, it is passed by the requisite number of states it’s constitutionality will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

At a minimum, it would require Congressional approval:

Article 1. Section 10. No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

This would deny citizens of small states the right to vote for their choice of electors:

14th Amendment. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

This has become somewhat of a partisan issue with the Democrats desire to obtain a permanent control of the Presidency.

If I’m being honest, I just learned about it. I mean I knew that states were considering ways to award electors based on popular vote, but I wasn’t aware that there was an agreement between states to do it until recently.

That said, it seems like it could be done without an agreement between the states, that would solve that problem.

That said, I’m aware of the partisan nature of the question.

Personally, I would like to see instant runoff voting, I have not stong opinions at this point on the NPVI.

It probably not be practical for the popular vote to decide the election, as you could be forever with recount challenges because of thousands or even tens of thousands of votes. The electoral system pins things down by state or district, which is more managable. I don’t know all the constitutional issues, but I would like to see electoral votes counted by district popular vote. Almost half of a state can be effectively disenfranchised in one fell swoop as it is. Admittedly, I’m thinking of California. Although it would be to the Dems’ advantage in places like Texas.

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Personally, I wouldn’t.

Presidential campaigns are already too long and too expensive.

Furthermore, if you required a second vote, that would require a second turn-out for the election. Getting people to vote the first time is hard enough. Now we think that a 50% of turnout of the eligible voters is great. It would be less the second time around, and more of the zealots would be voting which could skew the vote to more radical results as often happens in the primaries. The Democratic voters in the primaries tend to be more left while the Republican voters tend to more right than the national averages.

It is interesting to note that voter participation in the 19th century hit 80% or a little more. Of course only white men could vote which may have influenced that result.

Why do election cycles have to be 2+ years long, frankly I’m not against a rule that doesn’t allow political adds until the year of the election. Other nations have it. Jeez, Great Britain (though admittedly much smaller) can do it in 6 weeks, I’m pretty sure we can do it in a year.

That’s the beauty of “instant Run-Off”, there would never be a need for a second vote, that is, unless you think a plurality of votes would be insufficient to elect a prez. But even then, the original votes could be used using only the candidates who gained the plurality to figure out who gets the majority. if that makes no sense I will explain.

Yes, and I think you’d admit that people were more compelled to see voting as a civic duty, heck, you might even be old enough to remember that (?).

I don’t know about that. You have to remember that there was no radio, TV, Internet or movies for almost all of the 19th century. Politics was a form of entertainment where like minded people could get together, stage rallies and get enthused about voting.

In 1840, about 85% of the eligible voters cast ballots in the “hard cider and long cabin campaign.” The lynch pins were probably a nasty economic depression, the Panic of 1837, that had not abated by then and the huge rallies that supporters of William Henry Harrison staged. One of their events featured pushing a big ball, nine feet in diameter, made of wood and leather with slogans written on it for nine miles. If you had gone to the trouble to keep something like that going, getting out to vote required a minor amount of effort in comparison.

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Yes, you need to explain.

I think that Maine has a system where their Electoral votes could be divided if the popular vote reflected that. They only have 4 votes, so it’s not a big deal. I think that Colorado might have something too, but I’m not sure.

The trouble is when you divide the Electoral vote within the states, you run a greater risk having no candidate getting the required 270 vote majority. That would throw the election into the House of Representatives where each state, regardless of size, has one vote. That has not happened since 1824. We came close to it happening in 1968 when George Wallace pulled in enough southern votes to keep Nixon from a majority.

The system was put under a lot of strain when the House elected the president in 1800 and 1824. I can imagine what it would be in the modern age. (There was also a disputed election in 1876 that probably should have gone to the House.) The lobbying and the potential for corruption would be intense. Image the pressure on the House member from Delaware who has as much power in selecting the president as the 48 House members combined from California.

Not necessarily. The blue areas in Texas are Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and in the Hispanic enclaves along the southern Rio Grande. The remainder of the State–including the suburbs of Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio are solid red and very likely to remain that way.

As far as I know only Maine and Nebraska apportion electoral votes based on the percentages of each candidate’s vote count. Colorado is TRYING to do away with the popular vote altogether and simply grant THEIR electoral votes to whoever wins the NATIONAL popular vote–effectively disenfranchising their own citizens.

Actually several states have signed on and when the number of states that have signed on hits a certain number, it will automatically go into effect.

Plucked from Wikipedia:

Together, they have 196 electoral votes, which is 36.4% of the Electoral College and 72.6% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.

I’m curious though.

States have the right to choose how they allocate their electors within the boundries of the rules of the electoral college, do they not?

They do not. The 14th amendment reaffirms the right of citizens to vote for specific electors. The states are free to count these district by district or statewide but they are required to follow their voters choices for specific electors or it is a sham election.

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Signed on to WHAT exactly? Are you really claiming that if enough States pass legislation changing the Constitutional requirement of apportioning electors based on the popular vote on a State by State basis that it’ll change the Constitution? If so, I have to call BS. It requires a Constitutional Convention and a change to the Constitution itself and to the 14th Amendment and that’ll never happen. At least not in YOUR or MY lifetimes.

Can you cite specifically what you’re referring too? Please.

To be clear, I’m not saying your wrong, I’m asking you to educate me.

National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

I’m not claiming anything. Despite what you think, I’m interested in a discussion where I share ideas and try to learn from the people here at RO, which I freely admit, I have learned a lot of things.

Don’t take this as a partisan conversation. I’m simply asking people how they feel as I form my own opinion.

Not exactly. Here is an extreme example.

Let’s say West Virginia was controlled by the Democrats, and they voted to adopt this concept that the national popular vote determines West Virginia’s electoral votes.

The Obama administration made it known that its policy was to put the coal industry out of the business. If my job or business depended upon the coal industry, I would not be voting for Obama or Hillary Clinton. Yet if California, New York and Illinois (They have been the states that determined the popular vote) voted for them, my state would have to go along.

I’d call that voter disenfranchisement.

State legislatures do a lot more than just determine how their electoral votes are cast. That is why electing representatives to those bodies is not that simple.

You make a decent argument, my only comment…

With respect, doesn’t Gerrymandering do the same thing? The party in power draws lines to disenfranchise people? I mean, let’s be honest.

A really good video on Gerrymandering.

From my original post:

14th Amendment. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Please pay attention to the wording:

… right to vote at any election for the choice of electors …

When you go the the voting booth to vote you are actually voting for the slate of electors pledged to a specific candidate, you are not voting for president which would be the case in direct election. The 14th amendment carries specific penalties if you are deprived of the “right to vote at any election for the choice of electors”.

Before the 14th amendment the choice of electors was only constrained by Article 2, Section 1. In point of fact in the election of George Washington only 6 of 10 states chose electors by ANY FORM OF POPULAR VOTE, the rest were selected by the state legislatures.

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No, you plainly asserted that if :

That’s simply untrue.