Politics in the U.S.
The craziness of the U.S. 2016
Proposals to change the Electoral
College. Books on the "College."
Part 7 of fifteen parts
Abolishing or changing the Electoral College:
With the current setup of the Electoral College, and the current political and population differences among the states, a Democratic candidate for president must receive on the order of a million votes nationally more than the Republican candidate in order to become president. During the history of the U.S., the system has failed to install four candidates for the presidency who have won the largest number of votes This ocurred, most recently, in the years:
- 2000 when Al Gore (D) received about 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush (R) and yet did not become president, and
- 2016 when -- as of NOV-19th -- when Hillary Clinton(D) won more than 1.3 million more votes than donald Trump (R) and did not become president.
Webmaster's opinion [bias alert]:
This is profoundly undemocratic and needs to be fixed so that everybody's vote counts equally.
Public opinion polls:
Gallup has sampled public opinion about doing away with the Electoral College and switching to a direct vote by the people for the presidency. Their most recent poll was taken during 2013-JAN and sampled 1,013 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error for the poll was ~+mn~4 percentage points. The question asked was:
"Would you vote for or against a law that would do away with the Electoral College and base the election of the president on the total vote cast throughtout the nation."
The results were:
- 63% favored direct election of the president.
- 29% favored retaining the Electoral College.
8% had no opinion or refused to answer. 3,4
How to discontinue the Electoral College or weaken its influence:
There are three obvious methods to correct this bias and make the U.S. into a more fully democratic nation:
Method 1: Abolish the Electoral College and decide who will become president by the popular vote. This is a very difficult task to accomplish, because the Electoral College was created by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It can only be abolished if the amendment is first repealed or rewritten. The Constitution has only been modified 27 times in its 227 year history.
One way to change the Constitution is for two thirds of the state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention in which a change is agreed to. The other is to have a federal law that changes the constitution passed by a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Later, at least three quarters of the state legislatures must ratify that decision. 1 Currently, this requires the agreement of 38 states' legislatures. With the Congress and so many state legislatures under Republican control, that is unlikely to happen. Politicians would have to vote against their party's best interests and in favor of a fairer system for all parties.
Method 2: Advance the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact: The federal Constitution created the Electoral College, but -- surprisingly -- did not define exactly how the individual electors are required to vote. That is left up to the individual states to decide.
In 48 of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, the electors are pledged to vote for whichever presidential and vice presidential candidate receives the largest number of public votes in their state or district. This is known as the "winner-take-all" or "general ticket system." Theoretically, an elector could violate this pledge, but that has almost never happened.
The states of Maine and Nebraska use a different system, called a "congressional district method." Here, one elector is pledged to vote according to the national popular vote and the remaining two or more electors in the state vote according for whomever won that state's popular vote. 2
If fully implemented by all the states, the Interstate Compact would require all electors to vote according to the national public vote. It is still an indirect method, but at least the public would determine who is to become president.
Eleven states who together possess 165 of the 586 electoral votes have passed legislation accepting the Interstate Compact. They are: California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
However, the Compact only becomes effective when the total electoral votes affected becomes 270 or more -- that is, when most of the electors would be involved by the Compact.
In addition to the 11 states listed above, the bill has been passed by one chamber in a dozen additional states which have a total of 96 electoral votes. If the other chamber in each of these states were also to pass the Compact, then it would be close to coming into effect for most electors. The remaining states that stick with the old biased system would probably adopt the Compact eventually.
About 60 public opinion polls have been conducted in individual states. They have found that on the order of 60 to 80% of American adults favor the Interstate Compact.
Method 3: Mount an advertising campaign that targets undecided voters: A campaign could be organized to persuade undecided voters to vote for the Democratic candidate in order to make the system fairer. This would tend to offset the inherent bias in favor of Republican candidates.
Books about electing the president by popular vote:
Congressional Research Service, "The National Popular Vote Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact," CRS Reports, (2014). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available in paperback for $19.95.
John R. Koza et al., "Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote," National Popular Vote Press (2013). 1117 pages.
Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available in paperback from Amazon for $4.95 plus postage. You can download a free copy in PDF format from the book's web site at: http://www.every-vote-equal.com/
Books about the Electoral College:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Constitutional Amendment Process," National Archives, 2016-AUG-16, at: https://www.archives.gov/
"11 States Possessing 165 Electoral Votes Have Enacted National Popular Vote Into Law," National Popular Vote, at: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/
Ludia Saad, "Americans Call for Term Limits, End to Electoral College," Gallup, 2013-JAN-18, at: http://www.gallup.com/
"More Than Six in 10 Would Abolish Electoral College," Page 24, in the book by Frank Newport titled "The Gallup Poll," published by Rowman & Littlefield. Available online at: https://books.google.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on
Original posting: 2016-NOV-14,
Latest update : 2016-NOV-15.
Author: B.A. Robinson