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Elizabeth Warren adds juice to a longstanding awareness that the Electoral College system is weird and antiquated

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
REUTERS/Karen Pulfer Focht
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaking to supporters in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sunday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to replace the Electoral College system for electing presidents with something closer to real democracy.

The combination of the election of the current incumbent, even though he lost the popular vote in 2016, with extra impetus from the fact that said incumbent is so bad at his job, has added juice to a longstanding awareness that the Electoral College system is a weird, antiquated, sub-optimal way to choose a president, and one that distorts democracy in several ways.

It not only creates a way for the popular vote loser to beat the winner (as has happened two of the past five elections), it creates an incentive for candidates to neglect 30 or more states that everyone knows will go red or blue and focus on (and pander to) 10 or so that are deemed to be “swing” states. This is even though three of the four biggest population states contain more than 88 million Americans; California and New York are deemed safe for the Democrats, and Texas has been viewed as a red state (although there is talk of Texas coming into play).

I would love to see a better system. In my 2012 MinnPost series “Imperfect Union: The Constitutional Roots of the Mess We’re in,” I went on at some length about the problems of the E-College system, and also about how the Framers came up with the thing.

Here’s a summary: The Constitution did not, and still does not, require that any state even hold a presidential election, and many of them did not in the early history of the presidency. The Constitution did create the position of presidential “elector,” to be appointed by the state legislatures by any method they might choose. The Framers assumed that the relative few members of the elite who would be chosen would be familiar with various possible presidents from around the country.

And the Framers certainly didn’t say that all of each state’s electors had to vote for the same guy, although 48 of the 50 states now do it that way. Two states (Maine and Nebraska) do not have a winner-take-all system.

In fact the Framers did not even envision such a thing as a nationwide popular election for president could work, since in 1787 there was no national media, no national political parties, no tradition of nominating conventions — and certainly nothing remotely resembling the system of primaries that produce such nominees was in the mind of any framer.

From Washington through Lincoln and beyond, it was considered disgraceful for presidential candidates to say or do anything publicly to advance their election. In other words, they didn’t campaign or give speeches or take positions. Candidates for president didn’t start running around the country campaigning until roughly the 1890s. The first primaries were in 1912, and only 13 states had them.

My main point above is that very little of the jury-rigged system we now have for choosing a president was envisioned in anything George Washington, James Madison and the boys wrote in Philadelphia in the long hot summer of 1787.

From that 2012 series here’s a link to a catalog of 10 reasons why the E-college system is a problem. And nothing in that series was a reaction to the Trump election, which was then still four years off.

But I fear the obstacles to meaningful change are quite high. The reasons for that are primarily partisan, plus the power of the myth of the demigod Framers, even though, as I just said, the E-College system as it now functions has little do with anything they envisioned or intended.

There may be – in fact, I ‘m sure there would be – difficulties in running a proper national election in which all votes would be equal and whoever got the most votes would win. To be done properly, it would require national standards that would wipe away huge state-by-state disparities in how easy and hard it is to register and vote, although such a wiping would obviously be a step forward for American democracy.

Minnesotans may be a bit spoiled, since our norms and practices of election administration are among the best in the nation. But you don’t have to be a close student of the matter to know that, in many states, despicable tricks are used to make it harder for people of certain races or parties to vote than others. And even without corruption, a fair vote would hard to accomplish in such a large, populous nation as ours.

But the E-College system builds in several corruptions. For example, small states carry more weight than their populations would justify because each state gets two bonus electoral votes beyond what their pure population would entitle them to in the U.S. House. That supposedly represents their two Senate seats, but was really a concession to the small states to get them to ratify the Constitution.

Still, if we want to be the glorious example to the world of democracy as it should be, we should be very motivated to make our system better.

As you may have heard or read, there is a proposal that tries to guarantee that the winner of the national popular vote would be guaranteed of becoming president. It’s called “The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” The idea is that states – not all, but enough that among them they control a majority a majority of electoral votes, would enact a compact pledging all their E-votes to whichever candidate won the most popular votes on presidential Election Day. Twelve states plus the District of Columbia have signed on so far, representing 181 of the 270 E-Votes needed. Minnesota has not joined, although the proposal comes up every session and has been introduced in both the Minnesota Houses and Senate at present, but has not had a floor vote.

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Comments (76)

  1. Submitted by joe smith on 03/21/2019 - 10:41 am.

    Only weird and antiquated if you disagree with Founding Fathers that our country shouldn’t be run by one or two areas of dense population. Back then it was Philadelphia and Boston that concerned Founders, now it’s the coasts. I like the fact that “fly over” country still holds our Republic (not a democracy) together as much as the coastal elites.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/21/2019 - 11:04 am.

      Wrong. With the electoral college, flyover country holds our Republic (also a democracy, as our republic form of government is just a type of democracy) more than the coastal elites. Eliminating the electoral college would mean that all people, both flyover country people and coastal elites, will have an equal say.

    • Submitted by Erik Granse on 03/21/2019 - 11:24 am.

      I take it you only read the headline.

      The article clearly lays out the ways in which our current system bears almost no resemblance to what the framers wrote into the Constitution as a way of explaining how we should probably look at the EC with a critical eye instead of making the usual appeal to the infallible wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/21/2019 - 11:50 am.

      Can you please explain why “flyover country” is more important than the parts of the country that have more people living in them?

      • Submitted by joe smith on 03/21/2019 - 02:14 pm.

        Fly over country is not more important than the coasts, the Electoral College gives them both a say as to who is elected. As I stated, the Founders didn’t want Boston and Philadelphia controlling the Republic. Just like we don’t want the coasts controlling the Republic today.
        Hint to Dems, a platform that puts folks to works appeals to more areas of the country than a plan for reparations.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/21/2019 - 02:48 pm.

          “As I stated, the Founders didn’t want Boston and Philadelphia controlling the Republic.”

          The Founders envisioned a nation with the suffrage limited to property-owning white men.

          “Just like we don’t want the coasts controlling the Republic today.”

          “We” meaning who, exactly? The people on the coasts are just as much Americans as the folks in flyover country (are you sympathetic to their complaint that flyover country is exercising a disproportionate control over what is also their Republic?).

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/21/2019 - 03:44 pm.

          In 2016, almost all campaign events (94%) were in the 12 states. Two-thirds of the events (273 of 399) were in just 6 states (OH, FL, VA, NC, PA, MI).

          Please explain your “founding father’s wisdom” logic with respect to those states. There is a lot of coast line in the list.

          Could it be more along the lines of selecting what is right for your party rather than the country?

          • Submitted by joe smith on 03/21/2019 - 06:15 pm.

            The Trump campaign visited 25 states and doubled the amount of events as the Clinton campaign. Maybe if Hillary worked harder and put in as much time/effort as Trump the Dems wouldn’t have to change a rule that has served our country well for 200 years.
            Sadly, not winning the 2016 Presidential election didn’t make the Dems work harder to connect with our entire country. It seems to just make them want to change the rules.

            • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/22/2019 - 10:03 am.

              Seems like Dems connected pretty well in 2018.

              In fact, they knocked it out of the park.

            • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/22/2019 - 10:29 am.

              Again, please, just a little of your wisdom why the fore fathers saw such importance to the electoral influence of OH, FL, VA, NC, PA, and MI.

              I must agree on their omnipotence though as OH, MI and FL did not even join the union until 1802, 1837, 1845 respectively.

              • Submitted by joe smith on 03/22/2019 - 11:37 am.

                The Founding Fathers didn’t foresee particular states they saw densely populated areas (Boston, Philadelphia) and wanted to make sure in our Republic that less populated areas were represented. Not that difficult of a concept to comprehend.
                Dems need to try a message of a better life for individuals that are determined by that individual and his job opportunity not a better life through Government. If they tried that maybe they wouldn’t have to change rules and laws to gain power.

    • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 03/21/2019 - 01:45 pm.

      Even if we were as close to a pure republic as we could be (which we are not), there is nothing about the EC being inherent to a republic.

      It actually is our Constitution and its Amendments that protect citizens from the tyranny of the majority, not some scheme that gives more weight to certain citizens during elections.. Less populated areas do actually have something that helps in a more general way, called the US Senate.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/21/2019 - 01:50 pm.

      The term ‘Republic’ is derived from the Latin ‘res publica’: ‘thing of the people’.
      Not just some of the people.
      It’s more inclusive than the classic democracies such as Athens.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/21/2019 - 05:23 pm.

      Joe, could you please explain to the group what is so bad about those of us in large population centers, and in particular those in population centers on the coast?

      Why are those in small states to be held in such high esteem?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/22/2019 - 09:49 am.

      You will not find the term ‘Electoral College’ any place in the Constitution.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/26/2019 - 05:30 pm.

      Joe, do you disagree with the Founders on allowing women to vote? Or are you good with that?

  2. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 03/21/2019 - 12:09 pm.

    The 2019 U.S. House of Representatives has already tried to address national standards for registering and voting. Their first priority under Democratic Speaker Pelosi was a bracing bill to that effect (no one noticed, because of all the Trump garbage we have to deal with daily). It’s the Republican leadership in the Senate that is blocking that avenue toward fairness in elections. Republicans know they’re in the minority nationally, and they do not want fair voting systems.

    Then, there is wariness about even calling a Constitutional Convention to address the outlandish distortions now created in our elections by the Electoral College, as it currently functions. Republicans–especially under the Trump aegis–might want to eliminate rights established for us in the Bill of Rights or other Amendments to the Constitution. So let’s find another way to assure that one person gets one vote’s influence on our government.

    The move to have state legislatures pass laws that would give all that state’s electoral votes to the candidate who, nationally, gets the most votes is simpler, easier, faster. Minnesota should join that movement!

    Republicans have already begun to mount a counter-narrative–in today’s Strib, an op-ed saying “Wow! You would have third-party candidates denying a “majority” to one of the two major party candidates, so Don’t Do That!!”

    But, we already have had Ralph Nader assure that the candidate who lost the 2000 popular vote in the U.S. got the presidency: George W. Bush. Then, in 2016, the small-population states with an overweight Electoral College presence assured that Donald Trump became president. Neither Gore nor Bush, nor Clinton nor Trump, had a “majority” of votes, but Gore and Clinton clearly won the national popular vote., We–most American voters–were cheated in 2000 and 2016 by the Electoral College system we have.

    Voters in Wyoming or Idaho or Arkansas or other low-population states must realize that they don’t deserve to get more electoral power, per voter, than those of us who live in states with strong urban centers. People who dwell in cities deserve as much of a vote as rural folks.

    It’s not a state issue. It’s a one-person, one-vote matter.

    And, kudos to Elizabeth Warren, for sharply raising the policy-discussion bar for 2020!

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/21/2019 - 05:34 pm.

      Stop it. Stop blaming Gore’s loss on Nadar.

      Gore “lost” more Democratic votes to Bush than to Nadar.

      Gore let Bush send Jim Baker down to Florida to steal the election. Then Gore only challenged the votes in 4 counties, rather the entire state. When we heard “The votes have been counted and re-counted…” the response should have been an unending stream of “We need to count ALL the votes.”

      If Gore had won his home state of Tennessee, he’d have won the White House. But we shouldn’t be surprised a corporate Dem lost. People chose “Republican” over “Republican Lite”. He came from an administration that did nothing for Labor or working class people, but did manage to deregulate banks, screw over poor people on welfare, and cut the capital gains tax.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/24/2019 - 10:02 am.

        The real culprit was the Supreme Court, which broke precedent by intervening before the Florida State Court had reached a conclusion. That is politicization.

  3. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 03/21/2019 - 02:11 pm.

    This whole thing is just another way the liberals want to have the White House and is complete rubbish. The Founding Fathers did not wish to have just small parts of the country (not talking whole states here) that decide the outcome.

    In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 487 counties out of 3141 with less than 25% of the area of the country. ‘Flyover’ land would be more flyover than ever if it went to national voting. The liberal mantra is that a national vote would make every vote equal. That;s right…on paper. But that’s not the reality. In reality, it would be far from equal because only the votes in the most populous areas would matter. This is why the Founding Fathers made the Electoral College.

    Then add the saying that the Electoral College is outdated is a complete canard. This country was founded and set up on the basis that it’s leader would be elected by people throughout the country.

    As for added effect, what if the vote total was so close to require a recount?? Nightmare.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/21/2019 - 02:51 pm.

      “In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 487 counties out of 3141 with less than 25% of the area of the country.”

      Not this again!

      Counties are arbitrary divisions of land mass. They do not vote. It’s the people living in the counties who vote.

      The Preamble to the Constitution even acknowledges as much. It’s “We, the People,” not “We, the Rocks and Dirt.”

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 03/21/2019 - 04:06 pm.

      A national vote recount would not be a nightmare, if we can pass the Houses’s first bill in 2019 through the Senate. It includes a Minnesota-does-it-right provision where up-dated, nationally-required voting machines are backed up by paper ballots. You run the electronic vote, then count up the paper to validate. Russians find it very hard to break into the paper ballots, by the way.

      Since the bill also includes automatic registration of voters and uniform early voting provisions, and other provisions to make voting the same all over the U.S., there would not be all those Republican-inspired tricks that make it hard for people to vote in the first place. Everyone in the country would be able to cast a ballot by mail,for instance. Etc., etc. Uniformity, where some fictional state “differences” ostensibly demand uneven voting standards.

      As I said, people missed this fine work by the House of Representatives–and the fact that it’s another instance of Mitch McConnell thwarting the will of the people by refusing even to hear the House measure in the Senate.

      I’m one of those citizens who are appalled at how the Republican Party is allowed to “elect” their presidential candidate with fewer votes than the Democratic candidate receives. Twice is too much, already.

      The Founding Fathers did not consider blacks to be full “persons” under the law (they were only 5/8 of a person) and they never intended for blacks or women to vote at all. Or white men who didn’t own real property. It’s astonishing how conservatives keep holding up some “founding principles” as gold standard, when the United States has moved on: we are now an urban society, not a nation of farmers.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/21/2019 - 04:42 pm.

      So much wrong here.

      Without the electoral college, every vote literally would be equal. Votes from urban areas would not count for more. They would count exactly the same. The system Warren is proposing provides that the person who gets the most votes wins, no matter where they are from.

      Counties? Land area? Land doesn’t vote. People do. And last time around, the guy who won got millions of fewer votes than his opponent.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/25/2019 - 09:29 pm.

      Tell us Bob, here in flyover country, is YOUR vote being represented by the Electoral College? Is the vote of ANY conservative for that matter? Do you see the problem with your logic yet?

  4. Submitted by Tim Milner on 03/21/2019 - 02:24 pm.

    Would it not be simpler just to mandate that electoral votes be allocated based on the vote of the majority in each congressional district – like Nebraska? And then give the 2 “extra / senator” votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in each state? Personally, I think that would but many places in play in many areas of the country making for a better campaign.
    I struggle with the popular vote – as you point out – many different rules in different places. Plus, I think it could result in the huge population centers getting all the attention – and non for middle and rural America.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/21/2019 - 04:57 pm.

      No, that would be a horrible solution. Every state gets at least one congressional district, no matter how low the population. Delaware has one for 967,000 people and Wyoming has one for 577,000 people. If the winner of each produces one electoral vote, that means voters in Delaware only count for about 3/5th of voters in Wyoming.

      I’d like to see everyone get a full vote. Not some people counting as 3/5ths of a person.

      Sadly, the electoral college produces an even more unfair result.

      I am boggled by the idea that anyone opposes having the person who gets the most votes win. I realize that two Republican presidents have been elected in the last 20 years despite getting fewer votes than their Democratic opponents, but the idea that everyone’s vote should count the same shouldn’t be controversial.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/21/2019 - 05:20 pm.

      Great. Let’s let Texas take the point on that. Then we can can follow.

  5. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/21/2019 - 03:35 pm.

    The wailing about our electoral system betrays a shocking ignorance of the history of the United States.

    The electoral college was instituted to persuade smaller states to give up their sovereignty and join the union by assuring them their best interests would never be swamped by the more populous states.

    Succinctly, without the EC there would be no United States.

    That assurance is just as important or more so, to less populated today as it was in 1788, and for the same reasons.

    This “national popular vote compact” is within the bounds of the Constitution, but is nonsense and doomed to fail never the less. It will never get enough EC votes to make it viable, and in the interim states that abide by it will actually help the right since it’s mostly leftist states that are involved now.

    If they wish to win elections, the best advice the left could accept is to abandon their fringe element and rejoin the mainstream of America.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/21/2019 - 04:44 pm.

      I figured that the candidate who the most people voted for would represent the mainstream, not the candidate who got several million fewer votes.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/21/2019 - 05:18 pm.

      “Succinctly, without the EC there would be no United States.”

      One can say the same thing about the Constitution permitting slavery.

      So we should continue to allow that as well?

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/22/2019 - 10:23 am.

        A brutal, bloody battle was fought to force an end to slavery. I suppose the EC could be ended the same way, but I don’t personally support that approach. YMMV

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/22/2019 - 12:22 pm.

          A brutal, bloody battle was fought to force an end to slavery. I suppose the EC could be ended the same way, but I don’t personally support that approach. YMMV

          Mr. Senker, you miss the point.

          You tell us we must keep the EC because it was necessary to the formation of the union. The same could be said of slavery. So why not keep that?

          Or are you suggesting devotees of the EC would take up arms to keep it?

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/22/2019 - 07:48 pm.

            Supporters of the Constitution don’t have to take up arms to defend it. Every member of the armed forces swore an oath to do that job.

            • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/23/2019 - 07:41 am.

              So we are back to my original question:

              If slavery, like the EC, was necessary to the formation of the union, and we must keep the EC because it was necessary to the formation of the union, should not we also keep slavery?

              Please explain how the logic is different, not how we got rid of slavery, which the Founders were cool with.

              Counting blacks as 3/5 of a citizen was also necessary. Why not keep that? Why is it OK to ditch slavery and the 3/5 principles, but not the EC?

              • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/25/2019 - 08:54 am.

                If the difference between chattel slavery and proportional, representative governance are not clear to you now, there is clearly nothing I can do to enlighten you at this point.

                Slavery died out because it is fundamentally wrong. Because it is fundamentally wrong, it’s unsustainable and would have died out eventually without fighting a war, although I aver it would have taken some years.

                Mob rule, in effect, makes slaves of the minority to the mob. It’s unsustainable.

                • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/25/2019 - 09:50 am.

                  Again Mr. Senker, please stop the emotionally laden “mob rule” non-semse and stick to logic.

                  I understand the difference between slavery and electing a president.

                  The question I have, that you have not answered, is what is the difference between the two in regards to their necessity to the formation of the union.

                  You have posited that we must keep the EC because it was a necessary element of the ratification of the Constitution. As the same can be said of the question of slavery, by your own logic, we should still have slavery.

                  With all due respect, Mr. Senker, how do you reconcile this contradiction? Why was it OK for us to get rid of one element necessary to Constitutional ratification (slavery), but not another (the EC)?

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/24/2019 - 10:04 am.

              As did the President.

    • Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 03/21/2019 - 07:53 pm.

      I pretty much agree. It would take a dictatorship to change it now.

      However, the history of the past 60 years shows that qualifications
      for President seem to be of low consequence. We might as well have a lottery. Draw one from the top 5 popular vote getters in each state. Confound the money interests. Of course, once in office, such a “winner”, would have almost no restraints on his behavior aimed at winning re-election, which would be doubtful at best.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/22/2019 - 07:59 pm.

      The Electoral -College- is not in the Constitution.
      Read it!

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/23/2019 - 07:49 am.

        Article 2 Section 1. Let’s read it together, friend.

        Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/23/2019 - 04:18 pm.

          As I said, the Constitution refers to -Electors- — individuals chosen by the States in a manner left to the States.
          Nowhere does it mention a -body- termed the Electoral College.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 03/24/2019 - 11:49 am.

            Call it what you want but article 2, section 1 describes the Electoral College. Hard to win an argument by twisting semantics.

    • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/23/2019 - 10:50 am.

      “The electoral college was instituted to persuade smaller states to give up their sovereignty and join the union by assuring them their best interests would never be swamped by the more populous states.”

      This is the only honest point in defense of the EC I’ve seen. The argument that States – as individual political entities within a union – share equal power. However, I think the Senate satisfies that idea and see no reason why the current EC should enshrine the tyranny of the minority.

      The NPVC is not nonsense. It’s very sensible given the difficulty of ammending the constitution. Whether it is “doomed to fail” can be debated. The original notion was that there aren’t enough blue states to pass it, however we just saw purple CO pass it and it now has 2/3 of EC votes needed to trigger it.

      The remaining 89 EC votes will be hard to get, but not impossible. It would seem to require that Democrats control all parts of state government to pass. Four states with legislation pending that have not yet signed on and where Democrats have full control of state government: Delaware, Maine, Nevada and Oregon, would contribute a total of 20 more electoral votes.

      In addition, Democrats have a good chance to take full control of Virginia’s state government after this fall’s legislative elections, which could add another 13 electoral votes. But even if all these states pass a National Popular Vote bill, the compact would still sit at 219 electoral votes — 51 shy of the number needed for it to take effect.

      Here are some good candidates to get the remaining 51 over the next decade- States that have had in the recent past all (D) govt or that are trending and close: MN!(10), NC(15), NH(4), IA(6), AR(6), LA(8), WV(5), GA(16). All of these states have had a (D) controlled state govt within the last 10 yrs with the exception of GA where 2002 was the last (D) controlled state govt; however, by all accounts, GA is trending quickly (D).

      Add to this the popularity of this idea and it seems very possible; not in the next election cycle, but likely in (most of) our lifetimes. Polls show ~70% approval for this one person=one vote idea. Even amongst self identified Republicans 60% support it.

      • Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 03/24/2019 - 10:28 am.

        I thought it takes 3/4 of the States to ratify an amendment. Thirteen state legislatures can stop it. They may have only a few electoral votes, but that doesn’t matter in the end.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/24/2019 - 06:32 pm.

          It’s not an amendment. It is states, individually, deciding to award their electors on the basis of the national popular vote.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/25/2019 - 06:59 pm.

            The effect is the same. 13 states can, and would, nullify it.

            • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/26/2019 - 10:37 am.

              How could 13 states nullify it? It is simply a pact between states to agree on how their states electors for President are to be decided. If/when member states of the NPVC reach the 270 EC votes needed, only the popular vote matters any more. The term ‘battleground state’ will be a quaint notion from the past.

              • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/26/2019 - 01:35 pm.

                If/when member states of the NPVC reach the 270 EC votes needed, only the popular vote matters any more.

                It needs 89 more votes; a thresh hold which just 13 states can, and will, keep it from reaching. It’s not going anywhere, nor should it.

                • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/27/2019 - 08:35 am.

                  I’ve laid out a plausible path to reach 270 in my comment up thread. I can understand why (for you) this might be unpleasant to consider. I am curious to know the 13 states you propose would be this bulwark against the NPVC?

                  There is a very real possibility the next election will repeat the last and deliver another “loser-winner” president. That would mean half the elections this century with such a result. The reason the idea of NPVC is popular- even with Republicans-is that while most people don’t understand the EC they do retain a sense of fairness in a one man, one vote idea.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/24/2019 - 06:16 pm.

        no reason why the current EC should enshrine the tyranny of the minority

        The EC is the bulwark against the tyranny if the mob. It ensures the influence of less populated states. It is the very cornerstone of our Republic. Otherwise you’ve really nailed it.

        • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/25/2019 - 01:19 pm.

          The main purpose for the EC purpose was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. They feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. Hamilton wrote about in the Federalist Papers.

          A secondary reason was the compromise to give extra power to the smaller states.

          One aspect of the electoral system that is not mandated in the constitution is the fact that the winner takes all the votes in the state. This winner take all methods used in picking electors has been decided by the states themselves. This trend took place over the course of the 19th century. This of course can be changed as each state see fit, thus the brilliance of the idea of NPVC – the viability of which I am pleased to have changed your mind about.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/25/2019 - 06:55 pm.

            If you could direct me in the direction of the source of your conclusions, I’d be grateful since I fancy myself well educated on US history, and I can not recollect anything that suggests the purpose of the EC was to act as a buffer against a pure Democracy.

            The main objection being the founders created a Republic, not a Democracy.

            • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/26/2019 - 10:23 am.

              Hamilton wrote:
              It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations. It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/25/2019 - 07:06 pm.

            Ah yes, and to refute your understanding of Federalist 68, Hamilton speaks plainly in defense of my, correct, understanding:

            The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/26/2019 - 10:03 am.

              Just as an aside, the election of Donald Trump to be President has shown that Hamilton was a terrible predictor of the future.

              • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/26/2019 - 01:27 pm.

                Donald Trump was elected by playing by the rules, and has been a much better President than many believed he would be.

                But other than that, you’ve nailed it.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/26/2019 - 02:14 pm.

                  Donald Trump became President because he was famous, and a substantial portion of the electorate in strategic locations were willing to fall for his brand of grift. He exhibited a rare talent for “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity.” He has no other talents.

                  There is no plausible measure by which he could be dubbed a “good” President. The best thing that can be said about him is that he makes James Buchanan look good by comparison.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/25/2019 - 09:43 pm.

          No, it ensures the tyranny of the majority in the vast majority of states with populations dominated by one ideological persuasion. It leaves liberals in red states, and conservatives in blue states disenfranchised, while placing unwarranted importance on the populations of states with lesser splits in political demographics. It ensures the national tyranny of “swing” states over all others.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/25/2019 - 09:37 pm.

      So you’re willing to be effectively disenfranchised (as Minnesota hasn’t sent any Republican electors in what, 50, 60 year?), to ensure that conservatives in other states lacking significant urban populations can vote in your stead, there by counteracting the wishes of more populous areas? You understand that isn’t representative democracy, right? Its simply a vote swapping scheme? Whatever suits one vision of integrity I guess. Here’s a thought, instead of relying on deception, try a message that isn’t so odious as to be dismissed by the majority of the population, maybe then you could actually win on merit, as opposed to procedure.

  6. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 03/21/2019 - 04:07 pm.

    Would Elizabeth Warren be so distraught if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency via electoral college with Donald Trump winning the popular vote?

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/21/2019 - 04:58 pm.

      Would the Republicans here be defending the electoral college if it was their party which had lost the presidency twice in recent years despite winning the popular vote?

    • Submitted by John Evans on 03/21/2019 - 11:45 pm.

      Distraught? She doesn’t actually seem distraught to me. But I can tell you who would be wailing and rending their garments if the shoe were on the other foot!

  7. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/21/2019 - 05:22 pm.

    For decades, our Cuba policy has been driven by the whims of a small number of Cuban-Americans in Florida.

    Pity us in flyover land held hostage by those coastal types, all because of the Florida electors.

  8. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/22/2019 - 12:25 pm.

    Two Sundays before the election in 2000, The Failing New York Times ran an article about how the Bush campaign was fearful that they would run up so many votes in the Republic of Texas that they would win the popular vote while losing in the EC.

    Ten days later they quickly reversed course.

  9. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/23/2019 - 08:52 am.

    It’s amazing how quickly fans of “giving voice to marginalized voices” become fans of mob rule when they see it being in their best interests.

    Once again, the far sighted wisdom of America’s architects inspires awe.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/24/2019 - 06:40 pm.

      Again with this “mob”?

      Just when is a majority not a mob?

      Are all majorities mobs?

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/25/2019 - 10:43 am.

        Majorities cease to be mobs when all parties involved come to consensus.

        The imposition of anything proposed by numerically superior parties, but staunchly opposed by numerically minority parties is mob rule.

        Again; it was my understanding that leftists cherish the idea that marginalized people have an equal voice in all things. It’s been trotted out as a “core value”. Has that changed in the current year?

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/25/2019 - 03:18 pm.

          With all due respect Mr. Senker, you suggest that a majority is inherently a mob. That is not true in the least.

          Mob rule is defined as people acting without the consent of the government or authorities. Peacefully voting is not mob rule, it is democracy.

          Losing an election does not make one marginalized per se.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/25/2019 - 09:46 pm.

          So you consent to having your vote silenced by the Democratic “mob” here in Minnesota? You consent to all your conservative brethren in blue states elsewhere being similarly silenced?

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 03/26/2019 - 09:31 am.

            My consent isn’t a factor; the political make-up of a state is what it is. I spent many years being effectively disenfranchised by Betty McCollum; the woman wouldn’t even give me the courtesy of acknowledging my polite, written correspondence with a boiler plate response.

            When the situation becomes untenable, as it did for me, my conservative friends are encouraged to move to a state more amenable to the lives we wish to live, to be among people who share our values.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/25/2019 - 10:45 am.

      a disorderly or riotous crowd of people.
      a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.

  10. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 03/28/2019 - 09:36 am.

    The “founders” considered alternatives to electors: having Congress elect the President (rejected because it would be too divisive to the body); having State legislatures elect the president (rejected because they were afraid the states would elect anti-federalists who would limit federal power too much) and a national popular vote (rejected because there was no national news media to educate voters and there were no political parties to nominate national candidates and fears that voters would vote for favorite sons from their own states which would deprive the president of a broad base of nation-wide support).

    It seems to me that the guarantee of two senators is plenty of power for the smaller states and that they don’t need that kind of balance any more to elect a president.

    I am entirely baffled by the arguments that a presidential election system that may have made sense in the 18th century in a new nation that (a) had little or no history of national identity; (b) no political parties, and a strong sense that there shouldn’t be; and (c) a bias against a broad-based franchise makes sense in the 21st when we DO have a national identity, we DO have national newspapers and other media to politically educate the nation as a whole, we DO have political parties, and we DO have a history of broadening the franchise without the “mob rule” panning out as feared.

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