The Electoral College … Keep, Abolish, or Circumvent?

One of the big debates in Washington and around the nation is whether it is time to get rid of the electoral college.  It’s funny in retrospect, but after President Barack Obama won his second term of office, Donald Trump tweeted this …

trump-tweet

But, when the electoral college put him, against the majority vote, into the Oval Office, suddenly he didn’t mind it so much anymore.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

trump-tweet-2.png

One of Elizabeth Warren’s talking points as she campaigns for next year’s presidential election is the abolishment of the electoral college, and it seems a majority in this country are in agreement.  A Pew Research Center poll last year found that a 55% majority support picking presidents by popular vote, compared to 41% who prefer keeping the electoral college.  The usual 4% were asleep … again.

Most of the candidates from both political parties, a number of members of Congress, and others have opined on this issue in recent weeks, but I don’t really care about any of that right now.  I prefer to talk facts … you know, those pesky statements that are supported by hard data?  Let’s first take a look at the rationale behind the electoral college as it was first written into the U.S. Constitution.

There were two primary reasons for the electoral college.  The first was to ensure that only a qualified person becomes president (are you laughing yet?).  The framers of the Constitution believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped.  The founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.

The second reason for the electoral college system was to mitigate the disadvantage of states with smaller populations.  That, however, is rather a myth, as I will show in a bit.

Now, the majority in this country believe the electoral college has outlived its usefulness.  I have to agree … it is obvious that in the 2016 election it did the exact opposite of what it was intended to do and put the candidate who actually lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, or 2.1%, in office.  This was the least qualified candidate imaginable, yet he now sits in the Oval Office.  It is time for a change.

However, the only means to repeal or abolish the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment, which is not even remotely likely to happen at this point.  But … there is another option.

Contrary to popular belief, the Constitution does not mandate that the winner take all in each state … that was the decision of the individual states over the course of the 19th century.  A state can decide, as 12 states plus the District of Columbia have recently done, to essentially bypass the electoral college.  The states that have signed onto this plan, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, are …

  • District of Columbia – 3 electoral votes
  • Colorado – 9 electoral votes
  • Connecticut – 7 electoral votes
  • Hawaii – 4 electoral votes
  • Illinois – 20 electoral votes
  • Maryland – 10 electoral votes
  • Massachusetts – 11 electoral votes
  • New Jersey – 14 electoral votes
  • Washington – 12 electoral votes
  • Vermont – 3 electoral votes
  • California – 55 electoral votes
  • Rhode Island – 4 electoral votes
  • New York – 29 electoral votes

If enough states pass the bill to account for 270 electoral votes, the bill will become law of the land and as a result, would ensure that every vote will be equal throughout the U.S. and that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.  Not only would this bypass the electoral college, but would also make gerrymandering* pointless.  There are 8 additional states, totaling 72 more electoral votes, where the bill has passed one chamber of the state legislature.  If all 8 pass the bill and the governors sign it into law, added to the 181 electoral votes above, that accounts for a total of 253, a mere 17 short of the magic number.

Under the compact, states pledge to allocate all their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote in presidential elections.  While this would not abolish the electoral college, it would guarantee that the candidate with the most popular votes would win the election.  Seems to me there can be no logical argument about that … it is as it should be.  We the People are supposed to elect a president, not the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party … We The People!

The argument against this compact mainly comes from the Republican Party, and their argument is that a popular vote system would encourage candidates to only campaign in the larger (population) states, and the smaller states would suffer.  The reality is that in 2016, two-thirds of the visits by both Clinton and Trump took place in just six states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan), and 94 percent of the visits went to just 12 states. Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia got zero campaign visits.  Kind of puts that argument to rest, don’t you think?

I’ve put together a chart showing each state’s population and electoral votes (electoral votes, by the way, are equal to a state’s representation in Congress).

State Electoral Population # of people represented by each elector
Number of Electoral Votes % of Total Population % of Total
Alabama 9 1.67% 4,874,747 1.50%          541,639
Alaska 3 0.56% 739,795 0.23%          246,598
Arizona 11 2.04% 7,016,270 2.15%          637,843
Arkansas 6 1.12% 3,004,279 0.92%          500,713
California 55 10.22% 39,536,653 12.14%          718,848
Colorado 9 1.67% 5,607,154 1.72%          623,017
Connecticut 7 1.30% 3,588,184 1.10%          512,598
Delaware 3 0.56% 961,939 0.30%          320,646
District of Columbia 3 0.56% 702455 0.22%          234,152
Florida 29 5.39% 20,984,400 6.44%          723,600
Georgia 16 2.97% 10,429,379 3.20%          651,836
Hawaii 4 0.74% 1,427,538 0.44%          356,885
Idaho 4 0.74% 1,716,943 0.53%          429,236
Illinois 20 3.72% 12,802,023 3.93%          640,101
Indiana 11 2.04% 6,666,818 2.05%          606,074
Iowa 6 1.12% 3,145,711 0.97%          524,285
Kansas 6 1.12% 2,913,123 0.89%          485,521
Kentucky 8 1.49% 4,454,189 1.37%          556,774
Louisiana 8 1.49% 4,684,333 1.44%          585,542
Maine 4 0.74% 1,335,907 0.41%          333,977
Maryland 10 1.86% 6,052,177 1.86%          605,218
Massachusetts 11 2.04% 6,859,819 2.11%          623,620
Michigan 16 2.97% 9,962,311 3.06%          622,644
Minnesota 10 1.86% 5,576,606 1.71%          557,661
Mississippi 6 1.12% 2,984,100 0.92%          497,350
Missouri 10 1.86% 6,113,532 1.88%          611,353
Montana 3 0.56% 1,050,493 0.32%          350,164
Nebraska 5 0.93% 1,920,076 0.59%          384,015
Nevada 6 1.12% 2,998,039 0.92%          499,673
New Hampshire 4 0.74% 1,342,795 0.41%          335,699
New Jersey 14 2.60% 9,005,644 2.76%          643,260
New Mexico 5 0.93% 2,088,070 0.64%          417,614
New York 29 5.39% 19,849,399 6.09%          684,462
North Carolina 15 2.79% 10,273,419 3.15%          684,895
North Dakota 3 0.56% 755,393 0.23%          251,798
Ohio 18 3.35% 11,658,609 3.58%          647,701
Oklahoma 7 1.30% 3,930,864 1.21%          561,552
Oregon 7 1.30% 4,142,776 1.27%          591,825
Pennsylvania 20 3.72% 12,805,537 3.93%          640,277
Rhode Island 4 0.74% 1,059,639 0.33%          264,910
South Carolina 9 1.67% 5,024,369 1.54%          558,263
South Dakota 3 0.56% 869,666 0.27%          289,889
Tennessee 11 2.04% 6,715,984 2.06%          610,544
Texas 38 7.06% 28,304,596 8.69%          744,858
Utah 6 1.12% 3,101,833 0.95%          516,972
Vermont 3 0.56% 623,657 0.19%          207,886
Virginia 13 2.42% 8,470,020 2.60%          651,540
Washington 12 2.23% 7,405,743 2.27%          617,145
West Virginia 5 0.93% 1,815,857 0.56%          363,171
Wisconsin 10 1.86% 5,795,483 1.78%          579,548
Wyoming 3 0.56% 579,315 0.18%          193,105
Totals 538 100.00% 325,727,661 100.00% ————–

As you can see, the smaller states are better represented in the electoral college than the more populous ones.  Take a look, for example, at California, the most populous state, that gets only 1 electoral vote for every 718,848 people, versus the least populous state, Wyoming, with 1 electoral vote for every 193,105 people.  Something doesn’t seem quite fair here, don’t you think?

It is my belief that the electoral college has been proven not only unnecessary, but a direct impediment to a fair and honest democratic election.  Since at this juncture it is virtually impossible to pass an amendment to repeal it, the next best thing is to pass legislation to make certain that every vote counts equally.  I also think this might go a long way in overcoming voter apathy, one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have.  Let us hope that enough state legislatures and governors will see this as the best way and choose to do the right thing.

* This small graphic explains the effects of gerrymandered districts as well as any I have seen.gerrymandering

Age and citizenship is not enough. We need new requirements for president.

Jeff, aka Brookingslib over at On The Fence Voters has read my mind and written the post that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but never got around to. A lot has changed in 230+ years, and it’s time for a few changes in our Constitution. Take a look at this post, for it is a common-sense, practical solution that would prevent a future recurrence of our current nightmare. Thank you, Jeff, for implied permission to share 😉

On The Fence Voters

Article 2, Section One, The United States Constitution: No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. 

So there you have it. In order to qualify to become the president of the United States of America, this little paragraph of our beloved Constitution spells it out. Is it me or doesn’t it seem a bid odd that the requirements to become the most powerful person in the free world are a bit on the weak side? I mean, I’ve seen job postings for dog-walker that are harder to qualify for.

I have to admit, since the election of Donald…

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A Guest Post by David M. Prosser …

Yesterday, I put out a plea for some of my friends and readers who live outside the U.S. to write a guest post for this blog about how they view the United States as it stands today.  I’m calling my project simply ‘Coexist’, for despite thousands of miles and oceans between us, we really are neighbors in todays global world, and as such, we need to find a way to understand, to coexist.  We rely on each other for trade, for security, and perhaps most importantly, for cultural understanding.  The U.S. has not been a very good neighbor of late, and most of us are well aware that our standing in the world is greatly diminished.  We know from the media how the leaders of other nations view us, but I want to know how the people of those nations, our friends and neighbors, view us, both as a nation and as people.  The first person to respond to my plea was my dear friend, David Prosser of North Wales in the UK, and today I am publishing his guest post.  Thank you so very much, David, for your time and effort, and for sharing your thoughts.


In answer to my friend Jill Dennison’s call, I am writing to give an opinion from abroad as to how Trump, and more importantly America are viewed these days.

It’s important to note that back in 2016 the American elections were the cause of more interest than usual because a woman was attempting to get to the White House and this time in her own right and not as the wife of a candidate. Would we see the President and her First Man? To be honest most of us gave little or no credence to Donald Trump as the nomination of the Republicans. This was the man who started the rumour that President Obama was not American born. Probably the vilest man in America. As the campaign wore on he started with a chant of ‘Lock her up’ against Hilary Clinton which seemed to overshadow any of her policies, but even so, he couldn’t win. When he had neo Nazis at his events, or KKK and could describe them in glowing terms you knew he couldn’t win. The American people had more sense.

He won, after the electoral college gave him their votes. The popular vote was for Hilary Clinton showing that Americans could vote for both a black man and now a woman to be President. But the electoral College votes were enough to overturn expectations. The worrying thing is that here was a man who had waffled his way through an election on an  unwarranted chant against an opponent and a call for a wall to be built between Mexico and the United States which Mexico would be funding. Most of us never took that as a promise made and thought Mexico would be surprised at Trump’s cheek. It appears they were and they quickly made it clear that no funding for a wall would be coming from Mexico. Trump is a fanaticist who just opens his mouth and lets any stray thought slip out.

We’ve all been following Mr Mueller’s efforts to find the truth behind the election and some of Trump’s mutterings. Within my own little group expectations are that we’ll find that Trump is heavily in hock to Russian banks and that he’s accepted a degree of help from his friend President Putin at manipulating the election. Certainly Russia spent an awful lot of money on the Social sites to bolster Trump’s campaign.

In the two years since he was elected Trump seems to have emasculated the US and turned it into either a laughing stock or a nonentity on the world stage. Trump has single-handedly removed America away from Europe and has canceled America’s promises from the Paris Accord regarding global warming. It amazes us that Trump seems to have declared friendship for the World’s greatest Dictators and have OK’d it for the States to become racist again. It appears the last 50 years have been wiped out and he black people are to be treated as inferior beings again. The worst thing is it looks like this was a feeling kept in the background just waiting to come out again. It’s also OK to want to deny immigration. A country built on immigrants now says ‘No More’ and attempts to block any Moslems from entering the country except Saudi Arabia which though it funds terrorism including the planes hitting the twin towers can do no wrong in Trump’s eyes. It’s still a major surprise here that despite the rubbish that Trump spouts, much of it deliberate lies, that approx 40% of the US continue to support him. At this rate he’ll sell America to the highest bidder before his term ends and retire to some isolated island where he and all his money can happily retire. The family can stay behind and face Mueller’s findings.

Know this, that most of the UK feels for you and wishes you were Trump free. The best we can say for now is Good Luck.Text dividers

Thank you again, David!  And thank you for the Good Luck wishes … after tomorrow night we may need them more than ever!  Now come on, dear friends!  I need a few more volunteers!  I promise it’ll be fun!  

 

Sunday One (or two) Liners …

It is Sunday morning, and I have promised to make a nice brunch for my family.  And then I must wash my daughter’s uniforms, because otherwise she will have no pants to wear to work tomorrow.  And so, I do not have a lot of time and am going with just a few brief snippets this morning that I came across while trolling the news.


Pinocchio x2

I frequently wonder about the physical and mental well-being of republicans in Congress.  Turns out I am right to be concerned.  Take, for instance, Ohio’s representative Jim Jordan, who told Anderson Cooper last week that he has never heard Trump tell a lie.  “I’ve never heard the president… He’s always been square with me, that’s for darn sure.”  When asked to think harder, he contemplated for a moment, then said, “I don’t know of it.  Nothing comes to mind.”  This man is not only deaf, but also not too smart and does not belong in Congress!


Aliens, Anyone?

In Florida, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera is looking to replace retiring Miami Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.  Aguilera may fit right in with the current batch in Congress, for she already lives in a world of fantasy.  Ms. Aguilera says she’s been aboard a spaceship crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials, not Mexicans. Three blond, big-bodied beings — two females, one male — visited her when she was 7 years old and have communicated telepathically with her several times in her life.  Among other things, she claims to know …

  • There are 30,000 skulls — “different from humans” — in a cave in the Mediterranean island of Malta.
  • The world’s “energy center” is in Africa.
  • The Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction South Miami-Dade, is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Great … well, as I said, she will fit right in with the others who claim that Trump is an honest and decent man … just about as much a stretch of the imagination as alien abductions.


Re-writing History?

Presumably on Trump’s orders, the Department of Homeland Security has removed 12 reports from FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website.  Rather like removing the phrase “climate change” from the EPA’s website, don’t you think?  The reports?  They were primarily positive evaluations of FEMA’s operations during the tenure of President Obama.  Go figure.  I wonder if the next generation, or the one after, will be able to believe anything they read about President Obama in their history books?


Trickle-Down Didn’t Trickle

First quarter reports on U.S. economic growth showed a distinct slowing of such growth.  Why?  Because consumer spending slowed to a pace not seen since 2013.  Now wait … weren’t those ‘tax cuts’ supposed to encourage people to go out and spend more money?  What happened, Donnie?

According to an article in Reuters, “Consumer spending in the last quarter was undercut by a decline in purchases of motor vehicles, clothing and footwear as well as a slowdown in food and beverages outlays.”

Hmmm … who could have predicted this?  Oh wait … I did!!!!

A footnote here … while most working people say they are seeing little, if any, difference in their paychecks, America’s biggest banks are boasting record profits.  Think about that one … more on this later.


Say WHAT?

“I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.” – Donald Trump

Trump now says he wants to get rid of the electoral college – the very tool that put him in the Oval Office – as it is much easier to win the popular vote.  If it’s so bloomin’ easy, then why did he lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes???

Where is that doctor who supposedly declared him mentally fit?  Oh … yeah …


Shut up, Public!!!

Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says that he is considering removing the agency’s database of consumer complaints from public view.  His excuse is that he claims it contains information that has not been vetted by the bureau and could be used unfairly against financial institutions.

Awwwww … gee golly gosh … we certainly wouldn’t wish to be unfair to the very institutions that caused the financial crisis of 2007-2008 now, would we.  We The People, after all, are not smart enough to understand that information and make our own judgments, just like Trump said we aren’t smart enough to understand his tax returns, so he just kept them private.


Well, now that I’ve managed to either make you chuckle or growl on this fine Sunday afternoon, I shall go make some mini-quiche and pancakes for my girls!  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful, relaxing Sunday afternoon!

New Maps for Pennsylvania!

Twice this month, I have written about the gerrymandering case in Pennsylvania (links below in case you missed them).  You may remember that the congressional district map was heavily gerrymandered to give the GOP unfair advantage, and the state Supreme Court ordered the legislature to re-draw the map to be more fair by February 9th, and the governor to approve and submit the new map by February 15th, or the court would have the map re-drawn.  Well, a couple of the legislators balked, both deadlines were missed, so the court held true to its word and had the map re-drawn.

The new map on the left more closely reflects the partisan composition of the state, providing a more equitable opportunity for Democrats to pick up 2-3 additional  U.S. House seats in November. It’s also more compact than Republicans’ original map, and it splits fewer counties and municipal areas. While Democratic candidates for the state’s 18 U.S. House seats tend to capture about half of the statewide popular vote, that’s translated into just five of the 18 seats in each election held since the 2011 redistricting.

In the last election, 2016, the majority of the popular vote was actually for democrats, but due to the manipulation of congressional district boundaries, democrats only won 5 of the 18 seats in the House.  Fair?  Hardly, but then the same could be said of the same year’s presidential election also, where the majority lost the election due to the electoral college.

It is a safe bet to say that the republican-led legislature will challenge the new map, but they have few options to do so, as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, effectively upholding the ruling of the state court.  The only plausible argument would be that the maps violate the Elections Clause of the Constitution, which vests in the state legislature the power to choose rules for congressional elections, and even that is a long shot.

But meanwhile, you know Trump couldn’t resist an opportunity to put his two-cents’ worth in, and he took to Twitter early this morning:

Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new “pushed” Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money! – 8:11 AM – Feb 20, 2018

Appropriate remark for a president?  No, but then when are they ever any more?

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

gerrymanderingIf the map provided by the Pennsylvania  Supreme Court is allowed to stand, it is quite possible that the democrats will pick up an additional 2, possibly 3 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in November.  It is a start, but there are more states with unfairly drawn congressional district maps that need to be challenged this year.  Thus far, Pennsylvania and Florida are the only two who have taken this step.  The 10 most gerrymandered states are …

  1. North Carolina
  2. Maryland
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. West Virginia
  5. Kentucky
  6. Louisiana
  7. Utah
  8. Texas
  9. Arkansas
  10. Ohio

Let us hope that Pennsylvania’s new map is not overturned, and that more states, particularly the ones listed above, get on the bandwagon to re-draw more fair and equitable maps.  I am not asking for any special treatment for democrats, merely an opportunity for a fair election, such as is called for by the U.S. Constitution.

Related links:

Judicial Independence … Going, Going …

Senator Above The Law?  

Can The Circus Train Be Stopped In Time?

michael-mooreDocumentary filmmaker and author Michael Moore was a regular in the news during 2016, especially last July when he predicted a Trump win, despite all odds.  Turns out he was right.  Well, old Michael is back with, not quite a prediction, but some thoughts on what might happen in the next six weeks.  Last Wednesday (12/07), Moore was a guest on Seth Meyers’ Late Night show:

“He’s not president till noon on January 20th of 2017. . . . That’s more than six weeks away. Would you not agree, regardless of which side of the political fence you’re on, this has been the craziest election year? Nothing anyone predicted has happened; the opposite has happened. So is it possible, just possible, that in these next six weeks, something else might happen — something crazy, something we’re not expecting?”

Well, I do know that Mike got the Trump win prediction right … and the reasons why:

“I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes — Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on . . .  her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states.”

And he was right.  However, that does not make him Nostradamus, and I still think the odds are slim that anything will keep Trump from being inaugurated on January 20th.  Even Mr. Moore is hedging his bets, as he is planning to “be there helping lead the national protest and non-violently disrupting the inauguration of a man no one other than the electoral college elected — and I’ll also be doing my own thing as a private citizen (activities I won’t disclose now).”

At any rate, Moore opens the door for the possibility that something might stop Trump from ever actually reaching the White House.  I mentioned last week that there are two possibilities, both very slim in my opinion.  However the two possibilities are merging in at least one sense, and while I still believe the odds are slim, stranger things have happened in the past year.

The first, of course is the Electoral College.  A few electors began a movement to try to sway other electors to vote for someone other than Trump.  A name was chosen:  John Kasich, Governor of Ohio.  If they could sway 37 electors in states where Trump won, then it would reduce Trump’s electoral vote below the 270 required for him to win the electoral vote and it would then be up to the House of Representatives to make the decision.  In that case, I believe it is more than likely, almost a certainty, that the House would decide in favour of Trump.

However, the second thing that may have an effect is that last week President Obama called for a full review of the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which many of us are hoping will lead to the information being compiled by numerous security agencies being declassified and made public.  If any evidence can be found that Trump either had a role in the hacking or even was aware of it in advance, that would constitute treason and he would not, at least in my opinion, be allowed to take office.  Though the information is not yet complete, there is said to be quite a bit of evidence that the Russians were involved, but I do not know more than that.  Many have gotten behind the push for transparency in this issue, including one that surprised me:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  A Republican. An outspoken Republican. McConnell says he believes Russian involvement in the U.S. election needs to be investigated. He added, “I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Now these two possible hurdles to Trump being inaugurated come together, as the electors, who are to meet in their home states’ capitals on December 19th, just six days from now, have sent a letter to James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence that reads, in part:

“The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations,” they wrote. “We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.”

Read the entire letter here.

One purpose of the Electoral College, as stated in the Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, is to “weed out” any candidate that might capture the public’s interest enough to get elected by the process but who do not have the requisite qualities necessary for the office of Presidency of the United States, therefore not being fit to become the commander in chief of the United States. Has there ever been a more appropriate time in the history of our nation for the Electoral College to serve in this capacity?