Political News and Commentary with the Right Perspective. NAVIGATION
  • Front Page
  • News
  • Multimedia
  • Tags
  • RSS Feed

  • Advertise on RightMichigan.com


    Get the RightMighigan.com toolbar!



    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    The NPVIC Will Rear It's Head . . . Again

    By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
    Posted on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:53:30 PM EST
    Tags: Electoral College, 3 USC 1 & 7, quadrennial presidential elections, states vs. people balance, small states vs. large states balance, popular support vs. distributed support, U. S. Constitution Article 2 1 clauses 2 thru 4, U. S. Constitution Amendment XII, original intention, Massachusetts Method, Maine, Nebraska, Pennsylvania (pending), Ohio (pending), Virginia (pending), Wisconsin (pending), Michigan (pending), Florida (pending), potentially North Carolina, National Popular Vote is constitutionally irrelevant, Maryland (wants out), New Jersey (wants out), Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Vermont, California, New York (not interested), Pennsylvania (not interested) (all tags)

    Today, for those paying attention, was a very important day in the timeline of the 2012 Presidential Election.  Today, on the first Monday following the second Wednesday of December, at such place and time as determined by the local legislature, the duly appointed and elected Presidential Electors met in their respective jurisdictions and cast their votes for President and Vice President of the United States - at least one of whom must not reside in the same jurisdiction as they do.  Though the 51 jurisdictions do not appear to have reported yet, 27 of them are expected to cast their votes one way, and 24 of them are expected to cast their votes the other way.

    And yet, for the past 41 days, perhaps because even as recently as the day before Election Day eleven states (at a total of 146 electoral votes) were considered to be in the "tossup" column, there has been considerable behind-the-scenes debate about a potential "reform" to the way that some states apportion their electoral votes, a reform that, had it been in place during this election, may have significantly impacted the outcome.  Actually, instead of "reform" I should be referring to this as a "back to the basics" approach to the Electoral College.

    During the Federal Constitutional Convention (May 14th through September 17th, 1787), one issue that was frequently discussed was the method of determining the nation's chief executive.  Four potential solutions were proposed:

    On June 1st Mr. Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed that the National Executive be elected to office by the National Legislature.  Though initially approved on June 2nd, the Sherman proposal was ultimately rejected on these grounds:

    • There would be a constant intrigue kept up for the appointment, and would invite all manner of unseemly political bargaining, corruption, and perhaps even interference from foreign powers.
    • Such an arrangement would upset the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

    Also on June 1st Mr. James Wilson of Pennsylvania proposed that the National Executive be popularly elected.  The Wilson proposal was quickly and repeatedly rejected on these grounds (and note that none of these imply that the Founders doubted public intelligence):
    • There were concerns that state partisans would use their influence to supersede and override their state authorities, and ultimately strip the state governments of their authority.
    • With the likelihood of having insufficient information about candidates from outside their own state, people might be liable to deceptive speeches and/or political shenanigans.
    • There was also uncertainty about the people being naturally inclined to vote for a "favorite son" from their own state or region, regardless of that person's suitability for office.
    • In the worst case, no president would emerge with the popular support sufficient to effectively govern the whole country. At best, the choice of president would always be decided by the largest, most populous states with little regard for the smaller ones.

    On June 2nd, Mr. Wilson of Pennsylvania proposed that each state be divided into districts; that the persons qualified to vote in each district for members of the First Branch of the National Legislature (which we now understand as the House of Representatives) meet and elect by ballot members of their respective districts to be electors of the National Executive.  This plan was initially rejected.

    Also on June 2nd, Mr. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts proposed that the National Executive be elected by the State Executives (in concurrence with their respective legislatures).  On June 9th, the Gerry proposal was unanimously rejected on these grounds:

    • Such a method of appointment would not secure the confidence of the people
    • State executives and state legislatures may generally prefer favorites from within their states, or be guided by views that will be most partial to the interests of their states, rather than the nation as a whole.
    • A president too beholden to the state executives and legislatures might permit them to erode federal authority and thus undermine the whole idea of a republican federation.

    The end result, after considerable debate required in order to build the necessary consensus, was the system enshrined in Article 2, Section 1, Clauses 2 & 4 of the U. S. Constitution (Clause 3 being subsequently modified by Amendment 12).  Of note should be that: (a) the original design of the Electoral College was intended to work without need for political parties or for national presidential campaigns, and (b) the amended design accommodated the reality of political parties without otherwise altering the Electoral College.  And the system has worked just fine for 225 years (57 presidential elections) thus far.  Only twice (1801 and 1825) has the House of Representatives been needed to resolve a presidential election, and only once (1837) has the Senate been needed to resolve a vice-presidential election.

    There were originally three methods employed by state legislatures to select their presidential electors:

    • Winner-take-all (at-large popular vote) - This is the method currently used by 48 states and the District of Columbia.  It involves each state appointing its slate of presidential electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election Day.

    • Appointment by state legislature - This method was used by at least half of all of the states through the 1812 election, and by fully one-quarter of them through the 1824 election.  After 1860, the only three times that this option has been used (1864, 1868, and 1876) is when states joined the union with not enough time or money to properly prepare for an election.  The Florida Legislature was prepared to use this option in the 2000 election as a way to avoid missing the federal deadline had the recount continued.  (I'm curious as to whether Massachusetts still has this on the books as the fallback choice if no candidate for president wins an absolute majority of the state's at-large popular vote.)

    The third option, so popular that fully one quarter of the states used it through the 1824 election (and 13 states in total have used it at some time or another), was some variant of the district method originally proposed by James Wilson of Pennsylvania.  Delaware and Virginia both used the Electoral District Method in the 1789 election (and seven other states - IL, KY, MD, MI, MO, NC, & TN - have also used it), and Massachusetts in 1796 pioneered the Congressional District Method (which has also been used by NY, and is currently used by both ME and ME).  The latter of the two variants is the change that I was referring to earlier.

    Yes, apparently, according to The Atlantic this morning, there are efforts actively underway in six states - Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia - to shift the Electoral College apportionment from the current winner-take-all-at-large appointment method to one or another variant of the Massachusetts Method.  Predictably, this has the lefty sites (such as Mother Jones, The Nation, Slate, and the Washington Post) howling about how the Republicans are now out to gerrymander the Electoral College in key states by rigging elections to engage in voter suppression and siphon electoral votes away from reliably blue states.  Just as predictably, these articles all either directly or indirectly refer to the National Popular Vote plan as a "more principled way" to reform the Electoral College.

    And if you want Exhibit "A" for why the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a bad idea, all you need to do is check out this Presidential Election Results By County map from Mark Newman at the University of Michigan to understand why the federal convention promptly rejected this idea.  The 30 or so largest metropolitan areas will decide the presidential election every time, and every damn one of them are notorious for not only for voting bluer than a United Nations battle helmet, but also for having issues with election fraud.  There's a reason that both Maryland and New Jersey have introduced legislation to withdraw from this compact, and that New York has passed on it all three times that enabling legislation has been introduced (but none of this will you hear from the NPV trolls).

    Rob Richie (co-author of Every Vote Equal) over at Fair Vote, in the course of his kvetching about the Massachusetts Method, provides us with an interesting pair of downloadable charts (600 × 578 and 600 × 379) that analyze five possible alternate electoral vote scenarios had some form of not-winner-take-all method been on the books in the six states where Massachusetts Method legislation is now in the hopper.  While the chart is instructive, it's also a tad oversimplified (assuming that all six states in question all adopt the same alternative scenario).  It also assumes that only seven additional states (Maine and Nebraska already use the Massachusetts Method) would sign onto some variant of the Congressional District Method.

    I want to take this logic one step further.

    David Nir over at the Daily Kos has crowdsourced a project to tabulate the 2012 presidential results by congressional district for every jurisdiction participating in the Electoral College (all 50 states plus DC).  I like the idea, and I think it'd be a great theoretical exercise to see how the 2012 presidential election would have turned out if every state with more than 3 EV would have used the Massachusetts Method . . . so I picked it up as a research project (with the specific intent of scooping the Daily Kos on the final report).

    I've been tracking the Daily Kos project progress (links to detailed state-by-state spreadsheets with "precise calculations" are here), as well as doing my own research.  In double-checking the Kos' numbers on a few of the smaller states (HI, MD, NH, OR, and RI), I've observed that while their electoral results are probably correct, the supporting district-by-district data is suspect and will need to be verified against the official data from the states' respective election authorities . . . I'm a stickler for detail like that.

    What I can tell you so far is that, between the states completed by either me or the Daily Kos and the states "in progress" by either me or the Daily Kos (AL, IN, MI, MO, OH, PA, & TX), a total of 463 electoral votes have been accounted for.  (Only KS, MA, NJ, & NY are still not touched.)  Thus far, the "breakdown by district" electoral tally is 246 for Romney and 217 for Obama.  The smallest state to split its electoral delegation appears to be New Mexico (5 EV) - NM CD-02 went for Romney - and the largest states so far to go "effectively winner-take-all" were Connecticut and Oklahoma (7 EV each).

    Of course, no matter how the results ultimately sort out, the lefties in the media and education will swear up and down that the Founding Fathers' design is antiquated and should be replaced with a principled reform that treats all people equally.  Keep in mind that these are the same fools who've been conditioned over the past two generations to believe that America is a democracy.

    Which explains much.

    < Hoogendyk: Ask Snyder To Sign Bill | Consequences of Elections Are Today's Reality >

    Share This: Digg! StumbleUpon del.icio.us reddit reddit

    Display: Sort:
    Display: Sort:


    Make a new account

    Tweet along with RightMichigan by
    following us on Twitter HERE!
    create account | faq | search