Basically: The states themselves can require a fair election for the Presidency without any need for a Constitutional amendment or even a Federal law— this has been robustly defended by legal scholars, and it's already half-way to completion.
If your state isn't on that list, do your country a favor and call your state representative about it.
But I came across one justification that blew away all my objections.
Namely, the House of Representatives was originally designed to grow along with the population.
If it had been allowed to keep growing, then that "built-in advantage" of less-populous states would have dissipated. In other words, that built-in advantage wasn't actually built-in. The system was designed to degrade it over time.
In other words, if it had continued as it was, we'd have somewhere around... I forget, 3500 - 4000 representatives today. And that would change the electoral college calculations, to the point that they would almost exactly mirror the popular vote. It's asymptotic, but as the population grows, the (unrestricted) EC approaches the popular vote. It's worth noting that if the house of reps had been allowed to keep growing, Gore would have beaten Bush via electoral-college counting, hanging chads be damned.
So there's nothing sacred about the less populous states. Their advantage only exists because of the much-later agreement to freeze the growth of the house of reps.
Even more interesting, they note that the Constitutional Convention did consider electing the President by a direct national popular vote, which proposal failed by... wait for it... one vote.
In particular, the Electoral College ensures presidential candidates must appeal to a wide variety of people, from across multiple regions of America - instead of just focusing on running up the totals in large cities, which is what would happen if the Electoral College didn't exist. In the last election both political parties had to pay attention to the entirety of the electorate, from every county, in states as diverse as Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Nevada.
You could do America a favor by calling your state representatives and telling them what a goofy idea this is.
MYTH: Candidates would "fly over" most of the country under a national popular vote.
This criticism applies to the current system of electing the President—not a national popular vote.
Under the current system, two-thirds of the states are indeed "fly-over" country. In 2004, the presidential candidates concentrated two-thirds of their campaign visits and money in just five states, 80% in just nine states, and 99% of their money in just 16 states. As early as the spring of 2008, the major political parties acknowledged that there would be only 14 battleground states in 2008. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just states, and 98% in just 15 states.
Where did the candidates go in the states they did visit? Did they just stick to the cities, or did they go talk to people in small communities? Did they decide that they could get by with only one type of person, or did they have to try to appeal to the entire population of that state?
I am pretty confident that a presidential campaign that has to contend with rural and small-town voters in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado will have to take into consideration some people like me, even though my state's not going to be a 'swing state' any time soon. Those states are plenty different and there's plenty of difference within them, as well.
I can't say the same about a campaign that focuses on the top fifty metropolitan statistical areas, which is exactly what would happen with your scheme.
I want to believe you, but it's hard to when it refutes the exact claim you're making:
MYTH: Only the big cities, such as Los Angeles, would matter under a national popular vote.
The populations of the 50 largest cities together constitute only 19% of the nation's population. Arlington, Texas is the nation's 50th largest city (with an estimated population of 363,000 in 2005).
In 2010, the fifty largest metropolitan statistical areas had a population of 166,033,000 -- 53.8% of the United States' 308,745,000 people.
In the 2012 election, Los Angeles County alone had more voters than any of thirty-two of America's fifty states.
Also in the 2012 election, just 150 of America's 3,033 counties - less than five percent of the total, and all attached to a metropolitan area - made up 50% of the vote.
Given a limited amount of time to get in front of the voters, where do you think the candidates are going to go? Do this thing, and the days of candidates getting outside an urban area are pretty much over.
> Given a limited amount of time to get in front of the voters, where do you think the candidates are going to go? Do this thing, and the days of candidates getting outside an urban area are pretty much over.
I don't really care where they go; re-enfranchising the majority of the country will mean that personal visits by candidates to a handful of geographic areas will be much less important than, for example, their policies. I'm sorry if that sounds like a bad thing to you, I guess we just have to agree to disagree on that.
It's no use appealing to the area with the highest population density if their minds are already made up.
It's no use appealing to the area with the highest population density if their mind is already made up.
Top 10 US cities by population ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by... ):
The 10 largest MSAs contain over 80 million people. That's already over a quarter of the country -- more than the 50 largest cities put together. Taking it out to the top 20 MSAs brings that up to almost 117 million. The top 50 MSAs cover more than half the country's population.
Edit: restricting it down to "urban areas" instead of MSAs brings the numbers down a bit, but the top 10 and 20 still make up a huge amount of it ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_urban_are... 2010 instead of 2011 numbers here ):
Top 10: 73.4M
Top 20: 101.8M
Top 50: 143.1M
It's hard for me to imagine the average resident of, say, Jasper, GA (population ~2,000, median income ~$30,000) caring one way or another that you had a rally in Atlanta— but their votes still count.
The more general point being that the dynamics of campaigning would be fundamentally different, such that none of the lines that are currently drawn will matter (and of course that's good thing).
Imagine a replay of 2012 without the electoral college. Obama would still hit the urbans and some of the progressive rich enclaves. Romney would hit all the suburban, Wall St. and yacht clubs.
No one would bother with the rurals except for some photo ops. Same as before.
Stalwarts like Utah and NYC may be relatively ignored. Big deal.
Your complaint is that the minuscule rural population are ignored by the more prosperous, more populated, more important urban areas.
That sounds about right to me. One person, one vote.
If people in rural areas want to be more relevant, they should either start creating some jobs, stop being freeloaders, and work harder to prevent their people from following the jobs. Which is not going to happen so long as we have a petrol based economy.
Once human labor is required to replace petrol, you'll have more people returning to rural areas, to work the land.
So if you care about the vitality of rural areas, you'll work to expedite the post oil energy future.
This is why we have a federal government - to prevent our government from being run by people who think like this. Presidents have to govern everybody, not just the people they like.
If your intended point was to prevent the tyranny of the majority, then your focus on the electoral college is sadly misplaced.
Edit: Here's the kicker. I ran for statewide office. Last minute ballot filler. (I was pissed the incumbent was unopposed.) In the limited time with limited resources, I tried to visit every legislative district and every county. I was greeted and vetted like a rock star. It was fun as hell. My family were farmers and I love the country. It was like coming home.
You know what? I was the only state wide candidate who did this. Because I had no chance of winning, nothing to lose, and could do and say whatever I wanted. If I had any prospects, I wouldn't have had the luxury of touring my state.
So whatever your grievances, I don't care. I want to end world hunger and ice cream for every kid on Tuesdays. Big deal.
If you want your vote to matter, you should probably do something to empower yourself. Or just wait for the return of farming, when every one will be courting your communities again, like they did back in my grandfather's day.
Or you could continue to belly ache about how all the big bad politicians ignore you.
Either way: Please, continue.
Further evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium-sized, and large towns of every small, medium-sized, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every potential customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off a particular state merely because a competitor has an 8% lead in sales. Furthermore, a national advertiser with an 8% edge in a particular state does not stop trying to make additional sales in the state.
National advertisers are more expensive, and don't help local races as much or at all. Spend less money, hit more people in states with more people in them.
That fundamentally changes if I can counter your Times Square billboard with a direct mail campaign in Minnesota.
And you can have Nebraska. The whole state, I wouldn't run a single ad there for a national campaign, in either scenario. Why would I? The ad money I might have to spend in Nebraska to get a thousand eyeballs might get me closer to ten thousand eyeballs in California or New York. Not to mention the ten thousand eyeballs I get in New York are also eyeballs I want to see my general platform and the fact that my party exists, because as you may well know, most people vote a straight ticket.
I see a lot of compelling reasons to believe that local media would remain a primary means of communication between candidates and prospective voters, even if we switched to a popular vote.
What market force are you imagining makes ad space cheaper in wealthier states?
The electoral college coerces candidates into appealing only to a small number of strategic areas.
If anything, a popular vote liberates candidates because they can make gains anywhere, and appeal to minority (the minority political party, that is) populations in areas where they wouldn't have bothered to go otherwise because the winner-take-all system makes it fruitless.
When every vote counts, candidates have an incentive to appeal to everyone.
So, California might have 20 votes for X, 20 for Y, 10 for Z, and 5 for Q.
That would help ensure that your vote matters within your state, and preserves Some electoral votes for third party candidates. The goal as I see it should not be to elect the Most Popular President, but rather to most-faithfully represent the voting preferences of the constituents. The net result should be similar -- or will be if all states were to do this.
Of course I also dream on being able to vote for contingent people, so that I can vote for a 3rd party candidate, but if he's not going to win, have my vote count for a different candidate. I forget the name of this, but it's complicated yet very elegant. It allows you to vote your conscience and yet not worry about "throwing away" your vote and letting That Guy win because you didn't vote for his most-winning opponent.
The goal is for every American citizen's vote for President to count for exactly as much as any other citizen's. That means, yes, the person who gets the most votes wins. How else can it work?
I'd encourage you to take a look at the National Popular Vote's site, especially http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/answers.php . They've put quite a bit of thought into it.
Palestine has a parliamentary government. Their elections use a close relative to proportional representation.
Approval voting is for executive positions. President, Governor, Mayor. Not assemblies like councils and parliaments.
Approval voting prevents the "spoiler effect". It does not enable it. Nor is it applicable to parliamentary elections, such as the example you gave.
Lastly, your comment is just weird. Equating Hamas to a spoiler. Despite the electioneering by the PLA. The subsequent extra-legal attempt to invalidate the election results that brought Hamas to power.
I'm far from an expert on Palestinian politics, but if there's a lesson to be drawn from Hamas and The Gaza Strip, it's that Palestinian politics are messy.
If the question is "should they count the same" -- the answer is an unequivocal yes, and almost every person would agree. Voting reform requires that people put in power by bad systems willingly reform those systems which would see them removed from power. Corruption doesn't remove itself, so discussing this at all is moot, really.
Did you read what I wrote? That's not true of the National Popular Vote. Legislators in a plurality of states can alter the election for President (and so fundamentally shift the nature of national politics) without any cooperation from the President or any Federal official.
 Or rather, a number of states comprising a plurality of electors.
The system that puts legislators into place is a local majority vote, which is just as flawed as a national majority vote. It leads to a 2-party system which concentrates power and typically results in corruption.
Local majority vote --> Two-party system
National majority vote --> Two-party system
National majority vote <--> Two-party system
Two-party system --> National majority vote
(1) "it's already half-way to completion". Yes with all blue states. Basically changing the system will favor one party. The other party will not favor it meaning you lose 1/4 to 1/3 of the states. And you lose another 1/4 to 1/3 of states because swing states will also not favor it (they would stand to lose billions in advertising). So this sort of coalition will tend to always be stuck around 1/2 to 2/3 of where it needs to get to.
(2) "without any need for a Constitutional amendment" Technically yes you don't but then you're depending on the goodwill of other states. If some state doesn't like the way the election is going to turn out they can bust the coalition by changing their participation at the last moment. That's a recipe for disaster, the rules for the election should be as clear and open as possible as far in advance as possible.
What it will do is favor states that aren't swing states. Which is the large majority of both states and electoral votes. Texas would be a huge winner in a transition to the popular vote because it has so many people in it, and is currently almost completely ignored in Presidential politics. Most of the South is in the same boat.
And as I'm looking at the map right now, let me point out something extraordinarily dangerous about the current system: Florida has the largest number of electoral votes of all the swing states, and demographically it's full of retirees who don't live in the same zip code as their children or grandchildren.
Even if you're an arch conservative cotton farmer in Alabama, how does it help you that decisions about whether we send your children to college or to war are unjustifiably disproportionately influenced by a bunch of retired Giuliani-era East Coast elites with no connection to the future? Wouldn't you at least want to be able to cast your own vote and have it mean something, rather than blindly assuming that newly Floridian retired state employees from Jersey and Queens will necessarily have interests that coincide with your own?
I think I said that. That's not the only thing it does. When it comes to Texas there's the idea that they might get a bigger share of the ad cash but this is in conflict with generally worse chances for the GOP candidates.
A better idea for a red state looking for ad cash would be to team up with one or more blue states of similar total size and move to an honest proportional EV system. The cash wouldn't be diluted as much either (at least initially).
By 'honest' I mean not the sorts of hijinks the GOP is trying out in VA (and elsewhere) where Obama would win the state vote and lose 2/3 of the electors. The problem there again is sooner or later some state get's kingmaker power by changing back to plurality = all evs.
Again, it's not about parties, it's about policies. The long-term average will always be for each major party to win about half the time because if they don't they'll change their policies until they do. The question is what policies they'll adopt in order to do it -- and if your vote doesn't count, whether you're Texas or New York, your voice isn't the ones they'll be listening to when deciding what policies to adopt. What good does it do a Texas social conservative to elect a GOP candidate like Mitt Romney?
I'm not sure what your point is. Where he differs from Obama, Romney's positions are nigh-universally closer to those of Texas social conservatives aren't they? What is the biggest issue for Texas social conservatives? Abortion? What office that a Texas social conservative votes for has more impact on the future of this issue than POTUS? Would Romney's Supreme Court nominees presumably be better or worse than Obama's from the POV of Texas social conservatives?
Demographically, the USA is transitioning to a Democratic super majority every where but in the US House (because of gerrymandering).
Long term, the parties will realign along the new normal, as the country moves back to the left.
The reason is Duverger's Law. With winner takes all form of elections, the political spectrum will always split into two parties, as each tries to attain the smallest winning coalition.
In other words, no matter how big the pie, it's always split in two.
(The parties might even switch "polarities", for lack of a better word. As they've done approx every 70 years for the first 229 years. Seeing how conservative Democrats have become, there's a huge void in the political left. It's be easy for a reborn Republican party to reinvent itself to fill that void.)
Yes but at any given point in time it's always the case that change X will generally favor party Y and party Y's states aren't going to favor for change X. They won't vote for it and if they previously had that is likely to be undone.
That's the story of politics. The electioneering never stops.
The last 16 years (to pick a time frame) Republicans have been masterful at moving the needle to favor them. And it's worked. They punch way above their weight. But a correction is inevitable. And it'll hurt.
Just like how the left peaked in the mid 70s, kept power for a while longer than the country supported them, and then had their teeth kicked in.
But what rubs me about all the electioneering is the emphasis on the mechanics. There is a third player: the voters. Fair redistricting, publicly financed campaigns, universal voter registration, etc. would all favor voters and piss of the political parties. Because the candidates would have to focus more on platform and policy, less on GOTV.
MYTH: A national popular vote would undermine a partisan advantage in favor of the Republican Party in the small states.
The small state issue sometimes serves as a surrogate for the unstated political concern (and misconception) that the small states confer a partisan advantage in favor of the Republican Party. However, this belief does not reflect current political reality. In the last six presidential elections (1988 through 2008), six of the 13 least populous states have regularly gone Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), while six others (Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, and the District of Columbia) have regularly gone Democratic. New Hampshire has been, in recent years, the one closely divided battleground state among the 13 smallest states (having supported the Democrat in 1992 and 1996, the Republican in 2000, and the Democrat in 2004 and 2008).
An attempt to change the “rules of the game” contrary to clause 2 of Article IV
● would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and be void;
● would violate existing federal law specifying that presidential electors may only
be appointed on one specific day in every four-year period, namely the Tuesday
after the first Monday in November (i.e., election day);
● would invalidate the “conclusiveness” of that state’s results under existing
federal law specifying that presidential electors must be appointed under
“laws enacted prior” to the Tuesday after the first Monday in November;
"MYTH: A national popular vote would undermine a partisan advantage in favor of the Republican Party in the small states.
... In the last six presidential elections (1988 through 2008), six of the 13 least populous states."
Obviously they're cherry picking here and framing their argument and "myth" around the statistic that looks the closest. What if we look at the biggest states? What if we look at the smallest 8 or 16 or 22 instead of 13?
What if we did something simple and honest and looked at the percentage of votes (or possible voters) of all states vs the percentage of electoral votes of all states? Going back to 2000 for a basically tied election we find that 31 states gain via the electoral college, 6 of them are purplish (<10%), 7 are blue and 19 are red states. If we weight by eligible voting population I suspect it's even worse.
You're assuming that what matters is which party wins rather than how the voters influence what the parties do. There is a reason that Floridians got Medicare Part D and Ohioans got the auto bailout but Monsanto continues to be allowed to rape family farmers in all the deep red states.
And Michigan? I think it borders on conspiracy theory to suggest that, on the precipice of a large depression, no bailout would have been issued to save a 3 million job industry had those jobs been centered in red states.
"family farmers in all the deep red states"
There are no family farmers anymore. Let me rephrase that, there are almost no family farmers anymore. This has nothing to do with them being from red states (trust me, farmers in Hawaii get screwed by Monsanto just like everywhere else) and everything to do with there not being many of them.
Michigan is a swing state too. And the auto industry didn't fail because of the recession. The recession was just the last straw. They've been slowly dying for decades as a result of strong competition from foreign competitors. But that's the case across all traditional manufacturing industries. Why did we bail out General Motors but not any of the companies that used to make all the Walmart inventory that now comes from China?
>There are no family farmers anymore.
Because the Department of Agriculture and the president's veto pen had no incentive to care when they were being destroyed.
Never said it did.
"Why did we bail out General Motors but not any of the companies that used to make all the Walmart inventory that now comes from China?"
I already explained because the auto collapse came as we were staring down the barrel of a huge depression. It would have been a devastating shock to the economy to have an industry of that size collapsing suddenly added to the other problems.
Actually, at least in the USA's current configuration, the electoral college appears to favor Democrats. A tie or small Romney win in the national popular vote, for instance, would have more likely than not equated to an Obama win.
I think it's genuinely about ideology, here: favoring the will of the people over the historically contingent existence of the electoral college is making a kind of ideological statement. The kind that appeals to many liberals and is a turn-off to conservatives.
The electoral college has several distortions. The big one and it's raison d'etre is that it distributes power towards rural states and away from population centers. There's little question which party that favors.
Now it's certainly possible that Romney could have won the popular vote and lost the electoral college due to the first past the post distortion that dilutes big majorities. But that really says more about the relative competence of the two campaigns then it does about whether the electoral college structurally favors the Democrats. Romney clearly needed to run quite a bit farther to the middle than he did.
One way to evaluate claims like these is by looking at an extreme comparison:
Alternate World 1: red states are split into mini-versions of themselves the size of a single CD, a more than doubling of their electoral value. Ignoring effects on the Senate of course, this is just a test of POTUS electoral procedure.
Alternate World 2: 25 very red and 25 very blue states of combined identical population are subject to the whims of a single swing district that is right in the middle of the spectrum.
It should be obvious that the sorts of presidents you get in world 2 look a lot more like those in popular vote world than the ones you'd get in world 1. Actually we might expect that the liberal candidates in world 1 are nearly to the right of the conservative candidates in world 2.
Do you remember the year 2000 at all?
It comes down to the fact that anti-Obama voters were wasted in very red states that Romney had zero chance of losing, while Obama's popular support was better distributed among both blue and swing states.
From the website: "The National Popular Vote law has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it."
From Wikipedia, for additional explanation: "The agreement is to go into effect only when the participating states that have joined the compact together have an absolute majority in the Electoral College. . . . Until the compact is joined by states with a majority of electoral votes, all states will continue to award their electoral votes in their current manner."
I initially thought that the first quote was saying that the national popular vote had gotten to 49% of the 50% of the total pool of electoral votes needed to activate it, but no, that's not what it says. It currently has about 24.5% of the total pool of electoral votes.
MYTH: Only the big states would matter under a national popular vote.
If anyone is genuinely concerned about the possibility that a candidate could win the Presidency in a nationwide popular vote by winning 100% of the popular vote in the 11 largest states, they should note that the situation is even worse under the current system. Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the popular vote in the 11 largest states. That is, under the current system, it is possible for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's popular votes.
What's the difference really? Take Civil Rights for example. The Senate held this up against popular will for at least a decade, and arguably much longer, but we did thankfully finally get the Voting Rights Act and the Civils Right Act, and I would argue that Slavery and Civil Rights were a special case of growing pains that the country had to go through, and not a reason to change the whole structure of government.
I think it's obvious that the authors of the constitution purposely created our government with with built-in dampers against simple majority rule, and I would be very hesitant to remove them.
This is not the case in the Presidential election; the President is supposed to represent all Americans, and yet when campaign season comes around we get maps that look like this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/11/01/163632378...
Unless you live in DC. We get disenfranchised there, too.