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Cube Jockey
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A coalition of former congressmen is launching a campaign to change how Americans select their president by reforming the Electoral College system, saying campaigns for the White House should be reliant on the nationwide popular vote rather than simply the outcome in a handful of swing states.

The bipartisan group plans to announce its proposal Thursday and begin a state-by-state effort to amend the Electoral College so the winner reflects the view of the country instead of an individual state or two with a close vote on Election Day. The plan would seek to eliminate the possibility of a candidate winning the popular vote but losing the election, as happened to former Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

"The time is long past to not play Electoral College roulette every four years," former Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., said in an interview. "It is a throwback to 1887."

The plan, called the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, will be unveiled in Washington by Bayh; former Rep. John Anderson, R-Ill.; and other former members of Congress. The effort begins in Illinois, where legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly, followed by California and other states.


The expected benefit is as follows:
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"The presidency becomes an irrelevant thing to two-thirds of the union," said Anderson, who was a congressman for 20 years and ran for president in 1980 as an independent. "All the people ought to decide, but now most states are tossed on the scrap heap and ignored" because Democratic or Republican candidates consistently win electoral votes in some states, thus effectively disenfranchising voters on the losing side in those states.

Previous attempts to change the Electoral College by amending the Constitution have failed in Congress, so proponents of reform are seeking to change laws through individual state legislatures. The initiative does not seek to abolish the Electoral College, but rather award the electors from each state to the candidate who wins the country's popular vote.

Read the full article.

Edited to add: Here is their website.

Questions for debate:
1. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? Why or why not?

2. Do you believe that it is possible for this proposal to succeed?
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Amlord
This comes up from time to time. It has some merit, depending upon how you see the Republic and whether or not small states issues matter.

This specific proposal will never succeed.

QUOTE
The initiative does not seek to abolish the Electoral College, but rather award the electors from each state to the candidate who wins the country's popular vote.


It is asking each state to ignore the results in its state and go with what is popular nationally. I doubt any states will adopt this, even big ones (the ones who generally wish for electoral college reform). Unless all states pass this simultaneously, no one will believe the other states will follow suit. If a state legislator proposed this, he'd probably be laughed out of the statehouse.

Remember, all politics is local. Giving up local control to the will of the national whole will not sell in Des Moines or Bismark or any other small city. It especially would not sell in the South, where states rights continues to be a big issue.
AuthorMusician
1. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? Why or why not?

I agree because minority presidents don't work out well. The idea of giving out political power by states rather than by vote count is a bad compromise from back when the Union was not as strong. As it stands today, no state seriously considers leaving the Union due to the action having more disadvantages than advantages.

The EC negates votes. It does not strengthen the democracy or republic.

2. Do you believe that it is possible for this proposal to succeed?

Yeah, it's just taking the bad old compromise and making it what it should have been in the first place, which is a state of non-existence. Just tally the popular vote and be done with it. One person, one vote, every vote counts. This will:

- Encourage people to vote
- Eliminate minority presidents
- Avoid USSC presidential appointments
- Reduce government bureaucracies
- Bring power back toward the people
- Change the way that campaigns are run where only a few states get attention
- Make campaigns more interesting

This way the voter in Wyoming will have the same say as the voter in New York or LA. As it stands now, Wyoming is ignored. In a close race, every single vote will be important, and so the campaign messages will need to appeal to as many people as possible, not just a few state populations.

Consider swing states on this issue. What if the notion of swing states becomes obsolete? I'd like to see that happen. Our president should be the person voted into office, not the one whose campaign works the system the best.
Sleeper
QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Feb 24 2006, 09:03 AM)

This way the voter in Wyoming will have the same say as the voter in New York or LA. As it stands now, Wyoming is ignored. In a close race, every single vote will be important, and so the campaign messages will need to appeal to as many people as possible, not just a few state populations.

Consider swing states on this issue. What if the notion of swing states becomes obsolete? I'd like to see that happen. Our president should be the person voted into office, not the one whose campaign works the system the best.
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So you really think presidential hopefuls will care about states like Wyoming in a national election if it was entirely decided by popular vote?

Can you seriously tell me if you were advising somebody on their campaign strategy you would tell them to goto Wyoming over say Georgia(which has a population 17 times greater than Wyoming).
crashfourit
QUOTE(Amlord)
It is asking each state to ignore the results in its state and go with what is popular nationally. I doubt any states will adopt this, even big ones (the ones who generally wish for electoral college reform). Unless all states pass this simultaneously, no one will believe the other states will follow suit. If a state legislator proposed this, he'd probably be laughed out of the statehouse.

Remember, all politics is local. Giving up local control to the will of the national whole will not sell in Des Moines or Bismark or any other small city. It especially would not sell in the South, where states rights continues to be a big issue.


I have serious doubts that this would happen. Amlord is correct that all politics are local. It is quite possible that the Maine/Nebraska system would be implemented nation wide than this. Although, the problem of gerrymandering would have to be reasonably solved first and maybe the size of the house increased too. However, that is a topic for another debate. thumbsup.gif
smorpheus
QUOTE(Sleeper @ Feb 24 2006, 07:23 AM)
So you really think presidential hopefuls will care about states like Wyoming in a national election if it was entirely decided by popular vote? 

Can you seriously tell me if you were advising somebody on their campaign strategy you would tell them to goto Wyoming over say Georgia(which has a population 17 times greater than Wyoming).
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I'm not really sure what you mean. Wyoming's 3 electoral college votes already don't warrant a trip from a presidential campaign. I grew up in Rhode Island, and I can attest the closest we ever got to a presidential visit while growing up was a visit from Kitty Dukakis. I think this argument doesn't hold water. Even small states which are swing votes (unlike Wyoming in most elections), generally at best are going to get much more than a vist from the Vice President.

I also have never fully understood the logic that presidential candidates should be campaigning towards states and not the populations? I understand that switching to the popular vote would likely give cities a signficant boost in power during the election, but since cities contain the most people per square mile, isn't this just logical?

I agree with AMLord, that without some sort of major shifts in the ideology, the change to the popular vote will unfortunately probably never come to pass.
Julian
QUOTE(Sleeper @ Feb 24 2006, 04:23 PM)
QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Feb 24 2006, 09:03 AM)

This way the voter in Wyoming will have the same say as the voter in New York or LA. As it stands now, Wyoming is ignored. In a close race, every single vote will be important, and so the campaign messages will need to appeal to as many people as possible, not just a few state populations.

Consider swing states on this issue. What if the notion of swing states becomes obsolete? I'd like to see that happen. Our president should be the person voted into office, not the one whose campaign works the system the best.
*



So you really think presidential hopefuls will care about states like Wyoming in a national election if it was entirely decided by popular vote?

Can you seriously tell me if you were advising somebody on their campaign strategy you would tell them to goto Wyoming over say Georgia(which has a population 17 times greater than Wyoming).
*




Well, look at the share of votes in the last two presidential elections. The margin of victory has been small (<10%) both times, less than 3% in 2000).

Unless you know something I don't - which is entirely possible on this issue, and an absolute certainty generally - there's no reason to suppose that people will vote very differently in a share-of-vote election versus a electoral college one (except maybe by turning out in greater numbers).

So, if it's credible that an election could come down to 3 to 5% of the vote making the difference between winning and losing, a candidate who missed out ANY of the 50 states in a share-of-vote election would risk losing unnecessarily. In an electoral college election, they'll just do what they've always done, and stick to the ones with lots of EC votes and/or lots of swing potential.

As things stand, the EC system just makes life easier for the candidates, as they only have to campaign hard in a handful of swing states plus a couple of big important ones with lots of college votes, rather than all 50.
srobert
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1.  Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?  Why or why not?

I disagree with it. In the legislative branch of government we have both a House and Senate. The house is proportional representation for people of the country. In the Senate, the people of each state have equal representation to the people of each other state. This arrangement was made to prevent a "tyranny of the majority" so that states with large populations would not be able to impose unfairly upon states with small populations.
In the executive branch of government, the electoral college assures that the President and Vice President are selected by a body having the same proportion of representation as that of the Congress. This encourages the Presidential candidates to attenuate a natural inclination to favor the electorate who live in heavily populated states, against the interest of those who live in sparsely populated states. It is appropriate that this protection for those in sparsely populated states continue to exist in both the legislative and executive branches of government.
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2.  Do you believe that it is possible for this proposal to succeed?

Because this proposal requires a Constitutional amendment that requires approval of 2/3 of the Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures, I can assure you that this proposal will not succeed. Most of the population living in largely populated states will favor this, but those who live in smaller states will quickly recognize that this proposal is against their interests. In recent Presidential elections, my own state of Nevada, received considerable attention from each of the major candidates, despite having only 5 electoral votes. This 5 out of the total number of electoral votes was still considerably larger in proportion than the population of the state to the population of the country. Without the electoral college, the people of this state are well aware that the candidates would have considered our views as being inconsequential. I'm sure that residents in other small states share this awareness. In short the debate is a waste of time.
Naythong
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Because this proposal requires a Constitutional amendment that requires approval of 2/3 of the Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures, I can assure you that this proposal will not succeed.


Just to correct that, the Campaign for a National Popular Vote apparently realizes that to take that route (i.e. 2/3 of Congress, 3/4 of state legislatures to Constitutionally amend) would be impossible and they are hoping to convince state legislatures, one by one, the pledge their electoral votes to the national winner of the popular vote. This is totally legit b/c as the recent Bush v. Gore case (among a billion other precedent cases) showed the state legislatures have plenary power when it comes to appointing electors. Then, as the theory goes, as long as enough states pledge, say 12 or 13 or whatever is needed for a majority of the 538 electoral votes, then the popular vote becomes the standard across the nation, regardless of whether or not those other 38 or 37 states (or whatever the number) have made that pledge.

That doesn't address any problems or political issues that could obviously be raised re: whether this will be able to be accomplished, but only shows that those arguing on behalf of this theory recognize the impossibility of getting a Constitutional amendment but hope, thru Art II Sec 1, to bypass the necessity of such an amendment.
Politaca
1. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? Why or why not?

Now that we have the technology to do so, I think that we should change the system and stick to the popular vote. It is the most democratic way to calculate a winner and their have been far too many problems lately with the electoral system.




2. Do you believe that it is possible for this proposal to succeed?

Probably not since the electoral system is a pillar of our Presidential election system and we have a hard time breaking tradition.
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VDemosthenes
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Feb 23 2006, 04:38 PM)
Questions for debate:
1.  Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?  Why or why not?

2.  Do you believe that it is possible for this proposal to succeed?

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1.) While I will not fail to see the logic and beauty in the proposal I cannot give it my support since the event of which they speak of and hope to eliminate has only occurred in the history of American presidential elections twice.

2.) Anything's possible. I think people in America who are still interested in America will love the idea of the country actually becoming a republic instead of some pseudo-republic. More power in the people's hands is what this country was intended to operate under. Not some odd way of electing a president with the people's vote being a guideline and not an actual indicator.




BornInZion
If this proposal were to happen, the presidential campaigns would concentrate on California, New York and Florida. Finally the farm lobby can be ignored! No more kowtowing to Big Labor! The concerns of rural America no longer have any place in the national debate.
Presidents will represent urban America rather than all Americans.
The present system protects the interests of the less populated states from missing out in having a say in the national conversation.
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