Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: The Electoral College debate, once more with feeling

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  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2012 11:56 p.m.

    There are dangers of democracy. Our founding fathers knew this though there was some admitted debate. I really could care less about these state by state polls. It doesn't make something right. If we let people vote on everything then we might still have segregation in the south. Letting people vote on things can be dangerous or somewhat humorous like in 1976 when Playboy subscribers voted Karen Carpenter as a better drummer than John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). Now I'm not against people voting, don't get me wrong. But our founding fathers did put some "filters of consent" in our government as a protection from the people. Some of these filters have been removed such as allowing people to vote for Senators rather than decided by the legislatures. In this case it was done by Constitutional AMENDMENT. I am okay with that because amending the constitution does take a lot of work. It takes not just a majority but a 2/3 majority in Congress and a 3/4 majority by state legislature (as one of four possible methods). Thus any good idea must really prove its merits rather than just be by a simple plurality vote.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2012 1:13 a.m.

    By 1796 and 1800, partly due to political party influence, and because the public didn't want the US House to decide the election a movement to change happened and under the 12th amendment this was changed. One reason was to make sure the President and the Vice President could run together. The change made it so the electors would almost always reach a majority and therefore cast the final vote, and because of that, most states have now required that the elector vote based on which party they represent. Utah requires that an elector be replaced if they do not vote per party.

    Under the current system, Utah having 6 votes instead of 4 gives us a slight edge over population.

    While the current system doesn't work as originally intended, there is still some balance favoring smaller states, just barely enough to encourage candidates to campaign throughout most of the country. If the Popular Vote Compact were to succeed, I believe that would be eliminated and I also believe the cities with the most population would be the locations where campaigning would occur, making the situation of ignoring parts of the country even worse.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2012 1:11 a.m.

    The US Constitution provided for a balance between small population states and large ones. This is one of the reasons for the Senate having 2 per state and the House being divided based on population.

    The current US Presidential Electoral System keeps part of that concept so that voters in California, New York, and a few others do not decide who is elected, ignoring the rest of the country.

    The original system was designed to that the electors nominated two candidates, one not from their state, and unless there was a candidate nominated by the majority of electors, the voting for president out of the top 5 nominees was done by the US House of Representatives, one vote per state. If two candidates received a majority of electors, the House would decide between just the two. Basically, the loser of the top two became the Vice President, who would take over if something happened to the President. The elector college system protected every state from being ignored.

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Aug. 12, 2012 11:09 p.m.

    In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% have supported the current system of awarding all a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state

    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and every demographic group. AK -70%, DC -76%, DE --75%, ID -77%, ME - 77%, MT- 72%, NE - 74%, NH--69%, NE - 72%, NM - 76%, RI - 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT - 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

    In the lowest population states, the NPV bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

    In total, it has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states, and been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Aug. 12, 2012 11:00 p.m.

    Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.-- Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912, and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

    The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

    With both the current system and National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the EC, set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

    The Republic is not in any danger from NPV. It has nothing to do with pure democracy. In a pure democracy, people vote on policy initiatives directly. With NPV citizens continue to elect the President by a majority of Electoral College votes by states, to represent us and conduct the business of government in the periods between elections.

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Aug. 12, 2012 10:48 p.m.

    More than 2/3rds of states and Americans -- 200 million -- are ignored by campaigns.

    Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states aren't as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    With the Electoral College and federalism, the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interests within the confines of the Constitution. National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it.

    States have the responsibility and power to make all their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond.

    The U.S. Constitution says "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The Supreme Court has characterized the authority of state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

    When NPV is enacted by states possessing the majority of electoral votes, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country.

    The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether electors are selected along state boundary lines, or national lines.

  • oldgulph VILLANOVA, PA
    Aug. 12, 2012 10:28 p.m.

    A survey of Utah voters showed 70% overall support for the idea that the President should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

    Support,by political affiliation, was 82% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, and 75% among others. By gender, support was 78% among women and 60% among men.

    Utah generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state.

    With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.
    The population of the top five cities (NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the U.S., and the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 19%.
    Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

    If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 12, 2012 8:16 p.m.

    The 1932 elections in Germany should show us the dangers of national plurality elections. Heck, many of these post World War II countries with coalition governments should show us the dangerous of plurality elections on a national level.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Aug. 12, 2012 2:11 p.m.

    Strange that a "republic" would keep trying so hard to spread "democracy" abroad.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Aug. 12, 2012 1:38 p.m.

    Whether the Electoral College is a good thing or not is irrelevant. Changing it would require a Constitutional Amendment, and that ain't happening, folks.

  • BASavage Orem, UT
    Aug. 12, 2012 11:16 a.m.

    I've seen this many times from members of both parties. The Electorial College is a good thing. It keeps the republic strong. Only twice has the electorial college declared the presidency. Each time if we did not have the electorial college we would have been forced in to a nation wide re-count taking months and perhaps leading to a complete re-vote. Despite what we may say this nation is a free democratically elected Republic, not a democracy.

  • watchman Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 12, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    Frank and LaVarr. I thought I knew all the arguments for and against the Electoral College but you have presented me with more.

    A very interesting subject but I still am in line with LaVarr on the issue.

    Thanks for your regular discussions on good issues.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 12, 2012 7:47 a.m.

    We seem to have forgotten that the President is the President of the United STATES. Each State chooses who they want to represent them to the world. The people of each State vote to choose their electors who will vote for someone to represent their State and to preside when issues concerning ALL of the States are considered.

    What kinds of issues should concern the President? Defense. Interstate Commerce. The things that are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution; the things that the STATES require in order to function UNITEDLY; after all, we are the UNITED STATES of America.

    What kinds of issues should the State be concerned with? Anything that touches us personally that are too large for an individual that fall outside of the enumerated duties of the Federal Government.

    States have abdicated their responsibility to the people. Corrupt politicians have seized on that opportunity to enlarge their (supposed) federal authority.

    The electoral college should remind us of the true order of Government in a Republic.

    Those who want to abandon the electoral college want to abandon our entire form of government - they want a king.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 12, 2012 12:55 a.m.

    Good points, LaVarr. Well said. We shouldn't change the Electoral College.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Aug. 12, 2012 12:28 a.m.

    The electoral college was the best political technology they had at the time to convey the people's wishes to a centralized government. But it's time to democratize democracy.

    Several forms of direct democracy have been practiced since 500BC. As long as provisions are made for personal freedoms that can't be undone by s majority I don't see the problem. We have the technology, use it.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 12, 2012 12:10 a.m.

    If you look up election results for our earliest presidential elections, under popular vote it will say: Unknown. That's because there wasn't one. Only the electors voted for president. That's how our founders designed the system. The way we do it now bears scant resemblance to the original design.