How Electoral College Cheats Democracy

Exclusive: A shadow over Donald Trump’s “election” is the fact that Hillary Clinton appears headed toward a significant plurality of the national popular vote, a quirk from the archaic Electoral College, notes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

The election commentary now filling the Internet seems distinctly out of touch. Many analysts are castigating Hillary Clinton for all the things she did wrong, her failure to connect with white workers in the Rust Belt, her inability to sufficiently rally blacks, and so on. Or they’re criticizing the American people for falling for a racist, sexist know-nothing like Donald Trump.

But these critics are ignoring the elephant in the parlor. The simple fact is that Americans didn’t elect Trump. An ancient relic known as the Electoral College did. For better or worse, a plurality of the people voted for Hillary Clinton.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Indeed, her margin of victory is turning out to be bigger than many imagined. The latest count by the Associated Press has her ahead by about a half million popular votes, or Clinton’s 48 percent to Trump’s 47 percent. That’s about the same as George W. Bush’s losing margin in 2000 before a judicial coup d’état propelled him into office.

But Nate Cohen of The New York Times’s “Upshot” team is predicting that by the time all mail-in, absentee, and provisional ballots are counted, it will end up even bigger, i.e., as high as 2.2 million, or 1.7 percent. That’s ten times John F. Kennedy’s margin of victory in 1960 and four times Richard Nixon’s in 1968.

If true, then Clinton will not only have won in terms of the popular vote, she will have won big (or as Trump might say “bigly” or “big league” depending on how you decipher one of his favorite expressions). Yet thanks to an obscure constitutional quirk, she’s not the one going to the White House. Instead, an orange-haired reality TV star is so that he possibly can do to the United States what he did to his own real-estate empire, i.e. drive it into bankruptcy.

A Failure of Democracy

Three things seem clear as a consequence. One is that America has a major problem on its hands. After all, this is the second time in 16 years that the people (or at least a plurality of the people) have been robbed of their choice for president. And both times political democracy has suffered a major body blow as a consequence. How much more abuse the democratic process can take without succumbing entirely is now open to question.

An artist's rendering of the Constitutional Convention in 1787

An artist’s rendering of the Constitutional Convention in 1787

A second thing is that no one has foggiest idea how to fix it. A third is that the ruling elite and its minions in the chattering classes don’t give a damn because, in contrast to the population at large, they benefit from the breakdown (it’s much easier to control a demoralized population that has lost faith in the value of democracy) and are therefore eager to sweep the entire issue under the rug. So let’s take these issues on one at a time and see where they lead.

First, the problem. The Electoral College is a very Eighteenth-Century affair, an example of what happens when New World pragmatism combines with the Age of Reason’s love affair with ancient Rome. Faced with a tentative new republic in which “democracy” tended to be limited, local and individualist, the Framers concluded that a special body of elite electors was needed to hold the country together and ensure that a solid leader like George Washington took the reins.

The decision may not have been unreasonable given the exigencies of the day. (The proposed Constitution was a radical departure from the Articles of Confederation, which made the states supreme. The Constitution shifted sovereignty to “We the People,” but the states, especially the small ones, still wanted a significant role in the new hybrid system.)

Unexpected Problems

But 230 years later, the device has turned out to have unexpected consequences. By awarding one vote for every senator and representative that a state sends to Washington, it triples the clout of demographic Lilliputians like Wyoming (population 586,107, according to the most recent estimate) at the expense of multi-racial giants like California (population 39.1 million). By forcing presidential candidates to concentrate on a handful of swing states, it sidelines Democratic strongholds like California or New York along with Republican bastions such as Indiana or the Deep South.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in an MSNBC interview.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in an MSNBC interview.

It also effectively cancels out millions of votes. Since Clinton carried New York State by 59 percent, it means that out of the 4.1 million people who voted her, some 632,000 might just as well have stayed home. Since she carried California by 61 percent, more than a million Golden State residents could have done the same.

Since it makes it possible to rack up a majority of electoral votes by winning a plurality in a surprisingly small number of state contests, one reform group has calculated that a candidate could conceivably win with as little as 30 percent of the popular vote overall. Indeed, if a third party makes a strong showing, it could even be less since all the winning candidate would have to do is win a 34-percent plurality in as few as 16 states.

As farfetched as such arithmetic may be, it shows how readily the two kinds of votes, electoral and popular, can diverge. The tighter the contest, moreover, the greater the chance that they will, which is why they did so in 2000 when Al Gore and George W. Bush were running neck-and-neck and again in 2016 when the race proved unexpectedly close. Rather than resolving differences fair and square, it’s a process all but designed to leave the majority (or a plurality) feeling cheated and scorned when races are hardest fought.

Undercounting Urban Voters

The Electoral College also tips the balance in favor of the Right by penalizing urban giants like California or New York, where ten times as many people ride the subways each day as live in all of Wyoming. Where Hispanics and racial minorities account for 44 percent of the ten most populous states, they account for less than 30 percent of the ten least. Yet it’s the latter who benefit.

A protest placard at a rally in New York, April 19, 2016. (Photo by The All-Nite Images Flickr)

A protest placard at a rally in New York, April 19, 2016. (Photo by The All-Nite Images Flickr)

This is unfair, undemocratic, and downright racist. But it’s also counterproductive because it prevents government from addressing human needs where they are most likely to occur, i.e. in crowded cities or traffic-snarled suburbs rather than in the Big Sky country of Montana where hardly anyone lives and cows outnumber people by better than two to one.

Not that the Electoral College is the only institution that shamelessly flouts the principle of one person-one vote. The Senate is even worse since it gives equal weight to California and Wyoming even though the former’s population is some 67 times greater. But not only do two wrongs not make a right, but it turns out that Democratic senatorial candidates collectively outpolled Republicans on Tuesday as well by 45.2 million to 39.3. But so inequitable is the system that the GOP still wound up with a 51-seat majority.

Something must be done, which brings us to problem number two: the solution. The answer is that nothing can be done because, under the current system, the tools to fix it do not exist. In 2006, a Stanford computer science professor named John Koza came up with a clever scheme to sidestep the Electoral College by calling on each state to pledge its electoral votes to whoever won the popular tally. Once states accounting for a majority of electoral votes – as few as 16 as we have seen – signed on, it would be a done deal.

But after ten states plus the District of Columbia lined up behind Koza’s reform, the movement stalled. One reason is that Republican states have no incentive to support a reform that clearly reduces their clout. Another is that swing states are even less inclined since they reap real-life rewards from their role as presidential battlegrounds. So the idea of democratizing the Electoral College appears to be a dead end.

No Way Out 

That leaves reform via a constitutional amendment. But this is the unlikeliest of all thanks to an arcane amending process that requires two-thirds of each house plus three-fourths of the states to approve any change, no matter how minor. The first is a non-starter since Republicans control both the House and Senate, while the second is even worse since it allows just 13 states to block any reform sought by the remainder.

U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Capitol.

Thirteen micro-population states representing as little as 4.4 percent of Americans are not likely to do away with an arrangement that augments their own power. By the year 2030, they’ll be even less likely since their share of the population by that point will have shrunk to just 3.5 percent, according to Census Bureau projections.

Unfairness thus appears to be locked in – not for years or decades but for as long as the current constitutional arrangement persists.

Which brings us to item number three: the role of the political elite. As The New York Times pointed out on Friday, Clinton criticized the Electoral College during the “battle of Florida” in November 2000.

“I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people,” she said, “and to me that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.”

Twelve years later, Trump lashed out at it as well, tweeting that it is “a disaster for a democracy.”

This time around, the silence is deafening. Trump didn’t mention it since he is obviously loath to quarrel with an arrangement that put him over the top. But Clinton said nothing in her concession speech about outpolling her opponent either. Why not?

One reason is that she had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution as senator and had then invoked it too many times on the campaign trail to talk about changing the rules now that they had gone against her. But another is that any mention would lead to questions about how such an outmoded and inequitable system had been allowed to persist 16 years after the political disaster of Bush v. Gore.

Why did the politicians fail to fix a system that is so obviously broken or – for that matter – even take any initial steps? How could they be so lax? These are questions that Clinton now finds inconvenient because she knows there is no easy answer, so she held her tongue. Her devotion to the constitutional status quo outweighs her loyalty to the plurality of Americans who voted for her. (One can only imagine how Trump and his angry supporters would have reacted if Trump triumphed in the popular vote but was denied the presidency. One might assume that he would cite that fact as proof that the system was “rigged.”)

Losing Credibility

But the problem is not going away. The system is, in fact, collapsing before our eyes. Elections are a mess because they’re in the hands of thousands of state and county officials with their own special rules and procedures – not because a system like this makes sense (it obviously doesn’t), but because that’s what the Framers decreed (or didn’t anticipate) and no one knows how to change it.

President James Madison, an architect of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but also a Virginia slave owner.

President James Madison, an architect of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but also a Virginia slave owner.

Congress is frozen and corrupt while democratic accountability is nonexistent in an age of filibusters and anonymous Senate “holds” allowing a single legislator to prevent certain actions, such as confirmation votes for senior officials, from reaching the floor. Poland disappeared from the map in 1795 because a bizarre “liberum veto” allowed gave each senator power to block any bill and thus throw the entire government into paralysis. Yet today’s Senate “holds” allow individual legislators to do much the same.

Meanwhile, the only thing worse than a rightwing thug like Trump is a rightwing thug whose legitimacy is in question and who therefore can be counted on to turn even more thuggish by way of compensation.

Something should be done but nothing will be because the Founders had no idea that the system would last as long as it has and therefore neglected to include a workable toolkit with which to perform the necessary repairs. It’s not a pretty picture. But it will not get any better until the people face the problem of how to fix it on their own.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

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116 comments for “How Electoral College Cheats Democracy

  1. Chuck
    November 20, 2016 at 11:39 am

    The Electoral College was put in place to ensure the same representation by each state as they get in congress. # house members + 2 senators. It’s to ensure against the “tyranny of the majority” as John Adams called it in 1783. I’m 100% in favor of keeping it. I thought that way when my candidate Gore lost in 2000 and I still feel that way today.

  2. Leo
    November 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    The good news is that there is a way out:
    http://www.yescalifornia.org/
    since it is impossible to correct the 1780’s constitutional mistakes
    the only way is to dismantle the Union, and resurrect it in a 21 century way

  3. Daddio7
    November 15, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Too late now but next election California and New York could send their excess voters to those small states and have them live there long enough to establish residence and register to vote. After they do their duty and turn the nation they can flee back to the city secure that they now control those rubes. The new president can then legalize all the millions of undocumented workers already living there so come next election the city dwellers don’t have to leave their comfy apartments.

  4. November 15, 2016 at 1:14 am

    What! We are doomed in Nigeria. So the so called perfect democracy isn’t after all. What are we complaining about here then? I need be enlightened, are votes not equal? with a weight of 1? Add both populist to electoral college’s and tally it directly. So that 10 and 8 plus 2 and 3 equals 12 and 11 for instance. Is there anything wrong with that mathematics? Since one man, one vote supposedly equals democracy; where everyone is equal and all votes are supposed to count. #JustMulling. I stand corrected. I was privilege to watch live that of Al gore and Bush, I have been skeptical of American democracy since then too. So America is not perfect too? OK, I see!

  5. Evangelista
    November 14, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Consider the following; it is quoted from Jim Quinn (The Burning Platform):

    “Clinton won the popular vote by about 630,000. Jabba the Hutt (aka Michael Moore) and the diverse left wing shrews on MSNBC and CNN are outraged that white deplorables stole the election from their little crook. A little perspective reveals a different picture. You back out the popular vote margin in those six socialist states and Trump wins the popular vote by over 6 million votes. The Hollywood and NYC elites, along with their Hilbots, think the votes of six states should override the overwhelming landslide achieved by Trump in the other 44 states.

    Isn’t it funny how the left wing media were outraged when Trump said he wouldn’t agree to the outcome before seeing the vote. Now they question the outcome based on no facts or basis for argument.
    Trump popular vote – 60,351,240
    Clinton popular vote – 60,981,118
    Clinton’s popular vote margin- 629,878
    LIBERAL BASTION CLINTON STATE MARGINS
    California – 2,746,562
    New York – 1,503,304
    Illinois – 859,319
    Maryland – 624,305
    New Jersey – 486,243
    Washington – 480,072
    Clinton’s liberal bastion state margin – 6,699,805
    TRUMP’S POPULAR VOTE MARGIN IN OTHER 44 STATES – 6,069,927 ”

    Does that help explain why the framers of the U.S. Constitution framed the way they framed, with an electoral college component?
    Remember, the Constitutional United States is a Republic, NOT a Democracy.

    All the hooting about ‘democracy’ in America is irrelevant.  Unless the United States’ Constitutionally framed form of government has been changed into something else by ones The People entrusted to look after things, while they, The People, went about their own other businesses.  Is this what has happened?  If it is, the changers are guilty of Treason.

    • Laurence Kennedy
      November 15, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Well said……wish I had read your post before sending my reply to Otto

  6. otto
    November 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes.
    No more handful of ‘battleground’ states (where the two major political parties happen to have similar levels of support among voters) where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 38+ predictable states that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    The bill was approved this year by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
    The bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia, Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California, Colorado (9), Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
    The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country

    NationalPopularVote

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Trump, November 13, 2016, on 60 Minutes
      “ I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play.

      • Laurence Kennedy
        November 15, 2016 at 7:18 am

        Precisely….Otto….Hillary only dominated the popular vote in California, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois, where she amassed a lead of some 6 million votes which means that Trump smashed her by at least 5 million votes in the other 46 States. The college vote system was deliberately designed so that no major state could determine the result of the presidential election. For instance, Clinton’s margin in California alone is some 2.6 million votes and yet her overall margin is just half a million or so votes…do the math folks….the majority of states did not want Clinton – she was soundly rejected in two thirds of all the states. The result was a credit to the wisdom of the founding fathers

  7. otto
    November 14, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Clinton sponsored a bill in the U.S. Senate in 2001 for a national popular vote for President

    • Zachary Smith
      November 15, 2016 at 12:20 am

      I waded through the 2001 bills and didn’t see it, but saw several about tomato sauce. Do you have a bill name/number or a link?

  8. John
    November 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    There is a solution to this, the end of this failed notion of “the United States”.

    We support such breakups into smaller regions elsewhere, such as the former Yugoslavia.

    In the end, it will work out better for everyone. Mississippi and Akabama can go back to outlawing marriage equality and basic health care for women, and New York and California can welcome all the refugees fleeing the American Taliban in the South.

    Illinois would be able to keep all the money its inhabitants pay in taxes, rather than the mere 60 cents on the dollar it does now, completely solving its budget crisis, while South Carolina will have to stop building monuments to the Confederacy, as, without the 8 dollars they get from the Federal Government for every dollar they pay in taxes, they will not be able to afford to.

    As with the dissolution of any corporate entity, this would elimate the federal debt for most people, while putting it all on to Washington DC, where the only wealth is in the hands of lobbyists and carreer politicians. This will bankrupt them, so they will never be able to lobby again.

    Of course, before we do this, we should turn over all national parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, national monuments, etc over to UNESCO, as they have a good record at preserving and maintaining World Heritage sites (and nature is obviously a big part of World Heritage)

    Soon, those regressive states, once left to their own devices, and after the best and brightest have relocated to those states who will welcome them, will be prostrating themselves to the successful states (who have been underwriting the regressive states for far too long) begging them to come and fix the mess they have made for themselves.

    I find it almost funny how many commenters in this thread have welcomed the idea of California seceding, claiming that California does not live in reality. I wonder if these people have ever even been to California, and if so, if they ever went anywhere but Disneyland. Having worked in California for a while in the past, doing a job that involved interacting with people there of all classes, races, and ideoligies, I can honestly say that many of California’s residents came there from the very places that those that mock California reside in, and left their homes for California, because there was no opportunity whatsoever for them in the places they were born.

    What these people fail to realize is that, if California makes any indication that it is moving to secede, it will not be alone. Oregon and Washington will join it. This will inspire New York, as well as the rest of New England, to break off as well. Illinois would probably declare independence, as would Colorado. I’m in no way saying this would be a bad thing, as I would welcome it. However, it would not be pretty for those states, such as the Carolinas or the Gulf states, or any of the South, as those states are entirely reliant of the states they oppose, for funding to maintain roads, schools, etc. But, it seems that the majority of the people in those states actually want to live in impoverished repressive piles of filth, as that is the only possible outcome of the policies that they continuously insist on.

    So, let’s hear a horray for the Balkanization of America!

  9. Patrick
    November 14, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I do not agree. Hillary only won by a single percentage point or so. If she had won by five percentage points and still lost the electoral college then the argument is stronger. Electoral college gives all regions some say. There are single counties in some states that have more voters than all of Wyoming. If you want a real life example look at Ontario Canada. We have an unpopular liberal premier that keeps getting elected. The reason is she has been giving goodies to the large urban centres such as Toronto for a decade. The rural areas vote overwhelmingly against her but to no avail. As a result policies such as unwanted wind farms are all over rural Ontario. A new natural gas plant was moved 300 miles North West after a suburb of Toronto complained. A carbon tax is the next burden we are facing in this newly Liberal country.

    I do agree that Trump is a big risk. Luckily the US has excellent checks with a Senate and a house. No such luck in Canada.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Support for a national popular vote for President is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

      Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

  10. November 14, 2016 at 11:47 am

    A lot of people are confused by the electoral college system.

    So, to make it easier to understand, let’s use a simple model.

    Let us imagine there are only three states and each has just 100 eligible voters, and just 1 elector.

    In state “A”, Hillary wins 100% of the vote, or 100 votes. She gets one elector.

    In states “B” and “C”, Trump wins 51% of the votes, for 102 votes total and 2 electors.

    Trump wins 2 electors to 1 while Hillary had 198 votes to Trump’s 102.

    Because of how this all works, candidates plan their campaigns to win states by a slim margin. Anything more is a waste of campaign time and money. But in states that traditionally vote for this or that party, it is common to get large surpluses of “unnecessary” votes along the way.

    This is the important part! Trump wasn’t trying to win the popular vote; Trump was trying to win electors. Trump won by the rules everyone is supposed to play by.

    The rules are the rules and sore losers don’t get to change the rules after the game is over just because they don’t like the results.

    In any event, once you subtract out all the illegal immigrant and dead voters, and all the comupter voting machines that assigned Trump vots to Hillary (and yes, they caught that on video) Hillary’s popular vote numbers aren’t that high.

    She failed to steal the election. Get over it.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states) (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

      Support for a national popular vote for President is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

      Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

      The National Popular Vote bill was approved this year by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
      Since 2006, the bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Colorado (9).
      The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes and majority of Electoral College votes.

      NationalPopularVote.com

  11. Chris Chuba
    November 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

    If you want a national popular vote then you need national standards for voter identification. Currently, the largest states do not require any voter ID, New York, New Jersey, and California being among them. I live in NJ and the guy at the polling booth asked me if I was ‘Timothy’ (my son). I could have easily said yes, voted as my son in the morning and then voted as myself in the afternoon and this is without even trying to commit voter fraud.

    The fact that this is not a popular vote altered the turnout so we do not know who would have won a majority vote. There are people in California, New York, and Texas who didn’t bother to vote because it was pointless.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      There is nothing incompatible between differences in state election laws and the concept of a national popular vote for President. That was certainly the mainstream view when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment in 1969 for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. That amendment retained state control over elections.

      The 1969 amendment was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, then-Senator Bob Dole, and then-Senator Walter Mondale.

      The American Bar Association also endorsed the proposed 1969 amendment.

      The proposed 1969 constitutional amendment provided that the popular-vote count from each state would be added up to obtain the nationwide total for each candidate. The National Popular Vote compact does the same.

      Under the current system, the electoral votes from all 50 states are comingled and simply added together, irrespective of the fact that the electoral-vote outcome from each state was affected by differences in state policies, including voter registration, ex-felon voting, hours of voting, amount and nature of advance voting, and voter identification requirements.

      Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote compact, all of the people of the United States are impacted by the different election policies of the states. Everyone in the United States is affected by the division of electoral votes generated by each state. The procedures governing presidential elections in a closely divided battleground state (e.g., Florida and Ohio) can affect, and indeed have affected, the ultimate outcome of national elections.

  12. November 14, 2016 at 1:22 am

    Before embarking down the road of dismantling constitutionally-mandated procedures, I think it important to agree on first principles. “One man-one vote” is not a first principle of our Constitution. For example, we have not only the electoral college but the Senate, where each state gets two seats regardless of its population. Surely that also violates the espoused principle of one man-one vote. And we face the same problem at the state level, where counties or boroughs each get their senators, ensuring that the urban vote cannot ignore the needs of the rural voter.

    During my 70 years on this planet, I’ve lived in both urban areas and in areas so remote that emergency responders couldn’t reach my home in less than two hours. In the latter situation, I developed a different view about gun control than that held by most urban voters. When there’s no one to protect you and your family but yourself, you want a weapon adequate to the task. But the urban majority would hold that there is no constitutional right of self-protection and protection of others.

    And if we carry it farther, what shall we do about those guarantees of individual liberty, such as the right to trial by jury and the right of free speech, that also fly in the face of pure democracy? If we take up pure democracy as our goal, then we can no longer have individual rights because the barest majority would trump individual rights.

    Personally, I think we should go even farther and abolish voting and elections. Choose representatives by random selection and limit them to a single term. That would do a far better job of weeding out most of the corruption and psychopaths than “democracy” does. Witness the choices in this last election and the bellicose nature of our government wreaking havoc around the globe with its military might. Any statistician can tell you that randomly selected officials would give you a government that is far more representative of the public’s actual desires than our present broken system.

    I hew to the belief that no one who wants power should be granted it. I view problems of corruption and psychopathy in office as far more serious problems than the careful balance struck by the electoral college between urban and rural voters.

    • Joe B
      November 14, 2016 at 8:07 am

      Yes, the desire for power is a disqualification, unless it is limited to benevolent intentions for all.

      Although the candidates in this election were both worse than the average educated citizen, fixing corruption is better than choosing at random, which would often select damaging extremists or complete incompetents. A larger qualified pool would be interesting, and Maine has just passed ranked-choice voting, in which everyone lists their number 1,2,3,4,5 choices among a larger group, permitting a best-fit majority decision among a larger pool of candidates.

      But there is no connection between the method of selecting representatives and the guarantee of individual rights. In a pure democracy a small majority cannot “trump individual rights” any more than representatives can. Individual rights have almost no guarantee in our present system, with most of the Supreme Court actively opposed, and the lower courts ignoring them unless they sympathize with a particular victim.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      The National Popular Vote bill does not dismantle any constitutionally-mandated procedures.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in rural states

      None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
      The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

      The biggest cities are almost exactly balanced out by rural areas in terms of population and partisan composition.

      16% of the U.S. population lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Rural America has voted 60% Republican. None of the 10 most rural states matter now.

      16% of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities. They voted 63% Democratic in 2004.
      The population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States.

      Suburbs divide almost exactly equally between Republicans and Democrats.

      Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

      Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

      Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

      Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

      The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution

      The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

    • LJ
      November 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Uhmmm, How long did it take Hitler to become Fuhrer? First term wasn’t it? After the Night of the Long Knives or whatever it was called, it was a done deal. By the way, he was empowered by a Democratic vote. Wasn’t Stalin also? Face it, where humans are involved whatever works is desirable. Liberalism and Pragmatism were effective but now the robots are coming and we need more sophisticated algorithms. . I’m just glad I don’t have to see Hillary’s face on the dollar bill. She kind of looks like Washington. a little make up, rouge and hair dye, no big deal. But i kinda agree with you anyway. The Devil is in the Details (or the Constitution and the Courts)

  13. Paul Surovell
    November 14, 2016 at 1:21 am

    Any criticism of the disproportionate role of small-population states applies to the Senate, as well as the Electoral College.

    Any vote taken in the Senate — to confirm a Supreme Court nominee or to authorize the use of force — gives a disproportionate role to small numbers of citizens in states like Vermont or Montana.

    So the problem manifests itself on a continuous basis in Congress, not just every four years when a President is elected.

    With regard to claims that “Hillary won,” I think if the roles were reversed and Trump complained about a “rigged system,” he would be condemned by the Democrats for refusing to accept the rules of our democracy.

  14. November 13, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    How exactly does less than one half of one percent of the cast vote become “significant” plurality.
    Since when are the U.S. presidents elected by referendum?, from POTUS # 46, if that is what you wish for.!!
    The current protest are fighting the tradition, law, constitution and democracy.
    GodSpeed to US all ;-)

  15. Pablo Diablo
    November 13, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    The Electoral College merely serves the real problem of the complete Corporate stranglehold on our government (and almost all the governments on the Earth). They own politics And most of the media. They select who will win the nominations and who they pay to vote for war, more war, and more war. They make money whether they win or lose a war. When they win, they get to steal the mineral resources from other countries in order to make more consumer products (and more money) and then when their products fail or are superseded by the new model, we throw them away and pollute the Earth. Capitalism=great plan, right?
    WAKE UP AMERICA.

  16. Devildog
    November 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    It always amazed me how quickly liberals will trash the Constitution when it doesn’t go their way. The founders put the electoral college in place for good reason…they did not set up a pure democracy…in fact they were very wary of the idea so to give smaller states more of a say they set up the electoral college…learn ot,love it,live it.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Trump, November 13, 2016, 60 Minutes
      “ I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play.

      The night Mitt Romney lost, Donald Trump tweeted.
      “The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. . . . The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

      Recent and past presidential candidates who supported direct election of the President in the form of a constitutional amendment, before the National Popular Vote bill was introduced: George H.W. Bush (R-TX-1969), Jimmy Carter (D-GA-1977), Hillary Clinton (D-NY-2001), Bob Dole (R-KS-1969), Gerald Ford (R-MI-1969), and Richard Nixon (R-CA-1969).

      Recent and past presidential candidates with a public record of support for the National Popular Vote bill that would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes: Congressmen John Anderson (R, I –ILL), and Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN), Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee (R-I-D, -RI), Governor and former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean (D–VT), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Senator and Vice President Al Gore (D-TN), Ralph Nader, Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Jill Stein (Green), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN).

      Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

      Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

      Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

      Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

      The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution

      The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

      With National Popular Vote, when every popular vote counts and matters to the candidates equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn’t be about winning a handful of battleground states.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group

      Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in 9 state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions.

      Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns.

      State winner-take-all laws negate any simplistic mathematical equations about the relative power of states based on their number of residents per electoral vote. Small state math means absolutely nothing to presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, or to presidents once in office.

      In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

      In 2012, 24 of the nation’s 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined.

      The 12 smallest states are totally ignored in presidential elections. These states are not ignored because they are small, but because they are not closely divided “battleground” states.

      Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections.

      Similarly, the 25 smallest states have been almost equally noncompetitive. They voted Republican or Democratic 12-13 in 2008 and 2012.

      Voters in states, of all sizes, that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWGWPTlLYnk

  17. Evangelista
    November 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    The United States was not created a “democracy”, or to be a “democracy”. The government designed by the provisions of the United States Constitution is a “Representative Republic”. A Republic whose republican purpose is to provide for its public, and which is to provide for the People of its Public governance that, as the Constitution’s Preamble spells out, “Provide the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves (We the People) and our Posterity”.

    Democratic means are provided to aid in major decision-making. The Electoral College was included deliberately, and, it is indicated, with specific intent to temper democratic processes, to provide “second readings”, or “approval of the choice made” for democratically made decisions.

    Discussions of “Democracy” as a system are methane, flatulent blather, completely off topic and off point, where the United States Government is subject.

    • Sam
      November 13, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      There is no distinction between a democracy and a republic; the words mean exactly the same thing. It is the design of the institutions of democracy that guarantees stability and individual rights.

      It is old Repub propaganda that wealthy tyrants should reign in fact, which they erroneously call a republic, and claim that democracy is “mob rule” without any historical basis, merely pointing to unstable situations like the French Revolution. There is no defensible argument there. A republic is not a tyranny of elites. They sometimes point to corrupt cases like the later Roman republic, and such tyranny is dear to them, because they dream of themselves as the tyrant, and cannot see that they will not be the tyrant even if they vote for him.

  18. Zachary Smith
    November 13, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I just ran into a blog post at the Zero Hedge site which may or may not have some relevance to the post-election situation. The author concentrates on Hillary’s concession speech, and found all kinds of symbolism he believes is relevant to the future.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-13/concession-speech-aka-meet-new-clinton-inc

    In everyday mythology the color “purple” is associated with royalty. That Hillary and Bill were both wearing it now strikes me as significant. He sees a coordinated effort in the current goings-on with the protests and the new concentration on the “we wus robbed” theme involving the electoral college and popular vote disparity in 2016. Who knows – if the Big Media buys into this we may not have seen the last of Hillary Clinton, for as of now I’m convinced Trump will have zero interest in a second term. Assuming he remains all four years of the first one.

  19. LJ
    November 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    There are commo0nsense measures that could be taken to improve our Democracy. How about no polls released a week before the election on in. At least 5 days. No votes should be released until West Coast polls close (sorry Hawaii). Other countries say if you want a drivers license you have to vote. That insures participation. The fact is our system is flawed in many ways. How can California and Texas have the same number of Senators as Rhode Island or Wyoming. What about gerrymandering? Why not term limits when it’s clear to everyone that our system is not working? What about the seniority system in both the Senate and House that controls the committee structure. Really, if the debates are the only time when the candidates can be forced to discuss issues is it smart to have Anderson Cooper berating a Trump with his politically correct biases instead of asking about taxes or what infrastructure projects he intends to support of for example the THAAD missile deployment in South Korea. This election should bring changes but SERIOUASLY every 4 years this comes up. The Electoral College is what makes the primaries necessary. A one off Popular vote would give the Republican and Democratic elites and the people that finance them even more power to name the nominee. Take it or leave it. At least a maverick can still rise up. Trump proved it. We don’t have a Democracy, an election by popular vote with this two party system and Citizens United and McCutcheon would make things even worse.

  20. WisdomLost
    November 13, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    As stated in the article, millions of voters “might as well” have stayed home. Well, they did! In most states, the winner of that state is known 2 years before election night. The people if those states know it, too. I didn’t vote thus round, for two reasons. 1) I didn’t care for either candidate… not one bit. 2) From the bottom of the ballot to the top, in my precinct, the Republicans will win every position. In fact, for many positions, Republicans run uncontested.

    So why does that matter? Popular vote in presidential elections doesn’t mean anything in the current system. What percent turnout did we have in the deep-fried or deep-blue states compared to “battleground” states? MOST people stay home, so the numbers are skewed.

    Why did California have a high turnout, and affect the popular vote so much? Political gamesmanship by putting a massive gun ban on the ballot. They had a much greater turnout than they normally would, as a result.

    In Texas, no such ballot measure. Trump was going to win, even if every Democrat in the state turned out, and only half the Republicans. Popular vote means nothing if you try to extend it out to the national level, as long as popular vote doesn’t count.

    I maintain that if the president was elected by popular vote, the numbers would be very different, and Republicans would actually have had a larger turnout that Democrats. Look at the election results by county (still not an accurate depiction, but closer). A vast majority of the country is painted red, with a small dit here-and-there of blue in major metropolitan areas.

    Why the Electoral College method? Because “democracy is the method by which the majority oppress the minority”. The US is a “representative republic”, not a democracy. We elect our representatives democratically, but that is where it stops. Look at the “real” numbers by extending turnout percentage to the total population in each state. Red wins. However, that argument is flawed, too, as those numbers aren’t real either.

  21. Ben Bruner
    November 13, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Guess what?
    We’re not a democracy! We’re a republic! There’s a huge difference. The Fathers didn’t trust a direct democracy because they always failed. Greece is the best example I can think of at the moment, but that shows how bad democracies were. In a democracy, 51% of people can take away the rights of 49%. In a republic, that can’t happen because have inalienable rights in a written Constitution.

    • Sam
      November 13, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      No. Ben, democracies are republics. The Repubs pretend that there is a distinction to defend their vacuous claim that a tyranny of the rich is “safer” than democracy. It is safer only for the wealthy tyrant; the historical instabilities are due to wealthy tyrants, and badly designed democratic institutions, not democracy itself. The Repubs have no historical case at all for their absurd claim.

      The method of selection of representatives is unrelated to the guarantee of individual rights.

      The founders were concerned about cabals and tyrants in their historical considerations, and sought stability with a bicameral legislature with longer terms in the Senate. They did not seek an aristocracy of wealth as the Repubs claim. You won’t find anyone but Hamilton who even hints otherwise.

      I suggest reading the Federalist Papers for contemporary arguments for the Constitution.

  22. Walter Grant
    November 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Another bias that flies in the face of “one man one vote” is the fact that the number of electoral votes each state gets is based in part on its population, not on the number of people who actually vote in any given election.

  23. Corey
    November 13, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    You provide proof in your argument as to why the electoral college is so important. Yes the bigger states have a bigger population but this isn’t the United States of New York or the United States of California. The rest of the country is not in touch with the views of those population centers. The framers of the constitution made the electoral college, and made it so hard to change, so people like you couldn’t destroy such a great document. Your bias towards democrats is very evident in your writing which is why your argument is intellectually bankrupt. If the roles were reversed you would be defending the electoral college. Thus you are nothing more than a lobbyist for big cities and big states. This discussion was had 240 years ago too. They had to find a way for big and small states to join together as one country and I think their genius is evident when you dissect the details of our constitution. California has 55 electoral college votes if I remember correctly and New York has 31. That is far more than the smaller states which gives the big states more influence over the election than smaller states such as West Virginia with only 5 votes. If the system were changed to the winner being the one who got the popular vote then 80% of the country or more would be a total waste of time for a politician to even consider visiting during a race. Just set up shop in New York, California, Texas, Illinois, and Florida and then to hell with the rest of the country. That is not what the constitutional framers had in mind. Thank god people like you weren’t part of the process that created our constitution. If that were the case I’m certain things would be much different today, but almost no doubt there wouldn’t be a united nation of 50 individual states like we enjoy today. Bottom line get over it. You supported Hillary you lost move on. That’s what many of us across the country had to do in 2008 and 2012 when we seen Obama win twice. We knew the economy was going to be left in shambles like it is, that he would accumulate more debt than all 43 previous presidents combined, and that Obama care was going to be a catastrophe. But he won so his agenda was going to come to fruition even though it was to the detriment of the country. I know how democrats feel now but you lost fair in square. Trump will be the 45th president and God Bless the United States of America.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

      As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years.

      With National Popular Vote, when every popular vote counts and matters to the candidates equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn’t be about winning a handful of battleground states.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group

      Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in 9 state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions.

      Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns.

      State winner-take-all laws negate any simplistic mathematical equations about the relative power of states based on their number of residents per electoral vote. Small state math means absolutely nothing to presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, or to presidents once in office.

      In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

      In 2012, 24 of the nation’s 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined.

      The 12 smallest states are totally ignored in presidential elections. These states are not ignored because they are small, but because they are not closely divided “battleground” states.

      Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections.

      Similarly, the 25 smallest states have been almost equally noncompetitive. They voted Republican or Democratic 12-13 in 2008 and 2012.

      Voters in states, of all sizes, that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWGWPTlLYnk

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . .

      In the 2012 presidential election, 1.3 million votes decided the winner in the ten states with the closest margins of victory.

      Candidates had no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they were safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

      With the end of the primaries, without the National Popular Vote bill in effect, the political relevance of three-quarters of all Americans was finished for the presidential election.

      In the 2016 general election campaign
      The candidates concentrated 94% of their campaign events in 12 closely divided “battleground” states

      In the 2012 general election campaign

      38 states (including 24 of the 27 smallest states) had no campaign events, and minuscule or no spending for TV ads.

      More than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested on voters in just the only ten competitive states..

      Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

      Issues of importance to non-battleground states are of so little interest to presidential candidates that they don’t even bother to poll them individually.

      Charlie Cook reported in 2004:
      “Senior Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd pointed out yesterday that the Bush campaign hadn’t taken a national poll in almost two years; instead, it has been polling [the then] 18 battleground states.”

      Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer acknowledging the reality that [then] more than 2/3rds of Americans were ignored in the 2008 presidential campaign, said in the Washington Post on June 21, 2009:
      “If people don’t like it, they can move from a safe state to a swing state.”

      Over 87% of both Romney and Obama campaign offices were in just the then 12 swing states. The few campaign offices in the 38 remaining states were for fund-raising, volunteer phone calls, and arranging travel to battleground states.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Now, a presidential candidate could lose while winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 states.

      With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation’s votes!

      But the political reality is that the 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

      In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted” popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally:
      * Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267
      * New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436
      * Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634
      * North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778
      * California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560
      * Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342
      * New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826

      To put these numbers in perspective,
      Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes).
      Utah (5 electoral votes) 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).

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      A successful nationwide presidential campaign, with every voter equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.

      In Iowa, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia (the four states that accounted for over two-thirds of all general-election activity in the 2012 presidential election) rural areas, suburbs, exurbs, and cities all received attention—roughly in proportion to their population.

      Iowa has four congressional districts (each, of course, with equal population). The presidential candidates campaigned approximately equally in each part of the state in the 2012 presidential election.

      The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every voter is equal, a campaign of polling, visiting, advertising, and organizing must be run everywhere.

      With National Popular Vote, when every voter is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

      The main media at the moment, TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. Candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

  24. Steven M Zerbey
    November 13, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Trump conceded California from the get-go, and Hillary will win California by more votes they she will “win” the popular vote nationally.

  25. Zachary Smith
    November 13, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I’m really disappointed with this essay. While accusing others of “ignoring the elephant in the parlor” with regard to the Electoral College, Mr. Lazare totally ignored the rotting blue whale in the front yard representing voter suppression and disenfranchisement as well as the no-verify touchscreen voting devices.

    Hillary may have once made a speech about the awful Electoral College, but did she do a single thing besides that? Say, introduce a Senate Bill to try to rectify any part of it? To campaign for a constitutional amendment? I seriously doubt it.

    This is the very same woman who was perfectly happy with the trashing of ‘Democratic Ideals’ when it came to doing whatever it took to defeat Bernie Sanders in the primary. Lie/cheat/steal – whatever it took. This is the woman who used the Superdelegates to defeat voter democracy in the same primary. Hillary and her fans are howling hypocrites, and I believe this narrowly focused essay leads readers away from that simple statement of fact.

    As we learned after the 2000 election, it’s possible to go from the frying pan straight into the fire with ‘worse-than-before’ “reforms”. Those easily hackable Diebold-type voting machines are the result of those “reforms”.

    The Electoral College is indeed a wretched relic of the ‘good old days’, and in a worse way than stated by Mr. Lazare. It was another of the cunning devices etched into the US Constitution to ensure the continued strength of the Southern Slave states. Not satisfied with using the 3/5 provision to enhance their power in the US Congress, they saw a path to use the non-voting slaves to get a grip on the Presidency. The Electoral College gave them a disproportionate power in the presidential elections. And did it ever work! The South controlled the US government at all levels for most to the early history of the nation. One reason, no doubt, for their childish hissy fit when Lincoln was elected.

    THE PROSLAVERY ORIGINS OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

    For better or worse this election is over so I say that we ought to start a serious discussion about altering/removing the Electoral College, but not just because Queen Hillary has her knickers in a wad. I’d put the rampant disenfranchisement and other generic fraud ahead of this issue any day.

    • aquadraht
      November 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I fully agree to the notion of the slavery aspect, and beyond that, the electoral college seems to be a fairly dated institution. But mind that we in Europe have a fairly modern institution, namely the European Parliament. Here, too, popular vote representation is widely nonexistant, as it needs 67,000 voters to win one seat for Maltese voters (similarly Lithuanian, Latvian and Estnian voters) compared to 811,000 for German voters, and 667,000 on average.

      While the EP is not a really important and efficient institution, I would back that arrangement even if it were, because otherwise even a completely insignificant German party like the fun party “Die PARTEI” would get more seats than a whole small nation. So highly populated states must be balanced somehow in a federation unless one wants a fully centralized state.

      Of course it is doubtful how up to date the electoral procedure is. But the argument of popular vote is questionable as well.

    • Susiejoe
      November 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Are you actually suggesting that slaves should not have been counted in the population of a state? It was the north who did not want to count them at all and compromised by counting each as 3/5 of a person, not the south.

      • BobS
        November 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        The purpose of that ‘compromise’ was so that the southern states would ratify the Constitution.

      • aquadraht
        November 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

        Sure, I would call that a logical consequence. Either they are “speaking cattle” as the classic definition of slaves tells, then either they be not counted, or all other cattle be counted as well. Or they are considered like minors which do not enjoy voting right nor voting count. Or they are humans with voting rights on their own, then they may vote themselves. Having them counted while their masters voted was a dirty rule.

  26. Nancy
    November 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Your Clinton bias is too much – with estimated 57% voter turnout the notion of the popular vote going to Clinton falls short on meaning.

    For better or worse, this year Donald Trump is the valid POTHUS-elect. And, considering Mr. Trump’s current foreign policy statements, any anti-war advocate should be momentarily extatic.

  27. aquadraht
    November 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    While I agree that the whole procedure of the elections is aged and doubtful, but hard to change, some other aspect always puzzled me, and still does, namely the process of counting votes. I simply cannot understand why this takes days, even weeks.

    In Germany, we do not have any polling machines, only paper ballots which can be long and complicated, with up to 20 parties to vote for (proportional vote), and nearly as many candidates to vote for in person (in majority vote). Sometimes, when federal and state elections or federal and municipal election are at the same time, up to six ballots have to be filled in. Voters identify, are compared to a previously concocted list, approved if ok, then fill in the ballots, fold them, and put them in the ballot box.

    People in the polling stations are partially public servants, partially volunteers, usually mobilized by different parties, or independents, they get a few money, and something to eat/drink for a long day. Yet, counting, starting just after 6pm, is done in 2-3 hrs, usually. My mother participated regularly for a long time. Counting means sorting, double checking, putting the votes on stacks, when ready and checked again, packaged and sent to the municipal voting office of the electoral district. After the counting is done and confirmed, the result is reported to the election supervisors, and added to the general result.

    That way, a preliminary complete result ususally can be reported 4-6hrs after closing of the polling stations. Absentees have to vote by postal vote, and bear responsibility for timely arrival of their vote. Additionally, there are some polling stations in embassies and military bases abroad. The vote is recounted and double checked during the week following, but usually ends up in only minor corrections.

    I am aware that the United States with their vast, partially sparsely populated territory and multiplicity of time zones, is facing some challenges. Yet, what is working in an 82million country, should work in one with 322 million people as well. I know that the US do not have registration of domicile like with us, which makes voting registration in electoral rolls necessary. Yet, registration should be completed ahead of an election, so I do not see the real problem.

    So, while changing the whole system may be complicated, why not starting by changing the counting procedure? I still cannot understand why it is that complicated. And a more efficient and reliable voting and counting system may be a starting point to improve the whole procedure.

    • Joe B
      November 13, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Thank you, Aquadraht, for your very sensible advice. The long counts may well be due to poor process design, or tampering with the manual ballots, or a scheme to push the public to accept fraudulent electronic voting. Manual voting works fine.

      No one with a pile of currency would allow it to be counted by unknown people without a verifiable process. Votes are far more valuable.

  28. Joe B
    November 13, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    The largest electoral problem is electronic vote rigging.

    Until electronic voting is prohibited, no election can be trusted. I am an embedded computer systems engineer, long experienced with this technology, and know from experience finding complex software bugs, that this technology cannot practically be verified against deliberate tampering. Those vote counts could be counted and recounted until the cows come home, and would accurately reflect only the biased internal processes. Each machine would simply take a bias message from somewhere and use assembly-language routines appearing to do something else, to bias the count. Every machine would have to be studied exhaustively by multi-partisan teams of experts, before and after use, and still a very tricky hack would probably elude them. The hacks could be built right into the chips so that software engineers could not find them. The biased chips could look the same as verified chips.

    There is also no real motive for electronic voting other than distorting the process. It is not difficult to vote or count votes manually, and only the manual process can be overseen reliably. Electronic voting must be prohibited.

  29. exiled off mainstreet
    November 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    This is true on the surface, but the 24/7 media barrage by a sort of unofficial mainstream media propaganda ministry, and, the fact the harpy outspent Trump 2-1, and voter fraud allegations play a role. The system is archaic but based in effect on state elections rather than the national one, so it can still be characterised as democratic though I agree with the author it should be changed. Meanwhile, Philadelphia appears to have been a centre of voter fraud, it is just that it was not successful enough to turn the Pennsylvania result but only reduced the margin, and thus built the harpy’s national margin. There was also suspicious activity in Virginia and elsewhere. It can also be noted that in Britain, parties winning the parliamentary vote and taking over have won fewer votes than the losing party overall. This occurred in 1951 when Churchill became prime minister the second time. The fact nuclear war appears off the table is also a key fact no matter what the results. The fact Trump carried states with a majority of congressional representation, the core of the electoral college system, is also a factor. In any event, the fact that Trump’s party won a majority of the house makes any moves to change the system unlikely. They also gained in state legislatures who would vote on constitutional change or changes to how electors were allocated. Also, the Senate vote cited is a bit of a joke because, as a result of the California system, the two democrats running against each other got all votes, the author is thus guilty of using a mathematical trick there to arrive at his numbers. Also, though Trump will definitely lose the popular vote, I doubt that it will be by as much as an in the bag NY Times columnist claims.

  30. Dale Lehman
    November 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

    “A second thing is that no one has foggiest idea how to fix it.”

    Here is a plan that already has 11 States that have voted to participate in it: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

    “The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide (i.e., all 50 states and the District of Columbia). It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes, and will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes. The bill has passed one chamber in 12 additional states with 96 electoral votes. Most recently, the bill was passed by a bipartisan 40–16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28–18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57–4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, and 37–21 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House.”

    Eliminating the Electoral College might help but it would not address Class War and ruling class control of media, culture, finance and policy to take the risk out of Democracy.

    The racism and Islamophobia is structural and is nourished by both Republican and Democratic establishments as it suits them; Trump was only the most crude, open and vile at it. As for the election outcome that you think , “the only thing worse than a rightwing thug like Trump is a rightwing thug whose legitimacy is in question”. I see as worse Hillary Clinton: sociopath – “we came, we saw, he died” – “send them back [to Honduras]”, dishonest, primary rigging, war mongering, Wall Street servant and Robert Kagan acolyte, whose election could have been only in Orwellian cognition “legitimate”. Good riddance to the Clinton dynasty and their neoliberial corporate globalization promotion of enslavement for the masses.

    • Susiejoe
      November 13, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Another civics lesson. The Constitution of the U.S. Is a contractual agreement between the states. It can only be changed by one of the amendment processes provided within it, each of which requires approval by at least 2/3 of all of the states.

      In the Constitution, the selection of the president of the U.S. Is done by representatives of the states, not the people. Each state is given a number of voters based on a factor of their population. Thus ALL people within a state are represented, in contrast to the popular vote which reflects only those who voted and completely ignores those who do not vote.

      There is nothing wrong with this system of electoral college. While it is not perfect, it is better than a popular vote system as it provides better representation of all people within a state.

      If you want a pure democracy, then you have to devise a system wherein everyone votes.

      • bfearn
        November 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm

        If “everyone votes” in a country where billionaires can throw money at the politicians you will never get “democracy”.

      • Sam
        November 13, 2016 at 7:33 pm

        1. You are referring to the original provisions in the Constitution, long since amended. The President is no longer elected by Congress!
        2. There is no more reason to believe that Congress better represented the people back when it selected the President, as it is also elected by popular vote.
        3. A pure democracy does not require that everyone vote.

  31. Joe Tedesky
    November 13, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I have said before how the U.S. would do well to purchase the voter phone system equipment from ‘American Idol’. I joke to a large degree, but if this system were able to be set up properly, this would at least allow the popular vote to prevail.

    The other thing which could be discussed, is how each State has it’s own party primary rules. Where I live if you are not registered Democrate you may as well plan on sitting out almost all elections. We have Democrate’s here who think and legislate like Republicans. Independent registered voters get to sit out a lot, and their participation in our elections is sorely missed.

    The Electoral College even spills over into the Democratic Party by way of Super Delegate representation, which to me seems totally fixed to put the election into the establishments preferred candidate direction. It is these stop gap measures which sway the elections towards what the party bosses want done their way, and only their way.

    Lastly Trump or no Trump, I’m relieved that Hillary is done, and out of the running for U.S. President. Now I can worry and wonder with the rest of America to what comes next.

    • Schoppy
      November 13, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      J.T’s last sentence sums it up well. Essentially we are al sitting ducks waiting to be loved or executed.

  32. John
    November 13, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Good article. Thanks.

  33. November 13, 2016 at 11:00 am

    You want a democracy! I want the republic?

    • Susiejoe
      November 13, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      I vote on the author of this piece and others taking or retaking a civics course.

      When we state the pledge of Alligience, we say:

      I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,
      And to the Republic for which it stands

      We do NOT make our pledge to the Democracy for which it stands because while the federal government is a form of a democracy, we are NOT a democracy but rather a representational republic.

      • bfearn
        November 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        Huhhh, “a representational republic”. You’re kidding, right??

      • Sam
        November 13, 2016 at 7:21 pm

        That I recall to be a Repub propaganda line, pretending that a republic is somehow not a democracy. Actually “republic” is simply the Latin based word for the Greek based “democracy” meaning “government by the people.” They move from their pseudo-wise “distinction” to the notion that because the later corrupt Rome claimed to be a republic (but was not) somehow therefore Republicans should support tyranny.

        Actually the original Republican party was disparaged by by its Whig opponents (the wealthy tyrants of their day) as “those democratic Republicans.” The later Repubs (after Lincoln) denounce democracy as “mob rule” without examples, meaning rule by someone other than the richest tyrant.

  34. November 13, 2016 at 10:41 am

    The problem with the electoral college is not just that it sometimes puts the wrong person in office. It’s much bigger than that.

    First of all, 90+% of all the campaigning goes on in a dozen states, and the issues and concerns of those states are elevated in importance, and the issues and concerns of all the other states are ignored. This distortion of the entire discussion is obviously a bad thing.

    I believe that there have been many cases when candidates change their policies in deference to some small extreme group in a swing state. For example this has allowed the small but extremely vocal Castro haters in Miami to have an outsized influence on the US policy toward Cuba for the last half century.

    • Corey
      November 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Yeah I agree that the electoral college puts a lopsided amount of power to the swing states but imagine what would happen if the presidential election were decided by popular vote. Candidates would set up shop in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, & Florida and to hell with the rest of the country. Your complaint about the electoral college making the focus on a few states would be magnified ten fold if the popular vote count decided presidential elections.

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:22 pm

        Now, a presidential candidate could lose while winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 states.

        With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation’s votes!

        But the political reality is that the 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

        In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted” popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally:
        * Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267
        * New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436
        * Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634
        * North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778
        * California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560
        * Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342
        * New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826

        To put these numbers in perspective,
        Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes).
        Utah (5 electoral votes) 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).

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        A successful nationwide presidential campaign, with every voter equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.

        In Iowa, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia (the four states that accounted for over two-thirds of all general-election activity in the 2012 presidential election) rural areas, suburbs, exurbs, and cities all received attention—roughly in proportion to their population.

        Iowa has four congressional districts (each, of course, with equal population). The presidential candidates campaigned approximately equally in each part of the state in the 2012 presidential election.

        The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every voter is equal, a campaign of polling, visiting, advertising, and organizing must be run everywhere.

        With National Popular Vote, when every voter is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

        The main media at the moment, TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. Candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm

        Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . .

        In the 2012 presidential election, 1.3 million votes decided the winner in the ten states with the closest margins of victory.

        Candidates had no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they were safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

        With the end of the primaries, without the National Popular Vote bill in effect, the political relevance of three-quarters of all Americans was finished for the presidential election.

        In the 2016 general election campaign
        The candidates concentrated 94% of their campaign events in 12 closely divided “battleground” states

        In the 2012 general election campaign

        38 states (including 24 of the 27 smallest states) had no campaign events, and minuscule or no spending for TV ads.

        More than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested on voters in just the only ten competitive states..

        Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

        Issues of importance to non-battleground states are of so little interest to presidential candidates that they don’t even bother to poll them individually.

        Charlie Cook reported in 2004:
        “Senior Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd pointed out yesterday that the Bush campaign hadn’t taken a national poll in almost two years; instead, it has been polling [the then] 18 battleground states.”

        Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer acknowledging the reality that [then] more than 2/3rds of Americans were ignored in the 2008 presidential campaign, said in the Washington Post on June 21, 2009:
        “If people don’t like it, they can move from a safe state to a swing state.”

        Over 87% of both Romney and Obama campaign offices were in just the then 12 swing states. The few campaign offices in the 38 remaining states were for fund-raising, volunteer phone calls, and arranging travel to battleground states.

  35. Mark N
    November 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

    “An ancient relic known as the Electoral College did.”

    Whether one likes it or not, or desires to change it or not, the Electoral College did exactly what it was designed to do by those who created it – make sure that high density mono-culture urban areas (e.g. NY, Philadelphia, etc. at the time) do not completely overpower less densely populated rural states, (e.g. Virginia etc. at the time). It gives the rural states a voice.

    The current modern assumption that the president is to be elected by a majority of all citizens in the U.S., is just an assumption. (of course HRC did not get a majority she just got the ‘most’. But that is another topic).

    We have a system established by constitution. It could be described as 50+1 elections instead of one, or it could be described as the “states elect the president, not the citizens directly”. And the system can be changed or not. But to call it a “relic” reveals an assumption which does not understand it’s purpose or function, which we just saw it perform as it was designed to, over 200 years ago.

    • BobS
      November 13, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      More accurately, “less densely populated rural states” = ‘less densely white-populated rural states’.

    • RB
      November 13, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      …and to further this point, what politician is going to spend time and/or resources in these “flyover states” that don’t carry much voting weight? they will be catering to California and the Eastern Seaboard and the rest will have to go along with the program. Can you say Civil War II?

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution

      The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

  36. Litchfield
    November 13, 2016 at 10:11 am

    It seems to me that the main point here is that Congress could have taken some steps to fix the voting system when the Dems had solid majorities in both houses.

    Ranked Choice Voting is another step in the right direction; see
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/maine-ranked-choice-voting_us_581e49bee4b0aac62484dfb8

    • bobzz
      November 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      The Democrats had a majority in numbers only. The ‘Depublicrats’, i.e., blue dog Democrats, mostly but not all from the South, voted consistently with the Republicans. It was a de sure, not a de facto majority.

    • Noble Pearce
      November 14, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      you post something from The Huffington Post? why didn’t you just post direct quotes from George Soros. Just as believable.

      • Joe B
        November 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

        Your comment is both impolite and careless: read the article. Ranked choice voting was just implemented in Maine and is a good method. But you don’t know that.

    • otto
      November 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1
      “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
      The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

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

      The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

      All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

  37. Gregory Kruse
    November 13, 2016 at 9:58 am

    The solution is to tell schoolchildren that they live in a democracy, and then confuse them with propaganda and lies until they are too old to do anything about it when and if they uncover the truth, that they are virtually slaves

  38. veritas
    November 13, 2016 at 9:58 am

    While we dig out the ancient written Constitution for its supposed relevance to today’s political situation, let’s refresh our memories on what it really is, shall we? “We the people” never meant all the people, as some would like to dream today. The same men who drafted the Constitution also revised their state colonial charters to include so many qualifications for voting that barely 15% of Americans were entitled to cast a vote in the new “republic.” In the stormy 1790’s, when the French Revolution modeled what a genuine class revolution looked like, increasingly reactionary Federalists dismissed the men who had fought Britain for their profit as a mere “rabble” worthy of nothing but armed suppression.

    The Declaration of Independence’s beguiling phrase “all men are created equal” might be next considered, inasmuch as the men who put forth this bold theory were in reality owners of human slaves and were busily engaged in genocide against American Indians. The phrase first and foremost proffers a moral and legal foundation for the colonists’ political demand for a representative government. It is not a demand for universal human rights. A prosperous new American elite class had risen in the colonies but was stymied in its attempts to be accepted as equals by the English aristocracy. Traditional English government was based on hereditary privilege and wealth. Unlike their counterparts in England, the American ruling elite had earned its wealth – largely through slavery and land speculation, by the way, not by actual labor – and was thus ineligible for membership in the highest social orders of the mother country to which its members aspired.

    It was this jealously and resentment of their inferior social status that created the agitation for a final break with England. Their war was brilliantly misrepresented by master propagandists such as Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Tom Paine to enlist the support of men who had nothing to gain from rejecting English authority. The “equality” their leaders sought was power, power for themselves and their class without restraint, and the right to exploit the vast natural and human resources of the continent without interference from an established imperial system that looked down on them as cloddish parvenus, even as it had provided them all their opportunities for prosperity.

    More on the 1787 Constitution is at http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/11/a-constitution-conceived-in-tyranny/

    • Christi
      November 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Absolutely. Your piece is extremely well written and gets to the very core of the problems that need to be solved. Could it be that representative government in a state built on slavery and genocide was just as inherently dysfunctional as the state that we have now which is based on racism, sexism, classism and exceptionalism? Perhaps a complete assessment and acknowledgement of our faulty and fatal (for many) system of “democracy” as the first step in “getting it right” should be undertaken by “we the people”.

    • Joe B
      November 13, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Yes, but I will argue that the US Constitution was sincerely intended to recognize universal human rights. The “men who put forth” the phrase “all men are created equal” were not all slave owners nor engaged in genocide against natives, and those who were did not see the contradiction.

      It is surprising now that people could then accept contradictory disparities in rights, but many do the same today with disparities of economic power. Acceptance of such disparities indicates compelling circumstances, broad ignorance, and lack of incisive public debate, rather than hypocrisy, conspiracy, or lack or principle (although hypocrites and scammers profit therefrom).

      Native Americans were treated foolishly and brutally due to cultural ignorance and opportunism more than conscious hypocrisy. The Spanish conquistadors conveniently decided that natives have no souls, and the Protestants were no more principled in ultimate effects. The settlers simply thought that they had rights that the native cultures did not recognize, and saw no other viewpoint to be debated. Their apologists believed that they were liberating the land from savages to make way for distressed Europeans, and so it appeared from their side once the initial errors were entrenched.

      The benevolent acculturation of the slaves was as inconceivable then as a program of proactive liberation of Africa from economic injustice remains today. Even mechanisms to avoid the Civil War were never debated: taxing slave cotton to subsidize wages for wage-labor cotton, subsidized towns for former slaves, etc. There was no IRS; no federal agency of the required size had ever existed apart from the Army. There was still no plan for former slaves almost a century after the war. Astonishing and contradictory of declared principles, but for most people, not deliberate hypocrisy.

      The tyranny of extreme economic disparities despite political freedom is still not broadly recognized. So call it hypocrisy if you wish, but those involved were often not consciously hypocritical, so much as they were unable to see their own position in history.

    • bfearn
      November 13, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks for more of the whole truth. America is not now and never has been, “A shining city on a hill”, in fact it has engaged in the most deplorable behavior and set the worst possible example around the world, since its inception.

    • November 14, 2016 at 12:52 am

      @ The Declaration of Independence’s beguiling phrase “all men are created equal” …

      You’ve missed the actual meaning of the phrase. Read John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, Book II, An Essay Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government (1764 ed.), http://www.johnlocke.net/two-treatises-of-government-book-ii/ (don’t skip Chapter 2). The phrase is the foundation of Locke’s Natural Law philosophy, from which Jefferson borrowed liberally when drafting the Declaration of Independence. The phrase is hardly beguiling once its source is read and understood. (Book I is an irrefutable repudiation of the Divine Right of monarchs to rule over mankind.)

    • Noble Pearce
      November 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Nonsense

      • Joe B
        November 14, 2016 at 2:16 pm

        Again claiming nobility in a pseudonym, you make retorts unrelated to the comments. Please be polite, stick to the subject, and make an argument or take your very ignoble comments elsewhere.

  39. George
    November 13, 2016 at 9:44 am

    The world would be welcome completely smart and modern America.

  40. Michael
    November 13, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Close contests in swing states resulted in Trump’s win, giving him their electoral votes.

    Large populations in NY and CA gave Clinton nearly a third of the electoral votes she needed.
    Knowing that from the beginning, her message to the rest of the country was what exactly?

    I believe she will lose the popular vote in the other 48 states .

    Time to accept the results and move on. Plenty of work to do in this country. Full disclosure, I voted for neither of them.

    • Al Schechter
      November 13, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Yes. It’s time.

    • Daemon
      November 13, 2016 at 11:26 am

      2 states should not determine the President. The author needs to take a civics class or look at an electoral map.

      • BobS
        November 13, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        Yeah, that’s one way to look at it.
        Another is that 15 California counties have larger populations than Wyoming…empty spaces shouldn’t determine the president either.

      • Devildog
        November 13, 2016 at 8:27 pm

        Please California leave

      • Lowell Googins
        November 13, 2016 at 9:04 pm

        I could not possibly agree more. I had always been opposed to the EC until I took time to understand the ramifications of doing away with it.

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

        A difference of a few thousand voters in one, two, or three states would have elected the second-place candidate in 5 of the 16 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 8 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections since1988.
        537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.
        A difference of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.
        In 2012, a shift of 214,733 popular votes in four states would have elected Mitt Romney, despite President Obama’s nationwide lead of 4,966,945 votes.

    • rosemerry
      November 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Close contests helped Trump, and no mention is made of the Republican “dirty tricks” which for years have been reducing the votes of Black and Hispanic people eg by “purging” them from the rolls for allegedly voting in several States (but the names do not match); all is clearly explained and supported by Greg Palast’s new film “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”. Clinton did not deserve to win, but neither did Trump if we go by real human voters.

      • Noble Pearce
        November 14, 2016 at 12:08 pm

        purely conjecture with no basis in fact.

        • Joe B
          November 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

          Again claiming nobility in a pseudonym, you make retorts unrelated to the comments. Please be polite, stick to the subject, and make an argument or take your very ignoble comments elsewhere.

    • incontinent reader
      November 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Agreed and well stated.

    • Janina
      November 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      CLINTON has lost the popular vote, and it had nothing to do with the electoral office, the information here on popular vote is out of date….. the electoral office is the best thing USA has, it provides for a fair vote, not like ours where you vote for 1 person and if they dont get enough it goes to someone you may not want and if they dont get enough votes, it goes to one of the 2 big bastards which you definetly dont want.

      So why the complaints…… CLINTON did nothing to try and win this election from what I saw and her track record was abysmal…. didnt turn up for some campaign, faked others with green screen, People are starting to wake up the USA is NOT CALIFORNIA MOVIE TIME. it is real life, and Clinton and Obama have DONE NOTHING to improve American life, THEY HAVE DONE EVERY TO DESTROY it….. The sooner they are gone the better, Then just maybe USA will get a chance to do thing well and fairly and stop being the laughing stock of the rest of the world….. who have to kiss arse yet hate every minute….

  41. Bassman
    November 13, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Something might get done if California threatens to secede.

    • Janina
      November 13, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      LET THEM SECEDE, they are moronic elitist who have not relation to realaity, and what will they achieve???? nothing but continue to show the rest of the world how stupid and out of touch they are.

  42. November 13, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Something you wrote here is just flat-out false. You wrote:

    “Why did the politicians fail to fix a system that is so obviously broken or – for that matter – even take any initial steps?”

    In fact, eleven states (RI, VT, HI, DC, MD, MA, WA, NJ, IL, NY, CA) have passed the National Popular Vote compact in years ranging from 2006 to 2014. So there has been continuous progress on this initiative. These states have a total of 165 electoral votes. An additional 105 are needed to seal it. (Perhaps the author is unaware of this because of the shameful lack of coverage of this important issue by the mainstream media.) See http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/status for more information.

    I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But to write that “nothing has been done” and to dismiss it as “impossible” are both highly misleading, and falsely discouraging.

    • Lin Cleveland
      November 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      Danny, you challenge Lazare in saying, “Something you wrote here is just flat-out false. You wrote: ‘Why did the politicians fail to fix a system that is so obviously broken or – for that matter – even take any initial steps?’ ” I selected a different quote, “because that’s what the Framers decreed (or didn’t anticipate) and no one knows how to change it,” from the article but both quotes speak to the same problem. The answer should be obvious that senators and representatives from both parties have no desire to change a system which puts lots of corporate lobbyists’ money in their pockets. The system may not be working well for the majority of citizens who see the cost of living outpace our spending power. For the venal few the system works wonderfully!

      “But the problem is not going away. The system is, in fact, collapsing before our eyes.”–Dan Lazare

      In a recent article journalist and anti-capitalist activist, Chris Hedges, wrote that in a functioning democracy We the People would not feel forced to vote between two such unpopular candidates, Just yesterday I learned that voter turnout for election 2016 was the lowest percentage ever recorded–and that includes midterm elections. Therefore, a candidate receiving the most votes could not claim a mandate from the people. Simply abolishing the silly electoral college will change little as long as the duopoly controls the elections and the media. As John Adams warned, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble opinion, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” Another quote from a framer of the Constitution, Thom Jefferson, warned of another problem we face today, “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.” We the People must make informed decisions if we want a true democracy. We are spied upon by the NSA, FBI and who knows how deep the shadow government goes? This is not what Democracy looks like!

    • November 13, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      There are serious Constitutional issues with the Compact in question – namely, the deliberate circumvention of the Constitution’s expressly stated process for determining the President and Vice President, and the can of worms known colloquially as “states’ rights”. In any event, all progressive people should be focusing their efforts on 2018 to begin to change the make-up of Congress – as we’ve seen numerous times over the last 8 years very little of real value gets done when the Congress is in the control of corporate agents; right now almost all of the members are toadies of the corporate masters. That has to change before anything truly progressive can be done, and it must be done in conjunction with taking local power in cities, towns, and the state legislatures where corporatists run rampant as well. We can’t focus solely on the Presidency if we want real change for the better of everyone.

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        The Compact does Not deliberately circumvent the Constitution’s expressly stated process for determining the President and Vice President

        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.

        The National Popular Vote bill retains the Electoral College and state control of elections. It again changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

        Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state counts and national count.

        When states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes enact the bill, the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed majority of 270+ Electoral College votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes.

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

        Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

        Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

        • PokeTheTruth
          November 14, 2016 at 9:38 pm

          The national popular vote referendum is a sham. Its purpose is to circumvent the Electoral College by neutering its primary function which is to cast the electoral vote for president and vice president per the mandate of the individual State legislatures to govern its citizens and provide them a right to participate in self-governance. A State cannot rescind its constitutional duty of adhering to a republican form of government by adopting a statute that conflicts with constitutional law.

          Citizens of each State have a right to choose who governs them and that right must be reflected by the State where they reside and the electors who pledge to follow the will of the people. For the electors to deny that right and switch their vote is an act of misfeasance and is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    • Noble Pearce
      November 14, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Nonsense. Democracy comes in many forms a republic is just one those forms. the Electoral College is the only way to go. Populist movements are the very basis of tyranny a rejection of viewpoints based on minority status. it was in this light that the founding fathers rejected a pure democracy in favor of a representative Republic. Furthermore, through requiring the presidential election to be Statewide rather than a national election insurers the less likelihood of tyranny across the entire country. It is the exact same methodology used in the Electoral College as is used to select the House and Senate members. there is no difference between the two.

      • Joe B
        November 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm

        I suggest reading the Federalist Papers for contemporary arguments for the Constitution. Your comment suggests Repub deceptions easily corrected:

        1. Nonsequitur: “Populist movements are the very basis of tyranny a rejection of viewpoints based on minority status.”
        Tyranny is the reverse of populism and constitutes “a rejection of viewpoints based on minority status”

        2. The founders certainly did not reject populism. The representation mechanism was intended to create a Congress of reasonable size for public debate.

        3. The method of selecting representatives is unrelated to tyranny. The founders were indeed concerned about stability in their historical considerations, and identified cabals (conspiracy of officials) and tyrants (fearmongering demagogues) as the flaws of classical democracies. They sought stability with checks and balances between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches (which doesn’t work very well presently), and a bicameral legislature with longer terms in the Senate. They did not seek an aristocracy of wealth as the Repubs claim. Aristocracy (granting “titles of nobility”) is in fact prohibited in the Constitution.

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm

        Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

        Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

        Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

        Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

        The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution

        The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

  43. Manrah
    November 13, 2016 at 9:19 am

    From the outside we are puzzled, to say the least. The USA has been spending billions of dollars to promote democracy, to arm all sorts of rebels from Libya, Ukraine to Syria, in fact all around the world while its own democracy is faulty? Is this the message it is now sending to the world? Is it quite honest?

    • Daemon
      November 13, 2016 at 11:20 am

      The more concerning aspect of elections are the electronic machines, and the agent provocateurs. Only citizens who are living people should be allowed to vote and vote only once. Dead and Non Citizens should vote in their home country only. I am not allowed to vote in France, Turkey, or El Salvador because I am not a citizen in any of those countries.

      For links to videos of Democratic Party officials bragging about their election interference see below:

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEE8w-v6Gg4j3ze3oX-urEw

      Hillary Clinton won 10-12 primary states which were had been rigged according to a Study at Stanford. Americans have awakened and found their democracy is under siege.

      One could go on about the biased corporate controlled media in favor of their crony, and the $1.3 billion spent by Clinton.

    • bfearn
      November 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      “The USA has been spending billions of dollars to promote democracy, to arm all sorts of rebels from Libya, Ukraine to Syria, in fact all around the world while its own democracy is faulty?”

      How do you “support” democracy by arming rebels, starting wars based on BS and overthrowing numerous democratically elected governments???

      • Cosmic Janitor
        November 14, 2016 at 1:40 pm

        Bravo bfearn – only corporate media network news zombies believe our government’s lies. US. regime change wars are about stealing other country’s natural resources or ramming energy pipelines through their borders.

    • Noble Pearce
      November 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Nonsense. Democracy comes in many forms a republic is just one those forms. the Electoral College is the only way to go. Populist movements are the very basis of tyranny a rejection of viewpoints based on minority status. it was in this light that the founding fathers rejected a pure democracy in favor of a representative Republic. Furthermore, through requiring the presidential election to be Statewide rather than a national election insurers the less likelihood of tyranny across the entire country. It is the exact same methodology used in the Electoral College as is used to select the House and Senate members. there is no difference between the two.

      • Cosmic Janitor
        November 14, 2016 at 1:49 pm

        The actual problem with US. elections is vote tabulations totaled by electronic voting machines without a paper trail to be recorded by exit poll workers. As Stalin said: “the people who vote decide nothing, the people who count the vote decide everything”. If we want honest election the ‘proprietary trade laws’ – that prohibit the inspection and verification accuracy of individual voting machines – would never be allowed to apply to Diebold’s electronic voting machines that count our vote.

      • otto
        November 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

        With the current system (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), a small number of people in a closely divided “battleground” state can potentially affect enough popular votes to swing all of that state’s electoral votes.

        537 votes, all in one state determined the 2000 election, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.

        A difference of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

        In 2012, a shift of 214,733 popular votes in four states would have elected Mitt Romney, despite President Obama’s nationwide lead of 4,966,945 votes.

        In the 2012 presidential election, 1.3 million votes decided the winner in the ten states with the closest margins of victory.

        The electors are and will be dedicated party activist supporters of the winning party’s candidate who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

        The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast in a deviant way, for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party (one clear faithless elector, 15 grand-standing votes, and one accidental vote). 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome.

        States have enacted and can enact laws that guarantee the votes of their presidential electors

        The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

        As we’re witnessing, if any candidate wins the popular vote in states with 270 electoral votes, there is no reason to think that the Electoral College would prevent that candidate from being elected President of the United States

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUIb2lbaG0w

      • PokeTheTruth
        November 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

        Absolutely correct about the function of the Electoral College. The author of this article talks about democracy but his hidden agenda is to destroy the federal republic and replace it with a unitary government as is in European countries today. This will lay the foundation for the new world order planned by globalists who want a one world government.

        We must also be on guard for the progress of the National Popular Vote referendum which has already been passed into law in ten States (see: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/ ). This new election law requires the State electors to cast their vote for the winner of the national popular vote, not the winner of the State’s popular vote thereby denying the right of State citizens to have their choice on the presidential ballot be counted. It effectively makes the Electoral College process a formality and denies each State’s constitutional right to decide how the electors will vote.

    • November 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      Democracy or mob rule? The electoral college is important, especially to those of us who know and respect the diiferences between a democracy and a republic.

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