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A Point of View: The Electoral College: constitutionally grounded in statesí right

SPRINGVILLE ó ďThe electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for president and vice president,Ē said Constitutional Amendment 12, which was ratified June 15, 1804.

The United States Congress will meet, in joint session, on Jan. 6, to count the Electoral Collegeís electoral votes. There have been calls for the reform, or even the abolition of, the Electoral College. Such calls are not new; there have been more constitutional amendments introduced in Congress for alteration or abolition of the Electoral College than on any other subject.

Some people feel that the candidate who receives the most votes in the nation should win the seat. They also believe that, if they are located in a state that is heavily one-sided, their vote may not count at all. But the framers were logical, when establishing this system of electors.

When the Constitution was drafted, America was an almost entirely rural society. There were no political headlines, TV news programs or Internet. Weeks sometimes went by, before political news was received from other states. In this atmosphere, the founders were concerned that a regional candidate in a highly-populated area could garner enough votes to win an election. A candidate who might not have the interests of the entire nation at heart, could win an election.

If an individual needed to win only the popular vote, that person could be elected president without winning a majority of Americaís residents. That individual would not have been elected by a consensus of the states, but simply on his or her popularity in a particular state, or in two or three heavily-populated areas.

Our present system forces a candidate to win a majority of the statesí electoral votes and obliges that individual to appeal to the entire nation: a wider portion of the population than a few densely-populated cities or areas.

It is not sufficient for a candidate who is hugely popular in Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles to win the election. Candidates must make a case more broadly, in order to garner the necessary electors nationally to gain the presidency.

Article 2 of the Constitution and its 12th Amendment stipulates that electors who are chosen by the state choose the president.

A state is allotted as many electors as it has representative in Congress. The Electoral College is a bulwark of statesí rights. I believe that it also fosters the cohesiveness of the entire nation.

We are the United States of America, not the united people of America, because it is a union of states and not merely individuals. States directly elect presidents and individuals indirectly elect those leaders.

This protects the integrity of the various states by vesting them with the authority to choose electors who will then choose the president. It fosters the cohesiveness of the entire nation and an examination of the issues nationally, discouraging candidates from concentrating on a few dispersed, but highly concentrated populated areas, and locally popular issues.

The Electoral College provides several other important benefits. Because a candidate must win at least 270 electoral votes from across the nation, that candidate cannot become president without a significant, widespread voter base. The college ensures a broad, national consensus for a candidate that will allow that person to govern, once in office.

Think of the influence New York City has, over New York state. When is the last time a governor or senator from New York has been a native of Western New York? Think of the impact this concentration of power has had, on the rest of the state.

The Electoral College system prioritizes the most important factors and issues, in selecting a president. A system of political representation that decentralizes decision-making and increases the authority of local control tends to support the concepts of representative democracy. That is what the Electoral College does.

This decentralization of political selection process and a more widely-dispersed political participation in a nation conforms to the original intent of our founding fathers and as articulated in Article 2 of the United States Constitution and its 12th Amendment.

The rights of states are well preserved. The early framers knew what they were doing and we will see their process play out, again, on Thursday, Jan. 6.

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2012-12-12 | 14:51:39
The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation's votes!
2012-12-12 | 14:55:17
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. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it. * * The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party‚Äôs presidential candidate. That is not what the Founders intended. * * During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states. * * The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state, ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, in 2012 did not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. 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. * * 80% of the states and people were just spectators to the presidential elections. That's more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans. New York is ignored. * * Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states, like New York, are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‚Äėbattleground‚Äô states when it comes to governing. * * Since World War II, a shift of a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 14 presidential elections * * The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College (now the set of 538 dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates) and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. * * Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270 electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency. * * States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond. * * The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens. * * 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).
2012-12-12 | 14:57:47
With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates‚Äô attention, much less control the outcome. The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15%. * * Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican. * * Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a ‚Äúbig city‚ÄĚ approach would not likely win the national popular vote. * * If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city. * * A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote 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. * * 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 vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere. * * With National Popular Vote, when every vote 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. * * Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn't have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election. In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California. * * Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston. * * There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states. * * With a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area. * * Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn‚Äôt be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as waitress mom voters in Ohio. * * With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Wining states would not be the goal. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states. * * 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.
2012-12-12 | 14:59:52
A survey of New York voters showed 79% overall support for a national popular vote for President. * * By gender, support was 89% among women and 69% among men. * * By age, support was 60% among 18-29 year olds, 74% among 30-45 year olds, 85% among 46-65 year olds, and 82% for those older than 65. * * Support was 86% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, 78% among Independence Party members (representing 8% of respondents), 50% among Conservative Party members (representing 3% of respondents), 100% among Working Families Party members (representing 2% of respondents), and 7% among Others (representing 7% of respondents). * * NationalPopularVote
2012-12-12 | 15:01:58
The National Popular Vote Bill
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). * * Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions. * * When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes‚Äď enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC. * * The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action. * * 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 (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win. * * The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill passed the New York Senate in 2010 and 2011. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect. * * NationalPopularVote