Monday, February 27, 2006

Popularity Contest

There is a movement afoot to circumvent the Electoral College and have the Presidency decided by the popular vote. This is an idea that gained popularity after the 2000 election when Gore won the popular vote but Bush was awarded the Presidency. The Constitution is clear on how the President is to be elected, by winning 270 electoral votes, but how those votes are dispersed is left up to the states. This new plan involves passing laws in state legislatures across the country that agree to cast all of their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. What this means is that once enough states agree to the new system that will guarantee 270 electors to the popular vote winner, the rest of the country will, for all practical purposes, be adhering to the new system as well. And, written into the laws is the stipulation that they won’t go into effect until the 270 electoral vote count has been reached. Pretty smart, no?

If this movement takes off, it will mean a radical shift in the way political campaigns are run. No more focusing money, time and attention solely on the battleground states. Presidential campaigns will be national again and states like California and New York will no longer be ignored and blue cities in red states will have reason to go to the polls en masse. There will also be a huge motivation for those of us living in blue cities in blue states to get as many people to the polls as possible, where right now we focus only on getting as many as we need. Image what would happen if it really meant something to go to the polls again. We might actually see 98% turnout in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Austin, Portland, Cleveland, and the myriad of other cities around the country. There really are so many more of us than there are of them, and this could really make the difference in motivating the nearly 50% who simply stay home on election day.

Regardless of where you live, your vote will matter. I imagine that if you’re a Democrat living in Mississippi, Utah, Texas, Alabama, or a host of other “red states”, Election Day can be summed up with, "why bother?" But if the popular vote is what determines the election, that defeatist thinking goes away because every vote could swing an entire election. I don’t see the downside of this beyond the annoyance of having all of, say California’s electoral votes being cast for, say Pat Buchanan when there’s no way in hell he could ever win that state. But that would only happen if Pat Buchanan won a plurality of votes throughout the entire country and if that were the case, we’d have much bigger problems on our hands than how one state cast its electoral votes. The presidency is the only office we vote for as a country and I think that the popular will of the people should mean something. If it did, we wouldn’t be where we are now, that’s for sure.

Under this new system every vote would matter again, but that all means shit if the votes aren’t tallied correctly. The rider on these bills should include the stipulation that all ballots are cast on paper, separate from the state, city and county ballot, all tallied by hand in a glass encased room with citizens and reporters on the other side of the windows. Low-tech is the answer to our electile dysfunction. If we can’t even master the basics, we’re not ready for the big fancy tricks. No electronic voting, no computerized tabulating and no private ownership of our voting systems. Print the ballots on government paper, issue government pens and let citizens count the votes, one at a time and out in the open. If we have to make precincts smaller in order to do it and if we have to wait weeks to find out who won, so be it. This is too important to ignore and we have seen the damage that can result by simply not paying attention and by accepting faith as a substiture for accuracy and accountability. Let’s not make the same mistake again.

14 Comments:

Blogger The Local Crank said...

I don't think abolishing the Electoral College would be that much of cure-all for what ails the system. There is NEVER going to be anything close to 98% turnout in this country, and there never has been. It also won't automatically shift the focus of campaigns, either; they will still spend heavily in big media markets in large cities. Also, consider this: abolishing the EC would only have made a difference in the outcome in three presidential elections in American history (1824, 1876 and 2000).

7:14 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Local Crank--It's certainly not a cure all but for me, it's more about shifting the focus. Not necessarily in where they spend their money, but in how candidates now tend to shift their message when appealing to swing states. They're running for national office, they should appeal to the nation as a whole, including the more liberal cities.

And the way people view thier vote would change as well. When I lived in California, I saw the voter apathy that results from having a pre-determined outcome. If you know your state is going "blue" whether or not you cast a ballot, it's hard to motivate yourself out into the rain when you'd rather just make dinner. I think it could have a dramatic impact if voters really felt it mattered and if activists didn't have to leave their city to get out the vote. If you want to have a real impact now, you go to the suburbs where you may be able to influence a Congressional race at most. Activists are dying to get out there and so many of them live in cities where, under the current system, it really doesn't make a difference. I don't know that they couldn't get a 98% turnout rate and neither do you. The glass is only half full because it's being drained, plug up the hole and who knows what could happen (call me a Pollyanna if you want, but even this criminal regime can't strip me of my optimism completely).

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's about time that votes actually counted!

5:25 AM  
Anonymous roberta kelly said...

I think the popular vote in this day is the correct answer and it should have been implemented a long, long time ago. The Constitution also breathes just like a living being and the reason for the electoral vote was due to the time. The electoral vote was set up when the Pony Express was a primary means of transportation and communication. Because it took some of the states longer to get their votes counted due to the time line of the Pony Express, the electoral vote was the best system.

Now I'm not saying with Peak Oil this may not come around again, the idea of the electoral vote due to the Pony Express. But, it is obvious for the modern time the popular vote is more fair and balanced ~ at least we hope this can be true since it is obvious to us now that the electronic voting machines decide by way of fascism, during this modern time, thus far. This is clearly true even in the UK-US led global domination of all the other nation-states on the planet; i.e., fascism controls the voting whether it is counting the ballots by hand, or not.

I'm a cynic. I see the voting systems as all distorted and corrupt with the exception of Sweden who is probably the closest to democracy as any country can be. Perhaps this is what works, a small country who practices democracy.

Unfortunately, all Americans are getting ready to awaken to the fact that our country has not been practicing democracy, and this is truth, for about 100 years.

The UK set up our economic system and included US as their partner in crime, once we became the "super power."

Therefore, the UK-US Imperialism has been the covert operation since World War I.

This is going to be a monumental change ~ watching (FINALLY) the UK become just another third world country like so many it has caused to be and its ugly twin, the US, gets to be joined at the hip with the UK in its learning curve of all humanity and planet Earth, NOT indentured servants belonging to the US-UK.

"THEM" ~ IS the UK and the US.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous roberta kelly said...

I almost forgot!

The UK doesn't miss a beat, however. It was behind the push to get all of the European nation states to accept the Euro as the collective currency. This was very smart on their part because as the petro US$ is being severed, the UK is still held afloat by way of the Euro now trading in the global basket of international monies.

The UK has been a primary architect of the plan to dominate the Middle East and own all the oil, since World War I. It invited the US into the plan of imperial domination of the people, planet and all the wealth by way of owning all the natural resources, and the US gluttonously joined. Our governing bodies discontinued being democratic at that point in time because they became imperialists, just like the UK. The stage was set and the scenes changed with each new election, but the plan was etched in stone and we’re living the results at this point in time.

The US is considered the terrorists by practically every man, woman and child on this planet and the UK is still pretending to only be the US "ally." The hatred towards the US that I read on varying sites, internationally, is really sad. In my opinion, the UK has been addicted to monarchy for far too long. GWB and his entire lineage believe they, too, are a monarchy. Why would he want to hang out and hold hands with the Royal Family of the House of Saudi? Also, George Herbert Walker Bush was Knighted along with his criminally insane partner Kissinger, by the Queen of England herself. I’m scratching my head in wonder ~ have we been simply just another colony for the UK and THEIR monarchy (puppet government(s) ~ one of the richest families on Earth gets to be the Royal Family in the US-UK colony and the Knighted father with all his loyal cronies (Supreme Court, Dick Cheney, et al) he IS the Commander in Chief running the country, while the son is playing dress-up King.

7:37 AM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

I think there would be some benefits to going to a popular vote system for President, maybe even an increase in turnout.
And on an unrelated note: Good Lord, Roberta, if I wanted to read Lyndon LaRouche's delusional paranoid fantasies, I'd actually read the newsletters he keeps sending me instead of sending them straight to File 13.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Roberta Kelly said...

local crank ~

I've never read "Lyndon LaRouche's delusional paranoid fantasies," but I believe I'll check it out and I recommend you open your mind, too.

My information comes from the international world economists, investors, astro-physicists, nuclear physicists, geo-physicists, historians and Congressman Ron Paul of the 14th District of Texas.

These folks know what is going on and their paranoia is justified. I have no shame in sharing their paranoia for the rest of humanity.

It's important to always welcome another's frame of mind to see from yet another slant of creative genius. Creative genius is anything BUT safe and it's free, a gift we're born with. However, clearly it is up to us to use it.

Good luck and remember my words because the reality IS ~ the bowels of the belly of the beast is where we have finally arrived ~ "caveat emptor."

3:31 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

Roberta, I apologize profusely for suggesting any link between yourself and Lyndon LaRouche. I reiterate, however, that Ron Paul is howling-at-the-moon, pissing-in-the-corner crazy. But, at least, he is consistent.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Roberta Kelly said...

Local Crank ~ I couldn't agree with you more ~

"Howling at the moon and pissing in the wind." I've created art works around these themes.

All of us do this and the energy we waste spinning around like dogs chasing our tails is unbelievable.

We have a brain that is a multi-billion dollar computer and it cannot be reproduced and why not?

Imagination.

Do we use it? Most use 7% or less and the "genuises" (Einstein, et al) use 10%.

It's not easy being human with brains that are super human.

Thank you LC, for being a conscious psyche. We all have so much to struggle for and against.

I did some investigative reading about Lyndon LaRouche and I honestly do not see any comparison between Dr. Ron Paul and him, other than the fact that they are both 100% correct about "Dollar Hegemony."

LC, study Dollar Hegemony very, very carefully. This is a key link to what is going to happen within the next 6 months to 2010. I promise as someone who arises anywhere from 3am to 5am every am to study the market. I'm a mortgage broker and I have been a professional artist since 1975. As well, I have three university degrees and have been a world traveler my whole life.

Be well my friend.

2:51 PM  
Blogger DemocracyUSA said...

Bravo for your post on this topic -- great stuff, and what's exciting is that this campaign is really taking off. The Chicago Sun-Times just gave a glowing endorsement to the Illinois bill. (Track all this at www.nationalpopularvote.com and www.fairvote.org/per)

One thing -- the local crank said that the EC only affected three elections. It actually changed the results of one other election, but more profoundly, it had a huge impact on political equality in eleciton after election. That's why voter turnout was 17% higher among young people in the battleground states than the spectator states. That's probably why Florida got so much attention after its hurricanes, while Louisiana and other states got a lot less -- Florida just counts for more because it's close in presidential races.

3:33 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

DemocracyUSA--That is a great point about hurricane relief, and I'm sure that's not the only example of the "super-voter" status of swing states getting them more than their fair share at the expense of the "spectator" states.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

this is something that is really worth working for ... democracy that is ... and it's gonna be making a difference in more and more elections as we become less and less of a democracy ... unless ... we frickin' change it ... the only argument against it is an anti-democracy antipower to the people argument ... screw that ... let's get it on on this issue

6:36 PM  
Blogger BigNewsDay said...

Brilliant post! This is my first time here. I just kinda stumbled on your site. I've always been in favor of the popular vote, but your post really put it into perspective.

5:50 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Rory--I agree about the somewhat anti-democratic aspect of this proposal. I much prefer the idea of each state dividing it's electoral votes in relation to how the people of that state voted, but that would require all states to agree in order for it to work, and that just seems harder to accomplish. The end result is the same anyway as best as I can figure.

BigNewsDay--Thanks. Stick around, I occasionally make good sense.

6:26 PM  

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