Winning The Electoral College In 2020, Part 1

Path to 270

NOTE: Many people believe the president should be elected by the national popular vote, instead of by the Electoral College vote. For an interesting discussion of popular vote vs. Electoral College, see the many comments at the bottom of the post.

To rage against the U.S. Electoral College is worse than a distraction. It is useless, it’s a waste of time.

If you want to know the names of the president and vice president who will be sworn in next January, 2021, if you care who the next president will be, you have to WIN A MAJORITY of the Electoral College in the November 2020 presidential election. It’s as simple as that. And as difficult. Just look at the Electoral College map above.

Raging against the Electoral College is worse than a distraction because you can’t get rid of it, and you can’t change it.

Where does the Electoral College come from?

It comes from the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1.

“Each State shall appoint, in such a Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress . . . The Electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by Ballot for two  Persons . . . And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed . . . to the President of the Senate. . . . The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the president, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed . . .

. . . after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.”

Straightforward, right?

Each state gets a number of electors equal to its two U.S. Senators plus the number of members the state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. The candidate with the most electoral votes is the next president.

But only if that number is a majority of all the electoral votes. That’s important. Note that the Constitution requires a MAJORITY of the Electoral College. Not a minority.

The above system has been used in every presidential election since the first one in 1788, when a majority chose George Washington without a whole lot of dispute.

The Electoral College is arithmetic, specifically addition! No subtraction, multiplication, long division, geometry or calculus.

So why the consternation about the Electoral College?

Good question. It starts with the fact that the electoral votes of smaller states are proportionately greater than the votes of larger states. That’s because large states and small states all have two U.S. senators as the base point for their number of electors. I will leave it to others with a better understanding of mathematics to consider how significant that proportional difference is in the context of 538 total electoral votes.

A winner-take-all system of awarding the electoral votes makes the proportional difference worse. Much, much worse.

The presidential candidate who wins a state’s popular vote wins ALL that state’s electoral votes. The losing candidate gets NONE of the state’s electoral votes. Even though he or she may have won 45 percent of the state’s popular vote. (The only exceptions are Maine and Nebraska.)

As a result of the winner-take-all system, on top of the proportional advantage of the smaller states, the electoral vote for president does not perfectly reflect the popular vote nationwide. But usually — almost always — one candidate wins both the Electoral College majority and a national popular vote majority or plurality and becomes president.

(NOTE: A candidate must win a MAJORITY in the Electoral College. That’s mandated in the Constitution. Failing an Electoral College majority, the election goes to the House of Representatives. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied with 73 votes each. And the House of Representatives deadlocked 35 times before finally electing Jefferson to be second president of the U.S.

A benefit of the winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes is that it makes failure of one candidate to win an Electoral College majority nearly impossible. Therefore, the winner-take-all system protects against the prospect of an election being decided in the House of Representatives.)

In the national popular vote, the winner might NOT have a majority. When there are three or more candidates, minor candidates slice off little pieces of the popular vote, potentially leaving the winner with less than a majority. When a winner has the most votes but it’s less than a majority, he wins with only a MINORITY. That’s called a PLURALITY.

Bottom line: It is possible for one candidate to win the Electoral College and another candidate to win the national popular vote! Usually it’s not a problem. It’s only happened a few times in the whole history of the U.S.

But it happened in 2016!

Donald Trump won a clear majority (304 to 227) in the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton won a plurality of the national popular vote (48.2% to 46.1%) (65,853,514 to 62,984,828 approximately).

Even though not a majority, Clinton had more popular votes than Trump. And Trump had more electoral votes. Many people think Clinton should therefore be president. But sorry, the winner was Trump, the one with the Electoral College majority. It says so in the Constitution, and the Constitution is the law of the land.

A majority, of course, is 50% plus 1. If you’re a mathematician or a perfectionist, you might calculate: 50% – 48.2% = 1.8%.

And you might ask, where are those 1.8% of the popular votes which denied Clinton a majority. I’m not a mathematician, but I doubt that even a mathematician can answer that question for sure.

It might be reasonable to suggest: Maybe that 1.8% of the popular vote is reflected in the Electoral College total?

Trump is a minority president, and Clinton would also be a minority president. Is it possible to speculate that the Electoral College might reflect the will of the whole nation as accurately as the popular vote?

My head spins! Are these mathematical questions, or metaphysical questions?

And that, my friends, is why many people wonder about the Electoral College and the national popular vote.

In the next post, Part 2, we’ll discuss how the winner-take-all system came to be.

And more important, why it’s a waste of time worrying about the Electoral College, because we’re not going to change it. At least not before the November election. Which is only five months away.

Rather than raging against the Electoral College, your time would be better spent trying to WIN the Electoral College majority for the candidate of your choice. That is the point of this series of posts.

See you in Part 2.

— John Hayden

24 thoughts on “Winning The Electoral College In 2020, Part 1

  1. Newt Gingrich summarized his support for the National Popular Vote bill by saying: “No one should become president of the United States without speaking to the needs and hopes of Americans in all 50 states. … America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally. The National Popular Vote bill accomplishes this in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with our fundamental democratic principles.”

    We have no idea what past outcomes would have been if the campaigns had been run to win the national popular vote.

    Trump in June 2019 – Fox News interview
    “It’s always tougher for the Republican because, . . . the Electoral College is very much steered to the Democrats. It’s a big advantage for the Democrats. It’s very much harder for the Republicans to win.”

    Trump, April 26, 2018 on “Fox & Friends”
    “I would rather have a popular election, but it’s a totally different campaign.”
    “I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.”

    Trump, October 12, 2017 in Sean Hannity interview
    “I would rather have a popular vote. “

    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.”

    In 2012, the night Romney lost, Trump tweeted.
    “The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. . . . The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

    In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted 338–70 for a national popular vote.

    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), Bob Dole (R-KS-1969), Gerald Ford (R-MI-1969), Richard Nixon (R-CA-1969), Jimmy Carter (D-GA-1977), and Hillary Clinton (D-NY-2001).

    Past presidential candidates with a public record of support, before November 2016, 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: Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN),

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    • I hear you. A lot of people have been mesmerized by this gimmicky proposal to get around the US Constitution. But the bill’s tide appears to have crested, and its popularity is probably receding. People have recognized the potential problems and unintended consequences. Many states seem to have decided they’re better off with the winner-take-all system. Following the election of Donald Trump with less than a national popular majority, the remaining Republican states are highly reluctant to abandon the present system. I have no doubt that the debate will continue.

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      • One person, One vote. The candidate with the most votes wins.
        Not a gimmick.
        It’s how virtually every other U.S. election works.

        What potential problems and unintended consequences?

        “Let’s quit pretending there is some great benefit to the national good that allows the person with [fewer] votes to win the White House. Republicans have long said that they believe in competition. Let both parties compete for votes across the nation and stop disenfranchising voters by geography. The winner should win.” – Stuart Stevens (Republican)

        In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until the 2016 election, only about 20% of the public 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).

        When asked the simple question “Do you think the person who wins the most votes nationwide should become the president?” 74% of all Americans surveyed say yes.

        Support for a national popular vote for President has been strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. 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.

        There are several scenarios in which a candidate could win the presidency in 2020 with fewer popular votes than their opponents. It could reduce turnout more, as more voters realize their votes do not matter.

        Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district. 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. It undermines the legitimacy of the electoral system. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

        The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).

        Since 2006, the bill has passed 41 state legislative chambers in 25 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 284 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7) and Virginia (13), and both houses in Nevada (6).
        The bill has been enacted by 16 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 196 electoral votes – 73% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

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        • I agree, one person, one vote is not a gimmick. It’s democracy.

          The proposed interstate compact is idealistic, but it’s gimmicky and impractical.

          I lose track of how many states have actually passed it by both houses and it’s been signed by the governor. But it’s far fewer than half the states. Nowhere near the 3/4 required for a constitutional amendment. And some of the states that thought it was a good idea are having second thoughts. Some will probably repeal their passage.

          If enough states ever do pass this interstate compact and try to put it into effect, which is unlikely, do you think attorneys general from other states might file legal challenges? Do you think the present Supreme Court might quickly rule it unconstitutional?!

          You want problems and unintended consequences? Try figuring out how to get an accurate count of the national popular vote in a reasonable period of time.

          There are always minor glitches and errors to be resolved in numerous precincts, towns, and counties throughout the country. To err is only human. Usually not significant enough to prevent you from calling the winner of the election in a state. But the glitches take time to recount and resolve, and states can take weeks or even months before they officially certify their election results.

          Nationwide, all the little glitches and possible errors could add up to make a significant difference. So, how many months before you have a reliable national total in a close election???

          If the results in a town or county, or even a whole state, are too close for comfort, they do a recount. It takes several days or a week or two.

          What are you going to do when the national popular vote Is finally added up, and it’s so close that everyone wonders if it’s accurate??? Partisan troublemakers will point to imagined corruption and fraud here, there, and everywhere.

          Yep, you’re going to have to do a national recount of every single vote nationwide. How long does that take? Will you be able to inaugurate a new president by the January after the November election?

          Bottom line, the total national popular vote for a country as large as the United States sounds wonderful. As a practical matter, it’s a nightmare. Possibly leading to paralysis and a prolonged legal struggle to decide the winner. Most likely, it simply will not work.

          And that’s only one of the many potential unintended consequences.

          The Electoral College is not perfect. But it has served our country well for more than 200 years. Better to stick with the well-known imperfections you have, than to open a whole new can of unknown problems. Just my opinion.

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          • There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents states from making the decision now that winning the national popular vote is required to win the Electoral College and the presidency.

            . State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, were eventually enacted by 48 states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.

            The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral vote

            National Popular Vote is based on Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives each state legislature the right to decide how to appoint its own electors. 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.”

            The Constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

            Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

            In 1789, in the nation’s first election, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in states where there was a popular vote, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes (and all three stopped using it by 1800).

            In the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 and second election in 1792, the states employed a wide variety of methods for choosing presidential electors, including
            ● appointment of the state’s presidential electors by the Governor and his Council,
            ● appointment by both houses of the state legislature,
            ● popular election using special single-member presidential-elector districts,
            ● popular election using counties as presidential-elector districts,
            ● popular election using congressional districts,
            ● popular election using multi-member regional districts,
            ● combinations of popular election and legislative choice,
            ● appointment of the state’s presidential electors by the Governor and his Council combined with the state legislature, and
            ● statewide popular election.

            The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The state based winner take all system was not adopted by a majority of the states until the 11th presidential election. – decades after the U.S. Constitution was written, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state.

            The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

            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.

            Maine (in 1969) and Nebraska (in 1992) chose not to have winner-take-all laws– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

            The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.

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          • The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).

            Since 2006, the bill has passed 41 state legislative chambers in 25 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 284 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7) and Virginia (13), and both houses in Nevada (6).
            The bill has been enacted by 16 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 196 electoral votes – 73% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

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          • Although the procedures vary from state to state, representatives of the candidates, political parties, proponents and opponents of ballot measures, civic groups, and the media typically all have the ability to immediately obtain the vote count from every precinct for local, statewide, and national elections. Indeed, the almost-instant availability of precinct-level vote tallies provides the basis for the vote tallies that are posted on government web sites and broadcast by the media on Election Night.

            Existing state laws also require rapid transmission of official documentation of vote tallies to some designated central location (e.g., the secretary of state).

            Shortly after Election Day, local authorities make official determinations on the eligibility to vote of provisional ballots that were cast on Election Day, and the additional official documents are created at the local level to reflect the results of including eligible provisional ballots in the precinct totals. In addition, in the process of rechecking local vote tallies, local authorities sometimes notice and correct administrative errors that may have occurred on Election Night (e.g., transposing digits, accidentally double-counting a precinct).

            Within a few weeks after Election Day (long before the meeting of the Electoral College in mid-December), “official returns” consisting of the precinct-level vote tallies for President exist in at least two separate places in every state.
            ● at the level of the precinct or unit of local government where the votes were actually counted, and
            ● at the state office to which the local vote counts were transmitted.

            Federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the “canvas”) in what is called a “Certificate of Ascertainment.” You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site

            With both the current system and the National Popular Vote bill, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the common nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College. The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

            Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states. Federal law (the “safe harbor” provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state’s “final determination” of its presidential election returns is “conclusive”(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day).

            The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and requires each state to treat as “conclusive” each other state’s “final determination” of its vote for President. No state has any power to examine or judge the presidential election returns of any other state under the National Popular Vote compact.

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          • The current presidential election system makes state recounts more likely. All you need is a thin and contested margin in a single state with enough electoral votes to make a difference. It’s much less likely that the national vote will be close enough that voting irregularities in a single area will swing enough net votes to make a difference. If we’d had National Popular Vote in 2000 or 2016, no recount would have been an issue.

            The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

            No statewide recount, much less a nationwide recount, would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 58 presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

            The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
            “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg

            The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush’s lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore’s nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the minuscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

            Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state by-state winner-take-all methods.

            The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

            The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

            We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

            Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

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

            The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

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          • Trump in June 2019 – Fox News interview
            “It’s always tougher for the Republican because, . . . the Electoral College is very much steered to the Democrats. It’s a big advantage for the Democrats. It’s very much harder for the Republicans to win.”

            Trump, April 26, 2018 on “Fox & Friends”
            “I would rather have a popular election, but it’s a totally different campaign.”
            “I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.”

            Trump, October 12, 2017 in Sean Hannity interview
            “I would rather have a popular vote. “

            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.”

            In 2012, the night Romney lost, Trump tweeted.
            “The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. . . . The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

            In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted 338–70 for a national popular vote.

            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), Bob Dole (R-KS-1969), Gerald Ford (R-MI-1969), Richard Nixon (R-CA-1969), Jimmy Carter (D-GA-1977), and Hillary Clinton (D-NY-2001).

            Past presidential candidates with a public record of support, before November 2016, 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: Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN), Senator and Vice President Al Gore (D-TN), Ralph Nader, Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Jill Stein (Green), 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), Congressmen John Anderson (R, I –ILL).

            Newt Gingrich summarized his support for the National Popular Vote bill by saying: “No one should become president of the United States without speaking to the needs and hopes of Americans in all 50 states. … America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally. The National Popular Vote bill accomplishes this in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with our fundamental democratic principles.”

            Eight former national chairs of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have endorsed the bill

            The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote has included former Congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama), Tom Campbell (R–California), and former Senators David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah).

            Supporters of the National Popular Vote bill have included former Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN), Governor Jim Edgar (R–IL), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA)

            Saul Anuzis, former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for five years and a former candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, supports the National Popular Vote plan as the fairest way to make sure every vote matters, and also as a way to help Conservative Republican candidates. This is not a partisan issue and the National Popular Vote plan would not help either party over the other.

            Supporters include:
            The Nebraska GOP State Chairman, Mark Fahleson.

            Michael Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State

            Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote:”A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College.”

            Some other supporters who wrote forewords to “Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote” http://www.every-vote-equal.com/ include:

            Laura Brod served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2003 to 2010 and was the ranking Republican member of the Tax Committee. She was the Minnesota Public Sector Chair for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and active in the Council of State Governments.

            James Brulte the California Republican Party chairman, served as Republican Leader of the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1996, California State Senator from 1996 to 2004, and Senate Republican leader from 2000 to 2004.

            Ray Haynes served as the National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2000. He served as a Republican in the California State Senate from 1994 to 2002 and was elected to the Assembly in 1992 and 2002

            Dean Murray was a member of the New York State Assembly. He was a Tea Party organizer before being elected to the Assembly as a Republican, Conservative Party member in February 2010. He was described by Fox News as the first Tea Party candidate elected to office in the United States.

            Thomas L. Pearce who served as a Michigan State Representative from 2005–2010 and was appointed Dean of the Republican Caucus. He has led several faith-based initiatives in Lansing.

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  2. Whew! Mr. Old Gulph, thank you for your lengthy comments. You definitely know a lot about elections, you are committed to the national compact concept for a popular vote, and I imagine that most of what you have to say is accurate. You are, of course, right in saying that the “winner-take-all” system was created entirely by legislative action of the individual states.

    The Electoral College cannot be eliminated without a Constitutional Amendment, and the number of electoral votes allocated to the states cannot be changed without an amendment. But the winner-take-all rule could indeed be changed by state laws. The sticking point is it would need agreement of most of the states, and you don’t have even half the states on board yet. You may notice that since Maine and Nebraska adopted their hybrid systems, the other states have not rushed to join them.

    I do still believe that the proposed state compact, if it ever received approval of enough states, would be challenged in the courts and most likely be overturned by the Supreme Court. Nothing as radical and controversial as changing the way we elect the president is going to escape the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. And I continue to believe that unintended consequences, particularly involving counting and recounting the national vote, would be inevitable. I respect your right to hold another opinion.

    Again, thank you for your contribution. I personally am inclined to think the present system has worked well for more than two centuries, and my motto is, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But I don’t claim to be an expert on election law.

    I do think that the movement for a national popular vote compact has run out of steam, but I could be wrong about that. What is crystal clear, however, is that it is not going to be adopted and put into effect between now and November 2020. So as I say, we have the present Electoral College system for the 2020 election, and I’m focusing on the 2020 election.

    We play by the existing rules until they are changed.

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    • Based on the current mix of states that have enacted the National Popular Vote compact, it could take about 25 states to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the compact.

      The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).

      Since 2006, the bill has passed 41 state legislative chambers in 25 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 284 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7) and Virginia (13), and both houses in Nevada (6).

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        • No. Since its origination in 2006, the National Popular Vote bill has been introduced in legislatures in all 50 states and DC.

          More than 3,407 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

          The bill has been debated in legislative chambers in 36 states.

          It has passed 41 state legislative chambers in 25 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 284 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), North Carolina (15), Oklahoma (7), and Virginia (13), and both houses in Nevada (6).
          It has been enacted by 16 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 196 electoral votes – 73% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

          In 2020, Virginia House passed.
          In 2019, Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon enacted the National Popular Vote bill. Nevada Assembly and Senate passed. Minnesota House passed.

          In 2018, Connecticut enacted the National Popular Vote bill.
          In 2016, Arizona House passed, Georgia and Missouri House committees passed.
          In 2015, Oklahoma Senate passed.
          In 2014 New York enacted the National Popular Vote bill
          In 2013, Rhode Island enacted the National Popular Vote bill
          In 2011, California and Vermont enacted the National Popular Vote bill.
          In 2010, D.C. and Massachusetts enacted the National Popular Vote bill.
          In 2009, Washington state enacted the National Popular Vote bill. Nevada Assembly passed.
          In 2008, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey enacted the National Popular Vote bill. Michigan House passed.
          In 2007, Maryland enacted the National Popular Vote bill. North Carolina Senate passed.

          In 2006, Colorado’s Senate was the first state legislative house in the nation to pass National Popular Vote’s legislation for nationwide election of the President.

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          • Your endless and disorganized lists of numbers simply make me more confused. Is it possible to simply say the states in which it has passed both houses and been signed by the governor? That’s all that’s necessary.

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          • The bill has been enacted by Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. These 16 jurisdictions possess 196 electoral votes – 73% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

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    • The Founders created the Electoral College, but 48 states eventually enacted state winner-take-all laws.

      The U.S. Constitution says “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.”

      The normal way of changing the method of electing the President is by state legislatures with governors making changes in state law.

      Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation’s first election in 1789. However, now, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states.

      In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all method (awarding all of a state’s electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all method is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states.

      In 1789, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state.

      In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

      The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution and amend it.

      States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine (in 1969) and Nebraska (in 1992) chose not to have winner-take-all laws

      The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

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    • Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

      In 1789, in the nation’s first election, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in states where there was a popular vote, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes (and all three stopped using it by 1800).

      In the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 and second election in 1792, the states employed a wide variety of methods for choosing presidential electors, including
      ● appointment of the state’s presidential electors by the Governor and his Council,
      ● appointment by both houses of the state legislature,
      ● popular election using special single-member presidential-elector districts,
      ● popular election using counties as presidential-elector districts,
      ● popular election using congressional districts,
      ● popular election using multi-member regional districts,
      ● combinations of popular election and legislative choice,
      ● appointment of the state’s presidential electors by the Governor and his Council combined with the state legislature, and
      ● statewide popular election.

      The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The state based winner take all system was not adopted by a majority of the states until the 11th presidential election. – decades after the U.S. Constitution was written, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state.

      The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

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    • ● In 1789, Massachusetts had a two-step system in which the voters cast ballots indicating their preference for presidential elector by district, and the legislature chose from the top two vote-getters in each district (with the legislature choosing the state’s remaining two electors).
      ● In 1792, the voters were allowed to choose presidential electors in four multi-member regional districts (with the legislature choosing the state’s remaining two electors).
      ● In 1796, the voters elected presidential electors by congressional districts (with the legislature choosing only the state’s remaining two electors).
      ● In 1800, the legislature took back the power to pick all of the state’s presidential electors (entirely excluding the voters).
      ● In 1804, the voters were allowed to elect 17 presidential electors by district and two on a statewide basis.
      ● In 1808, the legislature decided to pick the electors itself.
      ● In 1812, the voters elected six presidential electors from one district, five electors from another district, four electors from another, three electors from each of two districts, and one elector from a sixth district.
      ● In 1816, Massachusetts again returned to state legislative choice.
      ● In 1820, the voters were allowed to elect 13 presidential electors by district and two on a statewide basis.
      ● Then, in 1824, Massachusetts adopted its 10th method of awarding electoral votes, namely the statewide winner-take-all rule that is in effect today.
      ● In 2010, Massachusetts enacted the National Popular Vote interstate compact. This change will go into effect when states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (270 out of 538) enact the same compact.
      None of these 11 changes required an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These changes were accomplished using the Constitution’s built-in method for changing the method of electing the President, namely section 1 of Article II. That constitutional provision gives Massachusetts (and all the other states) exclusive and plenary power to choose the manner of awarding their electoral votes.

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    • “Let’s quit pretending there is some great benefit to the national good that allows the person with [fewer] votes to win the White House. Republicans have long said that they believe in competition. Let both parties compete for votes across the nation and stop disenfranchising voters by geography. The winner should win.” – Stuart Stevens (Republican)

      In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until the 2016 election, only about 20% of the public 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).

      When asked the simple question “Do you think the person who wins the most votes nationwide should become the president?” 74% of all Americans surveyed say yes.

      Support for a national popular vote for President has been strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. 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.

      There are several scenarios in which a candidate could win the presidency in 2020 with fewer popular votes than their opponents. It could reduce turnout more, as more voters realize their votes do not matter.

      Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district. 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. It undermines the legitimacy of the electoral system. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

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    • Because of current state-by-state statewide winner-take-all laws for Electoral College votes, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution . . .

      The Bulwark reported that the presidential election could come down to three states: Nevada, Michigan and Georgia.

      As of April 2, 2020, Sabato’s Crystal Ball said only 57 electoral votes in four states (Pennsylvania – 20, North Carolina – 15, Arizona -11, Wisconsin – 10) and one district vote in Nebraska are not predictable.

      Politico said only five states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona) are likely to be politically relevant in the 2020 presidential race.

      “Experts generally agree that the key swing states to focus on this year are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” – Newsweek 3/13/20

      “Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia are no longer swing states and are OFF THE TABLE.” – Wasserman, Cook Political Report, Democracy Matters Conference, March 2019

      Not a single one of the ten smallest states, or a single one of the most rural states, has hosted a major general campaign event for a presidential candidate during the last 20 years.

      Almost all small and medium-sized states and almost all western, southern, and northeastern states are totally ignored after the conventions.

      The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

      Our presidential selection system shrinks the sphere of public debate to only a few thousand swing voters in a few states.

      The only states that have received any campaign events and any significant ad money have been where the outcome was between 45% and 51% Republican.

      In 2000, the Bush campaign, spent more money in the battleground state of Florida to win by 537 popular votes, than it did in 42 other states combined,

      This leads to a corrupt and toxic body politic.

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

      Issues of importance to 38+ 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.”

      In 2016, Karl Rove advised Trump – “Look, you’re welcome to try and win [a state you can’t win], but every day you spend trying to win a state you can’t win is a day that a presidential candidate forfeits winning in a state like, in your case, Pennsylvania or Michigan or Wisconsin or Iowa.”

      “You’ve got to—we had to focus on 270 and that meant that every day that we spent outside those states was a day that was wasted, unless we had either fundraising necessities or a national message that we needed to…” “Every day is vital, and we put all of our time and all of our energy and all of our resources into our battleground-state effort.”

      When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

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  3. Mr. Oldgulph, Thank you for your list of the 16 jurisdictions that have fully passed the national popular vote interstate compact. The most striking fact: All are BLUE states on the Pacific Coast and in the Northeast, plus Blue states Illinois in the Midwest and New Mexico in the southwest, and Hawaii. That is, they are all states that usually support the DEMOCRATIC presidential candidate. Except one purple state, Colorado, the only Rocky Mountain state to approve it. (It’s on hold in Colorado pending a referendum in the 2020 election.)

    There appears to be a perception among American voters and states that the Electoral College at present tilts slightly in favor of REPUBLICANS. Especially after Donald Trump won the Electoral College majority in 2016, but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Maybe that explains why not a single RED state, the states that vote reliably REPUBLICAN, have yet adopted your popular vote interstate compact. And they probably won’t.

    The BLUE Democratic states are quite idealistic and progressive, but probably misguided, in regard to the popular vote interstate compact. Don’t you think?

    To be clear, from Virginia south, not a single SOUTHERN STATE supports the interstate compact. Not a single GREAT PLAINS state supports it, and not a single ROCKY MOUNTAIN state supports it. (Except Colorado, a purple state which may not support after its 2020 referendum.) None of the MIDWEST states have adopted the interstate compact either, except Illinois, a BLUE state.

    Maybe there’s a good reason why none of the RED states and none of the SWING states want anything to do with the interstate compact. The big swing states, Texas, Florida, and Ohio, in particular, see no advantage in giving up their awesome Electoral College power as swing states!

    To recap: The 16 Blue states that have adopted the interstate compact are:

    Pacific Coast: California, Oregon, Washington.

    Northeast: Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and District of Columbia.

    Plus Illinois in the Midwest, Colorado (on hold) in the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico in the Southwest, and Hawaii.

    Quite an interesting divide between BLUE and RED states. We will have the Electoral College for the 2020 election for sure.

    Attitudes regarding the Electoral College may change after 2020 and before the 2024 election. The outcome of the 2020 Electoral College vote might change perceptions. And following the 2020 Census, reapportionment will change the number of votes each state has in the Electoral College. Generally speaking BLUE states will lose electoral votes and RED states will add electoral votes before the 2024 election. Food for thought.

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