Getting Around the Electoral College

NPR reports on the popular vote movement:

Democrats in Colorado and New Mexico are pushing ahead with legislation to pledge their 14 collective electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote — no matter who wins each state.

The plan only goes into effect if the law passes in states representing an electoral majority. That threshold is 270 votes, which is the same number needed to win the presidency. ...

So far, 11 states — including New York, California and New Jersey — have joined the effort along with the District of Columbia, putting the effort 98 votes short of its goal.

Colorado appears poised to join as the 12th state. The state legislature passed the bill Thursday, and Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign it. In New Mexico, the legislation is awaiting consideration in the state Senate after the House approved it earlier this month.

There are questions about whether this would be constitutional or not, but the argument is that the Constitution leaves it up to the states to decide what to do with their electoral votes.


E Hines said...

The constitutionality of it stems from whether it's a formal compact. Doing it in the basis of a handshake and subsequently on the tradition will make it hard to prove the compact.

Eric Hines

raven said...

They really truly seem to want a shooting war. I can think of no better way to start one than to permanently consign 50 percent of the population to political irrelevance , subject to the whims of New York and California.

Without representation, are the disenfranchised bound by the new laws?

Elise said...

It's interesting that the NPR article doesn't mention by name or link to, what it simply refers to as "[t]he plan", "the national popular vote measures", and "the effort". Given that the piece quotes "John Koza [who] devised the plan and chairs the organization behind it" it seems clear the piece is referring to the National Popular Vote bill which, look, has a website:

One thing I've always wondered about this "effort": Let's say the NPV gets enough States/electoral votes to go into effect. Then let's say in the next Presidential election the Republican wins the popular vote but the Democrat would win the Electoral College. Will any of the solidly Democratic States revoke their participation in the NPV between the election on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November and the Electoral College meeting on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December? I'd bet the answer is "Yes".

Deevs said...

It's kind of incredible that so many people act as if the electoral college is some archaic thing that arose spontaneously to let Trump get elected. The electoral college was already baked into the cake. My buddy has a pretty good analogy for it. Complaining about the electoral college is like complaining that your favorite soccer team lost the game 3-2 even though they had more time in control of the ball.
The popular vote was never the main goal for either candidate. If it had been, both campaigns would have looked completely different.

Texan99 said...

I'm with Elise. Are they really that sure the D candidate will always take the popular vote? They're going to be pretty darned unhappy if the R candidate does, and their state's vote goes to him.

If they're willing to take that chance, and their citizens don't decamp to states with more attractive laws, I'm not sure I can see why they can't set it up this way for their own state.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Deevs - I have a more American analogy (hey, I love soccer, but this is symbolism here). The World Series goes to the team that wins the most games out of seven. The total number of runs in the series is irrelevant. This is not merely an accident, this is for good reasons. You can get blown out in one game (or in one state) but that is not determinative.

What if a candidate ran on the platform of saying "I'm going to give all the good stuff to CA and NY," and carried those states 95-5? While that may seem an unlikely example, that is not that different from what is happening now. Policies that benefit urban areas play very well in a few big states.

Ymarsakar said...

Anonymous raven said...
They really truly seem to want a shooting war.

I don't think so. They are the same way as Jefferson Davis and the Confederation when they received Vatican funding and weapons support. Without it, they would not have been so confident on independence. If those warships had been built in time, the North's naval logistics would not have been able to support the naval or land army strategy.

The Leftist alliance is merely a cannon fodder stalking horse of the Deep State. They are not meant to win. They are meant to entangle you together and delay you from realizing where the Hammer Blow will really come. It doesn't matter who starts the war or whether the Left wins or not, because all that matters is time: buying time. Once the Deep State buys enough time, there's nothing Americans can do about it. The strategic and logistical power gap would be greater than that between Iraq and America in 2004. Good luck winning that one.

That is why it was important to begin cw2 as soon as possible in the USA. But people don't know what they don't know, and now it is too late. There's not much time they can save, win or lose the battle, for they have already lost the war.

The good news is that there are other factions at play, which are waging a civil war on the Deep State. So I guess Americans can expect to greet their new masters once the victors are determined. Meanwhile, people are busy talking about the FBI and CIA, as if getting rid of them would even decrease the DS's power by more than .5%.

raven said...

"Are they really that sure the D candidate will always take the popular vote? They're going to be pretty darned unhappy if the R candidate does, and their state's vote goes to him."

That is not how they play. They will just change the rules back. The rules depend on who has the ball. "Who, whom".

Tom said...

It's interesting that left and right both have projects to remake the system. For the left, it's explicitly getting rid of the electoral college and implicitly, through the "living constitution" philosophy, reshaping the meaning of the Constitution.

For the right, there is the Convention of States project, which aims at a constitutional convention focused on curtailing the power of the federal government.

Grim said...

One of these projects is explicitly constitutional (Article V), I notice, while the other is an attempt to end-run the constitution.

Christopher B said...

I do wonder if this compact will actually make it to 270. I haven't run a formal analysis but I see an interesting problem. The eleven largest states have 270 EVs but at least four (TX, OH, GA, and NC - 87 EV) are unlikely to sign on, though OH and GA have bills pending. The 22 smallest states control about 90 EVs but not all of them will sign on for ideological reasons, and maybe not even for strategic ones since they benefit the most from the 2 vote bonus. It becomes quite difficult to figure out where the remaininh 100 EVs are going to come from since once you get past New Jersey in size each new state only adds about 10 EVs to the total.

Tom said...

Good point, Grim.

Christopher, I also think it's improbable. As the article says, at least a few deep red states would have to sign on.

Be that as it may, they are still a lot closer to achieving their goal than conservatives are in their Convention of States project.

An interesting question is, what should the states who don't want to get rid of the Electoral College do if this movement succeeds?

Tom said...

Another interesting point is that neither movement can address the other.

Changing the Electoral College won't have any effect on new Constitutional amendments proposed by the Convention of States, and the Convention of States limiting itself to amendments that restrict federal power means it couldn't address the Electoral College / popular vote movement even if it wanted to.

Grim said...

"..., what should the states who don't want to get rid of the Electoral College do if this movement succeeds?"

Aim at winning the popular vote, I guess. If you can win the popular vote, all these popular vote compact states will be obligated to give their EC votes to you, plus you'll get all the non-compact states' votes too if you win them. Republican Presidents who win can thus say, "Hey, when we win we routinely get 90-100% of the Electoral College vote; whereas Democrats who win only get 51%. Thus, only Republican presidents are really legitimate enough to make serious changes."

It's a rhetorical argument more than a substantive one, but those work sometimes.