Will Colorado ditch the Electoral College?
February 4, 2019 8:25 AM   Subscribe

"The Colorado Senate this week passed a bill that would award the state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote." Colorado Senate passes bill favoring popular vote over Electoral College. The bill is known as the the national popular vote interstate compact.
posted by dancing leaves (24 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
More info on the compact, including a map of which states have passed it and white are considering it. There's still a ways to go, but progress is creeping along.

It's a very clever idea, a way to change the national election without actually having to amend the Constitution. If it ever passes though you can expect years of court cases before it takes effect.
posted by Nelson at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


This is less about Colorado and more of a question of whether the country will ditch the electoral college through the interstate compact. Colorado won’t trigger until everyone else does.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:40 AM on February 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


s/everyone else/enough states to have 270 or more electoral votes/
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:42 AM on February 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


While I like the compact, it's inherently unstable, because once one party or the other sees and advantage in breaking it the whole thing will fall apart since there is no way to force a state to stay in other than a constitutional amendment.
posted by jmauro at 8:53 AM on February 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


If it ever passes though you can expect years of court cases before it takes effect.

I'm not so sure, the Supreme Court has been quite clear a legislature can fill it's electors in any way it sees fit. It can even just appoint them without any sort of election.
posted by jmauro at 8:55 AM on February 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Even if the compact has some flaw with enforcement, getting a critical mass of states to join it sounds like a good way to trigger a constitutional convention.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


The last thing you want is a Constitutional Convention. Rewriting the entire constitution would be a total mess. Who would be the conventioneers, how would it be approved, etc. And to add to it most of those pushing for a less than progressive and want to include things like the Balanced Budget amendment and rules to prevent Congress from ever raising taxes. It'll be a nightmare for everyone involved.

It's better to just put the one change in an amendment and work it that way.
posted by jmauro at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Looking at wikipedia: Colorado has passed the NPVIC in one house but not the other three times before: in 2006 and 2007 it passed in the senate and died in the house. In 2009 it passed in the house but died in the senate. Fourth time's the charm?

Another interesting note: in every state where it passed both chambers but got vetoed, the NPVIC was eventually passed into law.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:08 AM on February 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


While I like the compact, it's inherently unstable, because once one party or the other sees and advantage in breaking it the whole thing will fall apart

Sure, but a popular vote for the presidency enjoys remarkable bipartisan support from the public. Could you imagine people having it and then being the political party trying to take it away again?

There would be doubtful political gains to be had from trying to stuff that genie back in the bottle.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Could you imagine people having it and then being the political party trying to take it away again?

Yes, because the GOP is desperate to hold on to every edge it can.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:17 AM on February 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Wow, it's currently got 265 of the EC votes (if it passes in every state considering it). So, if just one more state with even a modest population goes for it, it would trigger. Heck just two of the smallest, 3 EC votes, states voting for it would be enough.
posted by oddman at 9:36 AM on February 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


A competing idea with a similar aim: revert to the original model of the Electoral College: eliminate the 'winner-takes-all' model most states now use when allocating electoral college votes, and return to allocating these votes based on state popular vote. In this model, each candidate would receive the same percentage of electoral votes as their percentage of the popular vote in each state.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 9:38 AM on February 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


@jmauro By constitutional convention, I am referring to one of the ways in which new amendments can be proposed, not a full rewrite.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:49 AM on February 4, 2019


@I-Write-Essays, Article V convention has never been called precisely because you cannot actually control what they discuss so it can go off the rails pretty quickly. For example, the last Constitutional Convention of 1787 was called to look at establishing a national army, but quickly decided on its own to re-write the whole Articles of Confederation with out any means to stop them.

If you look at who is pushing for an Article V convention, you'd quickly conclude that a short one to just write a change to the electoral college isn't what they have in mind. If a change has broad support passing it as an amendment via the House and Senate is the way to go. If it doesn't a convention invites all sorts of shenanigans that should not even be allowed on the table.
posted by jmauro at 10:01 AM on February 4, 2019 [14 favorites]


same percentage of electoral votes as their percentage of the popular vote

That the smallest states still get two "bonus" electoral votes still keeps the math open for a electoral win/popular loss though, doesn't it?
posted by bendybendy at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2019


Could you imagine people having it and then being the political party trying to take it away again?

I think you underestimate the willingness of the GOP to run hundred-million-dollar ad buys consisting of nothing but a black-and-white picture of George Soros, with red fangs drawn on in MS Paint, with ominous music playing while a voice drones "first they came for our farms, and then they came for our pickup trucks, and before you knew it, we were all gay-married to city-folk." These guys are pros at fostering an inferiority complex in their constituents, and you'd better believe Wyoming and Utah aren't going to give up their unreasonably large representation in the Presidential election without a huge fight.
posted by Mayor West at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


The National Popular Vote has been discussed before on Mefi. The most detailed coverage (in a post by me shortly after the 2016 election): Previously. And here. And here. And here.
posted by Xoc at 10:18 AM on February 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


A competing idea with a similar aim: revert to the original model of the Electoral College: eliminate the 'winner-takes-all' model most states now use when allocating electoral college votes, and return to allocating these votes based on state popular vote. In this model, each candidate would receive the same percentage of electoral votes as their percentage of the popular vote in each state.

Similar, but not exactly the same. Specifically, this enshrines the additional voting power that small states have.

If the 2016 elections had the same state-by-state outcomes, the Popular Vote Compact would have given 271+ to Hillary, as she got the most votes nationwide.

If the 538 EVs were allocated proportionally by the national vote, Hillary would have 261, Trump 250, Gary Johnson 18, Jill Stein 6 and Evan McMullin 3.

If they were allocated by the "similar aim" this competing idea had: Hillary 261, Trump 261, Johnson 14, Stein 1 and McMullin 1.

Giving the Republican 11 extra electoral votes and making the Libertarian party the king-maker does not seem like a similar aim to me. It in fact seems like a completely different aim that might undermine the aim of this idea.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:32 AM on February 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


>> Could you imagine people having it and then being the
>> political party trying to take it away again?
>
> Yes, because the GOP is desperate to hold on to every edge it can.
>

Indeed. And their rank and files' happily giving up the benefits of the Affordable
Healthcare Act was what allowed the Republican majority to quickly repeal it. Or it would of, if the party rank and file was willing to give up something they like. As it is once the Republican constituents got a taste of those sweet, sweet socialist death panels there was no going back.

> you'd better believe Wyoming and Utah aren't going to give up
> their unreasonably large representation in the Presidential election without a huge fight.

I'm sure, but given their objectively low representation what exactly can they do? Unless the Interstate Compact is tottering just at 270 their paltry few votes aren't going to do anything. In fact, since they're unlikely to sign up for the Compact in the first place they really aren't going to affect anything at all after it takes effect.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:10 PM on February 4, 2019


In fact, since they're unlikely to sign up for the Compact in the first place they really aren't going to affect anything at all after it takes effect.

They'll sue. They'll send lunatics to their state legislatures and Secretaries of State and Directors of Elections in states that subscribe to the NPVIC so certification becomes a bunch of circuses. They'll send lunatics to the EC vote so that becomes a circus too.

And the Republican Party (which is the side that's going to get hosed by the first application of the NPVIC) is going to go right along with them and encourage every other state to do the same thing.
posted by Etrigan at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2019


In fact, since they're unlikely to sign up for the Compact in the first place they really aren't going to affect anything at all after it takes effect.

Why is it good that some states will not be able to "affect anything at all" after a change like this? I understand the argument that these states' effects on presidential elections are disproportionately large. If what Tell Me No Lies argues is true, this seems like going too far in the other direction.
posted by eabomo at 2:13 PM on February 4, 2019


the "all" in that phrase is a bit limited. What Utah chooses to do with it's electors in the EC will no longer matter very much, but how the people of Utah vote will still matter and still affect the outcome of the presidential race.

And really, it's bit presumptuous to insist on having the EC but then (presumably) throw a fit about how other states choose their electors.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


As a former resident of Utah, knowing that my vote for president would have actually made a difference would have changed how I voted quite a bit. I’m sure it would have motivated others who didn’t vote because being a progressive in that state was an exercise in futility.

I think you’d find that states such as Montana and Utah would get a boost in their left-of-Center voters during presidential elections.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:18 PM on February 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this would have changed how I voted in more than one election (I lived in heavily blue state and a heavily red state and went third party both times).

I'm not against this (at all), but I'd rather see full transparency in election finance* (something that Citizens United explicitly allows) enforced by law (ie: no toothless FEC). Reforming money in politics (through transparency) is the most important thing to restoring democracy, closely followed with access to the polls... But again, I can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, so I'm not against this.


* I say this instead of 'overturn Citizens United' because having a political stance of 'we need to overturn the supreme court' really means you want a unicorn or a constitutional amendment, neither of which is likely to happen soon. So I'll go with full transprency, heavily enforced, which Citizens United allows from my understanding.

posted by el io at 12:23 AM on February 6, 2019


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