electoral college

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National: Lessons from 2016: Try same-day voter registration, rethink Electoral College, report says | Philadelphia Inquirer

States with the highest voter turnout in 2016 offered same-day registration or were targeted battlegrounds in the tight presidential election, according to an analysis released Thursday by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project. The six highest-ranking states have rules that allow eligible voters to register at the polls or update their information there before casting a ballot. In order, they were: Minnesota (74.8 percent), Maine (72.8 percent), New Hampshire (72.5 percent), Colorado (72.1 percent), Wisconsin (70.5 percent), and Iowa (69 percent). All but Minnesota, the leader for the second presidential election in a row, also were targeted by the presidential candidates. This was the first report on 2016 turnout to be based on certified election returns.  Read More

New Mexico: Senate approves popular vote for presidency on 26-16 vote | Albuquerque Journal

Fresh off a divisive election season, the Senate on Monday approved legislation adding New Mexico to an interstate compact aimed at guaranteeing the president – in future elections – would be elected by national popular vote. The measure, Senate Bill 42, passed the chamber on a party-line 26-16 vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, and now moves on to the House. “By doing our part to move toward a national popular vote, we can begin the process of regaining the voters’ trust in our elections and ensure their voices are equal to every voter across the country,” said Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor. However, several Republican critics of the legislation accused Democrats of pushing the change in response to President Donald Trump’s victory. “Just because we didn’t get our way means we pout and change the entire system,” complained Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell. Read More

National: Awarding Electoral Votes by District a Temptation for GOP | New York Magazine

You might think Republicans would be entirely satisfied with an Electoral College system that has twice in the last five elections elevated a fellow party-member to the presidency despite a loss in the national popular vote. But GOP legislators in Virginia and Minnesota are reviving pre-2016 legislation designed to emulate Maine and Nebraska in awarding Electoral College votes by congressional district rather than statewide vote totals. The ostensible rationale for these proposals is to provide representation in the Electoral College for regions that are outvoted at the state level by urban areas like Northern Virginia. But it’s really a hobbyhorse for state lawmakers who control states the other party typically carries at the presidential level. Indeed, Virginia toyed with such legislation shortly after the 2012 elections, along with Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. What these states had in common at the time was Republican “trifecta” control of state governments in states that had voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. Not coincidentally, such a system would have awarded the presidency to Romney, who won 226 House districts against Obama’s 209 (Romney also won 28 states to Obama’s 22, which under the system Republicans are pushing, would have given statewide winners two bonus EVs). Read More

Virginia: After Clinton wins Virginia, state Republicans try to change how votes are tallied | The Washington Post

A bill advancing in the Virginia House of Representatives would end the familiar “winner take all” system of awarding the state’s presidential electoral votes and replace it with a system to award electoral votes by congressional district, similar to what’s currently done in Maine and Nebraska. The goal is a noble one. Under the winner take all system, the votes of people who opted for a candidate other than the statewide winner are quite literally not counted when the electoral college convenes in December. If votes were allocated by congressional district, the final electoral vote tally could more closely represent the statewide popular vote mix. In 2016, for instance, Hillary Clinton won 49.8 percent of Virginia’s popular vote but 100 percent of its 13 electoral votes. Had those votes been allocated by congressional district instead, Clinton would have received only 7 while Trump got 6. Read More

National: International observers recommend changes to U.S. electoral system | McClatchy

On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a group of international election experts who observed the Nov. 8 election have suggested overhauling the United States’ “particularly unique” Electoral College system, which gave Trump the presidency. The changes, the group from the Organization of American States said, should be made to keep candidates from focusing just on battleground states. The group also raised concerns about the rise in polarizing and divisive rhetoric in U.S. campaigning and criticized Trump for making threats to restrict journalists’ access and for threatening legal action against them for expressing their views. The group’s report noted the claims of Russian interference in the election, but made no assessment of their accuracy or impact on the outcome. The report was similar in tone to those that U.S. observers make on elections in foreign nations and was noteworthy primarily because it was the first time OAS experts had monitored a U.S. election – something that resonated deeply in Latin America, where the United States has long advocated OAS monitoring for other nations. Read More

Editorials: The Rules of the Game: A New Electoral System | Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen/The New York Review of Books

Americans have been using essentially the same rules to elect presidents since the beginning of the Republic. In the general election, each voter chooses one candidate; each state (with two current exceptions) awards all its Electoral College votes to the candidate chosen by the largest number of voters (not necessarily a majority) in that state; and the president-elect is the candidate with a majority of Electoral College votes. Primary elections for president have also remained largely unchanged since they replaced dealings in a “smoke-filled room” as the principal method for selecting Democratic and Republican nominees. In each state, every voter votes for one candidate. In some states, the delegates to the national convention are all pledged to support the candidate getting a plurality of votes (again, possibly less than a majority). In others, delegates are assigned in proportion to the total votes of the candidates. These rules are deeply flawed. For example, candidates A and B may each be more popular than C (in the sense that either would beat C in a head-to-head contest), but nevertheless each may lose to C if they both run. The system therefore fails to reflect voters’ preferences adequately. It also aggravates political polarization, gives citizens too few political options, and makes candidates spend most of their campaign time seeking voters in swing states rather than addressing the country at large.There are several remedies. Perhaps in order of increasing chance of adoption, they are: (1) to elect the president by the national popular vote instead of the Electoral College; (2) to choose the winner in the general election according to the preferences of a majority of voters rather than a mere plurality, either nationally or by state; and, easiest of all, (3) to substitute majority for plurality rule in state primaries. Read More

National: Congressman introduces plan to eliminate Electoral College | Palm Beach Post

Congressman Steve Cohen has introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would eliminate the Electoral College. “For the second time in recent memory, and for the fifth time in our history, the national popular vote winner — including Tennesseans Al Gore and Andrew Jackson — will not become President of the United States because of the Electoral College,” Cohen said Thursday. “The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation’s president, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy. In our country, ‘We the People’ are supposed to determine who represents us in elective office.”

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Washington: Four ‘faithless electors’ to be fined $1,000 each for not casting Clinton votes | The Seattle Times

Fines of $1,000 each are headed for the mailboxes of four Democratic electors who refused to honor Washington state’s popular vote for president. Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office said the citations were mailed to the so-called “faithless electors” on Thursday. The penalties stem from the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19, when Washington’s 12 electors met to officially cast the state’s vote for president and vice president of the U.S. In acts of protest, four of them refused to cast their ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the state with 54 percent of the vote — breaking state law and their own written pledges.  Read More

Editorials: The Electoral College Doesn’t Work the Way the Founding Fathers Intended | Robert Schlesinger/US News & World Report

Regardless of whether you want to preserve the Electoral College as it is, tweak it (as I do) or scrap it entirely, you have to understand that it doesn’t function today the way the Founding Fathers planned. I think this is worth pointing out in light of the animated responses I’ve gotten from readers regarding my last column, which called for reform by adding a set of bonus electoral votes which would be rewarded to the winner of the national popular vote. People seem to make a couple of errors in their reverence for the Electoral College. First, they misunderstand its purpose, and concomitantly they misunderstand what it does and doesn’t constitutionally entail. Read More

Editorials: One person, one vote is a myth | William Chafe/News & Observer

Ever since our nation’s founding, the issue of equal voting rights has been central to our definition of democracy. After we fought the Civil War to end black slavery – the ultimate contradiction of living in a free republic – the country enacted the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. Black people were guaranteed equal protection under the laws; black men earned the right to vote. Women too had demanded the suffrage, a battle they finally won with ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. And in a fight waged under the slogan “one person, one vote,” the civil rights movement secured enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Finally, it seemed, America had guaranteed the right of every citizen, black or white, male or female, to have equal access to the polling place – one person, one vote. Alas, it was not true. One reason was the existence of the Electoral College, an institution that by design sought to deny one person, one vote. Almost always, this denial was connected to the issue of race. Read More