Not long ago I had separate chats with two political insiders who offered to fill me in on Jeb Bush’s strategy, if he prevails in the primaries, for winning the general election. In each instance I braced for a lengthy exegesis but got only one sentence: He picks John Kasich as his running mate. That was the playbook. It presumed that Bush would collect Florida’s electoral votes, having once governed the state. It presumed that Ohio could be delivered by Kasich, its current governor, who announced his own presidential bid on Tuesday. And it presumed that tandem victories in Florida and Ohio would seal the deal, because so much of the rest of America was dependably Republican — or Democratic. Just a handful of states decide the country’s fate. Shortly after my chats with those two insiders, a third described Hillary Clinton’s supposed plan for victory. “Cuyahoga County,” this operative said.
Legislation to return to a winner-take-all presidential electoral vote system in Nebraska appeared Monday to be on life support. In a carefully crafted floor speech, Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete expressed strong support for retention of the current system that awards three of Nebraska’s five electoral votes to the winner in each of the state’s congressional districts. Although she said she “might get drummed out of the Republican Party” for stating her position, Ebke argued that Nebraska’s current system is more in line with what the framers of the U.S. Constitution expected and, in her opinion, “the right way of doing this.”
The Nebraska Legislature’s Government Committee tabled for this year a bill to enter Nebraska into the “National Popular Vote Compact.” For this, Nebraskans should be happy. However, this is the second year it has arisen so the chances of it coming back are good. The compact is being pushed on states by an extremely well-financed lobbying effort centered in northern California. Here’s how it would work. Once states controlling 270 dlectoral votes (the number needed to win the presidency) pass a bill to join the compact, the compact states all agree to throw their electors to the ticket that won the national popular vote, regardless of how their state voted. So for instance, in the 2012 election, had the compact been in effect and included Nebraska, Nebraska’s five electoral votes would have gone to President Obama even though Mitt Romney carried Nebraska.
Both House and Senate omnibus elections bills have hit the House and Senate floors and are open for what promises to be some lively debate. House File 894 is authored by Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins. Senate File 677 is authored by Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport. Sieben is also the assistant majority leader in the Senate. Both Simon and Sieben said bipartisan efforts led to the bills speedily going to their respective floors. They are both very aware that Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will only sign an elections bill that is bipartisan. Both expect their bills to be discussed on the floor late next week or the following week.
The most important political news of the day has nothing to do with the Democratic national convention. It is that Constitution Party nominee for President Virgil Goode Jr. has made the ballot in Virginia. Last month Goode turned in over 20,000 signatures to make the ballot, and today a sufficient number were certified as valid. While it is unlikely Goode will get more than one percent of the national popular vote, he has a very specific regional appeal in the critical swing state of Virginia. For over a decade Goode represented Virginia’s 5th congressional district before leaving the Republican party. Given his long history and name recognition in the state it is likely he could significantly over perform in Virginia compared to elsewhere.
The 2000 presidential election was thrown into turmoil by antiquated paper ballots in Florida that made voters’ intentions difficult to decipher. In 2004, hours-long lines at polling places kept thousands of Ohio voters from casting ballots.
In 2012, new restrictions on voting enacted by state legislatures around the country have the potential to sway the presidential race by making it harder for citizens to vote, election experts say. “Here in Ohio, as in many other parts of the country, we have seen rules adopted in the past decade — and especially in the past year — that make it more difficult for eligible citizens to vote and have their votes counted,” Ohio State University election law expert Daniel P. Tokaji told a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing earlier this year in Cleveland. The restrictions include curbs on organizations that register new voters, requirements that voters present photo IDs to vote and proof of citizenship to register, cutbacks in early voting periods and limits on voting by felons who have been freed from prison.
It’s the white whale of American elections: elusive, mythical and never realized. But could it finally happen this year? The likelihood that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each net 269 electoral votes in November, instead of the 270 needed to win, is actually not so farfetched — and for close observers of the Electoral College system, a tie would set off a wave of constitutional and political mayhem that would make the 2000 Florida recount seem like a tidy affair. Election results in key states would immediately be subject to legal challenges. Electors, normally an anonymous batch of party insiders elected to ratify each state’s winner with their electoral votes, would be lobbied to change their votes by friends, neighbors and political leaders. Swing states could decide U.S. election Alex Castellanos’ electoral map James Carville’s electoral map Ultimately, the House of Representatives could elect the next president, even if that candidate lost the popular vote.
Voting Blogs: The Current Electoral College is Like the World Series (Which is Why We Need to Change It) | FairVote.org
Defending the current structure of the Electoral College is a difficult task. The winner-take-all method–in which states allocate all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate carries the state–is still used by the vast majority of states today. Its apologists, struggling to make this outdated and unfair system appealing to Americans, have tried to make it seem quintessentially American by comparing it to the most quintessentially American thing possible: baseball’s World Series. This analogy, introduced by MIT researcher Alan Natapoff in the 1990s and widely circulated after the controversial presidential election of 2000, is still commonly cited today as a defense of a winner-take-all Electoral College. It should not be. If anything, comparing these two American institutions perfectly illustrates we why we need to get rid of the winner-take-all Electoral College rules and establish a fairer system of electing the president based on a national popular vote. The basic argument goes like this. The World Series is divided into seven games. The winner of the World Series is the team that wins four out of the seven games, not the team that scores the most aggregate runs over the course of the series. Likewise, the winner of the Electoral College is the candidate that wins the majority of electoral votes through winning states, not the candidate that receives the most aggregate votes in the total population.
Democrats on Thursday ratcheted up efforts to combat new voting laws adopted by 13 states that Democrats contend are deliberate efforts to keep its core voting blocs from casting ballots next year. “Election legislation and administration appear to be increasingly the product of partisan plays,” says a letter to election officials in all 50 states signed by 196 Democrats in the House of Representatives. “Election officials are seen as partisan combatants, rather than stewards of democracy. … We are asking you, as front line participants, to put partisan considerations aside and serve as advocates for enfranchisement.”
Thirteen states last year approved changes to their election laws and another 24 states are weighing measures that proponents say are needed to protect against voter fraud and to prevent illegal immigrants from casting ballots. Members of the House Democratic leadership, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus unveiled the letter they’re sending to election officials urging them to oppose new voting measures that a recent study said would adversely impact the ability of more than 5 million people to register or vote.