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Nebraska: Politically charged bills, including winner-take-all, voter ID, await senators | Lincoln Journal Star

Political fireworks ahead in the Legislature. Sen. John Murante of Gretna said Wednesday he still intends to offer an amendment to pending legislation that would return Nebraska to a winner-take-all presidential electoral system, but he has not picked a legislative vehicle yet. Meanwhile, Murante’s proposed constitutional amendment (LR1CA) to require a photo ID for voters to participate in Nebraska elections is virtually assured of consideration during the final 15 days of this legislative session because he has identified it as his priority proposal.

Full Article: Politically charged bills, including winner-take-all, await senators | Nebraska Legislature |

Nebraska: Winner-take-all electoral vote fails | Lincoln Journal Star

A proposal to dump Nebraska’s distinctive presidential electoral system and establish a statewide winner-take-all vote was trapped Tuesday by a filibuster and buried by the Legislature. A motion to invoke cloture and bring an end to legislative debate fell one senator short of the 33 votes required to proceed with the bill, failing on a 32-17 count. Sens. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue and Bob Krist of Omaha switched from their support for a cloture motion a week ago that had allowed the bill (LB10) to proceed to a final vote this week. The result is that Nebraska will continue to allocate its five electoral votes by awarding one to the winner in each of the three congressional districts and two to the statewide victor.

Full Article: Winner-take-all electoral vote fails | Nebraska Legislature |

Michigan: Senate panel debates changes to presidential election system, Electoral College votes | MLive

Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature is again debating prospective election law changes that could benefit a second-place finisher in the state, which has gone Democratic since 1992. The Senate Elections and Government Reform Committee on Thursday took testimony on proposals that would divide Michigan’s Electoral College votes, but chairman Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, told reporters that he does not expect any changes for the 2016 election cycle. “The perception has been that clearly there must be a desire on the part of Republicans… to move away from winner-take-all and others saying ‘no, no we shouldn’t,'” Robertson said. “I can assure you there is no uniformity of opinion on the Republican side.”

Full Article: Michigan panel debates changes to presidential election system, Electoral College votes |

Ohio: Move to delay Ohio’s 2016 primary could aid Kasich | The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio lawmakers set the table for Gov. John Kasich to potentially take all of the Buckeye State’s GOP presidential delegates in one swoop next year. By moving the state’s 2016 primary election back a week — from March 8 to March 15 — Ohio’s Republican vote will be a winner-take-all contest. The Senate gave the legislature’s final approval on Wednesday, 23-10. The measure becomes law with Kasich’s signature.

Full Article: Move to delay Ohio’s 2016 primary could aid Kasich | The Columbus Dispatch.

Nebraska: Winner-take-all bill blocked and likely done for the year | Lincoln Journal Star

The legislative proposal to return Nebraska to a winner-take-all presidential electoral vote system was trapped Tuesday by a successful filibuster and essentially blocked from further consideration this session. A motion to break the filibuster fell two senators short of acquiring the 33 votes required to break the filibuster, failing on a 31-18 vote. Four senators who are Republicans joined all 13 senators who are Democrats and Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the sole registered independent, in voting against the cloture vote to end debate.

Full Article: Winner-take-all bill blocked and likely done for the year : Politics.

Nebraska: Winner-take-all in trouble | Lincoln Journal-Star

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.”

Full Article: Winner-take-all in trouble : Politics.

Nebraska: Winner-take-all voting bill faces test in Legislature | Lincoln Journal Star

The bill to move Nebraska to a winner-take-all presidential electoral vote system easily survived an assault on Tuesday, but still may not be able to shake loose from the grip of a legislative filibuster. A motion by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha to shelve the bill (LB10) for the remainder of the session was rejected on a 12-30 vote. A subsequent vote to reconsider that action lost on a 15-29 vote. The 15-vote count moved opponents of the bill within two votes of the magic number required to assure a filibuster can be sustained. And a look at the five senators who were either absent or not voting suggested the 17 votes may be there when required.

Full Article: Winner-take-all voting bill faces test in Legislature.

Editorials: Should the Victor Share the Spoils? | Noah Gordon/The Atlantic

“Left Party whip Keith Ellison spoke in Washington today in an attempt to rally centrist support for tighter financial regulation—his liberal coalition has support on the issue from Tea Party leader Steve King, but without more Democrats and Republicans the bill is doomed to fail. Leaders of the Green Party have yet to take a stance on the bill but …”

Wait, what?

This might sound absurd in the United States, but it’s not as crazy elsewhere in the world. The American system of government is stable, popular, and backed by the Constitution—and dominated by two political parties. A political system comprised of multiple, smaller parties and shifting coalitions may be unimaginable in America, but it’s the norm in most other democracies. While the United States is one of the world’s oldest democracies, and spreading democracy is a central tenet of the country’s foreign policy, our winner-take-all system itself is among our least-popular exports. In Western Europe, 21 of 28 countries use a form of proportional representation in at least one type of election. What is proportional representation, or PR? It’s a system that aims to gives parties the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes they receive—and it might be able to end our gerrymandering wars.

Full Article: Should the Victor Share the Spoils? - The Atlantic.

Nebraska: Blue Dot for Obama Prompts Red Nebraska to Revisit Electoral College Rules | New York Times

If this state had an official color, it would most certainly be red. Football fans here don scarlet sweatshirts each game day, red meat is a dietary staple and, for decades, Republican presidential candidates filled Nebraska’s borders on the electoral map with their party’s hue. But in 2008, a Nebraska quirk injected a drop of blue into that sea of red, in the form of a single, lonely electoral vote for the Democratic presidential candidate. Nebraska is one of just two states, along with Maine, that do not award all their electoral voters to the statewide winner. And that meant that in 2008, Barack Obama picked up an electoral vote from the congressional district around Omaha, even as Senator John McCain trounced him across the rest of the state. One electoral vote — out of five in Nebraska and 538 nationally — might seem trivial, but Republicans do not see it that way. It was the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson beat Barry Goldwater in 1964, when Mr. Obama was a toddler, that the state awarded any votes to a Democrat. So this year, a longstanding proposal to change the state’s Electoral College system to winner-take-all may finally reach the Republican governor’s desk, amid a renewed push by conservative lawmakers hoping to have new rules in place for the 2016 presidential election. “It’s obvious that the majority of citizens of the state of Nebraska are Republicans,” said J. L. Spray, the state Republican Party chairman. “They want to have the maximum voice in the Electoral College.”

Full Article: Blue Dot for Obama Prompts Red Nebraska to Revisit Electoral College Rules -

Nebraska: Voter photo ID, winner-take-all move ahead | Lincoln Star Journal

Proposals to require voter photo IDs and to wipe out congressional district presidential electoral votes in Nebraska cleared their committee hurdle Wednesday and were sent to the floor of the Legislature for debate. The voter photo ID bill is virtually certain to trigger a legislative filibuster. Both bills were advanced from the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee with Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln, the sole Democrat on the committee, casting the lone opposition votes. Before advancing the photo ID measure, the committee amended the bill (LB111) to expand the range of government-issued IDs that would be accepted and allow anyone to request a free photo ID. The winner-take-all bill (LB10) was advanced immediately after a public hearing that attracted supporting testimony from Secretary of State John Gale and Bob Evnen of Lincoln, speaking for the Nebraska Republican Party.

Full Article: Voter photo ID, winner-take-all move ahead : Politics.

Editorials: The Problem With Greek Democracy | Neophytos Loizides and Iosif Kovras/Wall Street Journal

Once again, Greek politics are a focus of global attention as voters head to the polls for a snap parliamentary election on Jan. 25. Observers are especially interested in the implications for economic policy, but this is also an opportunity to reflect on certain fundamental problems with the structure of Greece’s electoral system that help explain the country’s dysfunctional politics. Greece is the only country in the eurozone where the economic crisis has ignited such a deep political crisis, far worse than in Portugal, Spain or Ireland. Yet the Greek public isn’t naturally prone to polarization. Opinion polls since 2010 show a steady public preference for political cooperation, coalition governments and less frequent elections. Unfortunately, flawed electoral laws open a chasm between voters’ wishes and political outcomes.

Full Article: Neophytos Loizides and Iosif Kovras: The Problem With Greek Democracy - WSJ.

Michigan: Bill to change electoral college vote allocation in Michigan tabled | Detroit Free Press

The opposition to changing how Michigan’s 16 electoral votes are allocated was unanimous during a committee hearing on a bill that would change the state’s winner-take-all system for presidential candidates. But House Elections and Ethics Committee chairwoman, state Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, decided not to take a vote on the controversial issue Tuesday. “This whole process is to bring this issue up for a good discussion. I haven’t decided yet whether we’ll vote or not,” she said. “Our electoral college system in Michigan is broken, and we have to focus on making Michigan matter more in terms of having our presidential candidates give Michigan voters attention on Michigan issues.” The 14 people who testified before the committee were all opposed to the latest proposal, saying Michigan should concentrate on more sensible election reforms that would increase turnout — like allowing for no-reason absentee voting and same day registration, instead of confusing voters even more.

Full Article: Bill to change electoral college vote allocation in Michigan tabled.

Michigan: Not Much Enthusiasm For Michigan Electoral Vote Change Proposal | WEMU

A plan to change the way Michigan awards its electoral votes for president got largely panned at a state House hearing on Monday. The legislation would award up to seven of the state’s 16 Electoral College votes to the presidential runner-up in Michigan. The number of votes they get would depend on how close the popular vote is. Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who directs the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, admits the current winner-take-all electoral system is not ideal. “So reform is needed, but not this reform,” she told the state House Elections and Ethics Committee.

Full Article: Not Much Enthusiasm For Michigan Electoral Vote Change Proposal | WEMU.

Editorials: What if Alabama elected multiple congressmen per district? A radical reform proposal | Brendan Kirby/

No one would dispute that Alabama is a Republican-leaning state, but an electoral reform group contends the current voting system distorts GOP dominance. Presently, six of seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives are Republican. But the state is not 85 percent Republican. The Maryland-based Center for Voting and Democracy, in an analysis of the upcoming 2014 election issued last month, puts the Republican percentage at 63 percent. In “Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution,” the center details how gerrymandered districts and winner-take-all elections have reduced the number of competitive districts across the country to a handful. The group also argues that the system encourages polarization and increases the number of voters with virtually no chance of electing representatives of their choice. “In contrast, fair representation voting systems provide nearly everyone with a real chance to elect a preferred candidate in every election and make it likely that large groups of like-minded voters (those who vote for similar candidates) will win seats in proportion to their share of the vote,” the report states.

Full Article: What if Alabama elected multiple congressmen per district? A radical reform proposal |

National: Will popular vote elect president in 2020? | The Hill

The movement to change how presidents are elected is gaining steam and proponents of the long-stalled popular vote initiative are predicting victory by 2020. Eleven states/jurisdictions have enacted the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill, giving the proposal 165 electoral votes — 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to trigger the new voting system. Legislatures that passed the law include California, Illinois, New Jersey. Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a popular vote bill into law last week. All of these states, as well as the nation’s capital are liberal leaning, but activists note they are making progress in red states, such as Oklahoma and Nebraska. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush lost the popular vote and won the presidency. At the time, Democrats rallied behind the popular vote idea. The memory of that contested election has made many Democrats eager to jump on board, and some Republicans skeptical. 

Full Article: Will popular vote elect president in 2020? | TheHill.

New York: State joins ‘National Popular Vote’ compact with 9 other states | Staten Island Live

The Empire State has joined the National Popular Vote compact with legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. States that have signed on to the interstate agreement will award electoral votes for president to the candidate who receives the majority of the national popular vote. “With the passage of this legislation, New York is taking a bold step to fundamentally increase the strength and fairness of our nation’s presidential elections,” said Cuomo. “By aligning the Electoral College with the voice of the nation’s voters, we are ensuring the equality of the votes and encouraging candidates to appeal to voters in all states, instead of disproportionately focusing on early contests and swing states.”

Full Article: New York joins 'National Popular Vote' compact with 9 other states |

Nebraska: State Debates Electoral College Changes | Bloomberg

Nebraska legislators are weighing a bill that would reinstate a “winner-take-all” system of awarding presidential electoral votes. The state’s unicameral legislature is in its second day of debating a bill that would scrap Nebraska’s two-decade-old system of awarding one electoral vote per congressional district and two electoral votes to the statewide winner. Nebraska, which has three districts and five electoral votes, and Maine are the only two states that eschew the winner-take-all system and use this district-based system instead.

Full Article: Nebraska Debates Electoral College Changes - Bloomberg.

Nebraska: Filibuster likely to sink Nebraska’s electoral votes winner-take-all bill | Omaha World Herald

There have been at least 10 unsuccessful attempts at overturning Nebraska’s unique system of awarding its Electoral College votes for president by congressional district. And, as a legislative filibuster against the latest attempt to return Nebraska to a winner-take-all system droned on Wednesday morning, it appeared more and more likely that 2014 would be the latest failed effort. “It’s ‘good night Irene’ for this bill. There will not be a vote on it,” said State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. Chambers, a registered independent, has pledged an all-out filibuster against Legislative Bill 382, which has sparked a partisan political debate about how best to gain presidential campaign attention for a small state like Nebraska. The bill would have the state join the 48 states that award all electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gains the most votes statewide. Right now, Nebraska and Maine are the only states that award their electoral votes to the top vote-getter in each congressional district.

Full Article: Filibuster likely to sink Nebraska's electoral votes winner-take-all bill -

National: RNC tightens 2016 primary calendar, rules | The Hill

A series of changes aimed at tightening the GOP presidential primary calendar sailed through a vote at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, giving the party new tools to control its nomination process. The new 2016 rules will make it much harder for states to cut in line in the nomination process and will help Republicans avoid a repeat of a drawn out, bloody primary many believe damaged Mitt Romney’s chances in 2012 of defeating President Obama. After a contentious Thursday hearing on some rules changes, few members joined Virginia Committeeman Morton Blackwell in objecting to the final package — the landslide vote was 153 in favor, with 9 opposing. “I’m really proud of you for this debate,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said following the vote, to a standing ovation from the committee. “This is a historic day for our party, and I thank you all for what you’ve done. … We will all have a much better process in 2016.”

Full Article: RNC tightens 2016 primary calendar, rules | TheHill.

Voting Blogs: FairVote Maps the 2012 Presidential Campaign |

For some time now, we have known that presidential candidates focus their attention and energy on swing states. They do this because under the winner-take-all method of allocating Electoral College votes, the only states that matter are the ones that could go for either the Democrat or the Republican, while the ones that are squarely for one party or the other do not matter. For example, in 2012, the presidential candidates focused on only ten states. Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire were the only states in which Barack Obama and Mitt Romney held public campaign events after the Democratic National Convention, and those same ten states received 99.6% of all the Obama and Romney campaigns’ television advertising money spent nationwide between April 11 and Election Day. But where within the swing states did the candidates travel? Did they travel everywhere within these swing states, or just to the largest cities? How did geography and demography within swing states affect their campaign strategy? Now, we have the answers.