winner-take-all

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Voting Blogs: Taking on American Political Dysfunction without Changing the Constitution | FairVote.org

In his draft paper on Political Dysfunction and Constitutional Change, University of California-Irvine professor Rick Hasen makes a powerful case for the need for out-of-the-box thinking on American political reform. But he also makes a curious omission. Fair voting alternatives to winner-take-all elections do not receive a single mention in the paper, even though they were promoted in one of Hasen’s major sources, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein’s 2012 book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. Hasen has a well-deserved reputation as one of our most thoughtful law professors, and his paper has generated considerable reaction in the political blogosphere. It posits three basic claims: 1) The government of the United States is currently dysfunctional, 2) that dysfunction could be solved by switching to a parliamentary system of governance – that is, government where the executive is chosen by the legislature, and 3) switching to a parliamentary system is the only way to end the dysfunction if the problem does not eventually solve itself.

Full Article: FairVote.org | Taking on American Political Dysfunction without Changing the Constitution.

Editorials: Should We Reform the Electoral College? | Cato Institute

Let’s start with the basics: In presidential races, each state has electoral votes equal to the number of its House representatives plus two for its senators. Currently, there are 435 House members and 100 senators, plus three votes for Washington, D.C. (thanks to the 23rd Amendment), for a total of 538. The candidate who garners a majority — 270 or more — wins, even if he loses the popular vote. That’s what happened in the 2000 Bush versus Gore election, which sparked the effort to switch to popular voting for presidential elections. Ordinarily, that switch would require a constitutional amendment; but a group of activists came up with a scheme — the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) — that could work without a constitutional amendment. Article II of the Constitution gives states broad authority to decide how their electoral votes are selected and divided among the candidates. In 48 states, the candidate who gets the most votes wins all of the state’s electoral votes. But the Constitution doesn’t require that rule. Maine and Nebraska have implemented district- by-district voting. One electoral vote goes to the winner in each congressional district, and the remaining two electoral votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

Full Article: Should We Reform the Electoral College? | Cato Institute.

Michigan: GOP pushes on with electoral vote plan | The Detroit News

Republicans handed Bobby Schostak another two-year term as state chairman Saturday and overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to change Michigan presidential electoral vote rules in a way opponents charge is intended to distort election results in favor of GOP candidates. By a 1,370-132 margin at the party convention in Lansing, GOP members approved a resolution backing a proposal from Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, to divvy-up 14 of the state’s 16 electoral votes according to which candidate got the most votes in each congressional district. The other two would go to the state-wide vote total winner. That switch from a winner-take-all formula that has been in effect 175 years could water down the dominance Democrats have had in Michigan in presidential elections for the last 24 years.

Full Article: Mich. GOP pushes on with electoral vote plan; Schostak re-elected | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

National: The GOP’s electoral vote gambit: Reasonably popular, but doomed | Washington Post

Many Americans support the way that Republicans want to adjust how some states award their electoral votes. But that doesn’t mean there’s going to be any new life breathed into the dying effort. A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that neither awarding electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis to the winner of the statewide vote nor awarding them by congressional district gains majority support. Forty-six percent prefer the winner-take-all method, while 41 percent prefer to do it by congressional district, as Republicans in some key states are proposing. The rest are unsure. But that probably says more about people’s openness to Electoral College reform than it does about how much they like the GOP’s proposal.

Full Article: The GOP’s electoral vote gambit: Reasonably popular, but doomed.

Pennsylvania: Proposal To Split Pennsylvania’s Electoral Votes Causes Republican Party Rift | CBS Philly

There may be a change in direction on a politically explosive issue — the electoral vote in Pennsylvania. There is a quiet conflict going on, but it is not the usual fight — Republican vs. Democrat. Republican insiders say that there is a rift between the Republican leadership in the Keystone state about powerful Senate President Dominic Pillegi’s plan to enact proportional voting instead of winner take all in Presidential elections.

Full Article: Proposal To Split Pennsylvania’s Electoral Votes Causes Republican Party Rift « CBS Philly.

National: The Other GOP Plan To Rearrange The Electoral Vote | TPM

GOP efforts to rig the Electoral College in favor of GOP presidential candidates may be close to dead, but a group of Republicans are hard at work at another plot to blow up the system: switch to the popular vote. Although more closely associated with progressive circles in recent years, the idea has a number of conservative activists behind it as well. And there are signs it’s gaining momentum. “I think there’s a growing consensus that the winner-take-all system we’re currently under is a problem, that it’s not representative, that only a small number of states benefit, and that it needs to be changed,” Saul Anuzis, a Republican national committeeman from Michigan who advocates on behalf of the nonpartisan National Popular Vote group, told TPM. The plan, as espoused by groups like NPV, is to lobby states to pass binding legislation pledging their entire slate of electors to whichever candidate wins the most votes nationwide. The bills would only take effect once enough states join in to provide a guaranteed majority in the Electoral College — 270 votes — in order to prevent individual legislatures from trying to game the system unilaterally.

Full Article: The Other GOP Plan To Rearrange The Electoral Vote | TPMDC.

National: Republicans In Key States Drop Plans To Alter How Electoral College Votes Are Awarded | TPM

Four states down, and just two remain. Key Republican officials in Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan are coming out against a RNC-backed scheme to rig the electoral vote in Democratic-leaning states in order to boost Republican presidential candidates. That leaves just Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as the remaining blue states with Republican statehouses actively considering the idea. Virginia was the first state to move on the idea in 2013, advancing a bill out of a state Senate subcommittee that would apportion its electoral votes by Congressional district rather than the winner-take-all method used in 48 of the 50 states. Had it been in place the year before, Mitt Romney would have won 9 of the state’s electoral votes to President Obama’s 4 despite losing the state’s popular vote. But after Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and key Republican lawmakers came out against it, the bill was defeated in committee Tuesday on an 11-4 vote.

Full Article: Republicans In Key States Drop Plans To Alter How Electoral College Votes Are Awarded | TPMDC.

Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted and other Republicans say Electoral College changes not in store for Ohio | cleveland.com

Count Ohio’s Republican leaders out of a GOP-backed effort to end the Electoral College’s winner-take-all format in the Buckeye State and other presidential battlegrounds. Spokesmen for Gov. John Kasich, State Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William G. Batchelder told The Plain Dealer this week that they are not pursuing plans to award electoral votes proportionally by congressional district. Batchelder went a step further, saying through his communications director that he “is not supportive of such a move.” And Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief elections administrator, emphasized that he does not favor the plan either, despite Democratic suspicions based on reported comments that he said were taken out of context. “Nobody in Ohio is advocating this,” Husted said in a telephone interview.

Full Article: Secretary of State Jon Husted and other Republicans say Electoral College changes not in store for Ohio | cleveland.com.

National: Republicans hit obstacles to altering electoral college | latimes.com

A concerted Republican effort to alter the balance of power in presidential elections by changing the rules for the electoral college is facing significant hurdles — including from some GOP officials in the affected states. All but two states currently award electoral votes under a winner-take-all system. Plans to replace that with a proportional system are under consideration in half a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan. All were presidential battlegrounds that President Obama carried last fall. But their state governments remain under Republican control, and some GOP lawmakers are pushing changes that would make it harder for Democrats to prevail in future contests. It is too early to say whether any of the proposals will become law this year, but the idea has attracted support on the national level. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, reelected to a new term on Friday, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently that the change was something that Republicans in blue states “ought to be looking at.” Democrats say the proposals are merely the latest in a series of GOP efforts to rig the rules of a game they are losing. And at least some Republicans seem to agree.

Full Article: Republicans hit obstacles to altering electoral college - latimes.com.

Wisconsin: Gov. Walker voices concerns about GOP Electoral College plan | Journal Sentinel

Gov. Scott Walker says he has a ”real concern” about a Republican idea to change the way the state awards its electoral votes, conceding the move could make Wisconsin irrelevant in presidential campaigns. A proposal now percolating in the GOP is to allocate most electoral votes by congressional district, instead of giving them all to the statewide winner. “One of our advantages is, as a swing state, candidates come here. We get to hear from the candidates,” said Walker in an interview Saturday at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C. “That’s good for voters. If we change that, that would take that away, it would largely make us irrelevant.” Walker says he has not yet taken a position on the issue. Republicans have suggested making the change in a handful of states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which have been voting Democratic for president but are now controlled by the GOP at the state level.

Full Article: Gov. Walker voices concerns about GOP Electoral College plan - m.JSOnline.com.

Editorials: The long past and perilous future of gaming the Electoral College system | The Week

Following another bitter presidential loss, Republicans in several states are pushing for rule changes that would boost their odds in future races — essentially, switching the Electoral College allocation method in Democratic-leaning swing states from the current winner-take-all system to one that would help Republicans capture at least some electoral votes in those battlegrounds. In the short run, of course, such changes would probably help Republicans siphon off electoral votes in states like Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But these rule changes would also make a mockery of the concept of fair elections, and harm the twin Republican principles of conservativism and federalism. Currently, all but two states award Electoral College votes using a winner-take-all system (called the Unit Rule). The Unit Rule is not mandatory. Other methods have been used in the past, including having the state legislature hand out the electoral votes however it sees fit. Another popular alternative method, one that is currently used by Maine and Nebraska, is giving one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district.

Full Article: The long past and perilous future of gaming the Electoral College system - The Week.

Virginia: Group Working To End Electoral College Condemns GOP’s ‘Indefensible’ Virginia Scheme | TPM

FairVote, a non-partisan advocacy group, wants to radically transform the Electoral College through state legislation. So do Virginia Republicans pushing a scheme to reapportion their electoral votes by Congressional district. But the similarities end there as FairVote is condemning the Virginia bill as a partisan perversion of their own mission. FairVote executive director Rob Richie described the Virginia plan as “an incredibly unfair and indefensible proposal” to TPM and said he was drafting a message to supporters rallying against its passage. He testified against a similar proposal in Pennsylvania, whose lawmakers briefly considered splitting its electoral votes for the 2012 election before backing down amid a public outcry against the maneuver.

Full Article: Group Working To End Electoral College Condemns GOP’s ‘Indefensible’ Virginia Scheme | TPMDC.

Editorials: Virginia Republicans Move Forward with Mass Disenfranchisement | American Prospect

This morning, I wrote on an emerging Republican plan—in swing states won by President Obama—to rig presidential elections by awarding electoral votes to the winner of the most congressional districts. Because Democratic voters tend to cluster in highly-populated urban areas, and Republican voters tend to reside in more sparsely populated regions, this makes land the key variable in elections—to win the majority of a state’s electoral votes, your voters will have to occupy the most geographic space. In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state. For this reason, I didn’t expect Republicans to go forward with the plan—the risk of blowback is just too high. My skepticism, however, was misplaced. In Virginia, a local news station reports that just this afternoon, a state Senate subcommittee recommended a bill end Virginia’s winner-take-all system and apportion its 13 electoral votes by congressional district.

Full Article: Virginia Republicans Move Forward with Mass Disenfranchisement.

Editorials: GOP Embraces Nuclear Gerrymandering | TPM

It wasn’t so long ago, coming off a bruising presidential election, that Republicans were looking at ways to increase vote percentages among younger and minority voters to remain a contender in national elections. But it appears professional Republicans have decided that’s either impossible, unnecessary or perhaps just too hard. Because now they’re going for another possibility: rig the electoral college to insure Republican presidential victories with a decreasing voter base. In other words, nuclear gerrymandering. The plan is to game the electoral college to rig the system for Republicans. It works like this. Because of big victories in the 2010 midterm — and defending majorities in 2012 — Republicans now enjoy complete control of a number of midwestern states that usually vote Democratic in national (and increasingly in senatorial) elections. It may be temporary control but for now it’s total. Use that unified control in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania to change the system of electoral vote allocation from winner-take-all to proportional allotment. So if you win Ohio by one percent you get about half the electoral votes and just a smidge more as opposed to winning everything.

Full Article: GOP Embraces Nuclear Gerrymandering | TPM Editors Blog.

Editorials: The House GOP can’t be beat: It’s worse than gerrymandering | Salon.com

Congress is broken, and everyone knows it. Its approval ratings hover around 10 percent, and a recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that Congress is currently less popular than cockroaches, lice and traffic jams. It has difficulty getting any sort of business done, let alone address our nation’s major challenges, like climate change, immigration, poverty and fiscal policy. But amidst the partisan fingerpointing and bickering, one core aspect of the way our government works gets a free pass. We hear a lot about campaign finance and gerrymandering, but single-member district elections – that is, having each House member represent one congressional district – are without doubt the single greatest cause of what is broken about Congress. They are the key reason why Republicans easily kept control of the House despite losing the popular vote to Democrats, and why the political center has lost out to partisans on both sides of the aisle. They turn four out of five voters effectively into spectators who have absolutely no chance of affecting their representation in Congress. They help keep women’s representation in the House stalled at less than 18 percent, and grossly distort fair representation by party and race.

Full Article: The House GOP can’t be beat: It’s worse than gerrymandering - Salon.com.

Pennsylvania: Republicans look to alter state’s electoral vote system | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

One year after requiring voters to show photo identification, state Republican leaders are set in 2013 to consider changing Pennsylvania’s nearly two-century-old method of awarding its presidential votes. As with voter ID, the proposal is being met with howls of protest from Democrats. Like 48 other states, Pennsylvania uses a winner-take-all system with its electoral votes: when Barack Obama won 52 percent of the state’s vote on Nov. 6 to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent, he bagged all 20 of them. A measure from state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, would instead award 18 of them according to the popular vote breakdown and give two others to the state’s overall winner.

Full Article: Pennsylvania looks to alter state's electoral vote system - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

National: Obama wins Electoral College vote; Republicans seek changes in state rules | Boston Herald

Despite predictions that the presidential election could end in an electoral vote tie, or that the winner of the popular vote could again be denied the White House by the Electoral College, President Barack Obama won his anticipated 126-vote landslide Monday as the 538 electors officially voted in statehouses. But 12 years after Al Gore’s defeat prompted some Democrats to call for changing to the constitutionally prescribed method of choosing the president, Republicans are now mounting efforts in key states to end the winner-take-all method that most states employ. Some Republican strategists believe that could counter the advantage Democrats have gained on the path to the needed 270 electoral votes.

Full Article: Obama wins Electoral College vote; Republicans seek changes in state rules | Boston Herald.

National: The GOP’s Electoral College Scheme | NationalJournal.com

Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office. Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis. Already, two states — Maine and Nebraska — award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide takes the final two at-large electoral votes. Only once, when President Obama won a congressional district based in Omaha in 2008, has either of those states actually split their vote. But if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.

Full Article: The GOP's Electoral College Scheme - NationalJournal.com.

Voting Blogs: Pennsylvania Senate Leader Pileggi Wrong on Prescription for Electoral College Reform | FairVote

Hot off the presses from Bloomberg News is a major Electoral College development. Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi has circulated a letter to his legislative colleagues seeking support for a bill to replace the winner-take-all allocation of his state’s Electoral College votes with one based on proportional representation – with two electoral votes going to the winner of the state and 18 votes allocated proportionally. The proposal is sure to trigger an intense partisan reaction. Pennsylvania Republicans often come close in  presidential elections, but last won an electoral vote in 1988 when George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis. Yet if Sen. Pileggi’s plan had been in place this year, President Barack Obama’s 5.4% win in the statewide popular vote would have translated into his earning 12 electoral votes rather than 20, while Gov. Mitt Romney  would have won eight electoral votes rather than zero. Shifting eight electoral votes in Pennsylvania would have provided a bigger boost to Romney than switching the outcome in Iowa.

Full Article: FairVote.org | Pennsylvania Senate Leader Pileggi Wrong on Prescription for Electoral College Reform.

Pennsylvania: Legislative Step May Help Republicans Win Electoral Vote | Bloomberg

A Pennsylvania lawmaker’s plan to divvy up electoral votes based on a presidential candidate’s public support may be just the first of many state legislative moves to alter the way the nation chooses a leader. State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, wants to replace the winner-take-all system, which gave President Barack Obama Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, with one that divides them to reflect the proportion of public support for each candidate. His method would have given 12 votes to Obama and eight to Republican Mitt Romney this year.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Step May Help Republicans Win Electoral Vote - Bloomberg.