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Al Gore rocks an awesome beard while calling for an end of the Electoral College

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Gray Man

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Feb 21, 2012
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Maybe I'm the only one, but I think the electoral college works fine, tyranny of the majority and all that good stuff.
 

maharg

idspispopd
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Maybe I'm the only one, but I think the electoral college works fine, tyranny of the majority and all that good stuff.

In what way does the current system for the delegate process of the electoral college prevent the tyranny of the majority?

Honestly, the problem most democracies face today isn't tyranny of the majority, but tyranny of the plurality. And systems like the EC and the House of Reps play right into that. Only the rigid two party system has kept that at bay in the US for the last hundred or so years.
 

Gray Man

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States change from red to blue and blue to red it just takes time. Diddnt Reagan get almost every state? Battleground states change over time. Besides I think that a congress has more power anywho.
 
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Wow. Unlike the current compact, which de jure does not disenfranchise a single person, this proposal would disenfranchise potentially half the country or more. I sure hope you're not suggesting the current compact wouldn't pass judicial review while this would.
Oh, certainly such a "members-only" compact would be disastrous and I would argue against even more fervently than I do the compact as proposed. I just threw that out there in that it would pass constitutional muster in ways the current compact doesn't.

I bet that same poll would show that most of them already think the president is elected by popular vote and that they don't understand the electoral college to begin with.
Truth be told, I am talking out of my ass a bit, I haven't seen a poll on any of these questions that I can cite off the top of my head and you may indeed be right. My feeling, which may be biased due to how political I am and that I live in a swing state, is that most people are aware it's a state by state contest, especially since 2000.

I'm serious, where are you getting this idea that anything about this compact is unconstitutional? You state it so unequivocally, but nothing in the constitution guarantees anything about how the states allocate their electors. It talks about how representatives are to be allocated.
Nothing in the Constitution may limit the states, but on the face of it, the Compact is designed to violate "one person, one vote" precedent set by the Supreme Court by having non-member states' voters counted more often than member states' voters.

Even the fourteenth amendment makes no claims so bold as you're making now, and far less democratic situations have existed in elections in the US in the past without any constitutional challenge afaik.
Could you elaborate on these far less democratic situations? If you're referring to the EC, Gray v. Sanders said, "The inclusion of the electoral college in the Constitution, as the result of specific historical concerns, validated the collegiate principle despite its inherent numerical inequality...," basically, the EC is in the Constitution, therefore it's Constitutional.

Same as the fallout when Gore won the popular vote in 2000. Oh wait, there wasn't any. :O
No offense, but how old were you in 2000? I remember a ton of fallout. This Compact being part of it.
 

Lamel

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Man Gore always seemed like such a smart guy. The beard adds to it.
 

maharg

idspispopd
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Nothing in the Constitution may limit the states, but on the face of it, the Compact is designed to violate "one person, one vote" precedent set by the Supreme Court by having non-member states' voters counted more often than member states' voters.

One man one vote has to do with the state electoral boundaries lending some voters more weight than others. I feel I should point out that the electoral college as currently assembled fails this test anyways. Since the effect of the compact, once enacted, is to lend absolutely equal weight to every voter (in and out of the states party to the compact) to a degree the current system does not, I fail to see how the court could see it as a violation of this principle.

I guess it's possible the SC could apply it as precedent, but it'd strike me as very strange. The case in question did not deal with electors outside districts being given weight, it dealt with electors inside districts having undue influence due to the small size of their district.

Could you elaborate on these far less democratic situations? If you're referring to the EC, Gray v. Sanders said, "The inclusion of the electoral college in the Constitution, as the result of specific historical concerns, validated the collegiate principle despite its inherent numerical inequality...," basically, the EC is in the Constitution, therefore it's Constitutional.

Incidentally, the right of states to apportion their electoral college members according to their own state law is also in the constitution, therefore it's constitutional. It'd take some epic reading in to change that to be a limited right without any violation of due process or equal protection.

To answer the question, though, yes the EC itself. It currently violates one man one vote as defined in Reynolds v. Sims, and at least originally did not even require states to hold votes to decide on their electors. But it is unassailable. Likewise, the senate is undemocratic, both in the fact that originally senators were largely chosen by legislators and not by electors, and in the fact that it lends more weight to some voters than others. Again, the constitutional right of states to decide how to allocate their senators overrides either of these concerns.

And all of this never minding that most states allocate all delegates to the plurality winner of their state, essentially denying any person who voted for another candidate any weight in the selection process (where, if they were allocated proportionally, they might still have cast a deciding vote for a winner who did not carry their state).

But in the end I think the constitution is quite clear about the unabridged right of states to decide how to choose electors. If a state wanted to do it by a coin toss, it seems pretty clear that would pass muster of the US constitution. Keep in mind that in the early years many states decided their electoral college allocations by state legislature rather than election, as well.
 
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One man one vote has to do with the state electoral boundaries lending some voters more weight than others. I feel I should point out that the electoral college as currently assembled fails this test anyways. Since the effect of the compact, once enacted, is to lend absolutely equal weight to every voter (in and out of the states party to the compact) to a degree the current system does not, I fail to see how the court could see it as a violation of this principle.

I guess it's possible the SC could apply it as precedent, but it'd strike me as very strange. The case in question did not deal with electors outside districts being given weight, it dealt with electors inside districts having undue influence due to the small size of their district.
The effect may lead to absolute equal weight to every voter, but the courts decide on the law, and the laws which define the Compact will be in pretty clear violation of precedent. Keep in mind how the Compact will be challenged, it won't be challenged by a non-member state voter (it's questionable if they'd even have standing.) Rather the challenge will come from a member state voter (such as a CA D voter when the Compact flips CA to R,) saying that their state is violating equal protection by counting their vote fewer times than a non-member state's voter vote.

(And yes, I know that the intent of the Compact is to get rid of the concept of states going "R" or "D," but underneath it all, unless you get rid of the EC altogether, it's still there for someone to raise a legal challenge based on it.)

Incidentally, the right of states to apportion their electoral college members according to their own state law is also in the constitution, therefore it's constitutional. It'd take some epic reading in to change that to be a limited right without any violation of due process or equal protection.
But the Compact is a violation of equal protection.

To answer the question, though, yes the EC itself. It currently violates one man one vote as defined in Reynolds v. Sims, and at least originally did not even require states to hold votes to decide on their electors. But it is unassailable. Likewise, the senate is undemocratic, both in the fact that originally senators were largely chosen by legislators and not by electors, and in the fact that it lends more weight to some voters than others. Again, the constitutional right of states to decide how to allocate their senators overrides either of these concerns.
So your defense of ignoring "one person one vote" under the equal protection clause is based on that there's been no Constitutional challenge raised against Constitution itself?

But in the end I think the constitution is quite clear about the unabridged right of states to decide how to choose electors. If a state wanted to do it by a coin toss, it seems pretty clear that would pass muster of the US constitution. Keep in mind that in the early years many states decided their electoral college allocations by state legislature rather than election, as well.
I'm relatively sure that the state's rights to decide is not completely unabridged. A state wouldn't be allowed to only count male votes in determining how to allocate votes. The Compact may not be as offensive to equal protection as that, but I believe that precedent has been trending such that it would still be seen as a violation of equal protection.

And because it's late, and Constitutional questions turn on technicalities, let me be clear:

1) The EC is constitutional because the Constitution created it.
2) The Compact will likely be found unconstitutional because it violates equal protection of one person one vote and although a state can choose how to delegate its electors, it can't do so in an unconstitutional fashion.
 

XMonkey

lacks enthusiasm.
Jun 10, 2004
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We should get rid of it.

Republicans should honestly be for it, too. It would help them in Presidential elections going forward.
 

maharg

idspispopd
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The effect may lead to absolute equal weight to every voter, but the courts decide on the law, and the laws which define the Compact will be in pretty clear violation of precedent. Keep in mind how the Compact will be challenged, it won't be challenged by a non-member state voter (it's questionable if they'd even have standing.) Rather the challenge will come from a member state voter (such as a CA D voter when the Compact flips CA to R,) saying that their state is violating equal protection by counting their vote fewer times than a non-member state's voter vote.

(And yes, I know that the intent of the Compact is to get rid of the concept of states going "R" or "D," but underneath it all, unless you get rid of the EC altogether, it's still there for someone to raise a legal challenge based on it.)


But the Compact is a violation of equal protection.


So your defense of ignoring "one person one vote" under the equal protection clause is based on that there's been no Constitutional challenge raised against Constitution itself?


I'm relatively sure that the state's rights to decide is not completely unabridged. A state wouldn't be allowed to only count male votes in determining how to allocate votes. The Compact may not be as offensive to equal protection as that, but I believe that precedent has been trending such that it would still be seen as a violation of equal protection.

And because it's late, and Constitutional questions turn on technicalities, let me be clear:

1) The EC is constitutional because the Constitution created it.
2) The Compact will likely be found unconstitutional because it violates equal protection of one person one vote and although a state can choose how to delegate its electors, it can't do so in an unconstitutional fashion.

Maybe if the constitution guaranteed that the electoral college was in any way made up based on any kind of vote I could see your argument. The role of the people in selecting the college is, legally speaking, purely advisory. And again, if OMOV were to be applied to the EC there'd already be grounds to sue. It already violates that principle. Individuals are not afforded equal votes into the electoral college already.

I gotta say, I've spent a fair amount of time reading arguments against the compact since we began this discussion, and not one of them has come along these lines. The most compelling argument seems to be on the fact that states require congressional approval to make agreements that affect federal oversight. I'm going to point out that IANAL, and I'm not sure if you are. I'm curious if you have read anything that backs up your interpretation that you can point me to.
 
Oct 8, 2004
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Maybe if the constitution guaranteed that the electoral college was in any way made up based on any kind of vote I could see your argument. The role of the people in selecting the college is, legally speaking, purely advisory. And again, if OMOV were to be applied to the EC there'd already be grounds to sue. It already violates that principle. Individuals are not afforded equal votes into the electoral college already.
So, in your understanding, a state could count only male votes in determining how to allocate its EC votes?

I gotta say, I've spent a fair amount of time reading arguments against the compact since we began this discussion, and not one of them has come along these lines. The most compelling argument seems to be on the fact that states require congressional approval to make agreements that affect federal oversight. I'm going to point out that IANAL, and I'm not sure if you are. I'm curious if you have read anything that backs up your interpretation that you can point me to.
IANAL either, I've just been politically active professionally and personally since 1994. I am not infallible, this isn't an appeal to my "authority," but I have done extensive reading and put extensive thought into American electoral politics. So I don't think that just because no one else has made my argument necessarily means it's invalid. I just think that it's because no one else has thought about the Compact from that angle. Which isn't too surprising because the Compact isn't really a high profile issue and its proponents are pitching it as a "Mom and apple pie" change and not the fundamental restructuring it is.

As for what I've read that backs up my interpretation, it's the relevant case law, such as Reynolds v. Sims (although by no means an exhaustive reading of all potentially relevant case law, I'm not that much of a masochist,) the Compact itself and various defenses and argument against it, then thoughtfully applied the implications of all that.
 

numble

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Apr 22, 2007
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So, in your understanding, a state could count only male votes in determining how to allocate its EC votes?


IANAL either, I've just been politically active professionally and personally since 1994. I am not infallible, this isn't an appeal to my "authority," but I have done extensive reading and put extensive thought into American electoral politics. So I don't think that just because no one else has made my argument necessarily means it's invalid. I just think that it's because no one else has thought about the Compact from that angle. Which isn't too surprising because the Compact isn't really a high profile issue and its proponents are pitching it as a "Mom and apple pie" change and not the fundamental restructuring it is.

As for what I've read that backs up my interpretation, it's the relevant case law, such as Reynolds v. Sims (although by no means an exhaustive reading of all potentially relevant case law, I'm not that much of a masochist,) the Compact itself and various defenses and argument against it, then thoughtfully applied the implications of all that.
Your equal protection argument would apply to the current Electoral College system of winner take all. And the Maine/Nebraska system, since there is double counting for the Senate allocation of Electoral College votes.
 
Oct 8, 2004
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Your equal protection argument would apply to the current Electoral College system of winner take all. And the Maine/Nebraska system, since there is double counting for the Senate allocation of Electoral College votes.
No, because the EC is specifically set up that way. The Constitution is constitutional.

Pardon me, let me expand on that a little bit. FPTP/WTA is constitutional because all of the state's votes are counted the same number of times. (I would say that they're just counted once at the time of allocation, but perhaps an argument could be made that they are counted for each elector, either way, the votes are counted the same number of times.) I have some practical disagreements with the ME/NE system but I haven't thought much about it on a constitutional level. I would think it would be contitutional because, again, each voter in the state is counted the same number of times (once for their CD elector, and twice for each Senatorial elector.)
 

numble

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Apr 22, 2007
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No, because the EC is specifically set up that way. The Constitution is constitutional.
The Costitution is not set up to have Maine and Nebraska distribute their Cogressional Electoral Votes proportional to the popular vote winners in the districts and the Senate Electoral Votes based on the statewide popular vote.

The Compact does not change the Constitution's Electoral College system the same way Maine and Nebraska does not change the Constitution's Electoral College system.

You understand that Grey v. Sanders held that exactly having one man one vote equality is not necessary in the EC, right?
 
Oct 8, 2004
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The Costitution is not set up to have Maine and Nebraska distribute their Cogressional Electoral Votes proportional to the popular vote winners in the districts and the Senate Electoral Votes based on the statewide popular vote.
Of course not, that's up to the states to allocate their EC votes.

The Compact does not change the Constitution's Electoral College system the same way Maine and Nebraska does not change the Constitution's Electoral College system.
Of course not, the Compact depends on the EC, just as copyleft depends on copyright.

You understand that Grey v. Sanders held that exactly having one man one vote equality is not necessary in the EC, right?
Yes.

You understand that the Compact will count some votes in violation of one person one vote in a manner not sanctioned by Gray v. Sanders?
 

numble

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Apr 22, 2007
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You understand that the Compact will count some votes in violation of one person one vote in a manner not sanctioned by Gray v. Sanders?
You don't understand Grey v. Sanders. It doesn't help your argument.

First off, the Compact does not count votes in a manner not sanctioned by Grey v. Sanders.

Here's what happened in Grey v. Sanders:

The citizen challenged unequal weighting within a state under equal protection. The state defended unequal weighting by referring to the Electoral College system.

The Court held:
Each state must count voters in an equal manner.
The Electoral College system is allowed to have unequal voting.

Where is your equal protection challenge?
You either get a blanket ruling that the Electoral College is off limits for equal protection challenges, or you are not challenging your state, which has counted votes and awarded its EC votes in accordance with a one person one vote system, you are challenging the fact that non-Compact states are awarding them in an overweighted manner--that leads you right back to trying to challenge the Electoral College system as an improper unequally weighted system.
 
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First off, the Compact does not count votes in a manner not sanctioned by Grey v. Sanders.
By counting some voters more often than other voters, it falls afoul of the Equal Protection Clause.

Here's what happened in Grey v. Sanders:

The citizen challenged unequal weighting within a state under equal protection. The state defended unequal weighting by referring to the Electoral College system.

The Court held:
Each state must count voters in an equal manner.
The Electoral College system is allowed to have unequal voting.
That's broadly correct, but you missed a bit of nuance in the court's holding regarding the EC.
Gray v. Sanders said:
The inclusion of the electoral college in the Constitution, as the result of specific historical concerns, validated the collegiate principle despite its inherent numerical inequality, but implied nothing about the use of an analogous system by a State in a statewide election. No such specific accommodation of the latter was ever undertaken, and therefore no validation of its numerical inequality ensued. (my emp.)
For the purposes of the state, the presidential election is a statewide election (Bush v. Gore "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College," (my emp.)) therefore such an election doesn't enjoy the same exemption from the Equal Protection clause as the EC does.

Where is your equal protection challenge?
You either get a blanket ruling that the Electoral College is off limits for equal protection challenges, or you are not challenging your state, which has counted votes and awarded its EC votes in accordance with a one person one vote system, you are challenging the fact that non-Compact states are awarding them in an overweighted manner--that leads you right back to trying to challenge the Electoral College system as an improper unequally weighted system.
I've said this before, and I thought I was clear, so I'm not sure this is going to help, but...

The equal protection challenge is this:
States can allocate their electors however they choose, as long as it's not unconstitutional. Surely we can agree that a state could not allocate their electors based on only the popular vote of the male voters. Similarly, by counting non-member states' voters more often than member state voters the Compact violates the Equal Protection Clause. The EC is specifically exempted from such a Constitutional challenge because it's inbalance is enshrined in the Constitution.
 

numble

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Apr 22, 2007
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By counting some voters more often than other voters, it falls afoul of the Equal Protection Clause.


That's broadly correct, but you missed a bit of nuance in the court's holding regarding the EC.

For the purposes of the state, the presidential election is a statewide election (Bush v. Gore "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College," (my emp.)) therefore such an election doesn't enjoy the same exemption from the Equal Protection clause as the EC does.


I've said this before, and I thought I was clear, so I'm not sure this is going to help, but...

The equal protection challenge is this:
States can allocate their electors however they choose, as long as it's not unconstitutional. Surely we can agree that a state could not allocate their electors based on only the popular vote of the male voters. Similarly, by counting non-member states' voters more often than member state voters the Compact violates the Equal Protection Clause. The EC is specifically exempted from such a Constitutional challenge because it's inbalance is enshrined in the Constitution.
The Compact is not the state.

The state counts and allocates its own EC votes on a one person one vote basis. It counts every states voters once. It never counts it more than once when allocating its EC votes. California will never be counting any voter more than once, or weighting voters differently, in determining how to allocate its EC votes.

The state is not allocating other states' votes.
 
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California will never be counting any voter more than once, or weighting voters differently, in determining how to allocate its EC votes.
The constitutional problem arises because although CA is only counting voters once, it's also counting voters that have already been counted by states which don't count CA voters.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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Canada's current leader of the opposition has a full on lumberjack beard.



Actually, I think maybe Al Gore is trying to look like Mulcair.

Mulcair wasn't elected to the position (well, by proxy of being leader of a #2 party), so the contention that you can make it in electoral politics with a beard remains untested!

The last election-tested beard in Canada history was Alexander Mackenzie circa 1880.
 

numble

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Apr 22, 2007
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The constitutional problem arises because although CA is only counting voters once, it's also counting voters that have already been counted by states which don't count CA voters.
Every state applies one person one vote to allocating their electoral votes, both under the compact and the current system.

California allocates their votes equally based on one person one vote. Wyoming allocates their votes equally as well. There is no equal protection challenge to Califonia not allocating ther votes in an unequal manner, or to Wyoming.

The only Constitutional challenge is to the system being improperly weighted in the first place.
 

HylianTom

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May 3, 2007
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Loving life in Uptown NOLA.
Republicans would NEVER let the popular vote decide elections.
In that case, they're suckers, given how many states now start-off automatically blue due to culture/history/demographics/etc. Going into the future, the Dems have as close to a lock on the EC as one party can get (thanks, demographics!).. and many GOP members don't yet realize this.

Watching them go through that moment of realization is going to be hilarious!

This year is perhaps their last, best chance at holding the White House. They'll need some sort of major, major realignment to change their demographic predicament.
 
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Every state applies one person one vote to allocating their electoral votes, both under the compact and the current system.

California allocates their votes equally based on one person one vote. Wyoming allocates their votes equally as well. There is no equal protection challenge to Califonia not allocating ther votes in an unequal manner, or to Wyoming.

The only Constitutional challenge is to the system being improperly weighted in the first place.
We're clearly talking past each other, especially when you bring the EC back in to it.
 

maharg

idspispopd
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Mulcair wasn't elected to the position (well, by proxy of being leader of a #2 party), so the contention that you can make it in electoral politics with a beard remains untested!

The last election-tested beard in Canada history was Alexander Mackenzie circa 1880.

To be fair, no one is ever elected to the position. Or PM either. ;)
 

iamblades

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Mar 5, 2007
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In that case, they're suckers, given how many states now start-off automatically blue due to culture/history/demographics/etc. Going into the future, the Dems have as close to a lock on the EC as one party can get (thanks, demographics!).. and many GOP members don't yet realize this.

Watching them go through that moment of realization is going to be hilarious!

This year is perhaps their last, best chance at holding the White House. They'll need some sort of major, major realignment to change their demographic predicament.

I'm not sure that's really the case.

The only solidly blue state that has substantial population growth is California.

The only demographic argument in favor of the democrats is if Hispanic immigration turns many southern states blue, which hasn't been shown to be the case yet.

There are huge numbers of variable here though.

I think the small states do need some level of protection built into the system.

I think the 17th amendment should be repealed along with any elimination of the electoral college. As it is, the senate is just a duplicate of the house of representatives, when they should have different purposes.
 
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