Ehrhart’s Presidential Popular Vote Bill Gets National Support

Eight former chairmen of the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council signed a letter endorsing HB 929, which calls for the winner of the popular vote to become president. Earl Ehrhart, himself a former chair of ALEC and sponsor of the bill, was signatory to the letter.

HB 929 doesn’t call for the Electoral College to be abolished.

Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes-that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). The bill would replace the current winner take all system of awarding electoral votes with a system guaranteeing the Presidency to the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states, while preserving the states’ control over the manner in which the president is elected.

If you’re serious about getting a national popular vote, just eliminate the Electoral College. That could never happen but if you’re introducing legislation that will only become law when states with 270 Electoral College votes pass the bill, well, then that too will never be enacted.

Our elections are already balkanized to the point of no return with our primary and Electoral College systems. There’s no reason Iowa and New Hampshire should be the states that set the tune and tone of our presidential elections and as a result, skew national legislative priorities to their interests. If you’re serious about reform, you need to blow up the system and start over. In the words of Mike Ehrmantraut: no more half measures.

You can read the entirety of the letter below the fold. But the greatest gem is the stunningly-partisan-and-not-unexpected reading of history when they cite how fewer than 60k votes in Ohio in 2004 would’ve cost President Bush the election. But there’s no mention of the 2000 election where, you know, Bush lost the popular vote.

Letter from 8 Former ALEC National Chairs
As the former National Chairs of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and as current and former members of state legislatures from across the United States, we are writing to ask you to consider a bipartisan, truly representative and fairer process to elect the President of the United States.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact does not abolish the Electoral College.  Instead, it uses the state’s existing authority to change how the Electoral College is chosen, namely from the current winner take all state statutes, to an interstate compact which ensures that the president will be elected by the popular vote of everyone in all 50 states.

This would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

The shortcomings of the current system stem from the winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) enacted by state statute in 48 of the 50 states.

Because of the winner-take-all rule, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 57 presidential elections. As an example of a near miss, a shift of fewer than 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush, despite his nationwide lead of 3,500,000 votes.

This is a state rights issue, a true federalist solution to the current problem where 4 out of 5 Americans are ignored by presidential candidates. Every person-in every state-has the right to decide who is elected President.

The U.S. Constitution gives the states exclusive and plenary control over the manner of awarding their electoral votes. Article II, Section 1 states: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
The winner-take-all rule is not in the Constitution. It was not the Founders’ choice, and was used by only three states in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789.

Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes-that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). The bill would replace the current winner take all system of awarding electoral votes with a system guaranteeing the Presidency to the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states, while preserving the states’ control over the manner in which the president is elected.

One of the bedrock principles of the Conservative movement is our steadfast support of states’ rights.  As Washington D.C. continues to grow beyond the size and scope our Founders could have ever conceived of, the right of states to exercise our authority under the Constitution remains one of the last buffers against an over-reaching federal government. The right of states to control their electors in a manner prescribed by their own state legislature is arguably one of the most important authorities granted by the U.S. Constitution. This authority is therefore one of the greatest responsibilities assigned to state legislators. It is undoubtedly in EVERY state’s interest to use this authority to help enact a national popular vote of every vote cast in all 50 states.

The manner in which states appoint their electors in presidential elections has a direct impact on that state’s influence in presidential politics and policymaking. Thus, state legislators have the fiduciary responsibility to use their constitutional authority to maximize their state’s influence in the best interest of their state’s citizens. The current system of awarding electors to presidential candidates does not serve most state’s interest. The good news is that national popular vote is both an appropriate use of our constitutional authority, but also increases our relevance in the national political scene. It protects the principles of Federalism and preserves and guarantees our Republican form of government.

One need not look further than the 2012 election to make this point. A full 80% of Americans were ignored in the last presidential election. After being nominated, Obama held campaign events in just eight closely divided battleground states, and Romney did so in only 10. These 10 states received 98% of the $940 million spent on campaign advertising. Forty states were mere spectators. This is a clear demonstration of the most important political calculus. The literal and quantified importance of any given state for the incoming chief executive can be derived from this example.

Not only is it in our own states interest, but it is equally important to weigh this decision in a nationwide context. It is in this light that the value of a national popular vote system is most clearly seen. “Battleground” states receive 7% more federal grants than “spectator” states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions, and more No Child Left Behind law exemptions. Because of the disproportionate value of the “swing states” federal policy decisions have been distorted in ways that grow the size of the federal government. The largest government entitlement since the Great Society was Medicare Part D, designed to win the large senior voting population in Florida.

As conservatives, and former ALEC National Chairs, there are several other political aspects that we think are important to consider.

We believe we are a ‘center-right’ nation. A national popular vote system would give our center-right coalition a greater voice in electing the President. Rather than having to campaign in battleground states only, every one of our coalition’s members would matter. Nationwide turnout, regardless of the impact on individual states, would matter. Our voices and issues move and affect voters nationally and candidates would have to take them into greater consideration.

Moving away from the current system also helps reduce the incentive and value of voter fraud. Today, small changes executed by a very small number of people in a particular state could have a determinative effect on the national outcome in the Electoral College vote. By moving away from the winner take all system, we diminish the role any one group, city or ‘machine’ could play to swing a state’s Electoral College votes.

Today, conservatives in many states have little voice. Presidential campaigns concentrate their efforts in the 6-12 battleground states, depending on the year. Under a National Popular Vote, conservative turnout in California, New York and even small states like Vermont and Rhode Island would matter. This would provide for a great incentive to organize our ‘natural’ and often times ‘silent’ majority in EVERY state.

Obviously, the left has a similar scenario and perspective about the national electorate. They believe that they have a better organizational base, a broader appeal and would/should be the majority party and movement in America. We are confident that the conservatives across this country are under-represented and under-counted election after election.

The bottom line is that the National Popular Vote Bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. We believe that is both right and fair.  Having a fair fight for the hearts and minds of Americans is a challenge we wholeheartedly accept!

It is for these reasons that a national popular vote is clearly in our states, our nations, and our party’s best interest. As stated before, our state legislatures are endowed by our Founders with an awesome responsibility to award each state’s electors in a manner prescribed by each state’s sovereign elected bodies. It is not only in our interest, but indeed our responsibility, to use that authority to advance the priorities of the people of each and every one of our great states.

Respectfully yours,

Frank Messersmith — 1989-90 National Chair –Florida
Bonnie Sue Cooper — 1995 National Chair — Missouri
Harold Brubaker — 1994 National Chair — North Carolina
Raymond N. Haynes — 2000 National Chair — California
Steve McDaniel — 2001 National Chair — Tennessee
Billy Hewes — 2004 National Chair — Mississippi
Earl Ehrhart —  2005 National Chair — Georgia
Noble Ellington —  2011 National Chair — Louisiana

 

 

 

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gcp
gcp

Change the primary system by dividing the country into four parts with roughly equal population. You would have primaries in Feb, March, April, May. This process would be more efficient and would eliminate the Iowa, New Hampshire silliness.

Calypso
Calypso

Hat tip for the ‘Breaking Bad’ reference.

xdog
xdog

I could support apportioning EVs by congressional district winner, the way Nebraska and Maine do. ALEC’s proposal is too extreme.

kohler
kohler

To be clear, the National Popular Vote bill is not “ALEC’s proposal.” Eight former chairmen of the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council signed a letter endorsing it. The bill retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every voter is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country. Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Why do I get the feeling ALEC’s support for this proposal stems from the GOP’s emerging electoral college disadvantage and not some concern for equality? As it stands now, the Democrats are guaranteed at least 217 EVs. That could be higher depending on whether you think WI (10 EV) and PA (20 EV) are truly swing states. WI hasn’t gone Repuplican since 1984, PA hasn’t gone red since 1988. Win IA (9 EVs, red in ’04 but blue in every election since ’88), NV (6 EVs, blue in ’08 and ’12), CO (9 EV, blue in ’08 and ’12), NH… Read more »

kohler
kohler

ALEC is not supporting the National Popular Vote bill.

Eight former chairmen of the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council signed a letter endorsing it.

Charlie
Charlie

Some conservatives have spun themselves so tightly that they can’t even see the words they use to support their ideas directly contradict them. A few samples: “This is a state rights issue,” – So our solution is to take away the power of individual states and mandate the results of a federal election. “We believe we are a ‘center-right’ nation. A national popular vote system would give our center-right coalition a greater voice in electing the President.” – But you just said it’s a states’ rights issue. Now it’s openly seeking a partisan advantage. “It protects the principles of Federalism… Read more »

kohler
kohler

Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.” There is nothing in Article II (or elsewhere in the Constitution) that prevents states from making the decision now that winning the national popular vote is required to win the… Read more »

kohler
kohler

The letter says “Obviously, the left has a similar scenario and perspective about the national electorate. They believe that they have a better organizational base, a broader appeal and would/should be the majority party and movement in America.” The political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows is that when and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere. With National Popular Vote, every voter would be equal. Candidates would reallocate their time, the money they raise, and their ad buys to no longer ignore 80% of the states and voters. One-sixth of the U.S. population… Read more »

kohler
kohler

A survey of Georgia voters showed 74% overall support for the idea that the President should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 75% among Republicans, 78% among Democrats, and 67% among others.

By gender, support was 80% among women and 68% among men.

By age, support was 68% among 18-29 year olds, 77% among 30-45 year olds, 74% among 46-65 year olds, and 76% for those older than 65.

http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

kohler
kohler

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81%range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big… Read more »

kohler
kohler

With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions. More than 99% of general election campaigns would not be spent on a handful of states. 2/3rds would no longer be spent on 4 states. A nationwide presidential campaign of polling, organizing, ad… Read more »

kohler
kohler

Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 57 (1 in 14 = 7%) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie

Dear Kohler: Stop. Back away from your keyboard. Now. This is absolutely ridiculous. We get that you’re excited. We get that you believe strongly in this topic. What I’m about to say has nothing to do with the fact that I disagree with you. It has everything to do with the fact that “you’re doing it wrong.” You have now taken a place where you could engage in conversation and have instead chosen to cut and paste other people’s work into multiple, too-long comments that no one is going to read, will persuade no one not already convinced since a… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

George Orwell couln’t have written this better. Really bizarre. “The shortcomings of the current system stem from the winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) ” “Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.” Wait, what?? “This authority is therefore one of the greatest responsibilities assigned to state legislators. It is undoubtedly in EVERY state’s interest to use this authority to… Read more »

kohler
kohler

Although the whole-number proportional approach might initially seem to offer the possibility of making every voter in every state relevant in presidential elections, it would not do this in practice. It would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote; It would not improve upon the current situation in which four out of five states and four out of five voters in the United States are ignored by presidential campaigns, but instead, would create a very small set of states in which only one electoral vote is in play (while making most states politically irrelevant), and It would not make every… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie

This is yet another completely non-responsive reply to my warning. You are posting circular talking points, and nothing else. This is your final warning. We are a blog about Georgia politics. The profile you were spamming our Facebook page with indicates that you are from Arkansas. You have made no attempt to have an actual conversation nor be part of our community. All you have done is stop an actual productive conversation that was occurring by trying to filibuster it. And in the process, have ensured that no undecided person here will consider your point of view. I sense these… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

You know how, during football season, you get sick of seeing Peyton Manning’s grotesquely large forehead on your television? One commercial break he’s selling you crappy pizza. The next he’s humming an insurance jingle. The next he’s selling you a Buick. The one after that, he’s selling you crappy pizza again. That is life for people in “battleground states.” One commercial break it’s Barack Obama. The next its Mitt Romney. Then throw in some ads from PACs. Rinse and repeat. Living in a state that campaigns pay attention to is A-W-F-U-L. Be happy to live in a place that is… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie

Is it kind of like seeing the same comment cut and pasted over and over and over again?

Because if it’s like that, I agree. That would be awful.

Calypso
Calypso

Charlie, thanks for stepping on kohler’s air hose. It is appreciated, though I imagine once this post falls off the front page we’ll never hear from him/her again.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Yeah, you get the gist.

Worst part is when campaign season and football season overlap. Obama… Manning… Obama… Manning… Romney… Brett Farve… Dale Jr… Romney… Manning

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Direct election would also equalize the value of each citizen’s vote. California with 12.2% of the nation’s population has only 10.2% (55) of the electoral votes. Wyoming with 0.2% of the nation’s population has nearly 0.6% (3) of the 538 electoral votes. A Wyoming vote thus has more than three times the Electoral College weight of a California vote. My calculations are that votes in 30 states plus DC (every state with 9 or less electoral votes except Colorado, plus WI and MN with 10 votes) are worth less when there is direct election, so direct election proposals aren’t likely… Read more »