Disenfranchisement In Virginia

It’s moving forward.

This seems like a good time to point out once again that the electoral college is a horrible, horrible, horrible idea. I cede the floor to Akhil Amar:

…we must realize that the Electoral College is a hopelessly outdated system and that we must abolish it. Direct election would resonate far better with the American value of one person, one vote. Indeed, the college was designed at the founding of the country to help one group — white Southern males…

…Plumer has more.

125 comments on this post.
  1. James E. Powell:

    I am afraid that we on the leftier side of things are going to lose this battle, at least in the short run. Our experience in states like Michigan and Wisconsin show that while the right-wingers are united and determined to radically alter our political institutions, those opposed are stuck with the great mass of people who either don’t give a shit, or who figure both sides do it, no big deal.

    And it’s not like we can count on the corporate press/media to inform the public of these things, or the implications.

  2. somethingblue:

    Hey, those votes aren’t going to steal themselves …

  3. Erik Loomis:

    This is THE political story of the next 4 years. It’s entirely plausible that a Republican will win in 2016 with 45-46% of the vote. Revolting.

  4. Jameson Quinn:

    The EC, as it stands, is horrible. But it does make possible bottom-up reforms through interstate compacts, as with the NPV project. If NPV were all that there was, that would be pointless, like Edward Scissorhands using his blades to do self-surgery to give himself normal hands. But plurality voting is a really bad system. An NPV-like compact could be used for actually-democratic voting systems like approval voting, graduated majority judgment, or SODA voting.

    Plurality voting leads inevitably to an unaccountable two-party duopoly. Gerrymandering, a corruptive dependance on money, issues excluded from the debate; all of these follow. If we’re going to face today’s great challenges, climate change first among them, with the energy they deserve, we could really use a functional democracy while we do it. The EC puts that in reach, because it means it doesn’t take an unattainable supermajority for a constitutional amendment to get there.

  5. Jameson Quinn:

    It’s also plausible that this could actually sink the Republican party. They have 20-30% of stalwarts but if they’re openly cheating at this level there will be a backlash. It would take something this big to win back the house in 2014, but if they tried this, it could make it possible.

  6. mark:

    Completely cynical, if not outright evil. I would have thought politicians had enough self-interest not to make their state *less* important in national elections. Hope they get thoroughly slaughtered (metaphorically speaking) next election for even considering something like this. Clearly putting the interest of the party of the interest of the state.

    Factual question–TAP article says it makes “land” the key variable, is if it were pre-1950s districting based on geography instead of population. But EVs are parcelled out based on equal population Congressional districts, or am I missing something?

  7. Murc:

    Plurality voting leads inevitably to an unaccountable two-party duopoly.

    I’m not what you’d call a huge fan of plurality voting, but I think you’re overstating the case a bit. Plurality voting does bias a system towards two parties (as well as other pathologies) but I don’t know that I’d call the Labour/Tory Parties of either Canada or the UK ‘unaccountable.’

  8. Murc:

    The TAP article gets a bunch of stuff wrong in the first couple paragraphs.

    It’s not that land is the key variable here, although that’s a nice punchy line. It’s that the districts that are Democratic tend to be more Democratic than the districts that are Republican are Republican.

    Basically, every vote over 50%+1 is irrelevant in each district, just as it would be statewide, for purposes of assigning electors. This allows for situations in which the statewide vote is tilted decisively one way (say, 55%-45%) but the person with that 55% gets less electors than the guy with 45% because he piled up meaningless votes in districts he’d already won, whereas the 45% won more districts by much smaller margins.

    Land doesn’t come into it at all.

  9. howard:

    in the short run, i’m more inclined to agree than not.

    but i do keep reminding myself that the california republican party, a harbinger of the nuttiness of the entire republican party, finally overstayed its welcome and has largely destroyed itself.

    one can but hope that the increasingly egregious tactics and nuttiness will continue, over time, to produce a similar affect.

  10. Aaron S. Veenstra:

    I still haven’t heard any explanation, plausible or not, for why this doesn’t violate the constitution of Virginia.

  11. Aaron S. Veenstra:

    The redistricting part, that is, not the changes to how electoral votes are awarded.

  12. McKingford:

    As repugnant as this is, I’m still not convinced it’s a winning strategy (nor do I foresee a case, as Erik warns against, where the GOP wins with 45%*).

    The proposals in the blue voting but red controlled states don’t give the GOP enough EVs to otherwise change the 2012 results – although I grant that if they incorporated the ridiculous twist Virginia prosposes, which is to give the 2 extra EVs not to the statewide winner but to the winner of the most congressional districts, it would.

    So if the GOP falls short even with this manipulation, although it makes the EC closer, it also makes it harder to win. The reason for this is that these are all tipping point states. The GOP, in order to win a presidential election, would have to swing these states into the red column. But these manipulations ensure that the benefit of additional EC votes for the GOP (ie winning the state) will be lost, because it would also ensure the Dems receive votes even when losing the state.

    [*The reasons the GOP can't win with 45% is that 2 things happen at those low levels: it starts to lose additional red states, like North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana and Arizona, and it also starts losing congressional districts that the GOP needed to stay red in those states where this manipulation takes place...for instance, Romney would have won 3 EVs in Virginia under this plan but incredibly narrowly; additional Dem support swings those 3 votes to the Dem column and mutes the point of this exercise.]

  13. shah8:

    I do not think affluent white voters who live in NoVa will like this very much.

    I also think that this is going to be too controversial to follow through in the sense that it says more about GOP desperation than any controversy over the method of counting votes.

    It will also eat up GOP cash like nothing you’ve ever seen to profit from this maneuver, because they start from an immediate loss in the urban areas, and they finish with a base that’s far more empowered to ask for concrete gains (or they stay home). If the GOP is doing poorly in the national EV scene, it’s going to just bleed heavier whereever they’ve got these gimmicks going.

    Nothing like the stench of patent, overt, unfairness in the morning…

  14. shah8:

    They are cherry picking the states. Don’t do it in Indiana or Georgia, but do it in Pennsytucky.

  15. McKingford:

    Yes, I know that.

    But if the proposals had been in place in 2012 in Virginia (9-4 Romney), Pennsylvania (13-7 Romney), Wisconsin (5-4 Obama), Ohio (12-6 Romney) and Michigan (9-7 Romney), Obama would have still won 285 EVs.

  16. GFW:

    Said backlash wouldn’t happen until 2018, because 2014 voters are incapable of anticipating the 2016 result.

  17. Jameson Quinn:

    Compared to what? Compared to the US, with its tendency to divided government and current “party of no”, the Canada/UK party systems could be called accountable. Compared to a system which can accomodate the growth of new parties if the voters want them, those countries are still quite unaccountable.

  18. Jameson Quinn:

    I think people could notice the cheating as it’s happening, though of course they’ll notice even more if it succeeds.

  19. Anonymous:

    Divided government isn’t a function of the electoral system, it’s a function of broader institutional design.

  20. Dave Brockington:

    Shit, that was me. New office PC, no settings, etc.

  21. robotswillstealyourjobs:

    “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” -JFK

  22. Murc:

    Divided government isn’t a function of the electoral system, it’s a function of broader institutional design.

    To be fair to the Founders, I’m not sure they can have been expected to foresee the possibility that people who were actually uninterested in governing and in fact hostile to it would seize control of the government.

    They did seem to get that people are pretty venal and corrupt, but the understanding was apparently that even venal, corrupt people can be bought off, and usually have ancillary policy goals. But people busting their ass to get into power for the express purpose of burning the place down? Shit’s crazy. You can’t plan for that.

    (This in no way, shape, or form should be read as an endorsement of a system designed to produce divided government, which is semi-functional at best and has been shown to demonstrably lag behind other methods of democratic governance when it comes to getting important shit done.)

  23. ploeg:

    Or to be more punchy and accurate, if the state legislature gerrymanders districts to maximize Republican seats in Congress, you can bet that the same principle works just as well to maximize Republican EV. And if they award the at-large EV based on the number of districts won (rather than by statewide popular vote, as is done in NE and ME), that gives you a clear idea that the whole point is to lock in Republican EV and eliminate any possibility of competition.

  24. ploeg:

    To rig the EV, you have to start somewhere. Normalize it. Get people used to the idea. Then if by some fluke you get a Republican majority in NY, you try it there, and then things start to get interesting.

    And if the alternative is that VA (for example) trends more and more reliably blue in Presidential elections anyway, you might decide to just lock in an advantage and not worry about VA anymore.

  25. rea:

    With all due respect, we face an immediate practical political problem, and “approval voting, graduated majority judgment, or SODA voting” aren’t practical solutions–they aren’t going to happen.

  26. djw:

    The sponsor of the bill specifically made the land argument, by asserting that the flaw in the current system is that it allows “urban areas” to outvote the rest of the state.

  27. Jhd3:

    The author of the plan did not make a “land” argument. “Urban” stands for minorities (mostly blacks). The idea is to privilege the republican demographic—white, rural, and ethnophobic. Add ignorant to to the list and they see this as a way to keep power in the face of change.

  28. c u n d gulag:

    The first lesson here for Democrats is, don’t take a day off. EVER!

    Today’s Republicans are ratfeckers who learned their ratfeckin’ while sitting at the feet of The King of the Ratfeckers, Richard Nixon.
    Cheney and Rummy, among others, carried on Nixon’s ratfeckin’ tradition.

    Ratfeckers will feck rats, if the rats are left in the position to be fecked.
    So, if you don’t want the ratfeckers feckin’ rats, then either make sure the ratfeckers are never in a position to feck a rat, or, put a chastity belt on the rat.

    The final lesson here is, Democrats, if you ever say to yourselves, “I don’t think even Republicans would stoop that low” – THINK AGAIN!!!

  29. djw:

    This. What we’re dealing with here is a direct and immediate threat to the deeply flawed democracy we’ve actually got; fantasies about an entirely different political order aren’t relevant.

  30. cpinva:

    agreed. however, “white, rural, ethnophobic and ignorant” is a rapidly diminishing breed. not to mention, it’s no way to go through life. va is a good example. the population you describe is getting smaller and smaller. the “rural” are becoming, not small farming communities, but housing developments, occupied by well educated, well compensated professionals. while they may appreciate, to some extent, the “anti-tax” fervor of the GOP, everything else leaves them cold.

  31. Chatham:

    Or they do care, know that it’s mostly the Republicans and know that it’s a big deal, and don’t do anything. If people don’t pay much attention to local politics and don’t get involved other than voting every couple of years, this kind of stuff will continue. Politics is one by those who show up.

    People should be chatting less about the presidency and congress and doing more about what’s happening in their own back yard.

  32. TT:

    Normalize it. Get people used to the idea.

    That’s been the conservative M.O. for a good long while now. Inject the grotesque, the unthinkable, the anti-American, and/or the dastardly into the political landscape, then act as though it’s always been a perfectly normal part of said landscape. (Or claim that “both sides do it”, so what’s the big deal?)

  33. Rob:

    The Virginia GOP hates affluent white voters in NoVa so not sure why that matters.

  34. Anonymous:

    It’s all coming together and moving forward rather nicely for us. VA is just the beginning.

    And there’s shit-all you can do about it!

  35. arguingwithsignposts:

    The sponsor of the bill specifically made the land argument, by asserting that the flaw in the current system is that it allows “urban areas” to outvote the rest of the state.

    If you replace “land” with “race,” it gets to the true meaning.

  36. Charlie Sweatpants:

    This was being floated in Pennsylvania last time around, and my understanding is that it fell apart because all those people in the state legislature and the House realized that this had the potential to nationalize their little parochial districts and thus put them at some danger from increased Democratic attention (advertising, GOTV, etc). The potential to radically upset the state level political system (and their relatively safe haven within it) was just too frightening to them.

    Does that not apply to Virginia somehow? Or has the fact that Obama carried their state twice by comfortable margins just pissed off the old line Virginia poobahs so badly that they don’t care?

  37. Anonymous:

    It’s going to pass.

    McDonnell will sign it.

    And you’ll be able to hear the liberal screaming crying and whining all the way from space.

    Choke on it. Choke on it hard.

  38. Hogan:

    “Race” is the argument he was trying to get across; “land” was the argument he actually made. It helps to break the code if you show that the code makes no damn sense in its own terms.

  39. Hogan:

    And what will President Perry have to say about that?

  40. Anonymous:

    How will you stop it?

    Do you think McDonnell will veto it?

    AHAHAHAHAHHAHA.

  41. Njorl:

    Uhhhhhhhhhhh… uhhhhhhhhh … ummmmmmmmmm

  42. Hogan:

    Harrumph.

  43. El Guapo:

    The Waffles are coming! The Waffles are coming!

    And there was much rejoicing.

  44. El Guapo:

    Does McDonald’s serve waffles? I know they have hotcakes, but those are pretty lame.

    A Waffle in Every Pot!

  45. fraser:

    This doesn’t surprise me. Back when I was living in Florida in 2000, I heard more than one local/regional pundit explain that George W. Bush really did win the popular vote, because he got more actual land than Gore. That proved the majority of the country wanted Bush, and only decadent liberals and immigrants concentrated in big cities and hating real Americans wanted Gore.
    So this just translates that flimsy bit of logic into a political principle.

  46. DrDick:

    I think you are overly optimistic about how much attention most voters pay to this kind of thing.

  47. Snarki, child of Loki:

    This type of scheme was yakked about in PA last year, but died when it was clear that it would result in a huge D push on vulnerable suburban congressional districts.

    Which would likely tip the PA House as well as congressmen.

    So the question in VA is centered not on the deep blue urban areas or the deep red rural areas, but in the purple suburbs.

    And considering the 50/50 split in the VA senate, do they really want to lose that for a generation? I guess so.

  48. Hogan:

    One acre, one vote.

  49. Timb:

    Yeah, no one has mentioned that here in Indiana yet, although we have a thoroughly wingnutted legislature and Preacher Mike Pence is our governor

  50. NonyNony:

    I’m very worried. The guy that accurately predicted that Romney would win the election and that Benghazi would destroy Obama has now predicted that this is a winning move for the GOP.

    I should probably bank on it.

  51. Gepap:

    What is done can be undone. If the Republicans at the State level pass and vote for this, they are handing the Dems. a big issue to use in the coming 2014 elections, and might lose their grip on the Governor’s office and legislature. Then the Dems. just change the system back.

    The Republicans in swing states should think twice before moving forward.

  52. Chatham:

    Which makes you wonder why there isn’t a huge D push even without this kind of legislation.

  53. Timb:

    I remember when Citizens United gave us waffles and then I remember when the Supreme Court announced they would repeal Obamacare AND give us pancakes. Now, I am told more waffles are on their way!

    I was sort of worried about this until I realized the anti-democratic JenBob liked it….that guarantees its failure.

    With syrup and hopefully sausage links

  54. DrDick:

    This does not surprise me at all. It really is their only hope to retain any power at the national level. Their policies are all wildly unpopular with the majority of the American people and they have to cheat to win anywhere not dominated by racists, talibangelicals, or plutocrats. That is also behind their intensified voter suppression schemes. The reality is that conservatives hate emocracy and accountability.

  55. NonyNony:

    Actually, if the fools go on and pass this, the best possible result would be a massive GOTV in 2014 throughout the state to get Democratic voters to turn out and flip the marginal Republican districts and take control of the state houses. And then repeal the plan before it hits the next election.

    The national Democratic Party needs to take this very seriously and turn those statehouse elections into national elections. If the Republicans in the VA state house want to turn their statehouse elections into national elections, the least that the national party can do is help them out with it. (A successful push on that would also serve as a warning to other Republican controlled, highly gerrymandered states with majority Dem voters but Republican controlled state legislatures to watch the overreach. If the Dems do nothing to push back, there’s no incentive not to go for the partisan overreach every time.)

  56. DrDick:

    Nice to see you embrace your inner fascist and celebrate the destruction of actual democracy.

  57. Timb:

    You should order some home fries to go with your waffles

  58. Timb:

    H probably doesn’t even like waffles.

  59. Timb:

    “He” doesn’t like waffles

  60. Timb:

    Stop feeding the always wrong troll. Think about the last time this guy was right about anything…j

  61. McKingford:

    Oops.

  62. rm:

    Instead of statehood for DC, they’d like to create districthood for all big cities.

  63. daveNYC:

    The word ‘urban’ isn’t exactly Enigma level encoding though.

  64. Brien Jackson:

    On the upside of things, the Village has convinced itself that gerrymandered districts are the cause of all Congressional ills, so maybe they’re susceptible to framing this as gerrymandering the Presidency. If it gets enough media attention I think the backlash will be sufficient to either stop state GOPs from doing it or punishing them for it at the first possible turn. People might be willing to ignore that the whole system is rigged against them, but buh-gawd they want to at least pretend that the election itself is legitimate.

  65. Brien Jackson:

    And to be even more fair, I don’t think the American system would have been designed so goofily if it could have been built from scratch as an academic exercise, instead of as a necessary compromise between the states.

  66. Walt:

    You keep getting breakfast meals, and I keep getting these walrus-fucking videos. I signed up for the wrong mailing list.

  67. John:

    How is this a practical possibility when Republicans don’t control the State Senate? Are they going to wait for one of the Democrats to be gone again?

  68. c u n d gulag:

    Surely you mean, “It.”

  69. Chatham:

    A tie vote would be broken by the Republican lieutenant governor.

  70. liberal:

    The national Democratic Party needs to take this very seriously and turn those statehouse elections into national elections.

    I don’t understand why we Dems don’t take state elections more seriously, even without this crap. The only thing I can think of for all these presidentially blue states with red legislatures is that (beyond the implicit disadvantage of urban voters being compacted into districts) the Republican money advantage comes to the fore—it’s one thing for the Dems to compete in the few nationally prominent elections we have, it’s another for them to compete in myriad state and local ones.

  71. djw:

    Lt. Governor casts the deciding vote. He’s a Republican, but it’s also far from clear he’s on board.

  72. John:

    Ah, right, of course.

  73. Chatham:

    I think the importance of money in politics gets overstated, particularly in local elections where good supporters, good connections, and a good organization make a huge difference. From my experience, there just aren’t that many people that care enough to get involved locally.

  74. John:

    The thing about this plan that puzzles me is that it seems like it would shoot Republicans in the foot. In any presidential race that Republicans have a chance to win, they ought to win Virginia. What Republicans seem to be doing is denying themselves 4 electoral votes they might need, in order to deprive Democrats of 9 electoral votes they probably won’t need.

  75. c u n d gulag:

    I suspect that’s Bill Kristol, back at LG&M after his 2 month diet of crow and sour grapes.

  76. John Protevi:

    WHY DOES NO ONE WANT TO DISCUSS THE ISSUES WITH ME?

  77. UberMitch:

    So the dem retaliation for this should be to push National Popular Vote in whatever states they control but haven’t passed it in yet, right? I don’t think there are enough dem-controlled states out there to put it over the top, but at least its something.

  78. John Protevi:

    I HAVE COME TO DISCUSS THE ISSUES AND ALL ANYONE ELSE DOES IS SNEER AT ME. THIS PROVES THAT LIBERALS ARE THE REAL FASCISTS.

  79. Anonymous:

    Is this dirty?

    Yes.

    Do I give a shit?

    No.

    Using the Dems tactics against them for once. I’m lovin’ it.

    Remember: we are a republic, not a democracy. This is entirely constitutional.

    BTW, state senate elections in VA are in 2013. Even more of an off year with even LOWER turnout, and with the new gerrymandered senate districts. This means the law will remain in place.

  80. liberal:

    OK, but the fact is that all of those things take time and are helped by status, which are at least to some extent equivalent to money.

    IMHO someone who isn’t wealthy faces much more difficulty organizing and winning a campaign than your usually slightly wealthy businessman.

    I completely agree that the Republican advantage in these senses can be overcome with commitment.

  81. Malaclypse:

    I’ll have two eggs, over easy, with a side of home fries, and two pieces of whole wheat toast. And coffee – lots of coffee. Black and bitter as a nameless troll’s soul.

    Thanks.

  82. rea:

    My understanding is that he has said he would not have broken a tie in favor of redistricting (which of course is why the one missing Democrat was so important).

    He wanted to be governor, but lost the nommination for next year’s election to the wingnut birther AG

  83. elm:

    Exactly. This makes sense in PA and MI, where Republicans keep thinking they’re swing states but they keep going blue pretty decisively, and perhaps WI, but it’s outright dumb in Ohio and VA. If the Republicans are going to win, they have to win one or both of those states, but now winning those states will matter less if the reform goes through. It’s really easy to see this backfiring on the R’s if VA is the only state that does this.

  84. Hogan:

    Are you saying the beloved Founding Fathers did such a low filthy thing as COMPROMISE? Go wash your mouth out with soap, young man.

  85. David Hunt:

    I’m not sure I’d characterize the the GOP of having the goal of burning the place down. I’d say that was more of a strategy designed to move them toward their actual goal, which is to benefit rich people by lowering their taxes and looting the Treasury to filter money to the business interests that support them. Burning the place down is simply a tool they use to make the other party look bad so they can get in.

    So long story short: they don’t quite want to burn it down. They just don’t care how much of it has to burn for them to get what they really want.

  86. mds:

    Well, why would they bother? 2008 was obviously a fluke, and given that there are two or three D-ish congressional districts, the only result of implementing this scheme would be to give some of Indiana’s electoral votes to a Democrat. Winner-take-all will remain in red states, while the Congressional system gets enacted in presidential blue states with Republican state governments. Since there aren’t currently any presidential red states with Democratic state governments, there’s no direct countermove available.

    Note that it would help the normalization process if Republicans also did it in red states, as it would then superficially resemble an attempt to “reform” the system, rather than a naked power grab. However, I don’t give them that much credit. It’s a naked power grab to increase their chances of reclaiming the presidency in 2016, period. And après GOP, le déluge de merde.

  87. mds:

    Because Democratic voters go home and stay there in off-year elections, and are less likely to pay attention to state legislative elections. Mouth-frothing enthusiasm has its advantages.

    And considering the 50/50 split in the VA senate, do they really want to lose that for a generation?

    Remember, though, that that’s already meant to go away thanks to the state senate GOP ramming through a redistricting plan 20-19 on MLK Day because Henry Marsh was attending the inauguration. So they’re presumably sufficiently confident in their Dem-packing gerrymander.

  88. Joe:

    it’s a rule that can be used positively or negatively … see, e.g., same sex marriage and maybe (with NY) gun regulation.

  89. Chatham:

    Yeah, and it’s not just about off-year elections. A lot of groundwork has to be done between elections to get anywhere, and most people don’t bother to show up.

  90. Woodrowfan:

    This could also change Senate elections. Webb and Kaine won because the GOTV efforts in NOVA turned out enough votes to make the difference. Neuter those areas by making sure that their Presidential votes don’t make a difference, turnout drops, and the Democratic candidates for Senate get fewer votes as well..

  91. David Hunt:

    And considering the 50/50 split in the VA senate, do they really want to lose that for a generation? I guess so.

    The impression I get is that they think that VA is going to go consistently Blue in Presidential elections so changing their laws that the EVs are awarded by Congressional districts takes a EVs out of the Democratic total and gives them the Republican candidate. If your goal is to take the Presidency, it’s not necessarily a stupid strategy. It simply requires a marked lack of moral scruples.

    Oh, wait…

  92. Chatham:

    Money can surely help, but not as much as many people might think. If you follow elections you’ll find every so often someone with a ton of money that tries to buy the race. Sometimes they do well, sometimes they fail miserably. Last year a local candidate spent 20 times the amount of his opponent, and lost ~30-70%. Money can help you get connections, but working with people and local organizations on issues probably help a lot more. Which is why it’s so important that we build up the local groups and political infrastructure.

  93. David Hunt:

    Is that a koan?

  94. Chester Allman:

    Yeah, at the very least it’s helpful that gerrymandering is already kind of a bugaboo among the Village types. Makes messaging easier – this is gerrymandering on steroids, it’s gerrymandering the White House, it’s gerrymandering gone mad, etc.

  95. rea:

    The striking thing about GOP strategy for the last couple of decades is how they don’t worry about events beyond the next election. “In the long run, we’re all dead” as a political principle . . .

  96. John:

    If he would have voted against redistricting, it seems unlikely he would vote for this much more radical proposal. I’d also wonder if McDonnell would back it – it seems like if he wants any political future in the state, supporting this monstrosity is a very bad way to go about it.

  97. Njorl:

    I don’t know if the old view of VA is realistic. OH, PA and MI are fairly static in their make up, and will probably shift a little back and forth as to how D or R they are. VA is headed in one direction. VA is going to become more and more Democratic as time goes on.

    VA also has an extraordinary differential in their national vs local voting habits. Local elections are in odd numbered years. Republicans tend to be lifelong residents while Democrats tend to be transplants with less interest in their local government.

    Unless Republicans dump their anti-big-government crusade, VA might wind up more securely in the D collumn than PA and MI by 2024.

  98. joe from Lowell:

    I remember when Citizens United gave us waffles and then I remember when the Supreme Court announced they would repeal Obamacare AND give us pancakes.

    Let’s not forget the side of voter-suppression sausages.

    You know, it’s almost as if relying on cheating and gimmicks to make up for an unpopular ideology and and inability to govern isn’t a reliable way to win elections.

  99. joe from Lowell:

    Their policies are all wildly unpopular with the majority of the American people…

    Even worse for them, the branding that they used to use to overcome that – real Americans, international tuff guys, Southern Strategy – has stopped working.

  100. Stan Gable:

    Is there any conceivable way that McDonnell could win the presidency without winning a majority of voters in VA? What’s his motivation for signing a bill like this?

  101. Jameson Quinn:

    We do face a serious problem. Republicans want to cheat and it’s plausible they could get away with it. We who oppose that have to find a strategy (including both rhetoric and tactics) so that it doesn’t happen.

    Fulminating against the EC per se is not that strategy. If we ever attain the power to pass a constitutional amendment we will long since have had the power to stop these shenanigans in the short term. And as I said, the EC, crazy as it is, gives just as much room for useful reform as for cheating, and far more room than if the constitution guaranteed national plurality voting. So yeah, right now, approval voting is a fantasy and GMJ and SODA doubly so. But unlike ending the EC, they’re not harmful fantasies, so I’ll keep dreaming for now, and I stand by my analysis above. It’s better to use the EC as the seeds of its own destruction than to uselessly fulminate against it.

  102. Jameson Quinn:

    Or marijuana legalization.

  103. Jameson Quinn:

    Divided government isn’t a function of the electoral system, it’s a function of broader institutional design.

    Right, never said it wasn’t. It’s an institutional design that makes plurality even worse, but plurality is plenty bad without it.

  104. UserGoogol:

    Virginia seems like it might be a poor choice for Republicans to cherry pick, though. Virginia is not an especially Democrat leaning state. Obama won the last two elections in Virginia, but only because he won the last two elections nationally. Virginia performed very close to the national average over the last two elections without an obvious bias towards either party. So in a closer election, it would be very easy for this to benefit Democrats. (For instance, 2000.)

  105. Bitter Scribe:

    Sorry to be a concern troll, but there’s one thing I’ve never understood about direct national vote plans: What happens if it’s really, really close? Does the entire country do a recount? That could extend well into the next president’s term (whoever it turns out to be).

  106. Cody:

    I suppose this is far closer to what the founders intended then what we have.

    And we know Republicans are all about doing what the Founders wanted – including overt racism.

  107. xxy:

    At this rate I’m expecting praise for absolute monarchies ad fascist dictatorships as forms of government by the end of 2016. Mmm, delicious!

  108. Rhino:

    Lucky bastard, I’ll trade you…

  109. Substance McGravitas:

    Other countries seem to be able to manage it.

  110. DrDick:

    More like is rapidly dying off than “stopped working, but yeah.

  111. Hogan:

    What has posterity ever done for me?

  112. Bitter Scribe:

    Most other countries don’t have nearly as many voters. And in several of the ones that do, recounts are never a problem.

  113. wengler:

    No they won’t.

    These are terrible, antidemocratic actions but they wouldn’t have effected the outcome of this election. This is great politically for the Democrats, because the Republicans are doing 3 awful things at once: 1)showing their cards as to how much they hate voting and democracy 2)highlighting a terrible system for electing President and most importantly 3)pushing for a system in which they still fall short of winning it all.

    The corporate media is good at selling shit, but the winner of a majority of congressional districts shall get 2 more electoral votes? This is the pink slime of electoral politics. Even FOX News is going to ignore this rather than hawk it like survival seeds or Cash 4 Gold.

  114. wengler:

    NPV doesn’t work unless everyone is on board, which is a much higher standard than a constitutional amendment to end the electoral college.

  115. Jameson Quinn:

    No, it only requires states with a majority of EC votes, which is a much lower standard than a constitutional amendment.

  116. BobS:

    I agree with this. Those with non-fascist leanings can start by referring to these attempts to devalue the votes of “urban” Americans as ‘Republican 3/5 of a person laws’.

  117. joe from Lowell:

    Even under rules that grant the presidency to the winner of the national popular vote, the states, counties, and municipalities would be running the polls and counting and recounting the vote.

    A “national recount” wouldn’t consist of a national election body recounting the entire country’s votes, but 53 state/district bodies each recounting their own votes. I don’t see why that would be any harder than having a recount in a senatorial or gubernatorial election.

  118. Malaclypse:

    India manages to pull it off.

  119. The Fulminator:

    As for approval voting, baby steps: CO SB13-065 will allow its use in nonpartisan elections in CO.

  120. Jameson Quinn:

    In practice, if this were the NPV IC, each state would have some leeway over which numbers to use when assigning their EC votes to the “national winner”. So at the partisan limit it would decay to a regular EC result, which is no worse than what we have.

  121. wengler:

    One party Republican states won’t pass it though, so effectively it will only be in effect if a Republican wins the popular vote but loses the electoral vote.

    Which makes sense, since Democrats love losing only a little bit less than selling out their voter base.

  122. sharculese:

    Is this dirty?

    Yes.

    Do I give a shit?

    No.

    Thanks for admitting that you have no faith in you or your party’s powers of persuasion.

  123. John:

    India has 543 single member districts. The districts are about the same size as small US states (about 2 million people each). So we’re not talking about nationwide recounts – not directly comparable

    But Brazil has a national presidential election that seems to work just fine, and is not that much smaller than the US (and much poorer, obviously). I don’t see why the fact that we’re about twice as big as Brazil means that we couldn’t do the same thing.

  124. Jameson Quinn:

    This is wrong in several ways.

    First off, if states with a majority of EVs pass this, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the states do. Sure, if the red states are the ones that hold out, that would mean Dems win with say 290 EVs while Repubs win with over 400. But that wouldn’t matter.

    Second, I can’t promise that red states will pass it, but certainly they would be silly not to. Romney was closer to winning the popular vote than the EC, and in the current system the issues of deep red AND deep blue states are ignored in the pandering to swing states.

    Third, the whole “Democrats suck so there’s no point anyway” attitude is stupid. Yes they do suck, but that should be reason for a more activist attitude, not this kind of pathetic throwing up of the hands.

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