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California Republican Electoral College Initiative Revives

Published on October 31, 2007, by in General.

According to this story in the Riverside, California Press-Enterprise, wealthy Congressman Darrell Issa of San Diego County has agreed to pay to get an initiative on the California June 2008 ballot. That initiative would provide that each U.S. House district elect its own elector. The initiative already collected 100,000 signatures in August, then had been abandoned for lack of funding. Thanks to Rick Hasen’s ElectionLawBlog for this news. A poll released on October 31 shows that the initiative would lose; see this report.

The Democratic response continues to lack any hint that the Democrats might qualify similiar initiatives in states such as Florida and Ohio. As noted earlier, 17 of the 23 states that have the initiative process are states that voted for George W. Bush in each of the last two presidential elections.

13 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    ALL gerrymander schemes —

    Half the votes in half [bare majority] of the gerrymander areas = about 25 or less percent MINORITY RULE.

    All gerrymander persons are ANTI-Democracy wannabee TYRANTS.

    Democracy NOW – as a matter of life or death for all humans.

    Legislative body elections —–

    Party Seats = Party Votes X Total Seats / Total Votes

    NONPARTISAN elections for all elected executive and judicial offices using Approval Voting – vote for 1 or more, highest wins = *moderate* candidates.

    ABOLISH any executive veto = NO monarch Presidents, Governors, Mayors, etc.

  2. Fred C.

    As flawed as this plan is, it’s still substantially better than giving all of California’s weight to whoever gets the plurality. I’m not amused at the fact that every little bit of reform over our present system is being labeled a partisan “dirty trick.”

  3. WILL

    this plan is a great idea.

  4. A plan like this is the only hope for a candidate of an alternative party to win electoral votes, or be taken seriously.

    If Florida had this plan in 2000, they could have done recounts in the contested districts only. Also, Al Gore would have gotten some votes from Florida, and we might have been saved from George Bush in the White House.

    I agree with Fred C. about reform proposals being attacked as “dirty tricks.”

  5. Richard

    Even if every state chose presidential electors by US House district, no minor party or independent presidential candidate in the last 35 years would have received any electoral votes. Ross Perot didn’t carry a single US House district in 1992 or 1996.

    Electing one elector from each US House district would make the existing gerrymander problem even worse. It would also give a permanent advantage to the Republican Party, since the most overwhelmingly one-party US House districts are mostly Black-majority districts. The lopsided Democratic advantage in those districts would result in lots of “waste” for Democrats. Fairvote.org has documented that if every US House district in the nation had elected its own elector in 2000, Bush would have beat Gore very easily in the electoral college.

  6. Stine

    Electors should be allocated in proportion to the popular vote, but above all, it has to be an all-or-nothing proposal. When different states have differing allocation methods, really bad things can happen.

    @ Fred C., Gene Berkman:

    It’s only labeled a dirty trick because the Republicans are only for this “reform” in states they have no hope of winning. Just like Democrats are only for mid-decade redistricting if it helps them gerrymander more seats. See if you can get a Texas Republican to sign on to this plan in his home state, and I’ll remove my criticism.

  7. I, too, would rather see the total state electoral votes divided up by the percentage won. But in absence of that method, this sounds better than what we have now. Even if no third party candidate would have won any electoral votes in the past 35 years, they still have a better shot at winning them with this system in place than the current system. Besides, you can’t really go on history. Here in New York, it’s pretty much a given that the state will go Democrat and therefore have all of its electoral votes go to that candidate. Therefore, a lot of non-Democratic registered voters stay home or don’t even bother to register. If they knew that a candidate that they believed in might pick up an electoral vote or two, that would be an incentive to get out and actually vote the way they believed, even if it was for a Republican. That’s why you can’t go by history in this matter.

    Really, though, I just chipped in my two cents on this topic to state that I, too, am getting sick and tired of hearing how it’s some kind of political shenanigans every time someone proposes some type of reform. No system is going to be perfect. But we can certainly improve on what we have now without resorting to dividing up a legislative body based solely on percentage outcomes. I’m not quite sure how my Congressional Rep would be responsible to his district if he wasn’t directly elected, but rather assigned somehow based on how the national vote turned out.

  8. @Stine:

    I agree, a truly proportional system would be an improvement over this plan, but I also think that this is still an improvement over winner-take-all, even if only an incremental one (and I think the absolute ideal would be having the president elected by popular vote).

    I agree that the CA Repubs probably aren’t acting just out of good faith – but wanting to have their votes actually count for something is a position I have to be sympathetic to, even if they aren’t trying to extend this same privilege to outnumbered Dems in their strongholds. Instead of turning against the kind of reforms they were considering after the Electoral College screwed them over, the Dems should fight fire with fire and sponsor similar initiatives.

  9. Yes, this could be a good idea, but only IF ALL THE STATES DID THIS. To skew the electoral vote in the largest state to the Republicans would probably give the Republican party the office of president for … ever. This is not acceptable. This measure must be defeated for the future of the country and planet. Also, to allocate electoral votes by CDs does not seem right either as badly as they are gerrymandered.

    Ed

  10. @Steve Ziemba: I’m not quite sure how my Congressional Rep would be responsible to his district if he wasn’t directly elected, but rather assigned somehow based on how the national vote turned out.

    Should members of legislative bodies represent plots of ground, which differ with respect to geology, climate, etc., or should they represent people, who differ with respect to values, opinions, interests, etc.? If you answer “people”, then you should replace “responsible to his district” with “responsible to the voters who got him into office” — and support proportional representation.

  11. Fred C.

    A problem in some countries that have expiremented with proportional representation is that while the finished product is a body that represents the whole people, no individual representative is accountable to any particular constituent. If seats were allocated from a straight list of 435 people, which one of those is “your” representative that you can vent your gripes to, speak with at his home office, or run against if necessary? Ultimately, it gives parties in general more power, even if it proves more leeway for alternative parties to squeeze in.

    I think multiple-seat constituencies or even just lopping on an extra chamber would soothe that problem a bit. Possibly one of those systems that uses districts and then allocates seats as a “correction” to make the final body proportional might work too, but I haven’t studied those systems in depth.

    @Edwin
    Apocalypticism aside, each state controls how it chooses its electors. If a state chooses to create a system that is more equitable to its own citizens, that’s a step forward. We can see some pretty screwy results, but we already have a system that can and has given the presidency to a candidate that didn’t get the plurality in the popular vote. God only knows what’ll happen next year with the potentially strong third party candidates being floated on all sides (potentially strong in 3rd party terms, of course). Leaving the broke system in place doesn’t help, and waiting around for an ammendment that’s been overdue forever or a compact everyone’s dragging their feet on isn’t going to help either.

  12. Deemer from California

    Richard said that no 3rd party candidate would have
    received any Electoral votes during the last 35 years.
    Does that mean that in 1972 the AIP would have won
    one somewhere? Also, how many Electoral votes would
    George Wallace have received in 1968? He did win 5
    Southern States & was second in 3 others. Although
    many didn’t agree with his politics during that era,
    he did show the most probable way for a 3rd party
    candidate to win Electoral Votes in today’s world.

  13. Joe Vaira

    A far better idea would be to award 2 electors statewide by plurality and the rest statewide by proportional representation. Any state that awards by congressional district might as well just mandate that their electors be those persons most recently elected to the Senate and House.

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