James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There Ain't No Place Like Nebraska (Well, except Maine)

John McCain won the overall popular vote for President in Nebraska, and also won it in two of the three Congressional Districts. He is therefore going to get 4 out of 5 of the state's Electoral College - two for winning statewide vote, and two for each Congressional District he won, with Barack Obama taking one.

This makes more sense than the "winner take all" system in 48 states. After all, when a bill is passed in Congress, the people have been represented both individually and collectively:
  • Each individual is represented by one House Representative
  • Each state is represented by two Senators.
Let's say every state has the Nebraska/Maine system of electing Presidents. When the President signs a law, he does so with the consent of the people who put him in office both individually and collectively as states:
  • Each individual is represented by one Electoral vote
  • Each state is represented by two Electoral votes
Actually, I'd take it one step further, and have members of the Electoral College run as individuals. On the ballot, voters will see a list of candidates for the Electoral College representing the Congressional District, and will be instructed to vote for only one. Then they will see a list of candidates running for the Electoral College statewide, and will be asked to vote for two (although they can just vote for one if they desire). The two top vote-getters in the statewide Electoral College election will become Electors, as will the top vote-getter in the District elections. Those who are on the ballot for Elector could be identified by party, but wouldn't be legally-bound as Electors to support their party's candidate - especially if a scandal erupts before the general election and the Electoral College vote for President.

The Electoral College would therefore be elected just like Congress is elected, and would have an independent authority of its own. What if one party's Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees die after the general election? Members of the Electoral College will have the authority to select replacements to vote for, and have the consent of the people to do so.

It's just another way to improve the republican form of government without making having to pass a Constitutional Amendment.


  1. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill is currently endorsed by 1,181 state legislators — 439 sponsors (in 47 states) and an additional 742 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  2. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that needs to be changed in order to have a national popular vote for President. The winner-take-all rule (awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes inside the state) is not in the U.S. Constitution. It is strictly a matter of state law. The winner-take-all rule was not the choice of the Founding Fathers, as indicated by the fact that the winner-take-all rule was used by only 3 states in the nation's first presidential election in 1789. The fact that Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district is another reminder that the Constitution left the matter of awarding electoral votes to the states. All the U.S. Constitution says is "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 states over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." A federal constitutional amendment is not needed to change state laws.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com