Written by Heather Cox Richardson:
"The problem of voter suppression is compounded by the misuse of the Electoral College. The Framers originally designed delegates to the Electoral College to vote according to districts within states, so that states would split their electoral votes, making them roughly proportional to a candidate’s support. That system changed in 1800, after Thomas Jefferson recognized that he would have a better chance of winning the presidency if the delegates of his own home state, Virginia, voted as a bloc rather than by district. He convinced them to do it. Quickly, other state officials recognized that the “winner-take-all” system meant they must do the same or their own preferred candidate would never win. Thus, our non-proportional system was born, and it so horrified James Madison and Alexander Hamilton that both wanted constitutional amendments to switch the system back.
Democracy took another hit from that system in 1929. The 1920 census showed that the weight of the nation’s demographics was moving to cities, which were controlled by Democrats, so the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives refused to reapportion representation after that census. Reapportioning the House would have cost many of them their seats. Rather than permitting the number of representatives to grow along with population, Congress then capped the size of the House at 435. Since then, the average size of a congressional district has tripled. This gives smaller states a huge advantage in the Electoral College, in which each state gets a number of votes equal to the number of its senators and representatives.
These injuries to our system have saddled us with an Electoral College that permits a minority to tyrannize over the majority. That systemic advantage is unsustainable in a democracy. One or the other will have to give."
If we're talking about "people", California has just over 12% of the population in the US. The 2010 census shows 37.254M/308.746M = 12.054%. Based on this population, California received 53 electoral votes = 10.223%.
Using 2020 population and turnout figures, If the current election had been by popular vote, California's impact (based on votes) would have been 16.230M/158.507M = 10.239%. Virtually no change; still short by about 1¾%.
The issue is not voter turnout. California's turnout was about average 73.61% vs. 74.14% nationwide (total votes/total registered). The issue is what one means by "person".
Does it mean that each person in the state can be represented? That's the idea behind Congressional districts. Each person gets roughly equal representation. Or does it mean that only people eligible to vote, i.e. citizens of voting age (and in some states only citizens without felony convictions) are represented? That's what one gets if one weights based on voters rather than weighting based on population. And that's what one gets if one apportions the House based on citizenship, as some Republicans have proposed.
This weighting by voters (citizens) doesn't disenfranchise anyone, but it does take away many people's representation. Especially in states like California, with low voter registration (as percentage of population) for many reasons.
Sure, it addresses the overrepresentation in the electoral college by some small states, where they go from being the size of gnats to being the size of fleas. Otherwise, going to popular vote won't have nearly the impact people think, in terms of one person one vote. Though in the aggregate, a gnat here a flea there and it does add up.
Each state has two senators because one goal of the Convention was to get all thirteen states on board. No one then had heard of California or Wyoming, but Virginia and Massachusetts wanted Rhode Island and Delaware to sign onto the new Constitution.
Property rights have been intimately associated with individual rights for a long time in Anlgo-American legal history. I am not aware that the Senate prioritizes land and geography over other legislative issues on its agenda.
Senate approval of Presidential appointments to the Judicial, or Executive branch, was never intended to advance democracy.
Property rights are rights to do what you want with what you own. That's different from voting rights. The only nexus is that property ownership has historically been used as a precondition for voting, much as age has been used to determine eligibility of voters.
If the complaint is that "if you walk one foot over the border" things change, then one should also be complaining that Congressional seats are allocated according to those same borders (leaving it up to the states to divvy up those seats within their borders). That's based on the same concept - that the United States is a federation of states. Those states ceded some power to the federal government, not the other way around. See the 10th Amendment.
States draw up Congressional districts crossing county lines. Those lines must still conform to state boundaries. "if you walk one foot over the border between [Wyoming], which has [1 representative for 568K] people, and [Colorado], which has [7 representatives for 5] million, that ... person in [Wyoming] has [1¼] times the political power in the [House]" . Same problem, same cause; we're just haggling over the magnitude (to paraphrase a punchline attributed to Winston Churchill). Reynolds v. Sims (one person, one vote) applies to voters only within states.
If underrepresentation is of paramount concern to residents of a state, they always have the option of creating a spinoff. It's not as though it hasn't been done before.
Finally, it's worth reminding people that while this discussion may be of academic interest, it's rendered all but moot by Article V of the Constitution. That bars the Constitution from being amended such that a state's representation in the Senate be diminished without its consent. And while other sections of the Constitution can be amended, currently Amendment XIV, §2 prohibits congressional districts from crossing state lines: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States ...".
There are mechanisms intended to address this undemocratic flaw in representative democracy, such as proportional representation, though they have problems of their own.
As far as California goes, a concern until a few years ago when the networks changed their reporting policies was that voters felt their votes were useless. Sitting in the Pacific time zone, national elections were usually called while Californians were still voting. This had the effect of depressing turnout even for down ballot candidates.
As the elephant in the room, if California were in play, it would get tons of attention by candidates even though each individual's votes counted for not quite so much as a Wyomingite's. OTOH, it's unlikely that candidates would pay much attention to Wyoming even if it were in play. (This year is obviously an exception, where Nebraska's 2nd district got a tremendous amount of attention.)
The U.S. Constitution sates, "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector"
I do not know how the current system evolved from this clause. But is seems as though the current system, deeply flawed as it is, could be corrupted by a state legislature.
Implementation: Best suited to run the electoral process is the USPS. They have local offices across the nation, a large amount of experience handling / moving individual parcels, an abundance of counting and sorting machines (some no longer used to deliver mail). In addition, the USPS has been playing an increasingly important role in elections owing to the popularity of mail-in voting.
Redress: The U.S. Department of Justice and / or Congress would consider and investigate all complaints alleging voting irregularities, one or the other being fully empowered to determine appropriate remedies and enforce corrective measures including, but not limited to, overturning any previously announced results that are later determined to have been inaccurate or fraudulent.
Comparative Advantage: A big advantage of having one centralized voting administration operating under standardized rules is that it would make it easier, faster, more efficient and much less costly for the losing side to challenge election results than under the current process which necessitates having to assemble and field multiple teams of highly skilled (and highly paid) attorneys branching out across the country to individual states to investigate and challenge allegations of impropriety as well as the rules under which each jurisdiction chose to operate.
Harder than it sounds. Each state sets its own voter qualification requirements.
Consider just one requirement - can a convicted felon who has served his sentence vote? Some states say yes, some say no. California appears to be passing Prop 17, which would go further and allow felons on parole to vote.
Then there's a question of what banners the candidates run under. A handful of states have fusion voting, allowing candidates to run on multiple party lines. This in turn affects not only who is on the ballot, but which parties automatically get lines on the state/local elections.
AFAIK all states have laws providing automatic lines to the Democratic and Republican parties. How other parties get access to the ballot (without petitioning) varies from state to state. In NY, Cuomo tried, with some success, to impede third parties' access to ballots.
Each state has its own ballot layout and voting system. In twenty years (since Bush v Gore) the US has not been able to standardize this. Nor arguably should it, unless we are all convinced that there is a single best, most secure and reliable system. Otherwise, states still have a role to play as literally laboratories of democracy (voting).
The sorting and counting machinery of the USPS is nothing like that used by ballot counting agencies, so no efficiency gain there.
The USPS (or any centralized federal agency) would need to hire an army of temporary workers, and need a significant amount of additional workspace, for a very short time. That doesn't seem like an efficient situation on a national basis. Better handled locally, I would think.
Thanks for agreeing bil, but I cannot agree on the amendment. All one has to do is look at what CA has done to the election process.
Here are some policy views of Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a state with a population of 579,000 in a nation with a population of 328 million. In 2018 he won re-election in Wyoming with 136,000 votes. I would maintain that on many of these issues the majority of Americans when polled would disagree with his views, and these issues have little to do specifically with his state, but affect all Americans, and in fact, in the case of climate science, the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barrasso
In 2002, he received an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. According to a Washington Post survey, he has voted with Republicans 94 percent of the time.
In April 2013, Barrasso was one of 46 senators to vote against the passing of a bill which would have expanded background checks for all gun buyers. Barrasso voted with 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats to stop the bill.
Barrasso voted against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Barrasso was part of the group of 13 senators drafting the Senate version of the AHCA behind closed doors.
Barrasso opposed the CIA's creation of its Center on Climate Change and National Security in 2009. In 2011, Barrasso introduced a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting carbon dioxide emissions.
Barrasso denies anthropogenic climate change. Asked in 2014 on the C-SPAN interview program Newsmakers if human activity contributes to climate change, Barrasso said, "The climate is constantly changing. The role human activity plays is not known." As of January 2019 Barrasso has a 8% lifetime score on the National Environmental Scorecard of the League of Conservation Voters. Barrasso was a leading critic of the climate change policies of the administration of US President Barack Obama.
Along with Pat Roberts and Mike Enzi, Barrasso introduced a bill to remove tax credits for electric cars. In December 2018, he penned an op-ed in the New York Times stating his belief in climate science and climate change, but opposition to a carbon fee and dividend.
Barrasso co-authored and was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Barrasso has received over $585,000 from the oil and gas industry since 2012. In 2018 alone Barrasso received over $690,000 in funding from oil and gas companies.
In 2019, Barrasso inaccurately claimed that "livestock will be banned" as a result of the Green New Deal, and said we needed to "say goodbye to dairy, to beef, to family farms, to ranches. American favorites like cheeseburgers and milkshake would become a thing of the past."
He opposed the FIRST STEP Act, legislation which sought to reform the federal prison system. Nonetheless, the bill passed 87-12 on December 18, 2018.
After it was revealed in November 2018 that President Donald Trump had business dealings with Russia while a candidate during the 2016 election, Barrasso said, "The president is an international businessman; I’m not surprised he was doing international business." Asked if Trump should have disclosed those business ties to voters during the campaign, Barrasso said, "There were so many things involved in the 2016 campaign, it’s hard to point to what one thing influenced voters." Barrasso joined President Donald Trump on Thanksgiving 2019 in a surprise visit to American troops stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Approximately 370 are Wyoming National Guard soldiers."
Harry Reid started it. The link I posted is accurate. Paybacks are a b!tch. I fully expect the new regime to mix it up and screw with the US traditions and Constitutional composition. Some folks can never accept what is without winning.