Electoral College voting

The Michigan Legislature has set aside nine days to pass new laws before the end of the calendar year. Bridge has already outlined some of the issues likely to come up in this so-called lame-duck session or early in the next legislative session that begins in January. Today, we offer deeper looks at three measures that may be addressed before the New Year, starting with possible changes to electoral college voting. The other issues explored today are road funding and A-F school grades.

At issue

Michigan, like 47 other states, awards all its 16 electoral votes for president to the candidate who gets the most votes statewide. This doesn’t seem fair to some Republicans in Michigan, which has voted for the Democratic candidate for president every election since 1988. Term-limited state Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, has introduced bills during the last two sessions that would change the way Michigan’s electoral votes are awarded to a system that almost certainly would be more favorable to Republican presidential candidates.

Under the plan expected to be introduced by Lund today, the winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes would be scrapped for a method that would in virtually all elections split those votes. In the proposal, according to Ari Adler, director of communications for House Speaker Jase Bolger, the candidate getting the most votes statewide would be awarded a majority of the state's electoral votes - currently, that would mean at least a 9-7 split; Under the formula, for every 1.5 percent above 50.1 percent of the vote (counting only the votes cast for the top-two candidates), the winning candidate gets an additional electoral vote.

For example, in 2012, President Barack Obama won Michigan by 9 points over Romney, but instead of earning all 16 of the state's electoral votes, they would have been split 11-5. A candidate would have to win 61.6 percent of the cast ballots to get all 16 electoral votes - a whopping 24-point spread victory that would be highly unusual.

Here's how the electoral votes would be split:

The winner, even if by one vote: 9-7
The winner, with 52.6 percent of the vote: 10-6
The winner, with 54.1 percent of the vote: 11-5
The winner, with 55.6 percent of the vote: 12-4
The winner, with 57.1 percent of the vote: 13-3
The winner, with 58.6 percent of the vote: 14-2
The winner, with 60.1 percent of the vote: 15-1
The winner, with 61.6 percent of the vote: 16-0

Though Obama won Michigan by more than 400,000 votes, he would have earned only four more electoral votes than Romney.

What’s surprising is how much individual states can control who becomes president – not by how citizens vote, but by how state leaders decide to award electoral votes. By a simple vote of the legislature, states can award electoral votes by congressional district, by proportion of the overall vote, or just decide to award all the state’s electoral votes to the candidate of the Legislature’s choosing. (Florida considered doing this in 2000 in the contested contest between George Bush and Al Gore, before the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in.)

The politics

Lund said he’s pushing for Electoral College reform to make Michigan more relevant in presidential politics. “Right now, Michigan is meaningless in the electoral process along with 40 other states,” Lund said.

Lund said there was only one visit by one of the candidates for president or vice president to Michigan after the party conventions in 2012. He feels that if Michigan had a system that didn’t automatically give all its electoral votes to the overall winner – who the candidates pretty safely assume will be the Democrat ‒ then candidates would come to the state to fight for electoral votes that are up for grabs in individual districts.

“We need to come up with a system that brings candidates to the state,” Lund said.

Lund’s bill, though, may have the opposite effect. A winner-take-all election for 16 electoral votes is a coup for any candidate. By contrast, changing an electoral split from, say, 9-7 (a victory by 6 points or less) to 10.5-4.5 (a victory by 7 points) isn't a big deal.

While presidential candidates didn’t set up camp in Midland, they did spend a lot of money in the state. Matt Grossmann, associate professor of political science at Michigan State University, said Michigan had the 10th-highest level of campaign spending among the states during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Grossman said different electoral vote distribution policies have different advantages.

“If you reward all your delegates to one candidate, your state becomes a bigger prize,” Grossman said. “But if you allocate proportionality, you allow all parts of your state to be heard.”

But research out of the University of California at Berkeley suggests that Electoral College changes wouldn’t change the fact that presidential candidates spend the majority of their time in parts of the nation where voters tend to swing between political parties. Two states currently split their electoral votes – Nebraska and Maine – don’t get a lot of campaign stops.

If the proposed Electoral College changes aren’t likely to bring more candidates to events here, why is it being considered? Here’s why: In a close election, Michigan’s electoral votes being split 9-7 between the parties instead of 16-0 for the person garnering the most votes could swing the presidency.

“It’s very clearly a partisan effort to make the presidential election more conducive to Republicans,” Grossmann said. “I don’t think there’s any hiding of that.”

What we know

Republicans have large majorities in the state House and Senate, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who just won reelection, is term limited so doesn’t have to worry about a possible voter backlash. Participants at a Michigan Republican Party Convention overwhelmingly supported the concept of splitting electoral votes in 2013.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, acknowledges that the proposed change is about politics rather than improving the democratic process. He’s gone as far as to imply that the plan wouldn’t be considered if Republicans felt a Republican presidential candidate could win here.

“It seems political to me,” Richardville told MLive. “I have more confidence in our candidates maybe then some other people do. I think it’s more conservative to leave it the way it is.”

But Snyder, who before the election avoided answering whether he’d sign an Electoral College reform bill if it came to his desk, now says he is open to discussion.

“There’s two questions. One is, is it fair or not fair? Two other states do it (Nebraska and Maine). And you can talk about the theory, and the theory is, it could be fair,” Snyder told the Michigan Public Radio Network. “It’s more a timing question about when it would be appropriate. And that’s where I have real concerns.”

Snyder said he’d rather see the state consider the issue closer to 2020, when a new Census count would lead to Congressional districts being redrawn.

Likely outcome

Other states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia, have flirted with similar Electoral College shakeups, but all backed down under national attention. The lame duck session is unpredictable and bills move quickly. An Electoral College bill could be used as a bargaining chip to get more conservative Republicans to support other legislation, such as a larger state investment in road funding.

What’s at stake

If Electoral College votes are awarded by proportion of the overall vote, it would virtually assure that Republicans aren’t shut out as they have been since 1988. It would also likely make Michigan less of a player in presidential races because presidential candidates would have less reason to fight over a slight variation in an electoral vote split.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Comments

Rich
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 9:51am
When George Bush beat Al Gore in 2000, weren't many then calling for elimination of the electoral college as it didn't represent "the will of the people"? Now someone has figured a way to tamper with the college. Whatever, the method should be the same for all states. The founding fathers may have had a good reason for coming up with the electoral college. Maybe we shouldn't tinker with the Constitution.
Martha Toth
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:43am
Abolishment of the Electoral College was the nationwide high school debate topic in the late 1960s. My memory of that year of study is that the founders used this system partly because actual Electors used to make the trip to Washington (and inauguration used to be months later to accommodate that travel); that is no longer a consideration. But the primary reason for it was to entice former colonies into a federation: their individual power would be magnified by this winner-takes-all allotment. A side effect of it, not necessarily intended, was to make successful third parties almost impossible. With the possible exception of Texas, I don't think individual states and their populations have so much invested in their separate identities anymore. Moreover, we have already ceded outsize influence to New Hampshire and Iowa, whose voters get to decide on the candidates the rest of us must choose from. I'd like to see a series of regional open primaries, so that each part of the country still gets attention and we have time to vet the candidates, with the biggest states coming last, maybe. We should abandon the Electoral College in favor of direct popular vote, as the best way to ensure our Constitutional one-man-one-vote principle is adhered to. There is no reason (except skulduggery) for tinkering with the College; this proposal deliberately makes some votes "count" more than others. Eliminating the College may mean more "minority vote" presidents (such as Clinton in the year of a serious third-party challenge), but I think we're mature enough as a society to handle that without rioting. What makes the USA different -- and better -- than so many other places is that we live with the results of elections even when we perceive them to be unfair. God help us if we ever lose that patience.
otto
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 1:40pm
The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens. The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution. To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Instead, by state laws, without changing anything in the Constitution, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes. Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. 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 now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions. The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states. 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 virtually every of the 39 states surveyed, overall support has been in the 70-80% range or higher. - in recent or past closely divided battleground states, in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win. The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect. NationalPopularVote
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 9:40pm
It doesn't really matter what percent of the populace supports electoral college voting. The main reason people don't like it is that they think it diminishes their voting power. In fact it does just the opposite. The electoral system exists mostly as a hedge against portions of the populace losing all power to influence the government. For example, if farmers comprise only 3 or 4 % of the voters in the nation, then politicians in a national campaign can feel free to ignore the issues of farm families without fear of being damaged in the elections. If, however, there are several states that have a majority of the populace associated with farmers and farming, those states will be lost by the poolitician who ignores them. It prevents the"tyranny of the majority" and if we abolish it, every single citizen's voting power is greatly diminished...
otto
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:47pm
16% of Americans live in rural areas. None of the 10 most rural states matter now. None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state. The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most. Support for a national popular vote in rural states: VT–75%, ME–77%, WV–81%, MS–77%, SD–75%, AR–80%, MT–72%, KY–80%, NH–69%, IA–75%,SC–71%, NC–74%, TN–83%, WY–69%, OK–81%, AK–70%, ID–77%, WI–71%, MO–70%, and NE–74%. Of the Top Ten States by total agricultural receipts (by largest to smallest), which provided over half of the total of the U.S, Total Agricultural Receipts Ranked by State from StuffAboutStates.com which were surveyed recently, support for a national popular vote was CA - 70% (enacted the National Popular Vote), IA - 75%, NE - 67%, MN - 75%, IL (enacted), NC - 74%, WI - 71%, and FL - 78%. Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes, in 2012, 56,256,178 (44%) of the 128,954,498 voters had their vote diverted by the winner-take-all rule to a candidate they opposed (namely, their state’s first-place candidate). And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don't matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659). Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation's votes!
otto
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:49pm
The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. The National Popular Vote bill would replace state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill 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 be included in the state counts and national count. When states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes enact the bill, the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed majority of 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes. The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the "mob" in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, while the "mobs" of the vast majority of states are ignored. 9 states determined the 2012 election. 10 of the original 13 states are politically irrelevant in presidential campaigns now. They aren’t polled or visited. Candidates do not bother to advertise or organize in their state. None of the 10 most rural states matter 24 of the 27 lowest population states, that are non-competitive are ignored, in presidential elections. 4 out of 5 Americans were ignored in the 2012 presidential election. After being nominated, Obama visited just eight closely divided battleground states, and Romney visited only 10. These 10 states accounted for 98% of the $940 million spent on campaign advertising. The current system does not provide some kind of check on the "mobs." There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector's own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. The electors are and will be dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:35pm
The Electoral College will never go away, nor should it. The Big Four states control the presidential election, and they will until about 30 million people realize the folly of living in the desert. Without the Electoral College, votes in small states such as Wyoming and Alaska would mean even less. To change it would take an amendment to the Constitution and most of the states will never support it. What needs to happen is to rotate the primaries or hold them all on the same day. Regarding splitting Electoral votes. Lund is completely wrong. Essentially, you're talking about reducing the number of Electoral votes "in play" to about six or eight. This would reduce our state's power in presidential politics from a 16-Electoral vote state to one with 10 Electoral votes. The key here is 1988. If Michiganders had voted for a Republican at any time in the last 25 years, the Legislature would not be considering this.
otto
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:37pm
The National Popular Vote bill would replace state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill preserves 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 be included in the state counts and national count. Now, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa control presidential elections. The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012- and that in today's political climate, the swing states have become increasingly fewer and fixed. Where you live determines how much, if at all, your vote matters. The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 10 of the original 13 states are ignored now. Four out of five Americans were ignored in the 2012 presidential election. After being nominated, Obama visited just eight closely divided battleground states, and Romney visited only 10. These 10 states accounted for 98% of the $940 million spent on campaign advertising. They decided the election. Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). None of the 10 most rural states mattered, as usual. About 80% of the country was ignored --including 24 of the 27 lowest population and medium-small states, and 13 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. It was more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states. 80% of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That's more than 85 million voters, more than 240 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most. The number and population of battleground states is shrinking. Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.
otto
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:38pm
Anyone concerned about the relative power of big states and small states should realize that the current Electoral College system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in the current handful of big states. With National Popular Vote, when every popular vote counts and matters to the candidates equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn't be about winning a handful of battleground states. Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. State winner-take-all laws negate any simplistic mathematical equations about the relative power of states based on their number of residents per electoral vote. Small state math means absolutely nothing to presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, or to presidents once in office. In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58). In 2012, 24 of the nation's 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions.- including not a single dollar in presidential campaign ad money after Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee on April 11. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined. Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most. Kerry won more electoral votes than Bush (21 versus 19) in the 12 least-populous non-battleground states, despite the fact that Bush won 650,421 popular votes compared to Kerry’s 444,115 votes. The reason is that the red states are redder than the blue states are blue. If the boundaries of the 13 least-populous states had been drawn recently, there would be accusations that they were a Democratic gerrymander. Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE --75%, ID -77%, ME - 77%, MT- 72%, NE - 74%, NH--69%, NE - 72%, NM - 76%, RI - 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT - 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%. Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions. With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation's votes!
otto
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:39pm
. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry. In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted” popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally: * Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267 * New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436 * Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634 * North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778 * California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560 * Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342 * New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826 To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).
otto
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:41pm
The U.S. Constitution says "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." The normal way of changing the method of electing the President is not a federal constitutional amendment, but changes in state law. Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation's first election in 1789. However, now, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states. In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all method (awarding all of a state's electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all method is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states. In 1789, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state. In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election. The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it. The National Popular Vote bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect. Based on the current mix of states that have enacted the National Popular Vote compact, it could take about 25 states to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the compact. NationalPopularVote
Jim Vollmers
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 9:57am
I personally believe that the Electoral College should be abolished and the presidential election should be decided by a popular vote. If Michigan changes it's method, then it should be divided by percentage of popular vote. This gives the individual voter their biggest voice and allows for 3rd party candidates to be relevant.
offo
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:56pm
The context of Lund's proposal is that Republican legislators want to split state electoral votes ONLY in states that have recently voted Democratic in presidential elections. They do not want to split electoral votes in states that recently voted Republican in presidential elections. This is a blatant partisan effort. Republican legislators seem quite "confused" about the merits of splitting state electoral votes. After Obama won one congressional district in Nebraska in 2008, the leadership committee of the Nebraska Republican Party adopted a resolution requiring all GOP elected officials to favor overturning their congressional district method for awarding electoral votes or lose the party's support. While in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, some Republican legislators recently strongly argued that they must change from the winner-take-all method to a congressional district method, while most would not comment. These obvious unprincipled partisan attempts to make the current system even less fair, makes the case for the National Popular Vote plan all the stronger. The proportional method easily could result in no candidate winning the needed majority of electoral votes. That would throw the process into Congress to decide the election, regardless of the popular vote in any state or throughout the country.
Phil Bellfy
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 9:58am
OK --what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Let's allocate our seats in the State House and Senate on a "proportional" basis, as well. Let's see how the rethuglicans feel about that!!
blufox
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:07am
If you can't win playing by the rules, change the rules (familiar to all playground participants). Term limits in GR, wolf hunting, gerrymandering or the Electoral College. Ds & Rs are both guilty parties, although the Rs seem more rabid.
David Richards
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:18am
We should also remember the rigging of redistricting in Oakland County. After the Democrats won the county offices necessary to control the redistricting of county commissioner districts under the existing law, the Oakland County Republicans went to the state legislature to change the system, even after a new redistricting plan had been drawn. Now, Oakland County is the only county in Michigan to have its county commissioners redraw their own districts. The sponsor of the bill admitted that this was done to benefit the Republicans.
Jay Johnson
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:13am
This proposal is purely a political calculation. Michigan's popular vote in presidential years is solidly Democratic, but its legislature is Republican. I do not hear anyone proposing this "solution" for any states where the popular vote in presidential y ears is solidly Republican. In sum, what's mine is mine and what's yours is up for grabs. If this bill passes and if Snyder signs it, he would be giving up electoral votes he might have won if he decides to run for President.
CB
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:22am
One more good reason to get rid of the Electoral College. Proof that our "representatives" don't represent us. They represent their political parties.
Dave
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:26am
Good. I hope they do it. Another radical move by the right. The more of this they do the sooner voters will vote against them.
Harris
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:35am
This does rather answer the question, is Michigan turning red? If you have to resort to tricks, then the answer is plain: no. This is a proposal that erodes whatever moral authority the Republican Party wishes to seek.
Daniel
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:07am
The point you fail to mention strongly enough in this article is the density of the big cities throw the majority of voters to the democratic party while the overwhelming majority by community or geographic area tend to vote for the republican party. Several quotes from Matt Grossman sum up the situation: “If you reward all your delegates to one candidate, your state becomes a bigger prize,” Grossman said. “But if you allocate proportionality, you allow all parts of your state to be heard.” and:“It’s very clearly a partisan effort to make the presidential election more conducive to Republicans,” Grossmann said. “I don’t think there’s any hiding of that.” On the first quote I strongly believe that all parts of the state should be heard, on the second point it is only considered partisan because the current method overwhelmingly favors the democratic party.
Peter Eckstein
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:19am
This is a blatantly partisan effort by Republicans who currently control the legislatures and governorships in blue states. I don't hear of any Republicans in Texas, for example, suggesting that their state's reliably Republican electoral votes should be shared with anyone else. The proposal is even more invidious because it builds on strenuously gerrymandered (by a Republican legislature) Congressional districts. In 2012, for example, Democratic candidates for Congress received a majority of the votes in Michigan but Republicans received a majority of the House seats. The present system looks absurd, perhaps, but it provides no additional rewards for gerrymandering House districts. Furthermore, it actually ends up reflecting the popular vote nationwide a remarkable number of times. Candidates with a plurality of popular votes lost Presidential elections only in 1824 (Jackson), 1876 (Tilden), and 1888 (Cleveland). The last time was 126 years ago. Yes, Gore lost in 2000 despite his plurality of popular votes, but that really doesn't count, because a plurality of Florida voters went to the polls intending to vote for him. Forget the endless disputes about hanging chads. Because of the absurdly confusing "butterfly ballot," some 30,000 pro-Gore votes in heavily Jewish Palm Beach county were counted for Pat Buchanan, whose views had been denounced by none other than William F. Buckley as anti-Semitic. As Buchanan himself said afterwards, those weren't his people. Properly counted, those votes would have swamped Bush's edge of four or five hundred votes statewide. Let's not subvert a system that has worked well for a century and a quarter. And shame on those who would attempt it.
Marti
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:38am
There is no real need for an Electoral college. A democracy should be based on the person who received the highest number of votes, not this arcane system which makes voters feel disenfranchised and irrelevant.
otto
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 1:42pm
A survey of Michigan voters showed 73% overall support for a national popular vote for President. Support was 73% among independents, 78% among Democrats, and 68% among Republicans. By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 67% among 30-45 year olds, 74% among 46-65 year olds, and 75% for those older than 65. By gender, support was 86% among women and 59% among men. On December 11, 2008, The Michigan House of Representatives passed the National Popular Vote bill by a 65-36 margin NationalPopularVote
Duane
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 1:20pm
Let's be honest, its all partisan, its all politics. We don't want things run by those who claim ultraism in government or the process, for they are the ones who ignore or want to distance themselves from the daily realities of and why we succeed with a partisan system. The reality ischanges in how the Electoral College votes are cast exists and have been promoted by both parties. It is a battle between the high density areas and the low density, and they make the same arguements only bend them to the partisan point of view. Michigan is on the cusp between low and high population state. It will get some, albeit little if the Democrats' candidate is leading the polls, campaing and political attention. If we give up the block Electoral vote casting we will get even less if any. For all the pure of heart claims, if Michigan can split the votes based on Red and Blue voting who cares which way Michigan goes it will only be a small percentage swing in the partisan polling and Electoral votes. As the saying goes; 'follow the money'. In this case where does the campaign dollars go every 4 years, Michigan? And if we go to a portional vote will there be any interest at all in Michigan? I am for the way to keep Michigan viable in national politics. How will going to a propotional Electorial voting do that?
T J H
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 1:43pm
This is all about making sure every vote counts, as long as that vote is one that supports the party in power (GOP) which has the will and the authority to make some of the votes count more than other votes. If this passes without a huge public outcry and a clean sweep of the rascals in the next election cycle, then I fear that the voters of our state will have passively allowed the democratic process to die in Michigan.
Edward
Thu, 11/13/2014 - 4:07pm
We are now no longer a Democracy...We are no different than Iran or Syria...When someone loses an election in a state by 450,000 votes and still is awarded a large share of electoral votes, you cannot say we have Democratic elections anymore...This is despicable and sickening that elections can now be rigged...
Al Churchill
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 9:41am
The first that this writer heard of changing the way electoral college votes are distributed was almost immediately after the 2012 election. The Republicans lost that presidential election and, within days, Republicans in Pennsylvania were promoting change there, a blue state. Only the blue states were mentioned by Republicans wanting a change that would effectively do away with even a hint of being a democracy. Isn't it a hoot that Governor Snyder is now willing to consider changing the electoral college formula, while pretty much claiming earlier that it was off the table. He did exactly the same thing with "Right to Work" legislation. Quite a while back, I sent an e-mail to my state rep, John Walsh, asking about a change in the electoral college formula and whether he supported it. As yet, there has been no response --- and there won't be. I also sent an e-mail to Walsh related to "Right to Work" before it got to the legislature during a lame duck session. While he did respond, at that time, he did not give me a definitive answer. The second sentence did, however, include the words union and important. When he voted for the labor legislation, I can't say I was surprised big time. I did feel, however, that, by slicing his words carefully, I was misled. There is one more issue that Republicans may push during the lame duck session, doing away with elected local school boards. The Detroit News has already featured an article asking if that is worthwhile in Detroit. Putting a mayor, who probably knows nothing about child development and learning, in charge of schools makes no sense. Chicago is a good example. One last thing. After "Right to Work" was passed, an appropriation was attached to the bill. Doing so removes the possibility of citizens putting the issue on a ballot as a referendum item and having the citizens of Michigan vote on it. So much for democracy.
Dick Olson
Sun, 11/16/2014 - 9:55am
Too much finagling. Let's abolish the Electoral College and go to direct popular vote . The major reason for including the Electoral College in the Constitution was to give more weight to the slave states in selecting a President. Georgia's slave population gave them extra congressional districts and extra votes in the Electoral College.
Allen
Sun, 11/16/2014 - 11:47pm
"Two other states do it (Nebraska and Maine)" To be fair there is another way to look at the how electoral votes are distributed. Seven states have only one house seat, so they only have 3 electoral votes which means all the votes go to the candidate that wins the congressional district as it is in Nebraska and Maine. We can include D.C. in the same way, which means 10 of the 51 do their presidential vote by district. None of this matters much unfortunately, Michigan is ignored now by major candidates and that would continue with any of the proposed changes.
Maryanne Jorgensen
Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:17pm
I think the change will be more fair to both parties.