Lawmakers Seek To Change Presidential Elections [To make them more risky, reduce confidence]

CTNewsJunkie: Lawmakers Seek To Change Presidential Elections <read>

Once again, Connecticut faces the prospect of the well intended but risky National Popular Vote Compact/Agreement. From the article:

A winner-take-all rule has permitted a candidate to win the presidency without winning the popular vote in four out of 56 elections. Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, wants to stop that trend by implementing something called the National Popular Vote.

If enacted, Electoral College delegates from the state would be mandated to cast their votes for whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote.

“It’s simple,” LeBeau said Wednesday, “the person who’s elected president becomes the president.”

What often appears simple is not.  The Compact being proposed would get around the requirement for a constitutional amendment. It would cobble the popular vote onto a system designed for the Electoral College. Such a system has largely unanticipated, but predictable consequences that are overlooked and glossed over by national organizations supporting the proposition – similar to the situations when we focus on the national debt one week and lowering taxes the next.

The goal is to restore voter confidence in the electoral system, LeBeau said. His own confidence was shaken after the 2000 presidential elections when President George W. Bush won the election despite losing the national popular vote to candidate and former-Vice President Al Gore, he said.

Like Senator LeBeau, most people, Democrats and Republicans, believe that Al Gore would have won in 2000 if we had the national popular vote then.

  • But we do not know who would have won then, because as the national popular vote supporters claim different voters would be motivated to vote under the national popular vote, so the national total would have been different.in 2000.
  • Under the current system, the damage due to error, fraud, and voter suppression is limited to the few so called, swing states. Under the national popular vote, errors, fraud, and suppression in every state, by anyone, any party would count toward the totals. Rather than restore confidence enacting the national popular pote on top of our flawed state by state system will start open season on fraud and suppression.
  • Finally, if Florida had a good, uniform, automatic recount law in 2000, then Al Gore would also have won with the Electoral College. More that anything, it was likely skulduggery in Florida and a partisan Supreme Court that decided the 2000 election.

“One could argue that the total disenfranchisement and repression of African Americans throughout the end of the 19th century was largely enabled by the dysfunction of the Electoral College,” [Fleishman] said.

This is the 21st century. Yet, one could also still argue that legitimately today, that the claim that the national popular vote will result in one person one vote is bogus, since states vary in who is franchised today and the obstacles placed in the way of various groups in registering and voting.

Our comments on the post (edited and combined):

While I understand the good arguments for the national popular vote and would support it, except there are some extreme risks to the Compact which attempts to force fit it onto our inaccurate state by state voting system.

There is no official national popular vote number complied and certified nationally that can be used to officially and accurately determine the winner in any reasonably close election.

There is no national recount available for close elections to establish an accurate number. Only in some individual states with close numbers in those states would there ever be a recount.

Currently the Electoral College limits the damage to states with close votes.  With the national nopular vote errors, voter suppression, and fraud in all states would count against the national totals.

With stronger election laws, national uniformity, enforceable and enforced laws in place I would favor the NPV.

For more see: http://www.ctvoterscount.org/the-case-against-the-npv/

For example: The inaccuracies in Bridgeport did not change the winner here in the Governor’s race and would not have been enough to change the Electoral College.  If it was closer we would have had a recanvass and presumably those errors corrected. But with the Compact they would all have counted against one candidate toward that national popular vote number reported by the media or any other number calculated nationwide.

We also point to this story we came across today, pointing out just one more example of the normal errors in vote counts that get certified across the country. Human error, not voting machines, skewed Colleton County election results <read>

The Colleton County Board of Elections reported nearly 1,400 extra votes in the November election. The discrepancy came to light after the Election Commission certified the results…

Frank Heindel of Mount Pleasant, who maintains a website documenting problems with electronic voting machines, lined up an independent audit to see if the machines were at fault.

“Why do we have such poorly written software that allows candidates to receive more votes than the number of ballots cast?” Heindel said today. “Poorly written software creates human error.”

He said the independent auditors were still waiting for the files to finish their work.

Whitmire’s explanation differs from Colleton County Elections Director Eric Campbell’s guess at what happened. Campbell had said he suspected some votes got counted twice when he held the memory cards from six smaller precincts in the machine too long while tabulating the votes. That raised questions whether the computer software was at fault. Whitmire said there’s no indication the mistake had anything to do with the machine reading the memory cards.

“It wasn’t a problem with the machines, and it wasn’t something mysterious,” Whitmire said. “Whenever there are humans involved, there is always going to be the chance of error.”

We also point out that apparently this error came to light only through citizen expense and diligence.  Instructively, like Bridgeport and Connecticut, the original inaccurate results still stand.

Update: Another post from the Norwich Bulletin. <read> Be sure and read the comments on this and the ones on the article at CTNewsJunkie above.

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6 responses to “Lawmakers Seek To Change Presidential Elections [To make them more risky, reduce confidence]”

  1. mvymvy

    A survey of 797 Connecticut voters conducted April 19-20, 2008 showed 73%-27% support for a national popular vote for President.

    By party, support for a national popular vote for President is 80%-20% among Democratic voters; 59%-41% among Republicans, and 76%-24% for Others.

    By age, support is 76%-24% among 18-29 year olds; 67%-33% among 30-45 year olds; 72%-28% among 46-65 year olds; and 78%-22% among 65-and-older.

    By gender, support is 81%-19% among women and 64%-36% among men.

    http://nationalpopularvote.com/pages/polls.php#CT_2008APR

    Most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was counted and mattered to their candidate.

  2. mattw

    I think that maybe you’re letting the perfect be the enemy of the better here.

    You’re right to note that a national popular vote compact is not also a uniform national recount standard, a single eligibility standard, a one-person-one-vote standard, or an enforcement plan — but I don’t see a strong case that it undermines those things, either. It’s also not a constitutional right to vote, also sorely and obviously needed after the 2000 election. It seems logical that the passage of a NPV compact would point towards national standardizing reforms rather than towards greater balkanization of the process.

    With respect to your fraud argument — which suggests that rather than redirecting campaign resources and policy focus to address the greatest number of Americans, the compact will redirect campaign resources to the most easily manipulated election jurisdictions — I also have to disagree. First, as examples of local AB fraud in your other posts illustrate, it’s not as if campaign workers in non-swing states haven’t thought to manipulate the vote totals — doing so is most attractive in close races where a handful of votes will likely make a difference. Using 2000 as the example, rather than facing a situation where manipulating or suppressing 500 votes would change the national outcome, you would have needed to manipulate or suppress 100,000 or more votes to change the outcome. And, the wider the fraud, the more likely it is to be detected. And, there’s a vast amount of low-level fraudulent activity occurring under our current system that NPV would alleviate — those who reside in a less competitive state but have the opportunity to vote in a more competitive state distort the outcome in not just the Presidential election, but in down-ballot races as well.

    Personally, I think that a lot of our current laws here in Connecticut don’t prevent fraud so much as make it the least attractive of many options for getting votes for your favored candidates in elections. In terms of cost in time or dollars, canvassing or contributing personal funds is always going to be a better bet for getting votes than AB or EDR fraud, and without fines and jail time at the end of the rainbow. NPV seems in that same spirit: at present, caging and fraud become attractive only when a need-to-win swing state campaign has already saturated mailboxes and airwaves, while NPV would make ringing up the turnout in Los Angeles and Utah more effective (and ethical) alternatives.

  3. gmkuhn

    Luther,

    > Under the current system, the damage due to error, fraud,
    > and voter suppression is limited to the few so called, swing states.

    I do not agree with you, but did you seriously intend to imply:

    “the damage is limited to where the election is decided”?

    Thanks

    Gary Kuhn, Ph.D.

    Author of the following related papers available at
    http://www.stmartinsystems.com/:

    100814_Why_did_we_Americans_lose_our_savings_habit.htm
    090309_for_Majid_Ali.htm
    070831_US_CofC_education_report_card.htm
    070114_elector.htm

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