UNM Electoral College

A study on the electoral college in New Mexico

Alternative Plans by Lonna Atkeson

Posted by Brianna Montoya-Harris on September 21, 2011

Alternative Plans:

Federal Constitutional Plans

  • Fractional Proportional Allocation of Electoral Votes

    • In this plan, a state’s electoral votes are divided proportionally according to the percentage of votes received in that state by each presidential slate (percentages are carried out to 3 decimal places).

    • Was first introduced in US Senate, Senate Joint Resolution 33, in 1969 by Senator Howard Cannon (D-NV).

    • Didn’t really go anywhere

  • District Allocation of Electoral Votes

    • First introduced in 1969 by Senator Karl Mundt (R-South Dakota)

    • In this approach, voters electon two presidential electors statewide and one presidential elector for each district.

    • Also didn’t go anywhere

  • Direct nationwide popular election

    • Sponsored by Representative Emmanuel Celler in 1969, passed the House 338-70.

    • Died in the Senate from a filibuster

    • Through the 1970s several nation wide direct popular election plans were introduced in the US Senate and in 1979 it got 51 votes. Several have also been proposed in the 90s and after the 2000 election.

State Level Plans

  • The office of the presidential elector is established by the Constitution and therefore cannot be eliminated without a federal constitutional amendment. However, the manner of choosing the presidential electors is determined on a state-by-state basis by means of state legislation (McPherson V. Blackner 1892).

  • Whole Number Proportional Approach

    • State’s electoral votes are divided proportionally –rounded to the nearest whole number—according to the percentage of voters received in the state by each presidential slate

    • Defeated by Colorado voters in 2004

  • Congressional District approach (same as one proposed Constitutional amendment) –retains the existing statewide winner take all approach for both of the stat’s senatorial electors; however, it would use a district level winner-take all rule for the state’s remaining presidential electors.

    • Maine uses this since 1969 (Perot just missed an elector here in 1992)

    • Nebraska since 1992

  • National Popular Vote Initiative

    • The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States.

    • The bill preserves the Electoral College, while ensuring that every vote in every state will matter in every presidential election.

    • The National Popular Vote law has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it (States include: CA, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, VT, WA, and the District of Columbia).

    • Under the National Popular Vote bill, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    • The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

    • Under this measure the national popular vote winner is guaranteed the president through an interstate compact, which would be a law in each state that passes it.

    • The compact would not be in effect until it was enacted by states collectively possessing the necessary 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency.

    • The Compact would not change any state’s internal procedures for conducting or counting its presidential vote.

    • After the people cast their ballots in early November of presidential election years, the popular vote counts from all 50 states and DC would be added together to obtain a national grand total for each presidential slate and each state in the compact would then award their electoral votes to the popular vote winner

    • Each chief election officer would be responsible for determining the national winner.

    • He or she would be required to treat as conclusive an official statement containing the number of popular votes in a sate for each presidential slate made by the day established by federal law for making a state’s final determination of votes for president and for electors.

    • Member states are required to send to other member states a an official statement of their popular vote totals.

    • Non member states totals must be obtained through other means by the state’s chief election officer.

    • The chief election officer must release to the public all vote counts and statements as they are determined for transparency

Scheme of Representation

  • As citizens deliberating a particular issue, we want to be able not only to understand American political life, but we also want to make judgments about it.

  • To make evaluations, however, we need a measuring stick, a standard based on widely shared values, that is essentially self-evident.

  • One such standard is the ideal of democracy and how well democratic values are embedded in our institutions.

    Fundamental Principles of Representative Democracy

  • Representative democracy is a republic, rule by the people, exercised indirectly through elected representatives.

    • Additional benchmarks:

      • Political sovereignty

      • Political equality

      • Political liberty

Popular Sovereignty

  • Definition: ultimate source of all public authority in a democracy is the people and that government does the people’s bidding.

    • Majority rules

Political Equality

  • Each citizen should have equal influence over public outcomes

  • Implies electoral democracy, one person one vote

  • Elections are the only place where each person is equal

Political Liberty

  • These are basic freedom essential to the formation and expression of the popular will and its translation into policy.

    • Freedom of speech, conscience, press, assembly, association, as well as freedom from arbitrary arrest and the right to run for public office

I am not an advocate of frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and constitutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered, and manners and opinions change. With the change of circumstances institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”

-Thomas Jefferson


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