The PoliBlog

The Collective
Thursday, August 23, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

The following (from yesterday’s LAT) goes along with the other proposed CA initiative I noted yesterday: California Democrats push popular vote measure

Democrats on Tuesday proposed putting on a 2008 ballot an initiative aimed at having California join the movement to elect presidents by popular vote.


If backers gather sufficient signatures to place one of the Democratic measures on the ballot, and voters were to approve it, California would become one of roughly a dozen states to have embraced the concept of electing presidents by popular vote.

The national drive toward a popular vote would not scrap the electoral college system, but would require states to award their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the most actual votes nationally. It would take effect only if states representing a majority of the electoral votes agree to the change.

I am still deciding whether I like this idea or not. I would prefer to simply have the whole thing scrapped via a constitutional amendment. Of course, that is rather unlikely to happen. As such this plan, which could be accomplished via the Interstate Compact Clause of Article IV (along with the constitutional fact that states get to decided how the electoral votes from their states are assigned), may be the only way to go if the EC is going to be changed.

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Filed under: US Politics, 2008 Campaign | |


  1. I think this is a good idea ONLY if it is done nationwide. Doing this in California would give Republicans an unfair advantage, unless a large Republican leaning state were to do the same thing.

    Comment by Brett — Thursday, August 23, 2007 @ 9:17 am

  2. I agree that a constitutional amendment is preferred, but it will happen only with a push. The compact is the way to push it. Small states will never concede reform in the Senate, unless faced with an altered status quo.

    That is, the NPV compact, once enacted, would mean nationwide plurality. Clearly an instant (or two-round) runoff is to be preferred over plurality. Once NPV is on the verge of enactment, you’ll see debate on how to amend the constitution to produce a system that is better than either the current electoral college or the about-to-be nationwide plurality.

    And Brett, you missed the point: Passage in California (or any other state) does not make it immediately effective. It is effective (meaning a state gives its electoral votes to the national popular-vote winner, regardless of which ticket won the most votes in that state) only after states that add up to 270 electoral votes have compacted to do so.

    Comment by MSS — Thursday, August 23, 2007 @ 11:57 am

  3. I was under the impression that this scheme was not part of the NPV compact. The NPV compact is about doing a national popular vote, not splitting electoral votes along Congressional districts as the California initiative proposes.

    Comment by Brett — Thursday, August 23, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Brett, it’s noted in the LAT article that Steven linked to that the proposal that is favored by some Dems in California is explicitly linked to the NPV compact.

    The proposal that some Republicans are backing would be for the state only, and would be based on congressional districts (like Maine and Nebraska currently). There are also some Democrats in North Carolina talking about a similar district plan in that state.

    I discuss both of these ballot initiatives today at Fruits & Votes.

    Comment by MSS — Thursday, August 23, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

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