9.03.2006

Good News for Everyone: Legislators pass a bill that could launch a national movement to elect the president by popular vote

Let's hope Arnold wants to be reelected badly enough to sign this.

You can find a link to this LA Times article at TomPaine.com:
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A Vote to Quit the Electoral College
Legislators pass a bill that could launch a national movement to elect the president by popular vote.
By Nancy Vogel, Times Staff Writer
August 31, 2006

SACRAMENTO — Lawmakers sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill Wednesday that would make California the first state to jump aboard a national movement to elect the president by popular vote.

Under the legislation, California would grant its electoral votes to the nominee who gets the most votes nationwide — not the most votes in California. Get enough other states to do the same, backers of the bill say, and soon presidential candidates will have to campaign across the nation, not just in a few key "battleground" states such as Ohio and Michigan that can sway the Electoral College vote.

"Frankly, the current system doesn't work," said Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico), the only Republican to vote for the bill. "Presidential candidates don't bother to visit the largest state in the nation…. California is left out."

If Schwarzenegger signs the bill — AB 2948 by Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) — California will be the first state to embrace the "national popular vote" movement, though legislation is pending in five other states: New York, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Louisiana.

The California legislation would not take effect until enough states passed such laws to make up a majority of the Electoral College votes — a minimum of 11 states, depending on population.

The governor's office said Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill.

Many Republicans spoke against the legislation, arguing that it was an "end run" around the U.S. Constitution and would drive presidential candidates to campaign in big cities and ignore rural areas.

"Those who are running for president," said Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), "are going to talk to Los Angeles and San Francisco."

2 comments:

Scott said...

The current system may not be perfect, but couldn't a system like the one proposed disenfranchise the entire state of California? The largest state in the union?

What would be the purpose of voting in California if that plan is adopted? Would people go to the polls to vote in a national election if they knew their electors were going to sally forth and follow the herd no matter what the constituents say?

California has a long history of following the herd mentality. Their history of proposing binding referendums, putting them to the vote, and then installing them as law. Sound idyllic? The true democratic utopia? In practice it was the leading cause of the financial woes "Eureka!" state had been suffering up to (and during) Arnie's reign. Allowing the masses to make and pass laws all willy-nilly like is short-sighted and just plain foolish.

Georgia is a prime example of the problem with popular vote. The state referendum that resulted in the constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage? Put forward and (not surprisingly) decided by popular vote. Leave sensitive matters of law up to a popular vote (which GA did) and odds are a minority group will wind up with their rights infringed or, as is with Georgia, totally removed.

If it were 1863 and rather than issuing the Emancipation Proclamation's then-president Lincoln puts the idea of ending slavery to a popular vote, do you think it would have passed? Or 1870 and Grant puts the 15th up to a vote, allowing blacks to vote? Or 1920 and Wilson puts women's voting rights up to a popular vote? In both instances how many men (the only ones who could vote) would have said, "Hell yeah! Sounds like a great idea!"?

The science and practice of the popular vote is something best left to neighborhood associations.

Sam said...

Uh, my fine-feathered Hawk friend, the last time I checked, the popular vote was the foundation of our system, not something best left to neighborhood associations. Electoral college or not, Cullifuhnya would still have its 45 million or so votes. Allowing the people to make their own laws--willy-nilly like--is what has made our system, along with interpretation through case law, interpretation of the Constitution, and the action of the courts. I for one think it works, and I wish our President agreed.

Though I certainly wouldn't expect you to see it the same way, the beauty of this effort on the west coast, is in the fact that I can see people STILL have a voice, and that they are willing to use it, in the face of our rather fascistic Bush administration. Click on the title of this post to link to an essay by a man named Laurence W. Britt, who examined some of the common threads of fascism. Though he is looking at Suharto and Pinochet and others, point by point, his list of 14 characteristics could be describing our current administration.

Regardless of what happens in California, and elsewhere, we certainly need a revolution in the ways we elect our representatives, not to mention the ways that we fund elections. We should all be able to agree that the system should be fair.

Fight the H8 in Your State