Trying to catch up

I lost a lot of posts on my old Blogger account, entirely due to Google, who I intend to badmouth at every opportunity. I may even switch to bing.

Meanwhile, let me propose something that I had previously proposed, since it has become a hot topic recently, given that the media doesn’t want to talk about what is actually happening. Apparently, some group of idiots is trying to amend the procedure we currently use for electing the President and Vice President (namely, the Electoral College), without bothering to check to see what it says in the Constitution.

The procedure used in Maine and Nebraska is better suited to the Presidential election than a National Popular Vote. Here are a few of its advantages:

  1. It doesn’t require a Constitutional amendment. The Constitution already allows states to choose Electors in any way they deem fit, which in practice means that the Electors chosen are generally political hacks who are being rewarded, which in turn is the real reason why Electors are currently chosen on a winner-take-all basis in most states (anyone who likes the winner-take-all system might as well stop reading).
  2. A recount under the National Popular Vote system would be both more frequent and more harrowing. A recount under the Maine/Nebraska system would be no more frequent or harrowing than a recount of a normal Congressional election. For example, in the last close election in 2000, Bush would have won somewhat more comfortably (how could it have been worse?), enough so that Gore wouldn’t have bothered with a hopeless recount.
  3. Big states would no longer have their tyrannical advantage.

Meanwhile, it has only one disadvantage:

  1. The party hacks (of both sides) wouldn’t like it.

It’s hard to see where the NPV movement is going, or why. They could easily have started by trying to get the necessary votes in Congress, which is not going to be any easier later. If they get fewer than 3/4 of the states behind them, then they will have no credibility anyway. BTW, few people seem to know that the President plays no role in the amendment process.

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4 Responses to Trying to catch up

  1. Eric says:

    True, it would be better, but it does hurt the hacks.

    About recounts, I see all as unconstitutional.

    If you count the votes and treat them all “uniformly” (as stated in the constitution), then when you count them again it will be exactly the same. If it’s not, the votes have been corrupted, and the first number is by default more accurate.

    • wmdaly says:

      I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that recounts might be per se unconstitutional.

      The ostensible purpose of a recount (admittedly, more honoured in the breach than in the observance) is not to change the status of individual ballots, but to make sure that the counting process itself has worked correctly. Florida 2000 was obscene in many ways, and became more obscene as time went on, but we should not forget that there had already been 3 recounts before the court-ordered recount began. The first of these found a set of 500-odd ballots that had never been counted, which I consider a good thing, but the rest of the “recount” consisted mostly of transferring ballots from blank to Gore or from Bush to blank, and although the media was simply uninterested in reporting it, the result was phenomenally unlikely from a mathematical point of view. I would guess that the ongoing recounts were at least a million-to-one favorite to be politically corrupt (well, I’m a mathematician, so I care about such things).

      • Eric says:

        The most obscene part was wanting to recount in some counties and not others. This clearly isn’t ‘uniformly’ counted as stated in the Constitution.
        There were also the military ballots thrown out for not having postage (even though military shipments don’t require postage).

        The Franken recount this last year was in Minnesota changed the whole outcome of the Senate election. I’m not sure why anyone is in favor of keeping recounts. It isn’t democracy in action; it’s closer to mob rule.

        We should just agree to uphold the Constitution and not hold recounts.

  2. wmdaly says:

    Surely the problem with the Franken recount was not that it was a recount, but the fact that nonvoters were counted, possibly multiple times. There was also considerable corruption in Florida 2000. I’m inclined to think that the biggest problem in Florida was that they went well beyond the statutory rules. I mainly agree with your points and think that it would be possible to abolish most recounts. Of course, this would create a bigger incentive to cheat in the original election. Sigh.

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