National Popular Vote

Checkout this newly posted youtube video on National Popular Vote in North Carolina:

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).
In less than two years, the National Popular Vote bill has been enacted into law in Maryland and New Jersey and is on the Governor’s desk in Illinois. The bill has passed 14 legislative houses (one house in Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington state, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland).
The bill is currently endorsed by 801 state legislators—419 sponsors (in 47 states) and an additional 382 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.
The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from the winner-take-all rule that awards all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state.
Under the winner-take-all rule, candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the concerns of voters of states that they cannot possibly win or lose. This means that voters in two thirds of the states are effectively disenfranchised in presidential elections because candidates concentrate their attention on a small handful of “battleground” states. In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in just five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in just 16 states.
Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes would have elected Kerry in 2004, even though President Bush was ahead by 3,500,000 votes nationwide.
The U.S. Constitution gives the states exclusive and plenary control over the manner of awarding of their electoral votes. The winner-take-all rule is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was used by only 3 states in the nation’s first presidential election. Maine (since 1969) and Nebraska (since 1992) award electoral votes by congressional districts—a reminder that a federal constitutional amendment is not required to change the way the President is elected.
The National Popular Vote bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill is enacted in a group of states possessing 270 or more electoral votes, all of the electoral votes from those states would be awarded, as a bloc, to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).
The bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and Sacramento Bee, Common Cause and Fair Vote.
70% of the public has long supported nationwide election of the president.
The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama—the first Republican elected to represent Birmingham), Tom Campbell (R–California), and Tom Downey (D–New York), and former Senators Birch Bayh (D–Indiana), David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah).
Additional information is available in the book Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote and at

Checkout this newly posted youtube video!!:


This is soooo wrong,

but we have discussed this before. I hate this idea. If we thought NC rarely did anything for the primaries, wait until our vote is overshadowed by the 9 other states with more people then we have. We will never see a presidential candidate.

Our vote will be meaningless. Cronie-ism will run rampant, the rich will only have to work in a few key states. The cronie-ism party will run the country, not the people.

States like Rhode Island will be pointless. Their vote would be within a margin of error or a rounding operation.

The rights of people will be overshadowed by the dollar. Think about it. The Democrats spent over $200 million dollars so far just in the primaries. We have a great and heated debate going on between Hillary and Barrack. This is fun.

Under this new plan, there wont be a primary. The few densely populated centers will put forth or endorse their candidate, the big dollars will be driving that nominee, we will be told, this is the Democrats nominee. Now be good blues and vote for them.

It might not be $200 million because a lot of $20 - $100 donations will not come in, but the big dollars will not care. They will be getting their candidate elected so they can have their way. You think special lobbying groups are running the country now? Wait for this proposal to kick in.

Money will run our country with this plan. This plan is bad.

Don't mess with the founders

I wish that everyone would quit calling this country a Democracy. It is not. It is a Republic.
That being said, the founders set checks and balances not only in the structure of government,but in the selection of it as well.
The electorial collage members are the superdelagates of our national system.
What I find wrong in the current system is not in the general but in the primarys.
The caucus system is what is wrong.It lets a very small portion of the electorate call the shot in a state.
If we are going to have primaries, we should have primaries in 50 states. People that will go out and vote might not go to a caucus. They want to go vote,in private, and be done. Not have to go to a caucus and go thru that whole event. The caucus system also allows more of a chance for fringe groups in both parties to have more of a say than their numbers would allow by packing the caucus.

This caucus system that we have in some states is the most un-democratic operation in our current voting system.

My apologies for jumping down your throat yesterday

No excuses.


I suppose the caucus mentality is very much an extension of the states desire and willingness to do things their own way.


PS Based on voter turnout in my lifetime, I'd say that a small portion of the electorate calls the shots in every election. We live in a country where less than 70% of eligible citizens are registered to vote, and in 2004, only 64% of them voted. That rolls up to less than half.

I'm not sure I'd want to go with the Australia model, where there is compulsory voting, but it would be fun to discuss.

Compuslory voting is contrary to democratic values.

A right one always has within any democratic system, be it a true democracy or a democratic republic, is the right to abstain.

I don't usually take advantage of that right, but it is there nonetheless.

I do believe that IRV would increase voter turn out, and decrease the number of abstentions.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

What about compulsory voting

but with "I abstain because the candidates suck" as an option?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Love ya, Lou.

That one's just silly. :)

That's why I would only support compulsory voting with Instant Runoff included, because then you'd just rank the candidates in order of suckage. Who ever sucked the least would be your first choice.

I admit to not reading the link on Australia, so I don't know if they have IRV along with compulsory voting.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Compulsory voting

Isn't actually compulsory. Voters are free to vote "none of the above" or simply turn in a blank ballot. They just have to show up at the polls.

I'm not advocating for it . . . just babbling.

The upside to that

That's really what I was kind of going for. I just tend to be a bit... straightforward.

It would certainly seem to have the potential to do some damage to crony-ism. If 40, 50, or 60% of voters in a given district vote "none of the above", there'd be a definite message sent.

What if there was a rule that said if 30%+ of voters voted "none of the above" or turned in a blank ballot, the election would be a do-over? If over 50%, all candidates involved are disqualified in the do-over.

I'm just babbling too, but it's an interesting thought to me.

I like run-offs. I like the thought (whether it's actually practical or not is another question) that if nobody gets a majority, the top two vote getters run again against just each other. It takes out the "spoiler candidate" proposition.

Just using an example, in a Presidential race, maybe you like Candidate C who has no realistic chance of winning this time around but you really want to let the government/people/top tier candidates know (s)he's your (wo)man. But you're really really worried that if you vote for Candidate C, Candidate Bush will win because of the votes drawn from Candidate A. Candidate Bush is abhorrent to you.

I really hate that all too often we're forced to choose between the candidate we think will do the best job and the candidate who is "Not Bush".

With run-offs, you can vote your conscience the first time around by voting for the best candidate, and possibly give that candidate a real shot the next time around. At the very least, a strong third candidate really shows that the people aren't totally sold on the platforms of the first two candidates. That gives voice to the concerns of large minorities of voters and the issues they care about.

Again, also just babbling.

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

what I like about your babble, Lou

Is that you explained IRV and the value of it in a few simple paragraphs, in laymen's language. It's a gift, trust me.

Oh, and I agree with your babble, too.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Thank you Linda

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

voting is a right and a choice.

IRV gives the illusion of people being able to vote their hopes and dreams. But voting for someone who doesn't stand a chance in hell of winning because it makes you feel good is a poor reason to cast that vote for that candidate.

We all have choices to make. In Cary, presumably the people who voted for Nels Roseland for first choice would have voted for Vicki Maxwell for second choice. Well, the majority of them did do that. But not in enough numbers for her to overcome the lead Don Frantz had in first column votes. Frantz also got some of those second column votes from people who first voted for Nels Roseland.

And in the end, Frantz never got the 50% plus one vote majority that IRV supporters claimed IRV would ensure a winner would get. 3022 votes were cast in that race in the first column, but Frantz did not get 1512. He was declared the winner with 1401 votes. So why not lower the threshold for the race and only do one count if IRV can't deliver the 50% plus one vote majority?

There is an alternative to the IRV alternative


I agree that IRV (Instant Run-off Voting) is susceptible to strategic voting. Specifically, it's susceptible to the favorite-betrayal and push-over strategies. In the latter it is almost unique among election methods.

For non-election-method-mavens, IRV--or Single Transferable Vote [STV]--has the voter rank the ballot options in order from most-preferred to least-preferred.

Favorite-betrayal is what led would-be Nader voters in the Florida 2000 election to cast their ballots for Al Gore. That such a voting strategy works in the first-past-the-post system--the one we use--is why Democratic partisans exhorted those who preferred Nader to "betray" him in favor of Gore. I expect we will see a similar scenario play out with Bob Barr and McCain this fall.

Push-over is a form of strategic voting where you attempt to "screw" a candidate you're opposed to by insincerely elevating another candidate you favor even less, but whom you expect to be more easily defeated, over the more popular opponent. For example, in a hypothetical three-way race between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Lieberman, you might prefer Obama, be ambivalent about Clinton, and despise Lieberman. But knowing that Lieberman is considerably less popular than Clinton among your fellow electors, you arrange your IRV ballot as: Obama:Lieberman:Clinton, setting up Lieberman as a "push-over" for Obama and (if enough people successfully deploy this strategy) preventing a direct evaluation of Obama versus Clinton.

That a comparison between Obama and Clinton is not made at all under the IRV method is one reason that election method is a poor social welfare function--it omits important information about the preferences of the electorate and encourages distortion of what it does measure.

There are, however, voting methods that do not share its flaws, and permit people to express more sincere preferences. As the mathematician Kenneth Arrow demonstrated in 1951, there is no perfect election method in any contest with more than two candidates, but in my experience Condorcet methods (sometimes called IRRV, or "Instant Round-Robin Voting" for the Francophobes) are the best of all possible methods known to date.

In the foregoing example, a Condorcet method would, using the same ballot, examing voters' preferences in pairwise contests between all options. The push-over strategy would not work because the Obama vs. Clinton preference would not be obscured by the insincere elevation of Lieberman on the ballot.

Yes, there are elections in the real world that are held using Condorcet methods. I have been a candidate for elected office in an NGO using a Condorcet method, and (in separate contests) have been both defeated and victorious in Condorcet elections.

The Wikipedia article on Condorcet methods is pretty technical, but if the above doesn't put one to sleep, it may be rewarding.

recently transplanted from Indianapolis, IN to Durham, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Australia has both IRV and compulsory voting

And it helps keep them a two-party country. They have a parliamentary system that is much different from ours. So it's really apples and oranges to compare ours system to their system and say that IRV would work here.

More on National Popular Vote

I was first exposed to the NPV idea about six years ago when Akhil Reed Amar (author of two excellent books, The Bill of Rights and America's Constitution) and his brother Vikram David wrote a series of columns for FindLaw's Writ.

In my opinion, the above provide indispensable background as well as laying out the details of the plan in clear terms.

While building sufficient momentum to get the idea into the public consciousness in time for the 2004 elections proved to be a forlorn hope, Vikram David Amar has supplied recent updates:

relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson