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Old 06-10-2019, 10:32 AM
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The Danger of a Electoral college subcompact


I'm in favor of the abolition of the electoral college, and had in the past supported the idea of National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, although I am doubtful that it will ever achieve 270 votes. My mind has done a 180 turn however when I realized what the precedent of such a compact could produce.

The theory behind the compact is that states can decide for themselves how they want to assign their electors and so if we can get 270 votes worth to agree to the noble idea of assigning their vote to the winner of the popular vote we bring true Democracy to the country.

But what if a certain party latched onto this idea with less than noble intentions. A party that viewed Democracy as a liability and say the sole purpose of election law to maintain their position in power. Suppose also that due to gerrymandering this party had gained the legislatures of several key battle ground states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia. What is to stop them from creating a subcompact that would pool all of their electoral votes to whomever won the election in a set that includes themselves as well as every Red blooded American state that supported their party? New York and California need not apply.

While the path to 270 votes in a National compact is near non-existent, the path to 270 or at the very least a bright red fire-wall is not so inconceivable.

Can anyone explain how the constitutionality of the National state compact could be defended without leaving the country open to a undemocratic power grab?
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:34 AM
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Had a bit of trouble parsing this, but you mean if the Republican Party formed a subpact where all the red states, plus a few battleground states, all pledge their EVs to the (R) candidate, regardless of the outcome of the national popular vote?
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:27 AM
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Had a bit of trouble parsing this, but you mean if the Republican Party formed a subpact where all the red states, plus a few battleground states, all pledge their EVs to the (R) candidate, regardless of the outcome of the national popular vote?
Basically yes, although, with the fig leaf that it is based on the combined popular vote of these red states so that it isn't explicitly stating that no Democrat can win.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 06-10-2019 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:34 AM
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OK then, my non-Constitutional-scholar WAG is that this would go to the Supreme Court, who would strike it down saying that "the Constitution specifies a majority of electoral votes of all states nationwide, not just a select few." Of course, such a ruling would also strike down the National Popular Vote pact and all other such pacts as well.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:51 AM
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It seems that this Red State plan will need to have some blue-majority states come under the control of a minority legislature, or maybe I should say more than there are now, for this to be effective. Or at least as effective as the NPVIC. Or maybe I just don't understand.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:37 PM
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It seems that this Red State plan will need to have some blue-majority states come under the control of a minority legislature, or maybe I should say more than there are now, for this to be effective. Or at least as effective as the NPVIC. Or maybe I just don't understand.
There are a good number of purple states that have Republicans in control of the state legislature. The infamous WI-MI-PA trio, of course, and Virginia too. Right now they all have Dem governors, but that would be all that stands in their way.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:51 PM
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Unless you're aware of any good outcomes of populism or power-grabs (of any kind) through history, I'd suggest that none of this makes sense.

"Ahah! The current President pulled the wool over the eyes of a bunch of rubes (80% of that half of the population) and beat out the more qualified, reasonable, and competent people who competed against him that only appealed to the minority, non-rubes in the world! Clearly, this demonstrates the solution to improving the situation in our country is to increase the power of common man!"

If that's still where you are in your thought process, then all-red pacts or whatever else, are pretty well missing the forest for the trees. Your half also has that 80%.

Here is a description, from the Federalist papers, of the purpose of the Electoral College (with added emphasis by me):

Quote:
It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.

Another and no less important desideratum was, that the Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.

All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: "For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,'' yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.
The purpose of the Electoral College is:

1) Take time and effort to become informed and thoroughly investigate the presidential candidates.
2) Ensure that no one affiliated with any political group is a member.
3) Ensure that no political group is able to influence the outcome.

Is that the case today? Is there anything about how the electors are elected that might allow them to be influenced by a political group? Is there any selection criteria that might cause them to be anything other than non-partisan? Are there any laws on the books that might discourage an elector from performing his own investigation and voting freely, based on the results of his research?

Is the answer really democracy? As I also pointed out, in the above text, the aim is not democracy it's "republican government" and while, yes, that's unfortunate that those two words are tangled up with the names of the parties, there's no actual connection. You can be a Democrat and be all happy joy joy for "republican government".

So let's also ask the Federalist why we don't like democracy:

Quote:
The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.

[...]

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.
Basically, republics allow us to choose people who we trust to be wise and wholesome, to go and look at the big picture and make reasonable decisions.

Democracies just fall apart, due to partisan bickering and hatred.

But, as it notes, there is the risk of a republic - given that you're choosing a small number of people - having that small number be targeted by partisan groups and be taken over by it, using illicit means.

However, the basic setup of the Federal government itself tells us a lot about some of the mechanisms that they viewed as being able to counter the ability for factions to take things over:

Quote:
In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government, which to a certain extent is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that each department should have a will of its own; and consequently should be so constituted that the members of each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the others. Were this principle rigorously adhered to, it would require that all the appointments for the supreme executive, legislative, and judiciary magistracies should be drawn from the same fountain of authority, the people, through channels having no communication whatever with one another.

[...]

It is equally evident, that the members of each department should be as little dependent as possible on those of the others, for the emoluments annexed to their offices.

[...]

The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit.

[...]

In a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to the administration of a single government; and the usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.
Basically, the solutions that Madison saw were:

1) Ensure that everyone is acting independently. No or very limited communication between one another. No or very limited dependencies on one another.
2) Break things into sub-units with explicit jobs that make them naturally hostile to one another, independent of whether they're held by the same faction or not - so that they still end up having to compromise and work forward on the basis of reality.

Overall, to be sure, we could get rid of the Electoral College, in favor of direct democracy, or we could continue to game the Electoral College so that it's an ever-slimmer cutout for direct democracy.

But democracy sucks and is stupid and it's never worked in all of history and all the things we're complaining about today are exactly the sort of thing that we would expect to see because of continued advancement towards democracy. So if you don't like things the way they are today, stop going that fucking direction. If you've stuck your hand in a pot of water and every time you turn the knob next to the fire clockwise, your hand hurts more than it did before, stop turning the stupid thing clockwise.

Just put the Electoral College back the way it was or was supposed to be (I say "supposed to" since the parties, via the state governments, almost immediately started screwing with it, to try and avoid its purpose).

1) Make it a deliberative body.
2) Ensure that they have no connection to any partisan organization.
3) Give them the power to investigate and choose, freely, independently, and secretly.

And, if you want to kick it up a notch:

4) Give them explicit jobs that will put their focus of the matter into competing visions, so that they're naturally disinclined to cooperate, even with others that they might otherwise usually agree with.

And then just sit back and be happy. You'll get a better friggin government. Stop fucking with the stupid thing for your partisan games. I promise you anything that you're better with non-partisan, intelligently hired leaders than corrupt, partisan leaders who agree with you. So just do that. Create a system that you can trust and just trust the fucking system and leave it alone. It's that easy.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-10-2019 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:56 PM
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How is this any different from what happened in 2016?

Republican states say: "Look, we all know that our votes are going to the Republican candidate, so let's be sure our electoral votes go to the Republican candidate!"

That doesn't change much.

If Florida or someone currently Republican is in danger of becoming a Democratic state, this is going to be a major draw for Democrats to become active.

The popular-vote mandate makes a clear moral argument, that even people who advocate for maintaining the electoral college can understand. Your proposal has no clear moral mandate; instead, it seeks to exacerbate the problems the EC presents.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:56 PM
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I think I need to hear the details for this easy plan of hiring electors for the EC. I'd like to sit back and not worry about my knowledgeable representatives.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
How is this any different from what happened in 2016?

Republican states say: "Look, we all know that our votes are going to the Republican candidate, so let's be sure our electoral votes go to the Republican candidate!"

That doesn't change much.
From what I understand of the OP, it is a major change/difference indeed. He's positing a hypothetical scenario whereby the Republican candidate is essentially guaranteed Electoral College victory no matter what the Democrats do. That is miles different than 2016, in which all Hillary had to do was win another 100k votes in MI+WI+PA and she would have been president. In the OP posited scenario, no amount of states that the Democrats win can ever be enough.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Wiggler View Post
I think I need to hear the details for this easy plan of hiring electors for the EC. I'd like to sit back and not worry about my knowledgeable representatives.
How many options do you want? 1, 2, 10, 50?

Here's one, but I could come up with dozens of choices. It's not super hard.

1) Randomly select a body of people from the population about 2X or 3X the size of the total number of people you want to have serve as electors.
2) Give them a conference room.
3) Tell them to choose, from among their number, who they want to have be part of the Electoral College.
4) Tell them that this is what they should probably be looking for, though it's up to them:
a) Not an elected official or politician
b) Will do the work of actually digging through the issues, learning about them, and talking to people.
c) Will similarly do the work of actually looking through information about the candidates.
d) You trust to make a reasonable and well-considered decision.
e) You can't vote for yourself.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-10-2019 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:38 PM
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The popular-vote mandate makes a clear moral argument, that even people who advocate for maintaining the electoral college can understand. Your proposal has no clear moral mandate; instead, it seeks to exacerbate the problems the EC presents.
For conservatives, the moral mandate comes down to, "we want to win, and anything's fair." If they can get behind gerrymandering and voter suppression, then why not this?
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:06 PM
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How many options do you want? 1, 2, 10, 50?

Here's one, but I could come up with dozens of choices. It's not super hard.

1) Randomly select a body of people from the population about 2X or 3X the size of the total number of people you want to have serve as electors.
2) Give them a conference room.
3) Tell them to choose, from among their number, who they want to have be part of the Electoral College.
4) Tell them that this is what they should probably be looking for, though it's up to them:
a) Not an elected official or politician
b) Will do the work of actually digging through the issues, learning about them, and talking to people.
c) Will similarly do the work of actually looking through information about the candidates.
d) You trust to make a reasonable and well-considered decision.
e) You can't vote for yourself.
My innate sortitionist slip must have been showing for you to have randomly selected that as an example.

This actually isn't bad.
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:57 PM
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Why is it even relevant that this be a compact? You could get the same effect by those Republican-controlled swing states just saying "We'll have the legislature choose our electors, and since the legislature is Republican, of course they're choosing Republican electors". Each such state could independently decide to do that, without regard to whether anyone else is.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:04 PM
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NM. What Chronos said.
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Old 06-10-2019, 06:40 PM
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Basically, republics allow us to choose people who we trust to be wise and wholesome, to go and look at the big picture and make reasonable decisions.

Democracies just fall apart, due to partisan bickering and hatred.

<looks at the current status of congress, senate, supreme court and white house><looks again> Well we sure wouldn't want that to happen. Thank god y'alls have big picture, reasonable, non-partisan wiseguys in charge


Quote:
1) Randomly select a body of people from the population about 2X or 3X the size of the total number of people you want to have serve as electors.
2) Give them a conference room.
3) Tell them to choose, from among their number, who they want to have be part of the Electoral College.
4) Tell them that this is what they should probably be looking for, though it's up to them:
a) Not an elected official or politician
b) Will do the work of actually digging through the issues, learning about them, and talking to people.
c) Will similarly do the work of actually looking through information about the candidates.
d) You trust to make a reasonable and well-considered decision.
e) You can't vote for yourself.
If you go that far, might as well go the full Venice :
1. The ballottino, a boy chosen at random, draws thirty names by plucking balls out of an urn, thus setting the process in motion with a blind draw.
2. Those thirty are reduced to nine by a blind draw.
3. Those nine put forward forty names, each of which needs at least seven of the nine possible votes.
4. Those forty are reduced to twelve by a blind draw.
5. Those twelve put forward twenty-five names.
6. Those twenty-five are reduced to nine by a blind draw.
7. Those nine choose forty-five new names, each of which needs at least seven of the nine possible votes.
8. Those forty-five are reduced to eleven by a blind draw.
9. Those eleven choose forty-one, who must not have been included in any of the reduced groups that named candidates in earlier steps.
10. Those forty-one then choose the Doge.
Why those oddly specific numbers ? Because vaffanculo, that's why !
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:53 PM
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But democracy sucks and is stupid and it's never worked in all of history and all the things we're complaining about today are exactly the sort of thing that we would expect to see because of continued advancement towards democracy. So if you don't like things the way they are today, stop going that fucking direction. If you've stuck your hand in a pot of water and every time you turn the knob next to the fire clockwise, your hand hurts more than it did before, stop turning the stupid thing clockwise.
Could you clarify what you mean when you say "democracy" and the democracies that failed?

IMO, parliamentary systems with proportional representation (preferably mixed-member proportional) are democracies that work very well. I consider the US a democracy, but a less democratic and less efficiently run one than Germany for example. I'd also say that institutional safeguards end up being detrimental because the safeguards themselves become co-opted by either the political parties or the groups that enable them. In a parliamentary systems with many parties, only a party that can both satisfy its base and make reasonable compromises can even participate in government, which naturally encourages reasonable compromise and discourages parties that either over-represent what they can accomplish to their voters, or who are completely unwilling to find common ground with other parties.

As to the electoral college, if you take it as a given that we have one, the one we have now is almost certainly worse than a simple majority vote for president. It offers none of the safeguards against mob rule, and just means that the mob can come from less populous states or swing states more easily.

Last edited by str8cashhomie; 06-10-2019 at 09:55 PM. Reason: Added a paragraph
  #18  
Old 06-11-2019, 12:41 PM
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Could you clarify what you mean when you say "democracy" and the democracies that failed?
Historically, like when the Constitution was being written, a democracy would generally have been seen to mean specifically what is today known as a direct democracy. This would be where everyone in the country or town or whatever it is votes, all votes are equal, and that's that. In modern day, the examples of direct democracy would be things like California's proposition votes or the Brexit vote.

The Founders mention a few historical cases among their writings but, I think, also probably had a fair amount of personal experience since most of them had been members of town meetings (some of which would have been "open" town meetings) during the Revolutionary War and they are uniformly sour on it in every known reference.

Principally, they reference Athens:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy

Though a number of other city states of the time also practiced Athenian or Athens-inspired democracy and, if we take the writings of Madison at face value, discussions of those are included if you read through the classical works. (I have not so I admit that they could have been BSing, for all I know.)

But, the structures and mechanisms of government are not a simple matter of fixed points gathered into a small set. You're not either a direct democracy or a republic or a monarchy or whatever else. You can be 50% of one and 50% of another, or 40%/60%, or 30%/70%....

Democracy is not just direct democracy. It's a scale on which you get to decide, through the specifics of the ruleset that you have chosen, how much weight you want to give to the overall opinions and demands of the population in accordance with simple majority rule.

If electors are apportioned in number according to the population of a state and simply mandated by law to obey the popular vote within his area, it is not quite direct democracy that chooses the leader of the nation, but it is quite close. If the electors aren't apportioned in accordance with the population of the state but are instead - for example - simply a constant number regardless of population count, so far as the question of how much we are a direct democracy goes, that's still just the same percentage as the previous case. If it's 98% direct democracy when you apportion according to population count, it's still 98% when you apportion at a constant value because in either case the elector has no function. Their choice is purely set by statute and their humanity is unnecessary.

The central distinction between republicanism and democracy is the question of whether people can be relied on to govern when it's not their profession and they have no particular qualifications, no access to specialists, and will suffer no loss so long as they are always in the majority.

The argument that they can would be that the individuals will abstain from voting if they don't know enough about a topic, but will be able to be heard (through their vote) when they do know something and will be affected.

But that argument completely avoids the discussion of whether people will vote to protect the rights of others, for one, other than the simple faith in humanity to be benevolent and caring of minorities. It doesn't address the Dunning-Kruger effect and how to get around that. Nor does it answer the question of how your protect against people voting on topics when they shouldn't, because they've been convinced that they should.

A classical era republic, to be fair, would not have had a hiring mechanism to ensure that the members of the government were qualified for the job or cared in any really way about what the people needed or wanted, beyond in a simplistic sense of keeping them happy enough that they don't revolt and pay taxes. But, even in concept, the idea was always that you need a professional to do the job of governance. They need time to do research, the ability to hear from experts, and the freedom to consider and vote based on the merits.

The Founders believed that there are ways to ensure that you can get the rewards of a professional government, protect the rights of the minority, and still be answerable to the people.

To a large extent, that mechanism is trust.

Do you trust that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump truly cares about you and simply has an innate desire to understand the needs and fears of every citizen in our land and try to find solutions and compromises to make sure that you're able to live happily and safely? Or are that doing it more out of an ego trip and telling people whatever they think they want, so that they can gain power?

What about Neil DeGrasse Tyson? Would you trust that if you pointed at him and said, "I trust you to care about me and everyone else in the country, truly and deeply. And I trust you to actually sit down, talk to people, and do the work to really understand the issues and the options available to us. And I trust that whatever decision you come to, was made in good faith and was a solid and reasonable choice that I would respect if I had the freedom to have done that same work." That he would then go and live up to that?

The idea of the founders is that. Election is not intended to be a vote on the issues. When we elect our representatives, we are pointing out people who we trust to have our back and who we trust to have the diligence and wisdom to sit down and faithfully do the work. Nothing more and nothing less.

The concept that the people are to vote on policy is, in essence, voter fraud.

Voter fraud is anything where you are giving a person money to vote some way, threatening them with harm if they don't vote the right way, etc. But it would also be, I would contend, voter fraud if you lied to people about what they're supposed to be voting on. We're not supposed to be voting on policy. We are strictly and simply meant to be voting based on trustworthiness. Is this a good person? Is this a fair and reasonable person?

We have had 200 years of voter fraud and part of that lie has been that we are and were meant to be a democracy and that any move which empowers the simple majority of the general populace to have their way is "good" and not just good but a fundamental pillar of our nation and an ultimate goal to strive for, like "all men are created equal" where we didn't used to live up to it but gradually we are getting better.

And that is 100% factually and provably bullshit. That is the product of 200 years of corrupt influence of party heads taking advantage of the populist tendencies of humanity to try and get their policy enacted and to maintain power. It's a con that plays on the lie that the only way to make sure that your voice is heard is through democratic systems, ensuring that your elector and representatives can't act outside of your direct command.

And it may seem like that would make no sense. How would a person who is seeking to corruptly gain power come out ahead if he is actively trying to give the power to me, the voter?

But that comes down to the saying that in theory there's no difference between practice and theory. But in practice, there is.

The average person is easily mislead. They aren't professionals. They haven't spoken to the experts. They often aren't inclined to think in a high-minded way that is friendly to the minorities. If you tell them that these are the only options, then they'll trust that you're telling it to them straight. So far as ever are concerned, you're the expert and they are simply backing the expert. Practically speaking, how are they to know better? It's like expecting people to vote against a doctor on how to go about a surgery. They're not going to do it.

Democracy, in theory, empowers the people and ensures that their needs and fears are being addressed - since it is the people themselves making that choice. But, in practice, the people are prey to the dishonest and they don't abstain from voting on things that they shouldn't vote on. If they tried, the dishonest would simply convince them that they need to.

A republic is better. We were never supposed to be a democracy and, while greater enfranchisement of the populace has been good, there is no advantage in changing the systems of government to be more democratic - hostage to the popular vote. A professional government is better, protects the needful better, ensures the rights of the oppressed better, and promotes reason and compromise.

The Founders didn't set it up quite right. They missed a few steps and that has allowed the system to become perverted and taken over by factions. But the answer is to correct those mistakes not to continue advancing in the direction that the factions are leaving the trail of candy.

It is plausible that some and maybe even many of our representatives are honest in their march towards democratic systems. They may be well intentioned, in majority, when they recommend things like the simple popular vote. But that does follow on 200 years of lies and being told that this way is good and expected. But, just the fact that they propose it now, when they fall out of power, tells you however honest their intentions might be on a theoretic level, this is a pure attempt at a power grab. It is factional struggle that leads then to employ the promise of democracy and populism to achieve their political aims.

This is an attempt to use you and, high-minded intentions be as they may, good people can still lie to themselves and then spread that lie to you.

But it is short sighted. The solution is not democracy. It's to sit down and do some research and put in the work to set up a good system that builds on what we have learned and can see through history.
  #19  
Old 06-11-2019, 12:56 PM
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<looks at the current status of congress, senate, supreme court and white house><looks again> Well we sure wouldn't want that to happen. Thank god y'alls have big picture, reasonable, non-partisan wiseguys in charge
As said, my suggestion was to undo what has been done since we have been losing the benefits of the systems as they were originally.

https://xkcd.com/1431/

It was better. The move to democratic systems have reduced how high-minded and big picture our representatives are. And my recommendation should make it even better than it was before.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-11-2019 at 12:58 PM.
  #20  
Old 06-11-2019, 01:09 PM
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The concept that the people are to vote on policy is, in essence, voter fraud.

Voter fraud is anything where you are giving a person money to vote some way, threatening them with harm if they don't vote the right way, etc. But it would also be, I would contend, voter fraud if you lied to people about what they're supposed to be voting on. We're not supposed to be voting on policy. We are strictly and simply meant to be voting based on trustworthiness. Is this a good person? Is this a fair and reasonable person?
Holy cow, where do you get this shit?

Quote:
That is the product of 200 years of corrupt influence of party heads taking advantage of the populist tendencies of humanity to try and get their policy enacted and to maintain power. It's a con that plays on the lie that the only way to make sure that your voice is heard is through democratic systems, ensuring that your elector and representatives can't act outside of your direct command.
What is totally amazing about your lengthy diatribes on the nature of our government is how woefully out of touch it is with historical facts. The rise of party machines was not something that was the product of populism; populism was the response to the concentration of political power among the elites. See the 17th Amendment, for example.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:16 PM
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...
And then just sit back and be happy. You'll get a better friggin government. Stop fucking with the stupid thing for your partisan games. I promise you anything that you're better with non-partisan, intelligently hired leaders than corrupt, partisan leaders who agree with you. So just do that. Create a system that you can trust and just trust the fucking system and leave it alone. It's that easy.
Your post was TL;DR but what I gleaned from a quick skim was a defense of republicanism, as if the Electors were Wise Men that chose the Prez.

That might be what the Founders intended, but that is not the way the Electoral College works today. Thus sorry about that your entire post is off-topic.

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Why is it even relevant that this be a compact? You could get the same effect by those Republican-controlled swing states just saying "We'll have the legislature choose our electors, and since the legislature is Republican, of course they're choosing Republican electors". Each such state could independently decide to do that, without regard to whether anyone else is.
OP is trying to dress up the ploy into a subterfuge that might sound legit to the gullible. I'm not sure his specific proposal succeeds, but other versions might. Certainly the GOP is introducing a variety of obstacles to democracy, worded to make the gullible not realize the brazen partisanship.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:28 PM
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Holy cow, where do you get this shit?
I do believe that I have included a fair number of quotes in my first post, so that might give a bit of a clue. But if you want some quotes by Washington or others as well, they are easy to supply.

But, for the sake argument, let's say that I'm wrong about the history.

Am I wrong about what would work better?
  #23  
Old 06-11-2019, 01:31 PM
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That might be what the Founders intended, but that is not the way the Electoral College works today. Thus sorry about that your entire post is off-topic.
I was asked to say more about the difference between democracies and republics, based on a read-through of an earlier post where I explained the concept of the Electoral College and how it has become broken and how to fix it.

So, yes, you are correct but your issue was addressed earlier.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:59 PM
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Why is it even relevant that this be a compact? You could get the same effect by those Republican-controlled swing states just saying "We'll have the legislature choose our electors, and since the legislature is Republican, of course they're choosing Republican electors". Each such state could independently decide to do that, without regard to whether anyone else is.
That is certainly true. My scenario was designed to at least maintain the veneer of one man one vote. But even in your scenario the main point stands. If we step away from the current notion in which elections within a state determine where the electors for that state go, we open ourselves up to less scrupulous ways of assigning of electors. So we may be better off keeping Pandora's box tightly closed.
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Old 06-11-2019, 04:18 PM
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The Founders certainly expected the people to vote based on trust instead of on the issues. In real life, of course, that's extremely unrealistic. The fact that the Founders were so naive as to make such an unrealistic assumption is a large part of why our system is as screwed up as it is.
  #26  
Old 06-11-2019, 05:22 PM
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The Founders certainly expected the people to vote based on trust instead of on the issues. In real life, of course, that's extremely unrealistic. The fact that the Founders were so naive as to make such an unrealistic assumption is a large part of why our system is as screwed up as it is.
They did miss some things, to be certain. But it is good to understand the options, the arguments, what was tried, why things were changed, and so on.

We are under no obligation to follow the Founders - neither as they proposed nor as we have come to believe they proposed. But they did do a pretty decent job and genuinely did think through a lot of the questions, and explained some amount of their reasoning. It's useful to understand that and, more importantly, it's useful to make proposals that look at the full history - just like they tried to do.

We now have more history to look at. While the moves towards democracy were (probably) often enacted as political power-grabs, the timing and focus would often have been due to the perception of an actual problem that needed to be addressed. Democracy was probably not the answer to those problems, but simply rolling back would probably return us to suffering those problems.

Personally, I think that it is achievable to fill the government with people who are if not all entirely trustworthy, at least that they would mostly be so. But, practically speaking, you would need to compromise with the parties to get such changes put into effect. My proposal for electing people to the Electoral College might be impossible to pass, as stated. But you could do something like picking some people randomly, tell them to pick one person among their own number and the state congress will pick one person among their own number, and those two will take turns vetoing people in the electoral candidate pool until they get the desired number.

In this option, the dominant party in Congress would simply send someone to veto everyone in the opposite party in the candidate pool. That's not ideal, but it still gives us, at least, an elector who is empowered to serve his mission. There is a quantitative difference between a partisan who is a corrupt idiot and a partisan who is qualified and trustworthy. In terms of turning things around, you have a better chance down the line if you can at least start getting the latter in there.

Elections act like an evolutionary pressure. Based on the rules, they select for a particular type of candidate. But, at some point, a method might be discovered to circumvent the intent of the rules, like that you can offer people government jobs if you're hired. And sometimes things will break because the world changed. Quite likely a large savior of government in previous times was the fact that there was no TV nor radio. Smarter people look better in print to your average person. On TV, tall people look better to your average person. Obviously, we had no way to predict the TV. But, so, in previous times, the smarter person had an innate advantage and that may have made the popular vote produce a result that's not too terrible. Now that the world has changed, a different sort of person is selected for and it breaks the system. No actual rule change was made.

It's likely that we could come up with a system that seems impenetrable to everything and resolves all of the problems of the past sufficiently. 200 years from now, likely the people looking back would think that we were a bunch of dumb-asses who clearly were missing the obvious. That's unavoidable.

But I think it's like what I have said about libertarianism and anarchism: The place we are at now is the end result of liberty and individual ability to negotiate and compromise. We were free and self-empowered. We discovered that there were limits to how well that works in practice, so we built systems to allow us to deal with our personal conflicts better. If we toss those all away, then we're just starting from scratch and will have to re-learn all of the lessons that our ancestors learned that got us to this place.

Or, in science, people will say that Newtonian physics was wrong and invalidated by Relativity. But that's not true. Newtonian physics were simply an improvement on previous understanding and Relativity was an improvement on that. Newtonian physics might not be as accurate but, if we somehow forgot Relativity, we'd still rather have Newtonian to fall back on then go all the way back to zilch and have to start from scratch.

To advance you need to accept that it's an iterative process. Trashing the learnings of our ancestors isn't wise. It's not how you make things better. You don't know more or better than them. You know things that they didn't know, but they knew things that you don't know. Failing to learn from them and assuming that they had no lesson to teach isn't the right answer. Studiously obeying their every word isn't the right answer. Understand their thoughts, track through where that got off track. Understand the thoughts of later generations and track where their ideas got off track. Between all of that, try to come up with something that might work.

Personally, I think that the Founders were closer to a solution - largely because Madison was a scholar and put in the work to understand the subject. Later changes were developed as a response to crisis or as power-grabs by the states and by the parties. They weren't as well thought out nor as well-intentioned.

But the Founders did not 100% have a solution, nor would their solution have stayed permanently perfect, given the simple truth that things change. But we can iterate on what they did, and it is time for that. But it's not time to throw it away. Or, at least, I haven't seen anyone make any populist proposal that seemed like it would be a genuine step up.
  #27  
Old 06-11-2019, 05:50 PM
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Am I wrong about what would work better?
Having a system of what is essentially jury duty to choose electors to choose the President is a system that would institutionalize the marginalization of minorities and likely emphasize the racist and sexist power structures in America, which have only really been challenged in recent years by popular action.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:45 PM
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If electors are apportioned in number according to the population of a state and simply mandated by law to obey the popular vote within his area, it is not quite direct democracy that chooses the leader of the nation, but it is quite close. If the electors aren't apportioned in accordance with the population of the state but are instead - for example - simply a constant number regardless of population count, so far as the question of how much we are a direct democracy goes, that's still just the same percentage as the previous case. If it's 98% direct democracy when you apportion according to population count, it's still 98% when you apportion at a constant value because in either case the elector has no function. Their choice is purely set by statute and their humanity is unnecessary.
I think there are a few problems with this analysis

1 - It ignores the fact that there are many modern democratic countries that have systems very similar to this description that work better than the US does now.

2 - (As has been discussed) electors are already instructed by the winning party to vote party line, and chosen for being party loyalists. Replacing our current system with a popular vote for president doesn't prevent the EC from being an antipopulist safeguard, because it doesn't actually act as one in the first place.

3 - The assumption seems to be that anything that either makes the US more democratic inevitably makes it worse because it's a slippery slope to mob rule. I don't think this holds - I could imagine an extreme where essentially everything is a ballot referendum that would be markedly worse than we have now, but if there is a democratic happy medium and we're on the antidemocratic side of it (as opposed to the democratic side of it) we should more closer to the happy medium. I don't think it's even possible to imagine every possible government system on a scale from more democratic to less democratic, and it's more valuable to just look at whether an individual change is overall better for creating a government that looks out for it's people's interests rather than trying to figure out if it moves you closer or farther to ideal amount of democracy.

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The idea of the founders is that. Election is not intended to be a vote on the issues. When we elect our representatives, we are pointing out people who we trust to have our back and who we trust to have the diligence and wisdom to sit down and faithfully do the work. Nothing more and nothing less.
In my personal view, the US policy of detaining child migrants who attempt to cross the border from Mexico is inhumane and against my core values. I don't want to participate in a government that does this. If we instituted your electoral vision, and I totally bought in and simply used my political influence to elect an extremely wise president whose only campaign promise was to hire experts to run each department, and to compromise with congress - if all that happens and the resulting government continues to detain child migrants at the border, I'm throwing out my trust in this new republic and using whatever levers I have to prevent the policy of detaining children from continuing.

That's why we have the system we have today. The founders designed a system that institutionalized both their vision for a republic run by wise men, and also their core values. The majority of them supported slavery, and used things like the 3/5 compromise that allowed states with a high proportion of slaves to inflate their own power in the house and electoral college. Even when the early party systems started to take shape, only white male property owners (the only class that had the ability to own slaves in the first place) could vote. It took gradual democratization to the point that at least white men who didn't own land could vote, and then it took popular will among that group to oppose slavery. Then it took popular will to oppose (sometimes by force) the plan for the entrenched political party (the Democratic-Republicans) to maintain stability by ensuring that enough new slave states were formed. It then took the Republican party to galvanize this populist, abolitionist movement.

If people only voted for the wise leaders who would decide policy for them, they wouldn't have supported a newly formed political party that made no attempt to disguise it's contempt for slavery and it's willingness to use democracy as a tool to politically isolate slaveowners until they lost their influence. Instead, voters would have continued to support experienced politicians from the more entrenched party that continued to allow the richest people in the country to maintain the institution of slavery for a profit.

Last edited by str8cashhomie; 06-11-2019 at 09:48 PM.
  #29  
Old 08-22-2019, 09:07 AM
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Previous thread on the NPVIC: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=846106
  #30  
Old 08-22-2019, 09:32 AM
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You bumped a thread that's been dormant for two months just to link to another dormant thread.

Do I have that right? Just checking.
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Old 08-22-2019, 07:51 PM
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If the recent decision about faithless electors stands, the interstate compact is dead. It only works if the states can direct their electors to vote in a certain way.

The 10th Circuit has ruled that electors are not subject to state direction. Once picked, they are exercising a power directly under the Constitution and the states can't tell them how to vote, or disqualify their vote once cast.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...ent/ar-AAG8tdZ
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:21 PM
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So now it all comes down to which side - D's or R's - vets their electors better.

It will most likely all still be diehard blues or reds who stand little chance of disappointing their supervisors.
  #33  
Old 08-22-2019, 08:53 PM
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If the recent decision about faithless electors stands, the interstate compact is dead. It only works if the states can direct their electors to vote in a certain way.
]
It would be exactly the same situation as now. The state would be sending people who promise to vote in the expected way. They can assure that by appointing party loyalists of the party they're supposed to vote for.

Last edited by CarnalK; 08-22-2019 at 08:55 PM.
  #34  
Old 08-22-2019, 09:22 PM
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It would be exactly the same situation as now. The state would be sending people who promise to vote in the expected way. They can assure that by appointing party loyalists of the party they're supposed to vote for.
No, prior to the ruling, several states have "faithless elector" statutes which allowed the state to disallow a vote by a faithless elector and compel a vote along pledged lines. That type of state compulsion to vote a certain way will be gone if the ruling stands.
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Old Yesterday, 12:17 AM
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No, prior to the ruling, several states have "faithless elector" statutes which allowed the state to disallow a vote by a faithless elector and compel a vote along pledged lines. That type of state compulsion to vote a certain way will be gone if the ruling stands.
Has a faithless elector ever had his vote invalidated(before this court case)? Not to my knowledge. So striking down any laws about this maintains the status quo.

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Old Yesterday, 12:29 AM
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You bumped a thread that's been dormant for two months just to link to another dormant thread.

Do I have that right? Just checking.
She once bumped an AOC thread that was 2-3 weeks dormant to let everyone know some guy was selling buttons with AOC's face on them. She makes bad bumps.

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  #37  
Old Yesterday, 04:37 AM
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No, prior to the ruling, several states have "faithless elector" statutes which allowed the state to disallow a vote by a faithless elector and compel a vote along pledged lines. That type of state compulsion to vote a certain way will be gone if the ruling stands.
I don't know how the NPVIC laws are written, but ISTM that they could be written (if they aren't already) to work essentially the same as now, only it would be the national rather than the state popular vote that would determine which party's slate of electors got chosen.

Such a NPVIC majority would be no more or less vulnerable to faithless electors than a traditional electoral majority.
  #38  
Old Yesterday, 04:14 PM
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I'm reasonably certain that Elendil's Heir is a he, not a she.
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Old Yesterday, 04:26 PM
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No, prior to the ruling, several states have "faithless elector" statutes which allowed the state to disallow a vote by a faithless elector and compel a vote along pledged lines. That type of state compulsion to vote a certain way will be gone if the ruling stands.
The election is to select electors, not to tell the electors what to do.

So currently, if Florida goes Republican, they would choose the 29 electors selected by the Republican party. Florida's not saying to them "go vote for the Republican candidate." They already wanted to do that before the election.

But if Florida signed on to the NPVIC, and the Democrat won the national vote, Florida is then choosing the 29 electors selected by the Democratic party. Again, these are 29 people who already wanted to vote for the Democratic candidate.
  #40  
Old Yesterday, 05:53 PM
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I don't know how the NPVIC laws are written
Here. PDF.

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they could be written (if they aren't already) to work essentially the same as now, only it would be the national rather than the state popular vote that would determine which party's slate of electors got chosen.
That's the gist of it, though.

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Such a NPVIC majority would be no more or less vulnerable to faithless electors than a traditional electoral majority.
Yep. Faithlessness is the specific problem (antidemocracy being the general one), and laws preventing faithlessness from having an effect are the solution. This ruling is not consistent with any part of our legal system or history, however.
  #41  
Old Yesterday, 10:56 PM
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I'm reasonably certain that Elendil's Heir is a he, not a she.
Right you are.
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Old Yesterday, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ElvisL1ves View Post
Yep. Faithlessness is the specific problem (antidemocracy being the general one), and laws preventing faithlessness from having an effect are the solution.
Instead of pushing a Constitutionally questionable law wouldn't it be simpler for the Colorado Dems to actually scrape up nine guys who'll vote like they're supposed to?
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