Voting Constitutional Amendment

OK, I got it, I figured it out. And it all so simple!

**Representation in the lower house of Congress shall be based on the number of lawful ballots cast in the preceding election for representatives to that house. **

Suppress the voter turnout and lose seats in the House.

I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that!”

Oooo. That’s good.

Unconstitutional, I’d bet. But hilarious.

An amendment cannot be unconstitutional.

The proposal is that it be made a constitutional amendment…thus, it would be constitutional.

Impossible. Redistricting after each election simply cannot be done.

Watson could do it easily. Not that I think this is a good idea, but it is doable. Messy, but doable.

No problemo – just use the average number of valid ballots in the elections since the last decennial redistricting.

EDIT: It might make sense to restrict the calculation to the regular biannual elections and exclude special elections in order to avoid skewing the numbers because of turnout differences between the two cases.

Technically, it could if it fell into one of the two specific exclusions: the slave trade could not be banned for twenty years after adoption of the Constitution (now moot) and a state cannot be deprived of equal representation in the Senate. Obviously, neither applies here, and I’m just being pedantic.

Excellent! So all I have to do is figure out how to suppress voter turnout in areas whose politics I dislike, and next election, those areas will have less representation. Is that the idea? Because look out, Alabama, here I come!

Except the second isn’t an exclusion: a state cannot be deprived of equal suffrage in the Senate without its consent (U.S. Constitution, Article V).

Granted, it’s hard to imagine why a state would agree to such an amendment, but it could be done.

Curious–does this mean that there’s no way to get rid of the senate’s favoritism toward individuals in low-population states unless the low-pop states agree to it? Because I never knew about that, and I hate that.

Unless I am mistaken, children and illegal immigrants are counted in districting but of course can’t vote. Similarly felons can’t vote in some states. Even restricting to eligible voters, turnout varies by ethnic group, age, etc.

One can certainly argue that those ineligible or unwilling to vote shouldn’t be counted in districting; I’m not sure what side of that issue I’d take if it were a hypothetical question. But please don’t pretend that this is a non-partisan objective proposal to improve governance. Instead it would immediately trigger a major power shift in the U.S.A. We do live in the real world and, frankly, whether your proposal is logical “abstractly” seems irrelevant to me.

If war is too important to be left to the generals, redistricting is too technical to be left to a computer.

Yep – in Article 5, which describes the process of amending the Constitution, it specifically forbids an amendment that would change the senate in this way:

“and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

One wonders if this could be gotten around with two amendments: First, removing this clause from Article 5, and then making the real change in how senators are allocated.

It would probably never happen, since ratifying a Constitutional amendment requires the amendment passing in 3/4 of the states, and low-pop states make up more than 1/4 of the states. Fourteen states have less than 2 million people (as of 2010)…12 1/2 is 1/4 of 50. Twenty have less than 3 million.

What this would cause would be a schism between the local and national branches of a political party. If one has a state that consistently votes Tory, then the National Whigs will have no objection to reducing that state’s representation in the House. But the locals of that state, Whig and Tory alike, probably will.

You’ve also got the question of how the voting districts are divided up within a state. Currently, all of the voting districts within a state are designed to have approximately equal population (and I believe there are laws placing exact limits on this). Would you change it to them having equal numbers of voters? That just brings us back to the problem of vote suppression, and in fact gives vote-suppression efforts more power.

Conversely, increase the voter turnout and you gain seats in the House. Which sounds like an inducement to local governments to give the franchise to convicted felons, children and, inevitably, dead people.

Who’s going to decide what is a “lawful” ballot?

I think I’ll stick with total population, as defined by a census conducted by federal rather than local officials.

You’re right, of course, but I was wondering more in a constitutional law sense whether this restriction could be removed via the two-step process I proposed.

But that’s the beauty of it!

In the Old Days, slaves counted as 3/5 of a person, but didn’t get 3/5 of a vote. Nowadays a state can lock up acres of black people (for example), keep their representation in Congress, but not allow them to vote. More or less the same three-card Monte game.

If you want to suppress the vote, you lose clout.

As I said before, you create a lovely opportunity for me to fuck up a district long-term, just by suppressing the vote there in an iterated fashion. The more I suppress the vote there, the less their votes count for, the less impetus they have to vote (since it doesn’t count for much), the less their votes count.

Any time you set up a system whereby votes have different power based on any controllable factor, someone will try to control that factor to their advantage.