Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I understand the impulse to approach constitutional change cautiously-- the document has been around for a long time, and leaving aside most of the 19th Century it has worked fairly well. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the case for abolishing the Electoral Collage has been pretty well established. It is undemocratic, cumbersome, and damned if it doesn't lead to exactly the sort of bad results that political scientists have predicted for years. Changing it, however, has proved to be a much more difficult task than anyone could have predicted, in part because those aspects of it that are the least democratic are what the people who would be adversely affect by change like the most. Like the Senate, it grants disproportionate political weight to lightly populated states, and don't think for a moment that Senators don't know that. The last really interesting political cause I worked hands on with was when I worked at Birch Bayh's Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, researching Electoral Collage issues, and Senator Bayh was, I think, the last person to try to fix the problem by way of constitutional amendment. The fix that is currently favored is for the legislatures of the states to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Basically this amounts to an agreement by the states to cast their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. There are reasons, which I won't go into, for why this is an imperfect solution, but it is a big step in the right direction. Since New York is one of the states that is effectively rendered irrelevant by the Electoral Collage you'd think we'd be on board with this, but we aren't. Come to find out that it is my college classmate, Joseph Morelle who may be holding things up. I should give him a call.....

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In the New York State Assembly the bill now has 80 co-sponsors.

June 7, 2011 — The Republican-controlled New York Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill (S4208 / AB 489) by a 47–13 margin, with Republicans favoring the bill by 21–11 and Democrats favoring it by 26–2. Republicans endorsed by the Conservative Party favored the bill 17–7.

On June 7, 2010, the New York Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill (S2286A / A1580B), with over two-thirds of both political parties supporting the bill in a 52-7 roll call. The vote was 22-5 among Senate Republicans (with 3 not voting) and 30-2 among Senate Democrats.

A survey of New York voters showed 79% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

By gender, support was 89% among women and 69% among men.

By age, support was 60% among 18-29 year olds, 74% among 30-45 year olds, 85% among 46-65 year olds, and 82% for those older than 65.

Support was 86% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, 78% among Independence Party members (representing 8% of respondents), 50% among Conservative Party members (representing 3% of respondents), 100% among Working Families Party members (representing 2% of respondents), and 7% among Others (representing 7% of respondents).

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state.


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