July 28th, 2010

About that Massachusetts law re the electoral college

Those people who point out that the new Massachusetts law—awarding the state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gets the largest number of popular votes—would undercut the state’s overwhelmingly liberal voters in the event of a Republican being ahead, are technically correct but are missing a very important point. The law is written so that it only takes effect if enough other states pass similar legislation to constitute a majority of the electoral votes.

This would effectively nullify the workings of the electoral college and allow the POTUS to be elected by popular vote only, effecting a further erosion of the original republican (small “r”) intent of the founding fathers (an earlier example would be the 17th amendment).

The new Massachusetts law is actually rather fiendishly clever, showing the mindset of liberals and the left towards the constitution. Any way to get around it is fair game, and this is a rather creative one. It would increase the left’s electoral power significantly.

18 Responses to “About that Massachusetts law re the electoral college”

  1. newton Says:

    “Be careful about what you ask for… you might get it.”

  2. George Pal Says:

    That and the enfranchisement of anything that crosses the borders will get you a one party dictatorship. The republic, being officially kaput, we can officially change the name of the country to The People’s Republic of North America.

  3. DirtyJobsGUy Says:

    This is not the end as what they really want is proportional representation (which in Massachusetts would be a gain for republicans). The idea is that every candidate would get electoral votes proportional to their share of the popular vote in the state. In this way, the Dems would get some of Texas’s electoral votes in all elections.

    Progressives love this kind of thing under the correct impression that it allows small partisan groups to play a disproportionate role. The Lib-Dems in Britain are pushing a pure proportional vote to supersede winner take all in MP districts. However, they forget the partisan group that holds the key to power need not be from the Left.

    Most importantly, the left is not concerned with the long term stability of representative government that is the core of federalism and limited government power. Rules are made to be bent if the goal is pure.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the Constitution. The Electoral College ensures that the candidate wins the electorate in a substantial number of states. Racking up large numbers in populous states does the candidate little good once a majority is reached. Having a President who is acceptable to many states is important. That assumes that some sort of states rights has survived.

    I should also point out the inability of many populous states to make good judgments about fiscal matters. People in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey seem unable to govern themselves. God forbid they should govern the country.

  5. Bryan Says:

    More upsetting is the sellout of Massachusetts’ children to the federal educational standards, all for the uncertain promise of $250 million in federal funds. So I guess now at least we have a price for our children’s future.

  6. Nolanimrod Says:

    All we’d lack then would be the Scythian Guards to flog people to the polls to achieve 100% voter participation. Oh! And a vote minder to make sure that every voter made a selection in every race. No under-voting allowed! Also, each priest would have to carry a supply of absentee ballots at all times, to be filled out while administering last rites.

  7. gs Says:

    I don’t think this is worth getting into a hissing contest about, but iirc in 2004 there was some question for a time as to whether Bush had carried Ohio. Had he narrowly lost the state, he would have lost the election despite winning the popular vote.

    During the Y2K Bush-Gore controversy I formed the impression that the Constitution intends state legislatures to control the electoral process. My beef with the SCOTUS decision was that they should have bounced the matter to the FL legislature, which would have made no immediate difference but would have made a long-term difference federalismwise. (And I was disappointed that the FL legislature did not assert itself.)

    So I’m inclined to believe that the MA law is Constitutional even though it’s not a good idea. Where you’d really get a mess is if, after the election, a state tried to back out of the agreement in a way that affected the national result.

    DirtyJobsGUy Says:

    Progressives love this kind of thing under the correct impression that it allows small partisan groups to play a disproportionate role.

    Whereas those of us who would prefer the country to be run by a wise and frugal–and competent–government, thereby making politics less important, hate it. (Not to mention that MA & USA have much more important priorities than trying to tilt the playing field for future elections.)

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    This is just the latest step to pure democracy, better known as the rule of the mob.

    Just another step toward one-world government, better known as 1984.

  9. jms Says:

    It’s a terrible idea, for a very practical reason. Remember Bush vs Gore? All the chaos in Florida? Well imagine that under this system, we have an election, and the national popular vote is a virtual tie — say a difference of a few hundred votes. There is no reason why that couldn’t happen.

    Under the electoral college system. the vast majority of states election results do not need to be revisited. Only the one or two states with close results need to be recounted. Under a popular vote system, every vote in the entire country would need to be recounted. There would be continual changes coming in from all parts of the country — a bag of “found” ballots in Wisconsin. Hanging chads in Georgia. Voting machine malfunctions in North Dakota. Complete chaos. It would be Bush vs Gore * 50. Every hour there would be new numbers, and cries of vote fraud from all 50 states.

    It would be a complete disaster.

  10. rickl Says:

    jms Says:
    July 28th, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    It would be a complete disaster.

    Cloward and Piven would love it, though.

  11. Elise Says:

    The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has been around since 2001, almost certainly triggered by Gore’s loss to Bush. At this point, States representing 61 of the 270 electoral votes needed to make the Compact work have signed on. If Massachusetts signs on, that total will rise to 73.

    It will get interesting if enough States adopt the Compact to make it work and then a Republican wins the popular vote. (So far, the States adopting the Compact look pretty blue.) My guess is that if any of the States adopting the Compact are still blue when that happens, they will repeal their participation in the Compact before the Electoral College meets. In other words, the Compact will stand only if a Democrat wins the popular vote.

    As for Constitutionality, that’s unclear. States are allowed to decide how to apportion their own electoral vote. However, the Compact Clause (Article One, Section 10, Clause 3) prohibits States from entering into compacts with each other without Congressional approval. The extent of the Compact Clause’s prohibition does not seem to be entirely clear.

    Even if technically Constitutional, however, this is clearly an attempt to circumvent the Amendment process. When I wrote about this, I filed it under the category “Hubris”.

  12. John Says:

    I wonder if Mr. Obama will instruct his DOJ to sue Massachusetts?

  13. turfmann Says:

    Fiendishly clever is an apt way of describing our legislature in Massachusetts, and not just this bill either.

    It’s patently designed to circumvent the plain language of the Constitution.

    But note well that this is the same bunch of knuckleheads that changed the law regarding appointment of a replacement senator to ensure that a democrat would succeed a President Kerry, changed it back to ensure that a democrat would succeed the late Senator Kennedy and wound up with Scott Brown (R, Massachusetts) instead.

    I will have a big decision to make come inauguration day 2013. Should I attend the inauguration of Sarah Palin on the mall in DC or in Boston, where she won the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Think it can’t happen? How many times did the Amiable Dunce win here?

  14. bob sykes Says:

    Even with the requirement that states comprising a majority of the Electoral College pass similar legislation, this law effectively disenfranchises MA voters. MA voters will always vote Democratic, but half the time a majority of Americans will vote Republican. So, half the time MA’s electoral votes will go to the Republican candidate against their wishes.

    Socialists are idiots, violent idiots at that.

  15. The Mega Independent Says:

    This appears to go very well with the Amnesty plan.

  16. Minh Says:

    So what do the elected/appointed electors have to say about this. Do anyone know if a state can lawfully compell an Elector to vote the way he pledge? Constitutionally the state can; by law determine the method and means of choosing the electors, not the power to decide how they should vote.

    On a practical issue, since the date can’t force elector to vote a certain way and don’t know how the election in the other 50 states would go, do the state that is part of the compact wait till after everyone vote so they know who would win the popular vote?

  17. IgotBupkis Says:

    > …Rules are made to be bent if the goal is pure horseshit

    Seems ya was missin’ a word there at the end, now added above.

    Glad to fix it fer ya….


  18. anna Says:

    James Taranto is all over it:


    His last line is priceless:
    “Let’s put the question in starkly partisan terms: If you’re a Republican, do you trust Massachusetts lawmakers to keep their word, and to defy the will of the voters who elected them, if by doing so they would make Sarah Palin president?”

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