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Electoral Reform California Initiative Could Split California Presidential Votes

California’s Congressional Districts

A few days ago, Flap wrote that North Carolina appears to be changing their electoral college Presidential selection system just in time for the 2008 election.

And, Flap, wondered about a change in California’s system.

Dave G over at race42008 posts a piece that clarifies the issue in California.

The Electoral Reform California Initiative is already circulating to change California’s apportionment of Presidential electors to the Electoral College.

Here is the California Secretary of States summary and details of the initiative.

Requirements for Presidential Electors. Statute.

Summary Date: 7/2/07 Circulation Deadline: 11/29/07 Signatures Required: 433,971

Proponent: Anthony F. Andrade Jr. (916) 230-2123

Requires political parties to nominate a presidential elector from each congressional district and two additional statewide electors. Requires presidential electors to pledge that they will cast their ballots for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who receive the plurality of votes in their congressional districts or, in the case of the statewide electors, for the candidates who receive the plurality of votes in the state. Eliminates compensation and reimbursement for travel expenses for presidential electors. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced state expenses of less than $10,000 every four years. (Initiative 07-0016.)

The full text of the initiative is here.

So, will this affect the 2008 race for the Presidency in California?

You bet

A Republican-backed ballot proposal could split left-leaning California between the Democratic and GOP nominees, tilting the 2008 presidential election in favor of the Republicans.

California awards its cache of 55 electoral votes to the statewide winner in presidential elections _ the largest single prize in the nation. But a prominent Republican lawyer wants to put a proposal on the ballot that would award the statewide winner only two electoral votes.

The rest would be distributed to the winning candidate in each of the state’s congressional districts. In effect, that would create 53 races, each with one electoral vote up for grabs.

California has voted Democratic in the last four presidential elections. But the change _ if it qualifies for one of two primary ballots next year and is approved by voters _ would mean that a Republican would be positioned the following November to snatch 20 or more electoral votes in GOP-leaning districts.

That’s a number equal to winning Ohio.

California Democrats will mightily fight this initiative, should it qualify. The result would be at least 20 electoral votes for whomever is the GOP candidate for President. The lock the Democrats have had on California Electoral votes would be broken and broken forever.

Only Maine and Nebraska allocate electoral votes by congressional district. But, California has a REAL chance to change their system.

The arguments to pass the initiative would be the same arguments GOP Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used to justify the change of California’s Presidential Primary election from June to February 5, 2008 – increasing California’s national political clout and giving Presidential candidates an incentive to campaign in California. Californians might just accept the initiative.

From a partisan perspective, at the very least, the campaign to defeat the initiative by the Democrats would be a costly election year drain on their resources. At the most, the change could elect a Republican President.

Flap says watch this initiative. It may very well determine who is the next President of the United States.

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North Carolina Ready to Change Electoral College Presidential Selection Rules for 2008


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7 thoughts on “Electoral Reform California Initiative Could Split California Presidential Votes

  1. All this initiative does is bring the injustice of the electoral college system from the national (state) level to the congressional district level. The dirty little secret is that, while there are indeed more republic party leaning congressional districts in CA, they are the less densly populated districts. The more populous districts overwhelmingly vote democratic, so the results would be:

    1. The electoral votes would not be a true reflection of the popular vote in the state, because while a majority of the residents of the state might vote democratic the electoral votes would favor the minority.

    2. The alleged argument that it would “make each vote count” is false because dems in republic-leaning districts and reps in democratic-leaning districts votes still wouldn’t “count”.

    3. CA’s national political clout in the election would be shattered rather than increase because it would reduce the electoral votes from 55 to an 11 vote or so margin.

    4. The candidates would ignore CA even more than than they do now because it would effectively split CA from the largest electoral state to two medium sized states.

    This needs to fail, or what will be broken is not the Dems lock on CA, but CA’s electoral power. If the republics want to win CA why don’t they start looking at policies/platforms that actually appeal to Californians?

  2. The Democrat Party talking points are out in full force today.

    Tell me why then are the Democrats in North Carolina trying to change their electoral college system to proportional by Congressional District?

    The Electoral Reform California Initiative would make presidential voting more fair and more truly reflect voters wishes rather than the skewed winner take all system.

  3. Tell me why then are the Democrats in North Carolina trying to change their electoral college system to proportional by Congressional District?

    For the same reason the republics are trying to change it in CA –and it’s just as wrong. The Dems in NC are trying to neutralize the advantage that has traditionally gone to the republics there.

    The Electoral Reform California Initiative would make presidential voting more fair and more truly reflect voters wishes rather than the skewed winner take all system.

    Now who’s spewing talking points? How so? It would merely take the minority disadvantage from the statewide level to the congressional district level.

    Think of it this way Flappy -if every state in the Union adopted a similar measure how would it be any more reflective of the voters wishes? You’d still have a substantial chunk of voters denied a say in the electoral process simply because they lived in the “wrong” congressional district. I.e. (I repeat) how is it any more fair to reps living in dem districts and vice versa?

    I agree that the electoral college system needs to go. In this day and age with the technology available there is no reason that we can’t decide the election nationally by popular vote. But tinkering with it in a way that benefits one party over the other and in the process weakens the electoral value of a state is turning a bad problem into a worse problem.

  4. Apportioning votes for the electoral college by Congressional district is inherently more fair than the current system. Look at the population demographics in California for example with large populations of lefties and gays (who vote 75% Dem) in the Bay area and black areas in Los Angeles County versus the white GOP constituencies in the OC and San Diego. If large Democrat majorities turn out in the minority communities (since they vote 90% in lockstep) the Democrats will always win California’s electoral college votes regardless of campaigns, candidates or issues. This is fair?

    In the revised system there will be smaller districts than statewide and candidates competing for votes in each district. Large voting blocks will be neutralized and more voters franchised.

    Geddit?

    Maybe not.

    Try this:

    The Constitution allows each state to decide how they apportion their electoral college votes. If you want to change to a direct election of the President, you will have to change the Constitution. Which is easier?

    Fairness and simplicity.

  5. If large Democrat majorities turn out in the minority communities (since they vote 90% in lockstep) the Democrats will always win California’s electoral college votes regardless of campaigns, candidates or issues. This is fair?

    So what the hell does that have to do with apportioning the electoral votes by congressional district? You’re saying that if one party (or one faction of a party) tries hard to get out the vote in certain areas and is successful that it’s somehow inherently unfair? Even if it were, how will changing the electoral apportionment change that? The percentage of voters who vote will remain the same, but the districts with less voters or less who vote will have more pull. How is that fair? And why should parties who don’t get out the vote in the districts where there are more of them registered be rewarded with more electoral votes?

    This does nothing to change the iniquities of the electoral college -it just shifts them to the majority party.

    Moreover you haven’t addressed the issue that fracturing CA’s electoral power will screw its influence for a generation -and that hurts californians across the political spectrum.

    You simply can’t be serious.

  6. I don’t think you get it.

    This does nothing to change the iniquities of the electoral college -it just shifts them to the majority party.

    Tell me what the inequities of the Electoral college are?

    This is another strawman.

    The Electoral College is constitutionally mandated. If you think it is inequitable change the Constitution, if you can.

    The initiative redresses the unfairness of the block voting propensities of California demographics. In smaller subgroups, the Congressional Districts, the voting blocks will have less influence on the future outcome as they are concentrated in only certain areas of the state, yet provide the majority in winner take all.

    I know you understand the inequity. However, you do not wish to give up the unfair advantage the Democrats have had in California Presidential politics.

    Now, do you understand?

    Moreover you haven’t addressed the issue that fracturing CA’s electoral power will screw its influence for a generation -and that hurts californians across the political spectrum.

    And how so?

    If anything the Presidential candidates will have to campaign more in the state than in the urban television markets where they campaign now.

    There will be more not less retail politics. This has already been demonstrated when the GOP changed its nomination rules to a Congressional District system.

    Fairness, and more influence for California.

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