This change or proposed change in how Electoral College votes are determined is not new and was attempted via an initiative in California in 2008. The California initiative failed to make the ballot.
A new proposal is pushing the often-forgotten Electoral College into the spotlight as Pennsylvania officials ponder the state’s role in next year’s presidential race.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is trying to gather support to change the state’s “winner-takes-all” approach for awarding electoral votes. Instead, he’s suggesting that Pennsylvania dole them out based on which candidate wins each of the 18 congressional districts, with the final two going to the contender with the most votes statewide.
So far, the idea has received support from colleagues of the Delaware County Republican in the state House and from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. But Democrats, who have carried the state in presidential contests since 1992, said the shift would erode Pennsylvania’s clout.
Only two states — Nebraska and Maine — divide their electoral votes instead of giving the whole bloc to the candidate that wins the state’s popular vote. Even for those two states, the piecemeal approach has been a rarity, with Nebraska historically dividing its five votes in the 2008 election, when one went to President Barack Obama.
Most states cling to the winner take all nature of determining where their Electoral College votes go. Maybe changing the system apportioning by Congressional District is MORE fair, but it definitely removes the clout afforded Democrats in urban areas where they rack up large majority votes (particularly in Philadelphia where there is a large African-American population who vote overwhelmingly Democratic).
It changes the game and that is what politics is all about. And, it is within the discretion of the laws of Pennsylvania.
Of course, it is.
Elections have consequences, remember?
Is this California Electoral College reform effort dead for this Presidential cycle?
Now, it will be incumbent upon the GOP Presidential nominee to win California Electoral votes the old fashion way – by receiving the majority of votes.
Yesterday morning Flap wrote about the two initiatives circulating to change the California Presidential Electoral College vote distribution for the 2008 election cycle.
Flap was initially confused because of the two circulating initiatives.
The first one was filed by Tony Andrade of Electoral Reform California:
The second initiative was filed by Thomas Hiltachk who has subsequently withdrawn from the campaign:So, what is the status TODAY of the initiative campaign to change California’s Electoral College vote allocation from the current “WINNER TAKE ALL” system to one apportioned by Congressional Districts – such as how the California GOP apportions its national convention’s delegates.
Flap had the pleasure to talk to Tony Andrade yesterday evening. Here is the poop:
1. The two initiative campaigns have joined around the Hiltachek initiative forming California Counts. The California Counts web site is here.
2. Although the deadline for filing of the Hiltachek initiative singatures (to qualify for the ballot) is February 2008, the deadline for the California Secretary of State to place the initiative on the June 2008 state ballot is either November 13 or may be extended by a couple of weeks – meaning the end of November.
Also, yesterday afternoon, Jon Fleishman had this info:
- We have gathered a total of nearly 400,000 signatures (300,000 over the last two weeks). Our paid signature effort is proving enormously successful â€“ so much so that we were able to decrease the price we are paying circulators on the street â€“ an almost unprecedented situation for an initiative campaign working on deadline.
- We are getting thousands of signatures from the internet, thanks to a massive internet/email campaign from Congressman Darrell Issa.
- The California Republican Party and our CalCounts Committee have mailed petitions to a total of over 750,000 households statewide.
- Our volunteer signature efforts and $2 bounty program are starting to produce signatures and we expect some big returns from that program over the next couple of weeks.
- Polling continues to show that Californians support our Initiative. A new SurveyUSA poll shows that only 34% of voters want to keep the current winner-take-all system, while 47% support choosing delegates by congressional district. The more voters are informed about the initiative, the stronger they support it.
There you have it.
The initiative campaign is alive and well and the prospects of its passage in June 2008 are good.
Flap will have more on the initiative campaign and report as events occur.
In the meantime, Flap URGES everyone to go over to the California Counts site and download a petition (if you are a California voter) or give the campaign a few bucks (there is no limit).
With funding from the California Republican Party, donors from most of the GOP Presidential candidates, donors for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Congressman Darrel Issa (who front-funded the successful Gray Davis recall) and signatures, California voters may YET decide on a proportional method of allocating California’s 55 Electoral College votes for President – the most in the country.
Backers of a proposed initiative that would change the way California’s electoral votes are awarded disclosed Tuesday that they had received $538,000 from a list of donors who have contributed to a variety of presidential candidates.
The required disclosure to the California secretary of state helps to dispel the notion that Republican candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani is behind the measure. The initiative received its initial $175,000 from a top Giuliani backer, Wall Street mogul Paul E. Singer.Others involved in the effort also have ties to the former New York City mayor.
But, Flap which initiative will this group attempt to qualify for the June 2008 ballot? There are two:
Both initiatives are similar in changing the method of allocation of Electoral College votes from the current “WINNER TAKE ALL” system to a proportional one. But, the deadlines are definitely different for gathering signatures.
Is the new GOP group, headed by Ed Rollins going for the first initiative in a full court press to qualify for the June 2008 ballot? And, if they fail to gather significant signatures within a few weeks go for the second initiative which has a deadline of February 2008?
This seems a likely scenario but Flap will get some clarification later in the day and update this post or post another.
The California Secretary of State’s web site for California Initiatives is here.
Flap is continuing to pursue clarification but looking at the Election California Reform Initiative web site and the California Counts web site it is apparent the California GOP et al. are going for the first initiative.
Calitics, a Lefty site has some direct mail pieces from California Counts here.
The New York Times frames the fight over California electoral votes in their piece: In Ballot Fight, California Gets a Taste of â€™08 as a SURROGATE campaign by Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
Ballot measures in California have long been proxies for local politiciansâ€™ hopes and dreams â€” just ask Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who rode a recall petition to the Statehouse.
But now a statewide initiative has become the unusual battleground for two previously entangled New York politicians whose eyes are fixed firmly on the White House.
Rudy versus Hillary, the West Coast edition â€” itâ€™s on.
Supporters of Rudolph W. Giuliani and of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton are embroiled in their first major affray of the political season over a ballot initiative on presidential electoral votes some 2,500 miles from the pancake houses of Skaneateles, N.Y., and the fire stations of Queens.
The fight could be a telling prelude to the 2008 presidential contest, with the political instincts and strategies long employed by Mr. Giuliani, a Republican, and Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, cast in sharp relief. The battle has reflected their political set-to in 2000, when they squared off briefly over a United States Senate seat in New York, and could foreshadow how the game will be played should they become their partiesâ€™ nominees.
The proposed measure here would ask voters to apportion electoral votes by Congressional district, potentially giving the Republican nominee in 2008 some 20 of the stateâ€™s 55 votes â€” the rough equivalent of winning Illinois or Pennsylvania â€” in this otherwise reliably Democratic state.
Such a change could amount to a seismic shift in the nationâ€™s electoral dynamics, potentially springboarding a Republican into the White House, and the possibility has animated hopeful Republicans and fearful Democrats.
A novel approach which the Democrats in the their legislature are using in North Carolina but not a long term gain for the GOP as Tom McClintock, a California State Senator and conservative standard bearer has written. And, then there is the pesky issue of constitutionality anyway.
Obviously, Governor Schwarzenegger and Rudy have pulled the plug.
The Democrats, including Hillary’s chief surrogate Chris Lehane will try to make more of this issue and make more campaign consultant cash. But, most Californians don’t know about the initiative and it is doubtful if they care.
The REAL SURROGATE campaign will come after February 5th.
Flap’s California State Senator, Tom McClintock has a piece on the apparent failure ?(apparently there are on-going efforts) of the attempt to change how California Electoral College Presidential Delegates are chosen.
A Republican effort to apportion Californiaâ€™s electoral votes by congressional district looks like it is faltering, and thatâ€™s a very good thing. The proposal is a classic example of the cynicism, defeatism and short-sightedness of many who are misguiding the GOP today.
Giving up on ever regaining a Republican majority in California, some party leaders apparently decided it would be clever to change the apportionment of the stateâ€™s electoral votes from its traditional winner-take-all rule to a process that assigns 53 of Californiaâ€™s 55 electoral votes by congressional district. Instead of the Democrat nominee automatically taking all 55 votes, the Republican could take 20 or so votes. Whatâ€™s not to like?
Hereâ€™s whatâ€™s not to like. Congressional and legislative districts are apportioned not by voters or citizens, but by population â€“ weighting the vote heavily toward urban districts with high concentrations of ineligible voters. For example, in the 2004 Presidential election, 109,000 votes were cast in Loretta Sanchezâ€™ heavily Democratic 47th Congressional District race, while more than twice that number, 277,000, were cast in Dana Rohrbacherâ€™s Republican 46th Congressional District. Just 66,000 voters put Sanchez in Congress; 171,000 voted for Rohrbacher.
A voter in Sanchezâ€™ district has more than twice the weight as a voter in Rohrbacherâ€™s â€“ in a congressional race. In a statewide race, however, every vote has exactly the same weight. Thatâ€™s why Republicans have had far more success over the last 30 years in electing Republican governors than Republican legislatures.
So why in the world would Republicans want to replicate this heavy Democratic skew in presidential races?
True, if ONLY California did this it would mean a few more electoral votes for the Republican candidate WHEN the state went Democratic. But if every state followed suit, the election of a Republican president would become much more difficult.
And thereâ€™s one other thing to consider: the Democrats only have carried California since GOP presidential candidates stopped contesting the state in 1992. True, in 2004, George W. Bush would have received 20 of Californiaâ€™s 55 electoral votes (assuming the presidential vote mirrored the congressional vote). But in Republican years it works more dramatically against Republicans: even though George H. W. Bush carried California in 1988, Dukakis would have snatched 27 of Californiaâ€™s (then) 47 electoral votes â€“ a substantial majority â€“ had this rule been in effect then.
Fortunately for the Republican rocket scientists who dreamed this one up, the Democratsâ€™ knee-jerk opposition may have saved them from themselves. Now, hopefully, they will turn their attention to actually contesting California again in an open battle of ideas, rather than relying on too-clever-by-half political schemes.
Tom is correct that this scheme is too clever by half. If this system were to be adopted nationwide the GOP would be at a disadvantage.
Flap supposes the intense opposition in California by the Democrats is more from Hillary’s folks than Democrat activists who are attempting the exact same change in North Carolina.
However, there are reports that this initiative is NOT dead.
Days after a controversial organization began collecting voter signatures for a ballot measure to change California’s winner-take-all presidential vote, a founder of the GOP-backed group says its major players are resigning – and the group will fold – due to lack of funding and support.
“The levels of support just weren’t there,” said Marty Wilson, the Sacramento-based fundraiser, in a telephone interview Thursday.
Wilson was among the founding members of Californians for Equal Representation, the group led by Sacramento attorney Thomas Hiltachk that intended to collect roughly 434,000 signatures to qualify the Presidential Election Reform Act for the June 2008 ballot.
So, is electoral college delegate reform over for the 2008 Presidental election cycle?
But, Electoral Reform California Initiative has qualified and is currently circulating for signatures. However, its signature deadline is within 60 days.
And this initiative does not have the funny business – butt biting -Â associated.
Looks like a dead issue to Flap. Or is it?
The Electoral Reform California Initiative web site is here.
Another California initiative – â€œThe Presidential Electors Initiativeâ€ changing the distribution of Presidential electoral College votes (winner take all to by Congressional district) was approved for circulation yesterday. Previously the Electoral Reform California Initiative qualified and is currently circulating for signatures.
Now the opposition strikes back……
The Democrats and Hillary Clinton MUST really be worried about the California Presidential Electors Initiative. Or is this typical LEFTY NUTROOTS paranoia?
Rove and Bush have done everything to defeat the Democrats?
Chris Lehane and Democrat cronies in the political consulting business have been hired to “sew the seeds of doubt” about this initiative and no matter how NUTTY they seem, at the end of the day they receive their checks from the Unions, the DNC and the Clintons.
Will the RIGHT be able to qualify either of the initiatives?
Yes, even if the GOP “WALKS AWAY” in Spring 2008.
Another California initiative – “The Presidential Electors Initiative” changing the distribution of Presidential electoral College votes (winner take all to by Congressional district) was approved for circulation yesterday. Previously the Electoral Reform California Initiative qualified and is currently circulating for signatures.
Two competing GOP sponsored initiatives with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently opposed with lukewarm initial poll support and massive Democrat Party opposition yields this scenario:
1. Funds are raised from Presidential candidates and GOP donors to qualify the initiative(s) for the June 2008 California ballot.
2. Since support is so-so from the California GOP and voters, supporters will FEIGN a campaign forcing Democrats to spend campaign resources to “MAKE SURE” the initiative(s) do not pass.
Flap thinks both initiatives have merit and with a low turn-out election in June you never know.
But, Flap DOES know that the Democrats will spend mega-dollars on their media campaign and cause them grief and election angst.
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean accused Republicans of trying to “rig” the 2008 presidential contest and vowed Wednesday to do “whatever it takes within legal boundaries” to stop a California ballot measure that would change how the state casts its 55 Electoral College votes.
Dean, who called the initiative a “Tom Delay/Karl Rove-type maneuver…”
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday “In principle, I don’t like to change the rules in the middle of the game” with regards to the Electoral Reform California Initiative which is now being circulated.
Although he added he wasn’t versed in details of the ballot proposal and stressed he wasn’t taking a definitive position his lack of enthusiasm may damper fundraising efforts.
Also, there is another electoral college reform initiative pending in the Attorney General’s office. And this initiative is created by governor’s former attorney Thomas Hiltachk and ex-advisor Marty Wilson.
The “Presidential Election Reform Act” is here.
Is the Governor remaining non-committal because he favors the “OTHER” initiative or using both as bargaining chips over the Democrat controlled Legislature for redistricting reform?
In any case, the Democrats are not sitting still and have submitted a counter-initiative, “National Popular Vote” counter-initiative, which would have the state’s electoral votes go to whoever wins the national popular vote.
If you are afraid you cannot defeat a measure directly at the polls, why not create confusion where both measures go down to defeat – a long-time used tactic in California Initiative politics. This is the apparent strategy here.
The Presidential Election Reform Act is due to be reported out of the Attorney General’s office on September 5th and begin circulation for signatures.